|Born||Meredith Lee Hughes
31 May 1948
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||19 October 2014
|Cause of death||Colon cancer|
|Occupation||Broadcaster, actress, author|
(m. 1975–1976; divorced)
(m. 1981–1996; divorced)
(m. 2008–2014; her death)
Lynda Bellingham, OBE (born Meredith Lee Hughes; 31 May 1948 – 19 October 2014) was a Canadian-born English actress, broadcaster and author, who starred in the long-running series of "Oxo Family" British TV adverts between 1983 and 1999, the drama series All Creatures Great and Small, Second Thoughts and Faith in the Future. She was a panellist on the ITV lunchtime chat show Loose Women between 2007 and 2011.
Bellingham was born in Montreal to a single mother, Marjorie Hughes Bond (1917–2012), but was given up for adoption aged four months because she was born out of wedlock in a strict church-going family. Her adoptive parents were Donald and Ruth Bellingham, who lived in Aston Abbotts in Buckinghamshire, England. Bellingham was educated at Aylesbury High School and trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Film and television
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Bellingham made her television début as a nurse in an ITV afternoon soap opera of the 1970s, General Hospital. Her early film credits included roles in Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976), Sweeney! (1977), Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977), and Riding High (1981) with Eddie Kidd. She also appeared in the comedy short The Waterloo Bridge Handicap (1978) opposite Leonard Rossiter.
Other prominent roles included in the James Herriot drama All Creatures Great and Small (in which she was the second actress to play Helen Herriot on television, replacing Carol Drinkwater), the 1980 Andrea Newman drama series Mackenzie, and the situation comedy Second Thoughts and its sequel, Faith in the Future.
Bellingham appeared in the 14-part Doctor Who serial The Trial of a Time Lord in 1986 as the Inquisitor. She reprised the Inquisitor character for the Big Finish Productions audio series, Gallifrey, and in the Big Finish Productions audio drama Trial of the Valeyard (which she recorded only a few months before announcing her cancer). She starred as Emily Marlowe in the film The Scarlet Tunic in 1998, and appeared in Gleb Panfilov's The Romanovs: A Crowned Family as Empress Alexandra the following year.
From 2000-03, Bellingham played Pauline Farnell, the compassionate accountant in At Home with the Braithwaites opposite Amanda Redman and former All Creatures Great and Small colleague Peter Davison. For several months in 2004 she had a recurring role in The Bill as villainess Irene Radford, and appeared as Marlene in Devil's Gate the same year. Bellingham had a role in the ITV comedy Bonkers playing Mrs Wadlow, a man-eating suburban housewife who seduces her neighbour's teenage son and turns him into her gigolo. Later that year, she filmed guest appearances in episodes of Love Soup and Robin Hood.
Bellingham played the central character in the long-running "Oxo Family" series of TV commercials, starting in 1983, playing a mother who binds her family together by cooking them meals featuring Oxo products. The advertisements typically featured the family sitting down to a meal at which Oxo gravy would be served. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the family were seen to grow older. When the campaign was retired in 1999, the family moved out of the house.
In 2007, Bellingham joined Loose Women and continued as a regular panellist until 2011.
Strictly Come Dancing
In 2009, Bellingham was one of the contestants in the seventh series of Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC ratings winner, where she was partnered with Darren Bennett. However, she was voted out by the judges in the fourth week.
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' scores||Result|
|Craig Revel Horwood||Alesha Dixon||Len Goodman||Bruno Tonioli||Total|
|1||Tango / "Under Pressure"||3||6||7||5||21||Safe|
|2||Cha-Cha-Cha / "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"||5||6||6||6||23||Safe|
|3||Paso Doble / "Devil Woman"||5||7||7||6||25||Bottom Two|
|4||Foxtrot / "Calendar Girl"||5||7||6||6||24||Eliminated|
In 2011, Bellingham featured in a short film entitled Too Close for Comfort, playing the character of a mother to her real-life son, actor Michael Peluso. Bellingham and Peluso reprised their roles for the follow-up web series of the same name in 2014. Mirroring Bellingham's personal life, her character had developed cancer.
Twice in the 1960s, Bellingham appeared in the Pendley Open Air Shakespeare Festival.
In October 2007, Bellingham appeared in a play entitled Vincent River at the Trafalgar Studios in London. Her performance received critical acclaim and it was announced on Loose Women in early 2008 that the play would be moving to Broadway in July of that year, although this never transpired.
From September 2008 to July 2009, Bellingham played the role of Chris Harper in the stage version of the hit film Calendar Girls on tour and at the Noël Coward Theatre in the West End. She returned to the show for further tours in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Over the Christmas/New Year period of 2011/12, she played Fairy Godmother in the pantomime Cinderella at the Birmingham Hippodrome. She played the role again at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford over the Christmas/New Year period of 2012/13.
Bellingham was due to star in Kay Mellor's play A Passionate Woman at the Sheffield Crucible, followed by a national tour, however, it was announced in July 2013 that the show had to be postponed due to Bellingham's cancer treatment.
In 2010, Bellingham launched her book Lost and Found, a story of her life and career and toured the country for private readings.
In 2014, Bellingham released her autobiography There's Something I'm Dying to Tell You, released just weeks before her death.
Illness and death
In September 2014, Bellingham confirmed that her cancer had metastasized to her lungs and liver and that she had "months to live". She announced that she had made the choice in August 2014 to stop her chemotherapy in November, so that she could have "one last Christmas" with her family and die in January 2015. However, Bellingham died in a London hospital on 19 October 2014 with her husband Michael and friend Nickolas Grace by her side.
A few weeks before her death, Bellingham's official website was taken down, with the message: "We're very sorry, at the request of Lynda and Michael we have temporarily taken the website offline."
- Lynda Bellingham, Lost and Found: My Story (Ebury Press, 2010) ISBN 978-0091936419
- Lynda Bellingham, Tell Me Tomorrow (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2014) ISBN 978-1471102813
- Lynda Bellingham, There's Something I've Been Dying to Tell You (Coronet, 2014) ISBN 978-1473608566
- Alasdair Glennie, "Loose Women's Lynda Bellingham devastated to be excluded from mother's funeral", Daily Mail, 18 March 2012.
- Anna Pukas, "Lynda Bellingham: I found my real mum at last but still can't respect her for giving me away", Daily Express, 13 March 2010.
- "Lynda Bellingham - obituary". The Telegraph. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Obituary: Lynda Bellingham". BBC News. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Davies, Caroline (22 October 2014). "Lynda Bellingham's last interview screened just days after her death". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Sheridan, Simon (1 May 2009). "Greg Smith: Producer of the 'Confessions' films". The Independent.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2013.
- Weaver, Matthew (20 October 2014). "Lynda Bellingham, actor and presenter, dies aged 66". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Actress Lynda Bellingham has cancer". BBC News. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Alistair Foster, "Lynda Bellingham: 'I will deal with this cancer, I’m not going to die'", London Evening Standard, 16 July 2013.
- Trueman, Matt (16 July 2013). "Lynda Bellingham diagnosed with cancer". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "Lynda Bellingham may have months to live", Sky News, 28 September 2014.
- "Ex-Loose Women star Lynda Bellingham: My cancer is terminal and I only have months to live", Daily Record, 28 September 2014.
- Hannah Stephenson, "Ex-Loose Women star Lynda Bellingham: I want one last Christmas with my family before saying goodbye and going to sleep", Daily Record, 29 September 2014.
- "Lynda Bellingham: Tributes paid after actress dies at 66". BBC News. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Lynda Bellingham official website; accessed 23 September 2015.
- Lynda Bellingham funeral, dailymail.co.uk; accessed 23 September 2015.