Carmen Silvera

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Not to be confused with Carmen Sylva.
Carmen Silvera
Edith Artois.jpg
Born Carmen Blanche Silvera
(1922-06-02)2 June 1922
Toronto, Canada
Died 3 August 2002(2002-08-03) (aged 80)
Denville Hall, Northwood, England
Cause of death Lung Cancer
Occupation Actress
Years active 1962–2001

John Cunliffe (m. 1941–1948)

Carmen Blanche Silvera (2 June 1922 – 3 August 2002) was a Canadian-born British comic actress of Spanish descent, who moved to Coventry, England, with her family when she was a child. Silvera was possibly best known for her starring role in British television programme, 'Allo 'Allo! as Edith Artois.

Life and career[edit]

During World War II, Silvera was evacuated to Montreal and narrowly escaped death when, at the last minute, her name was taken off the passenger list of a troopship that was sunk by the enemy shortly afterwards, drowning 350 children. In Canada, she took classes with the Ballets Russes and appeared in three of its productions. On her return to Britain, she felt called to acting and trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, before gaining experience in repertory theatre.[1]

When Carmen was 19, she married a fellow actor called John Cunliffe whom she had met whilst performing in Turnbridge. They later divorced, never remarrying.

Carmen Silvera first made her name as a television actress in the 1960s British police drama Z-Cars in 1962, going on to appear as Camilla Hope[2] in the BBC soap opera Compact from 1964 to 1965. She played Mrs Van Schuyler in Lillie in 1978, ITV's drama series about the future Edward VII's mistress, Lillie Langtry.

She appeared twice in Doctor Who, in the serials The Celestial Toymaker as Clara the Clown, Mrs. Wiggs, and the Queen of Hearts, and as Ruth in Invasion of the Dinosaurs. In 1970 she appeared in the Dad's Army episode Mum's Army as Fiona Gray, the love-interest for Captain Mainwaring, a role especially written for her by David Croft.

Silvera's best-known role came as Edith, the nagging wife of opportunistic cafe owner Rene Artois, throughout the history of the 'Allo 'Allo! series from 1982 to 1992.

She appeared with Ted Rogers at the New Wimbledon Theatre in 1997 in Jimmy Perry's stage musical That's Showbiz. Her West End stage appearances included roles in Waters of the Moon, starring Ingrid Bergman, Hobson's Choice with Penelope Keith, A Coat of Varnish and School for Wives, which was directed by Peter Hall. She also played a grandmother in the 1997 film La Passione[1] and had roles in Clinic Exclusive (1971), On The Game (1974), and Keep It Up Downstairs (1976).

In 1990, she was the subject of a This Is Your Life television programme.[3] She did charity work for the Grand Order of Lady Ratlings, the ladies' branch of the Grand Order of Water Rats.


Silvera, who had been a heavy smoker, died after a battle with lung cancer on 3 August 2002, aged 80, at the Denville Hall retirement village.[4]


Her Jamaican-born father, Roland Silvera (1895–1986), was a well-known flat-green bowls player and a member of Stoke B.C., Coventry.

He served as President of Warwickshire County Bowls Association in 1970, in which year the County side achieved their one and only success in the English Bowling Association Middleton Cup competition, beating Middlesex in the final.

Coventry & District Bowls Association run an annual competition for the Silvera Shield.

After emigrating to Canada and becoming a ship hand, Roland fought for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI.


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