Una Stubbs

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Una Stubbs
Una Stubbs, filming Sherlock (2015) cropped2.jpg
Stubbs in 2015, while filming Sherlock
Born(1937-05-01)1 May 1937
Died12 August 2021(2021-08-12) (aged 84)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Occupation(s)Actress, dancer, TV presenter
Years active1956–2017
(m. 1958; div. 1969)
(m. 1969; div. 1975)
Children3; including Christian Henson
RelativesEbenezer Howard (great-grandfather)
Geoffrey Howard (uncle)

Una Stubbs (1 May 1937 – 12 August 2021) was an English actress, television personality and dancer who appeared on British television and in the theatre, and occasionally in films. She became known after appearing in the film Summer Holiday (1963) and later played Rita Rawlins in the BBC sitcoms Till Death Us Do Part (1965–1975) and In Sickness and in Health (1985–1992). Her other television roles include Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge (1979–1981) and Miss Bat in The Worst Witch (1998–2001). She also appeared as Sherlock Holmes's landlady Mrs. Hudson in the BAFTA-winning television series Sherlock (2010–2017).


As a 16-year-old, in 1953, she danced in a Folies Bergère-style musical revue, "Pardon My French", at the Prince of Wales Theatre, alongside Frankie Howerd and the pianist Winifred Atwell. She first appeared on television as one of the Dougie Squires Dancers on the British television music show Cool for Cats in 1956.[1][2] She also appeared as a dancer at the London Palladium.[3] and worked in cabaret, clubs and revues in London, and was one of Lionel Blair's dance ensemble.[4]

During 1958–59, Stubbs was the "cover girl" of Dairy Box chocolates, produced by Rowntree's.[5] She referred to herself as the "Rowntrees Chocolate Girl", when describing a visit she made to the Rowntree's factory in York (where, unknown to her, her grandfather had worked).[6]

In 1963, she joined the cast of new charades-based gameshow Don't Say a Word (ITV), a forerunner of Give Us a Clue.[3] Her first screen role was in the Cliff Richard film, Summer Holiday (1963). She also appeared in Richard's next film, Wonderful Life (1964). Soon afterwards, she made her breakthrough in television comedy, playing Rita, the married daughter of Alf Garnett in the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part (1966–1975). In 1968, as a direct spin off from the sitcom, she appeared, alongside Warren Mitchell, in a series of television adverts for Findus frozen products.[7]

She also appeared in the short-lived sitcom Till Death... (1981), again playing Rita.[8] She played Rita a third time in a few episodes of the BBC sitcom In Sickness and in Health (1985–1992).[9] During 1970–71, Stubbs teamed again with Cliff Richard to appear each week on his BBC1 TV Series, It's Cliff Richard!.[9] When she did not take part in the next series as it was broadcast shortly after she had a baby, her TV "mother", Dandy Nichols from Till Death Us Do Part, took her place.[10]

Stubbs featured in the Fawlty Towers episode "The Anniversary" in 1979.[11] From 1979 to 1981, she played Aunt Sally in the ITV children's series Worzel Gummidge opposite Jon Pertwee and Barbara Windsor,[12] and was for several years a team captain in the weekly game show Give Us a Clue in the 1980s, reuniting her with Lionel Blair, the other team captain.[2]

She appeared in the shows Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat, Casualty, Keeping Up Appearances, Born and Bred and The Worst Witch.[11][13] In recent years, Stubbs also appeared in Victoria Wood's We'd Quite Like to Apologise, The Catherine Tate Show, Agatha Christie's Marple, EastEnders, Benidorm and, from 2010, Sherlock as Mrs. Hudson.[11][14][15] She appeared in an episode of Call the Midwife in 2015.[11]

Stubbs was on the West End stage in Noël Coward's Star Quality with Penelope Keith in 2001 and Friedrich Schiller's Don Carlos with Derek Jacobi in 2005.[16][2] Her other theatre credits included La Cage Aux Folles at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Pygmalion at the Theatre Royal, Bath and Old Vic and The Family Reunion at the Donmar Warehouse. She was in the original cast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre in 2012.[2]

In 2015 she co-presented The Big Painting Challenge on BBC One alongside Richard Bacon.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Stubbs was born in 1937 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire,[17] the daughter of Angela K. Rawlinson and Clarence Reginald Stubbs.[4] She grew up in Hinckley, Leicestershire,[18] and was sent to La Roche dancing school in Slough by her mother.[3] She was married to the actor Peter Gilmore from 1958 to 1969: they adopted a son, Jason. After their divorce in 1969, she married actor Nicky Henson. They divorced in 1975 but remained good friends. She and Henson had two children: composer Christian Henson (born 25 December 1971), and musician-composer Joe Henson (born 18 September 1973).[19]

For many years, Stubbs sketched vignettes of characters around London, and held exhibitions of these near her Mayfair home.[20] On several occasions, paintings by Stubbs were exhibited at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition, most recently in 2020.[21]

Stubbs had known her Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch since he was four years old, as she had worked with his mother, Wanda Ventham.[22] Stubbs was the subject of an episode of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?, broadcast on 24 July 2013. It discussed several of her ancestors, including her great-grandfather Sir Ebenezer Howard, who was the founder of the garden city movement, and was the driving force in the design and creation of the first garden cities, Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City, situated in Hertfordshire.[23]

After several months of ill health, Stubbs died at her home in Edinburgh on 12 August 2021, at the age of 84.[24]



Year Title Role Notes Ref
1963 Summer Holiday Sandy [11]
West 11 Girl on Her Knees at Party Uncredited
1964 The Bargee Bridesmaid Uncredited [15]
Wonderful Life Barbara Tate [11]
1965 Three Hats for Lisa Flora [11]
1967 Mister Ten Per Cent Lady Dorothea [11]
1969 Till Death Us Do Part Rita Garnett Rawlins [11]
1973 Penny Gold Anna [11]
1974 Bedtime with Rosie Rosie [11]
1978 The Water Babies Voice
2007 Angel Miss Dawson [25]
2016 National Theatre Live: Les Liaisons Dangereuses Madame de Rosemond
Golden Years Shirley [11]


Year Title Role Notes Ref
1960 The Strange World of Gurney Slade Vacuum Cleaner Girl / Girl in Park 2 episodes [11]
1966–1975 Till Death Us Do Part Rita Garnett Rawlins 52 episodes [11]
1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Katie Harris Episode: "The Woman in the Big Hat" [11]
1970–1972 It's Cliff Richard! Herself 33 episodes [11]
1979 Fawlty Towers Alice Episode: "The Anniversary" [11]
1979–1981 Worzel Gummidge Aunt Sally 21 episodes [11]
1979–1985 Give Us a Clue Herself Multiple episodes [11]
1981 Till Death... Rita Garnett Rawlins 6 episodes [8]
1985–1986 In Sickness and in Health Rita Garnett Rawlins 9 episodes [9]
1987–1989 Worzel Gummidge Down Under Aunt Sally 22 episodes [26]
1989 Victoria Wood Una Episode: "We'd Quite Like to Apologise" [14]
1995 Keeping Up Appearances Mrs. Moody Episode: "The Pageant" [11]
1995, 1997 Heartbeat Anthea Cowley 2 episodes [11]
1996 Delta Wave Gilly Pigeon 4 episodes [11]
1998 Midsomer Murders Selina Jennings Episode: "Written in Blood" [11]
2000 Casualty Joan Banville Episode: "Not Waving but Drowning" [13]
1998–2000 The Worst Witch Miss Davina Bat 25 episodes [11]
2003 Born and Bred Joy Episode: "A Very Ormston Christmas" [27]
2004 Von Trapped Kath Moogan TV movie [15]
2005–2007 The Catherine Tate Show Carole-Ann & Ursula 4 episodes [15]
2006 EastEnders Caroline Bishop 6 episodes [15]
2006 Agatha Christie's Marple Edith Pagett Episode: "Sleeping Murder" [15]
2007–2009 Mist: Sheepdog Tales Fern 23 episodes [15]
2009 Benidorm Diana Armstrong Season 3 Episode 5 [11]
2009 Ingenious Gransha TV movie [11]
2010–2017 Sherlock Mrs. Hudson 13 episodes [11]
2011 The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff Aunt Good Spelling Episode: "Christmas Special" [28]
2012 National Theatre Live Mrs. Alexander Episode: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" [29]
2013 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself Series 10, Episode 1 [30]
2013 Starlings Molly 4 episodes [15]
2013 Coming Up Cynthia Episode: "Sink Or Swim" [11]
2013 The Tractate Middoth Miss Chambers [15]
2015 Midsomer Murders Audrey Braylesford Episode 17.1 "The Dagger Club" [11]
2015 The Big Painting Challenge Co-Presenter Series 1 [31]
2015 Call The Midwife Gert Mills Episode #4.7 [11]
2017 The Durrells Mrs. Haddock Series 2, Episode 4 [11]
2017 Murder on the Blackpool Express Peggy TV movie, (final film role) [32]

Audio dramas[edit]

Year Title Role Ref
2007 Doctor Who: Horror of Glam Rock Flo [33]


Year Title Playwright Director Role Venue Ref
1990 She Stoops to Conquer Oliver Goldsmith James Maxwell Mrs Hardcastle Royal Exchange, Manchester [34]
1992 An Ideal Husband Oscar Wilde James Maxwell Lady Markby Royal Exchange, Manchester [2]
1996 The Philadelphia Story Philip Barry Josephine Abady Margaret Lord Royal Exchange, Manchester [35]
1997 The Deep Blue Sea Terence Rattigan Michael Grandage Hester Collyer Mercury Theatre, Colchester [36]
2001 Star Quality Noël Coward Christopher Luscombe Marion Blakely Apollo Theatre, London [16]
2005 Don Carlos Friedrich von Schiller Michael Grandage Duchess of Olivarez Gielgud Theatre, London [2][37]


  1. ^ "Cool for Cats – Beginnings". www.coolforcats.freeuk.com. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Coveney, Michael (12 August 2021). "Una Stubbs obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "BFI Screenonline: Stubbs, Una (1937–) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Una Stubbs – Who Do You Think You Are – A regular in television and film for 50 years..." Thegenealogist.com. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Nestlé archive shows the history of Rowntree's chocolate". York Press. York. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2014. Alex points out a photo of Una Stubbs, who was used as the cover girl for Dairy Box.
  6. ^ Who Do You Think You Are?, "Una Stubbs", Director Mary Cranitch, Producer Colette Flight, BBC, 2013, approx 26 minutes
  7. ^ "StackPath". www.hatads.org.uk. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  8. ^ a b Jameson, Greg (10 February 2019). "Till Death… DVD review". entertainment-focus.com. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  9. ^ a b c Flockhart, Gary (13 August 2021). "Veteran film and television actress Una Stubbs dies at home in Edinburgh aged 84". scotsman.com. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  10. ^ Kieran Galpin (13 August 2021). "Sherlock star Una Stubbs dies aged 84 | JOE.co.uk". Joe. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae "Una Stubbs". BFI. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  12. ^ Bagwell, Matt (12 August 2021). "Una Stubbs, Worzel Gummidge And EastEnders Actor, Has Died Aged 84". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Casualty: Not Waving But Drowning". tvmaze.com. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  14. ^ a b "We'd Quite Like to Apologise (1989)". BFI. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tribe, Steve (2014). Sherlock: Chronicles. Random House. p. 149. ISBN 9781448142262.
  16. ^ a b "Theatre review: Star Quality". The Guardian. 1 November 2001. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  17. ^ Barnett, Laura (14 January 2014). "Una Stubbs, actor – portrait of the artist". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Una Stubbs: My family values". The Guardian. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  19. ^ Stubbs to join ex-husband in soap BBC News 23 May 2006
  20. ^ "The Panter & Hall Gallery". 9 May 2012. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  21. ^ "801 – A NEW HAT by Una Stubbs". Se.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  22. ^ Margy Rochlin. "Q & A With Una Stubbs: The Joy of Victoria Sponges + Getting Sherlock Holmes to Eat". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  23. ^ "Una Stubbs". Who Do You Think You Are?. Series 10. Episode 1. 24 July 2013. BBC Television. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  24. ^ "Actress Una Stubbs dies at 84". BBC News. 12 August 2021. Retrieved 12 August 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ Schilt, Thibaut (2011). Francois Ozon. University of Illinois Press. p. 173. ISBN 9780252093043.
  26. ^ Geoff Herbert (13 August 2021). "Sherlock and Worzel Gummidge star Una Stubbs dies aged 84". Stuff. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  27. ^ "Born and Bred (2002)". DVD Locker. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  28. ^ "BBC Two – The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, Christmas Episode". BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  29. ^ Coveney, Michael (4 August 2012). "First Night: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time". The Independent. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  30. ^ "BBC One – Who Do You Think You Are?, Series 10, Una Stubbs". BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  31. ^ "BBC One – The Big Painting Challenge, Landscapes". BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  32. ^ Calderbank, Matthew (13 August 2021). "Johnny Vegas remembers Murder On The Blackpool Express co-star Una Stubbs as "an absolute light"". blackpoolgazette.co.uk. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  33. ^ "1.3. HORROR OF GLAM ROCK". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  34. ^ "Production of She Stoops to Conquer". theatricalia.com. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  35. ^ News, Manchester Evening (15 February 2007). "The Actress: 'My glasses flew and so did I'". Manchester Evening News. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  36. ^ "Programme for 'The Deep Blue Sea' by Terence Rattigan".
  37. ^ "Don Carlos London theatre stage show". www.thisistheatre.com. 6 January 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2021.

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