Philippa Baker (actress)
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Philippa Baker (born 1931), is a retired Australian actress of radio, theatre, television and film best known for her role in the 1970s television soap opera/serial Number 96, as well as its feature film version playing Russian-born deli assistant Roma Godolfus, opposite Johnny Lockwood. She has appeared in numerous TV movies, serials and mini-series.
Early life, radio, television and theatre
Baker was born in Australia and initially was a librarian. She switched to acting in the late 1940s. After several theatre roles she acted in long-running radio serial Blue Hills, spending five years portraying a Scottish nurse. When television began in Australia she acted in televised plays for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and in series such as Division 4 and Homicide.
Baker joined Number 96 as Mrs Roma Lubinski early in its run in 1972, becoming part of a comedy double-act with Johnny Lockwood who played her character's soon-to-be husband Aldo, the deli proprietor. They continued in the series until the end of 1974 when they were abruptly written out of the series with the attached publicity, but they were returned to the show less-than two months later. The departures of Aldo and Roma had been planned as only a temporary absence all along; press reports of the characters being "dropped" from the show had just been an all-along publicity stunt.
The Bomb blast storyline
By August 1975, the program's ratings had entered a slump, and a drastic revamp of the show was planned. The writers decided to write out several high profile characters, including Aldo and Roma. In early September 1975, in one of the series iconic story arcs, a bomb blast tore through the Number 96 apartment killing four residents, including characters Roma and Aldo. Philippa Baker along with Johnny Lockwood would appear in a documentary the following year to present a segment celebrating the show's 1000 episode retrospective, titled ….And They Said It Wouldn't Last .
In 1976, Baker joined the comedy series The Norman Gunston Show and was featured in a recurring sketch, entitled The Checkout Chicks, which was a parody of melodramatic soap operas set in a supermarket, and mostly featured other former Number 96 actors, including Abigail, Vivienne Garrett, Candy Raymond, Judy Lynne and Anne Louise Lambert.
Baker subsequently made various appearances in films and on stage and television. She had small roles in high profile productions Annie's Coming Out (1984) and Young Einstein (1988). When not acting, Baker returned to her career as a public librarian until her retirement.
- Fawcett, Tony. "The Double Life of Mrs Godolfus!" TV Week. 4 August 1973, p.20