Elizabeth Joan Winch
14 August 1930
|Died||6 September 2018 (aged 88)|
Chelsea, London, England
|Alma mater||Goldsmiths College|
London School of Dramatic Art
(m. 1958; div. 1960)
(m. 1965; died 1974)
Fraser was born in Southwark, London. Her year of birth was usually cited as 1933, which she gave when auditioning for her role in I'm All Right Jack, because the Boulting Brothers wanted someone younger for the part. In fact she was three years older, as she confirmed in her autobiography, Liz Fraser ... and Other Characters, published by Signum Books in 2012. Her father was a travelling salesman for a brewery and her mother owned a corner shop just off the New Kent Road. Their family life was disrupted by the Second World War, when she was evacuated, initially to Westerham in Kent and then, when that was deemed still too vulnerable to bombing, to Chudleigh, a village in Devon. Her father died in May 1942, aged 40, when she was 11.
She went to St Saviour's and St Olave's Grammar School for Girls between the ages of 13 and 17. She then attended evening courses at Goldsmiths College, where she joined a drama group, and the City of London College for Commerce, Book-Keeping, Shorthand and Typing, and won an evening scholarship to the London School of Dramatic Art.
Her first film appearance was in Touch and Go (1955), using her birth name, and The Smallest Show on Earth (1957) in which she worked with Peter Sellers for the first time. Fraser also appeared in commercial television's first live play 'The Geranium' for Associated-Rediffusion. She made an uncredited appearance as June in Alive and Kicking (1958), Her breakthrough role was as the daughter of Sellers' character in I'm All Right Jack (1959), for which she received a BAFTA nomination as Most Promising Newcomer. She was in several of the early Carry On films: Carry On Regardless (1961), Carry On Cruising (1962), and Carry On Cabby (1963), but was sacked by producer Peter Rogers after casually saying the series could be better marketed. She re-appeared in the series in Carry On Behind (1975), her salary apparently half of what it had been before.
Her other film appearances include Desert Mice (1959), Two-Way Stretch (1960), again with Sellers, The Bulldog Breed (1960), Double Bunk (1961) Raising the Wind (1961), On the Fiddle (1961), The Painted Smile (1962), The Americanization of Emily (1964), The Family Way (1966), Up the Junction (1968), Dad's Army (1971), and a string of sex comedies: Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1976), Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976), Adventures of a Private Eye (1977), Confessions from a Holiday Camp (1977) and Rosie Dixon – Night Nurse (1978).
Fraser was also known for her many appearances in British television series, including Hancock's Half Hour, and the Avengers episode "The Girl from Auntie" where she guest starred opposite Carry On regular Bernard Cribbins. As Elizabeth Fraser, over a period of nearly six months, she appeared in numerous editions of the Associated-Rediffusion soap opera Sixpenny Corner (1955–56). She appeared on Benny Hill's late-1950s TV shows, and in a single sketch in the 23 December 1970 episode of his Thames TV series. This episode was in black and white (owing to the "Colour Strike" by ITV technicians, who wanted to be paid extra for working with the then-new colour TV technology), and hence the sketch was not included in any of the half-hour syndicated episodes of The Benny Hill Show. However, it is included in the Volume 1 box set of the complete Benny Hill Show, issued by A&E and Fremantle.
She played Mrs Brent, the mother of a missing girl, in the television production of Agatha Christie's Nemesis, starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, in 1987. Another role was in the "Backtrack" episode of the British police series The Professionals, as Margery Harper, a glamorous woman who fenced stolen property in her shop.
Her other television work included Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Crown Court, Citizen James, Robin's Nest, Rumpole of the Bailey, Last of the Summer Wine, The Bill, Foyle's War, Birds of a Feather, Minder and Holby City.
Personal life and death
Fraser married Peter Yonwin, a travelling salesman, in November 1958, but the marriage soon broke down and they were divorced. She married her second husband, Bill Hitchcock, a TV director, in January 1965 at Harrow Register Office. They agreed not to work together, but this changed in 1972 when she appeared in the Rodney Bewes sitcom Albert!, which Hitchcock co-directed, and again later in the same year, when she acted in Turnbull's Finest Half-Hour, a comedy series starring Michael Bates and produced by Hitchcock. Hitchcock died from a pulmonary embolism in February 1974, at the age of 45. Fraser was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1978 and 1979, undergoing a lumpectomy the first time and having reconstructive surgery at the Marsden in 1979.
Fraser had a half-brother, Philip, 11 years older, the son of her mother from a previous marriage. She supported various charities and was a patron of the London Repertory Company. She was also an enthusiastic and talented poker and bridge player.
- Sixpenny Corner (1955) – Julie Perkins
- Hancock's Half Hour (1956-1960) – Various characters
- The Grove Family (1956)
- ITV Television Playhouse: "Two Ducks on a Pond" (1957) - Beryl
- Dixon of Dock Green (1957) - Jeannie Richards
- Shadow Squad (1957) - Gilda
- The Army Game (1957)
- Whack-O! (1957) - Matron
- Educated Evans (1957) – W.R.A.C. Clerk
- Dixon of Dock Green (1958) - Maisie Perkins
- Hotel Imperial (1958)
- The Sky Larks (1958) - Rose
- Educating Archie (1958)
- Murder Bag (1958)
- Dixon of Dock Green (1958) - Lena
- No Hiding Place (1959) - Rose Glorie
- Boyd Q.C. (1959)
- ITV Play of the Week (1959) - Dora
- The Vise (1959) - Betsy Linton
- ITV Television Playhouse: "Incident" (1960) - Mavis
- Knight Errant Limited (1960) - Gloria MacLean
- BBC Sunday-Night Play (1960) - Riggie
- Citizen James (1960–1962) – Liz
- Probation Officer (1962) - Lorna
- No Hiding Place (1963) - Sheba
- Harry's Girls (1963) - Sally Witherspoon
- Fire Crackers (1964) - Mary Medway
- No Hiding Place (1965) - Phyllis Nolan
- It's Not Me: It's Them! (1965) - Mrs. Ember
- The Avengers: "The Girl from AUNTIE" (1966) – Georgie Price-Jones
- Seven Deadly Virtues (1967) - Agnes
- Mickey Dunne (1967) – Maisie
- Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969): "It's Supposed to be Thicker than Water" – Fay Crackan
- Here Come the Double Deckers! (1970) - Zizi Bagor
- The Goodies: "Caught in the Act" (1970) - Miss Heffer
- The Benny Hill Show (1970) - Various Roles
- BBC The World About Us - Under London Expedition (1971) - Herself
- ITV Sunday Night Theatre (1972) - Countess Antonescu
- Jason King (1972) - Claire
- Crime of Passion (1972) - Denise
- Dear Mother...Love Albert (1972) - Ann
- Turnbull's Finest Half-Hour (1972) – Faye Bush
- Crown Court (1973) - Lady Esham ('Murder Most Foul', episode)
- Seven Faces of Woman (1977) - Delilah Brown
- Rumpole of the Bailey (1978): "Rumpole and the Alternative Society" - Bobby Dogherty
- Robin's Nest (1978): "The Happy Hen" - Vera
- The Professionals: "Backtrack" (1979) – Margery Harper
- Shroud for a Nightingale (1984) – Sister Mavis Gearing
- Fairly Secret Army (1984–1986) – Doris Entwhistle
- Miss Marple: "Nemesis" (1987) – Mrs. Brent
- Hardwicke House (1987) - Agnes
- Rude Health (1988) - Mrs. Joy
- ScreenPlay (1988) - Mrs. Dewey
- The Lady and the Highwayman (1988) - Flossie
- Capstick's Law (1989) - Florence Smith
- Birds of a Feather: "Just Family" (1991) – Olive Stubbs
- Minder: "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Retiring" (1993) – Delilah
- Demob (1993) - Edith
- The Bill (1994) - Grace Walsh
- Wales Playhouse (1996) - Nel
- Drover's Gold (1997) - Ma Whistler
- Hold to Zero (2000) - Grace
- Last of the Summer Wine (2000) – Reggie Unsworth
- Pickles: The Dog Who Won the World Cup (2006) - Ada
- Doctors (2006) – Beryl Gifford
- Foyle's War (2007) – Mollie Summersgill
- Holby City (2007) – Tabitha Blackstock
- Midsomer Murders: "Till Death Do Us Part" (2018) – Marcia Jackson
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