Beryl Reid

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Beryl Reid
Reid in 1974
Beryl Elizabeth Reid

(1919-06-17)17 June 1919
Died13 October 1996(1996-10-13) (aged 77)
Years active1936–1994
Bill Worsley
(m. 1949; div. 1953)
Derek Franklin
(m. 1954; div. 1966)

Beryl Elizabeth Reid OBE (17 June 1919 – 13 October 1996) was a British actress. She won the 1967 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for The Killing of Sister George, the 1980 Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance for Born in the Gardens, and the 1982 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for Smiley's People. Her film appearances included The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954), The Killing of Sister George (1968), The Assassination Bureau (1969), and No Sex Please, We're British (1973).

Early life[edit]

Born on 17 June 1919 in Hereford, Herefordshire,[1][2] Reid was the daughter of Scottish parents and grew up in Manchester, where she attended Withington and Levenshulme High Schools. As a child, she established a lifelong friendship with Nancy Wrigley, the daughter of the prominent classical soprano, Dame Isobel Baillie. Years later, Reid fondly recalled how Baillie would "tell us the most wonderful can imagine nine-year-old girls goggle-eyed at six princes serenading her in Hawaii!"[3]


Leaving school at 16, she made her debut in 1936 as a music hall performer at the Floral Hall, Bridlington. Before and during the Second World War, she took part in variety shows and pantomimes. She had no formal training but later worked at the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her first big success came in the BBC radio show Educating Archie as naughty schoolgirl Monica and later as the Brummie, "Marlene."

Her many film and television roles as a character actor were usually well received. She reprised her Tony Award-winning performance of a lesbian soap opera star in The Killing of Sister George for the 1968 screen version and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Drama. The tour of the play was not a success; people in shops refused to serve her and other performers due to the gay characters in the play.[4]

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1976 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in the car park of Thames Television's Teddington Studios.

In both Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) and Smiley's People, (1982) Reid played Connie Sachs. For Smiley's People, she won a BAFTA for Best Actress on Television.

Between 1981 and 1983, Reid co-presented the Children's TV programme Get up and Go for Yorkshire Television, her co-presenter "Mooncat" being a green, talking, puppet cat. Stephen Boxer was her human co-star. After she left the show, it became titled simply Mooncat and Co.

In 1982 she was in Dr Who, Earthshock Ep 2, 3 & 4, as Captain Briggs, when the Peter Davison incarnation of The Doctor first met the Cybermen.

Reid wrote an autobiography in 1984, So Much Love.[5]

She played the part of an elderly feminist and political subversive in the 1987 television drama, The Beiderbecke Tapes.

She appeared in many situation comedies and variety programmes on TV including BBC TV's long running music hall show, The Good Old Days.

Personal life and death[edit]

She married twice, but had no children. Her second husband, Derek Franklin, was a member of the Hedley Ward Trio.[6] An authorised biography, Roll Out the Beryl, was published by Fantom Films on 22 August 2016. Written by Kaye Crawford, it was the first biography of the actress and coincided with the twentieth anniversary of her death.[7]

Reid died at the age of 77 from severe osteoarthritis and kidney failure[1] (according to some obituaries, she had developed pneumonia)[8] at a hospital in Wexham, Buckinghamshire[1] on 13 October 1996, after complications following knee replacement surgery for arthritis.[8]


Year Title Role Notes
1940 Spare a Copper Minor role Uncredited
1954 The Belles of St. Trinian's Miss Wilson
1956 The Extra Day Beryl
1960 Two-Way Stretch Miss Pringle
1962 The Dock Brief Doris Fowle
1968 Inspector Clouseau Mrs. Weaver
1968 Star Rose
1968 The Killing of Sister George June Buckridge
1969 The Assassination Bureau Madame Otero
1970 Entertaining Mr Sloane Kath
1971 The Beast in the Cellar Ellie Ballantyne
1972 Dr. Phibes Rises Again Miss Ambrose
1973 Psychomania Mrs. Latham
1973 Father, Dear Father Mrs. Stoppard
1973 No Sex Please, We're British Bertha Hunter
1977 Joseph Andrews Mrs. Slipslop
1978 Rosie Dixon – Night Nurse Matron
1978 Carry On Emmannuelle Mrs. Valentine
1981 Late Flowering Love (unknown role) Short (segment: "Invasion Exercise on the Poultry Farm")
1983 Yellowbeard Lady Lambourn
1985 The Doctor and the Devils Mrs. Flynn
Year Title Role Notes
1950 Showcase (unknown role) (unknown episodes)
1951 Vic's Grill (unknown role) 6 episodes
1955 The Benny Hill Show Various roles Series 1 (3 episodes)
1957 Mr Bowling Buys a Newspaper Alice TV film
1957 The Most Likely Girl Arethusa Wilderspin Series 1 (4 episodes)
1960 Someone Who Cares (unknown role) TV film
1962 The Dickie Henderson Show (unknown role) Series 4, episode 2
1963–64 Bold as Brass Bessie Briggs Pilot & Series 1 (7 episodes)
1964 Comedy Playhouse Mrs. Teresa Fanwyn Series 3, episode 14
1965 Who Is Mary Morison Maggie TV film
1966 The World of Wooster Mrs. Wilberforce Series 2, episode 7
1966 Frankie Howerd (unknown role) Series 2, episode 2
1966 Love Story Kate Reilly Series 4, episode 3
1967 Thirty-Minute Theatre Miss Price Series 2, episode 34
1967 The Bruce Forsyth Show (unknown role) Series 2, episode 6
1967 Before the Fringe (unknown role) Series 2 (4 episodes)
1967 The Very Merry Widow Mrs. Breasley Series 1, episode 2
1968 Armchair Theatre Hilda Capper Series 8, episode 14
1968 Comedy Playhouse Irene Jelliot Series 7, episode 2
1968 Beryl Reid Says Good Evening Various roles Series 1 (6 episodes)
1969 Armchair Theatre Mrs. Blaxill Series 9, episode 8
1969 Wink to Me Only Rene Jelliot Series 1 (6 episodes)
1970 BBC Play of the Month Mrs. Malaprop Series 5, episode 8
1970 Father, Dear Father Mrs. Brockbank Series 3, episode 5
1969 Cinderella Ugly Sister Marlene TV film
1971 The Misfit Mrs. Low Road Jones Series 2, episode 2
1971 Father, Dear Father Miss Pretty Series 4, episode 3
1971 Armchair Theatre Ameila Series 13, episode 8
1971 The Goodies Mrs. Desiree Carthorse Series 2, episode 11
1972 Alcock and Gander Mrs Marigold Alcock Series 1 (main role, 6 episodes)
1972 Late Night Theatre Madame Thompson 1 episode
1973 Smike! Mrs. Squeers/Mrs. Steele TV film
1975 BBC Play of the Month Amanda Series 10, episode 5
1975 BBC Play of the Month Maria Helliwell Series 11, episode 4
1977 Beryl Reid (unknown role) (unknown episodes)
1978 BBC Play of the Month Victoria Series 13, episode 3
1978 Two's Company Mrs. Shelton Series 3, episode 3
1979 Dick Emery's Comedy Hour Ada Special
1979 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Connie Sachs Miniseries (2 episodes)
1979 An Honourable Retirement Mrs. Heysham TV film
1980 Peter Cook & Co. Various Special
1980 Nanny Knows Best Nanny Price TV pilot
1980 Rhubarb Rhubarb Home Owner's Wife Special
1980 Comedy Tonight (unknown role) Special (sketch "Laughing Gas")
1981 Agony Cherry Lightfoot Series 3, episode 2
1981 Worzel Gummidge Sarah Pigswill Series 4, episode 1
1982 Doctor Who Briggs Series 19 (3 episodes)
1982 Smiley's People Connie Sachs Series 1, episode 3
1982 The Irish R.M. Mrs Knox Series 1 (2 episodes)
1983 Cuffy Matron Series 1, episode 2
1983 The Wind in the Willows Mrs. Carrington-Moss (voice) TV film
1984 The Wind in the Willows Other Voices Series 1, episode 1
1984 Minder Ruby Hubbard Series 5, episode 4
1985 Late Starter Helen Magee Series 1 (3 episodes)
1985 The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ May Mole Series 1 (main role, 5 episodes)
1985 Bergerac Miss Broome Series 4, episode 4
1987 The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole Grandma Mole Series 1 (main role, 6 episodes)
1987 The Beiderbecke Tapes Sylvia Miniseries (2 episodes)
1988 The Comic Strip Presents... Mrs. Moss Series 4, episode 5
1988 Sophia and Constance Madame Foucault Series 1, episode 4
1988 Alexei Sayle's Stuff Hettie Series 1, episode 3
1990 Boon Pat Goran Series 5, episode 12
1990 The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Mrs. Mountnessing Series 4, episode 9
1991 Duel of Hearts Lady Augusta Warlingham TV film
1991 Perfect Scoundrels Aunt Molly Series 2, episode 4
1992 Bunch of Five Gran Series 1 (2 episodes)
1993 Cracker Fitz's Mum Series 1, episode 3
1994 Blue Heaven Jeweller Series 1, episode 4 (final role)


  1. ^ a b c Jonathan Cecil, "Reid, Beryl Elizabeth (1919–1996)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004 available online. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  2. ^ Hayward, Anthony (14 October 1996). "Beryl Reid: Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Isobel Baillie -Never Sing Louder Than Lovely BBC Documentary 1984" – via
  4. ^ Daily Telegraph obituary, also featured in Chin Up Girls! (2005)
  5. ^ So Much Love, 1984, Hutchinson & Co Hardback, ISBN 0-09-155730-5
  6. ^ Fox, Larry (Lew) (8 December 2004). "Almost a prisoner". Retrieved 7 March 2024.
  7. ^ Roll Out The Beryl!: The Authorised Biography Of Beryl Reid. ISBN 978-1781962657. Retrieved 7 March 2024. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  8. ^ a b MEL GUSSOW (15 October 1996). "Beryl Reid, Actress, 76, Dies; Gave Life to Varied Eccentrics". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 June 2012.

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