Felicity Kendal

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Felicity Kendal

Felicity Kendal on Thomas Murphy Presents.jpg
Kendal in 2016
Born (1946-09-25) 25 September 1946 (age 74)
Years active1947–present (stage)
1965–present (screen)
(1 Child)
Partner(s)Tom Stoppard (1991–98)
Michael Rudman (1998–present)[1]
Children2, including Charley Henley
RelativesJennifer Kendal (sister)

Felicity Ann Kendal CBE (born 25 September 1946) is an English actress, working principally in television and theatre. She has appeared in numerous stage and screen roles over a more than 50-year career, but the role that brought attention to her career was that of Barbara Good in the 1975 television series The Good Life.

Early life[edit]

Felicity Kendal was born in Olton, Warwickshire, England, in 1946.[2] She is the younger daughter of Laura Liddell and Geoffrey Kendal, an actor and manager.[2][3] Her older sister, Jennifer Kendal, was also an actress.

After early years in Birmingham, Kendal went to India with her family at the age of seven: her father was an English actor-manager who led his own repertory company on tours of India.[3] The ensemble would perform Shakespeare before royalty one day and in rough rural villages the next, where audiences included many schoolchildren.[4][5] As the family travelled, Kendal attended six Loreto College convent schools in India,[6] and contracted typhoid fever in Calcutta at the age of 17.[7]

The Good Life[edit]

In 1975, Kendal had her big break on television with the BBC sitcom The Good Life. She and Richard Briers starred as Barbara and Tom Good – a middle-class suburban couple who decide to quit the rat race and become self-sufficient, much to the consternation of their snooty but well-meaning neighbour Margo and her down-to-earth husband Jerry Leadbetter (played by Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington). Kendal appeared in all 30 episodes, which extended over four series and two specials from 1975 to 1978.

Stage work[edit]

Kendal made her stage debut aged nine months, when she was carried on stage as a changeling boy in A Midsummer Night's Dream.[2]

She made her London stage debut in Minor Murder (1967), and went on to star in a number of well regarded plays.[citation needed]

Kendal's stage career blossomed during the 1980s and 1990s when she formed a close professional association with Tom Stoppard, starring in the first productions of many of his plays, including The Real Thing (1982), Hapgood (1988), Arcadia (1993), and Indian Ink (1995). This last was originally a radio play and the role was written for her.

She won the Evening Standard Theatre Award in 1989 for her performances in Much Ado About Nothing and Ivanov.

In 2002, Kendal starred in Charlotte Jones's play Humble Boy when it transferred from the National Theatre to the West End. In 2006 she starred in the West End revival of Amy's View by David Hare.

In 2008, she appeared in the West End in a revival of Noël Coward's play The Vortex.

In 2009, she appeared in the play The Last Cigarette (by Simon Gray) and in 2010 in Mrs. Warren's Profession (by Shaw). Both played at the Chichester Festival Theatre and subsequently in the West End.

In October 2013, she toured the UK with Simon Callow in Chin-Chin, an English translation by Willis Hall of Francois Billetdoux's Tchin-Tchin.[8]

In 2013, she starred in the first London revival of Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn at the Wyndham's Theatre.[9] In 2014, she toured the UK[10] and Australia as Judith Bliss in Noël Coward's Hay Fever, which then played in the West End.[11]

In 2017, she starred with Maureen Lipman in a revival of Lettice and Lovage at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Personal life[edit]

Kendal's first marriage to Drewe Henley (1968–1979) and her second to Michael Rudman (1983–94) ended in divorce. Kendal has two sons: Charley, from her marriage to Henley, and Jacob, from her marriage to Rudman. In 1991, she left Rudman, but they reunited in 1998.[1]

Kendal was brought up in the Catholic faith. She converted to Judaism at the time of her second marriage, and has stated about the conversion, "I felt I was returning to my roots".[12] Her conversion took more than three years; she has stated that her decision to convert had "nothing to do" with her husband.[13] Kendal's memoirs, titled White Cargo, were published in 1998.[4]

When asked (by The Guardian in 2010) whom she would invite to her "dream dinner party", Kendal replied "Emmeline Pankhurst, Gandhi, Byron, Eddie Izzard, George Bernard Shaw, Golda Meir, and Marlene Dietrich".[7]

Kendal was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1995 New Year Honours for services to drama.[2][14] Kendal is an ambassador for the charity Royal Voluntary Service, previously known as WRVS.[15]

Selected filmography[edit]

Television work[edit]

As herself:

Film work[edit]

Kendal's film roles are:

Other work[edit]

In 1995, Kendal was one of the readers of Edward Lear poems on a specially made spoken word audio CD bringing together a collection of Lear's nonsense songs.[16]


  • 1976 – Most Promising Newcomer – Variety Club
  • 1979 – Best Actress – Variety Club
  • 1980 – Clarence Derwent Award
  • 1984 – Woman of the Year – Best Actress – Variety Club
  • 1989 – Best Actress – Evening Standard Theatre Awards


  1. ^ a b Nikkhah, Roya (2015). "Felicity Kendal: I'm happy with my ex-husband — but won't marry him again", The Telegraph (London), 3 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Felicity Kendal". Strictly Come Dancing. BBC Online. 2000. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Shakespeare Wallah". Merchant Ivory Productions. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b Kendal 1998.
  5. ^ "Meet Jennifer Kendal". Good Wrench. 2000. Archived from the original on 20 October 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  6. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Extra – Desert Island Discs Revisited, The Good Life, Felicity Kendal". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b Greenstreet, Rosanna (27 March 2010). "Q&A: Felicity Kendal". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Felicity Kendal and Simon Callow to Star in U.K. Tour of Classic Comedy Chin-Chin" by Mark Shenton, Playbill, 16 July 2013
  9. ^ "Relatively Speaking, Wyndham's Theatre, review" by Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph, 21 May 2013
  10. ^ "Hay Fever review – hysteria rules as Felicity Kendal does Coward" by Michael Billington, The Guardian, 28 August 2014
  11. ^ "Win tickets to Noel Coward's Hay Fever!", 774 ABC Melbourne, 8 October 2014
  12. ^ Garvey, Anne (26 October 2006). "Felicity Kendal's good (Jewish) life". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Felicity Kendal interview with Saga Magazine". saga.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  14. ^ "No. 53893". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1994. p. 9.
  15. ^ "Our Ambassadors: Felicity Kendal CBE", Royal Voluntary Service, Cardiff. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Nonsense songs (Audiobook on CD, 1995) [WorldCat.org]". Libcat.calacademy.org. 4 January 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2021.


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