Frances Cuka

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Frances Cuka
Born (1936-08-21) 21 August 1936 (age 80)
London, England, UK
Years active 1961-present

Frances Cuka (born 21 August 1936) is a British actress, principally on television, whose career has spanned over fifty years.

Cuka (pronounced Chewka) was born in London, England, the daughter of Letitia Alice Annie (née Francis), a tailor, and Joseph Cuka, a process engraver.[1] The family subsequently moved to Hove. As a child she appeared on the radio, BBC's Children's Hour. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.[2]

After the Guildhall she joined the Theatre Workshop, where she performed in Macbeth and then in 1958 created the role of Jo in Shelagh Delaney's play A Taste of Honey, continuing in the role when the play moved to the West End and Broadway. In between runs of A Taste of Honey she appeared in several plays at the Royal Court, including Endgame and Live Like Pigs.[3] In 1963 she played Becky Sharp in the musical Vanity Fair, alongside George Baker and Sybil Thorndike.

Cuka then moved into television. Subsequent television roles included Adam Adamant Lives, Hammer Horror - "Charlie Boy", The Champions and Minder. She also appeared as Doll Tearsheet in the BBC TV version of Henry IV, Part II. She had recurring roles in the soap operas Crossroads and Coronation Street. Film roles have included Scrooge (1970) as Bob Cratchit's wife, and Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972) as Catherine of Aragon.

From 2006 to 2009, she played the recurring role of a troublesome tramp called Mrs Bassey in the popular medical drama Casualty. Her final appearance was in September 2009, when her character died from severe burns after being involved in an explosion at a shopping centre.

In 2010, she played Lady Bracknell for Logos Theatre Company at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, in the unusual four-act version of The Importance of Being Earnest.

From March 2011, she appeared in the Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner, as the grandma of the characters played by Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal.

Cuka was the second actress to play Peggy Mitchell in the BBC1 soap opera EastEnders when the character was first introduced in 1991. She had fimed several scenes of the character and was axed from the show and all her scenes were scrapped before casting Jo Warne.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Interview with Frances Cuka". The Theatre Archive. British Library. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Interview with Frances Cuka". The Theatre Archive. British Library. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 

External links[edit]