Yvonne Gilan

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Yvonne Gilan
Born (1931-10-12) 12 October 1931 (age 83)
London, England
Nationality British
Occupation Actress, writer, vocal coach
Spouse(s) Michael Gill (deceased)
Website http://www.yvonnegilan.co.uk/

Yvonne Gilan (born 12 October 1931) is an English actress who is best remembered for her portrayal of Mrs. Peignoir in Fawlty Towers.

Early Work[edit]

In 1964 she wrote a short fantasy film, The Peaches, starring Juliet Harmer, with a small cameo role for her son, Adrian as a bespectacled chess player. The film became the British choice for the Cannes Film Festival, and won several international awards.

Her comic skills were displayed earlier in Alan Bennett's comedy series On the Margin (1966). Gilan's acting career has also included roles in Z-Cars (1967) as Vera Cowley, Dixon of Dock Green (1969), Crossroads (1976) as Eileen Blythe, a few episodes of Dr. Finlay's Casebook (1963–69) in several roles and The House of Elliot as Ruth Bannister. Her film credits include Agatha (1979) as Mrs. Braithwaite, Chariots of Fire (1981) as Mrs. Liddell, and Empire of the Sun (1987) as Mrs. Lockwood.

Fawlty Towers[edit]

Her Fawlty Towers appearance in "The Wedding Party", first transmitted on 3 October 1975, was as a French antiques dealer who seemed to have a soft spot for Basil Fawlty. She had an unusual take on his character: "Are you a romantic, Mr. Fawlty..? Well, I think you are. I think beneath that English exterior throbs a passion that would make Lord Byron look like a tobacconist."

In May 2009 G.O.L.D. screened Fawlty Towers: Re-Opened, a show that brought the original Fawlty Towers cast back together for the first time since Torquay's most notorious hotel closed. In the show, Gilan was interviewed and suggested that her French accent sounded more like a Hungarian accent to her now.

Later Career[edit]

Since 1980 she has worked as a motivational speaker at the Oxford Said Business School, helping leaders improve their presentation and communication skills,[1] and lectures at the Imperial College, London. She has been awarded Fellowships from both the London Business School and the Saïd Business School.

In 2003 Gilan was consulted on picking the right voice for 118 118 directory enquiry service,[2]

Personal life[edit]

At Edinburgh University Gilan met Michael Gill, later to have career as a television director and producer; they married in 1951 and had two sons, Adrian and Nicholas, but their marriage was dissolved in 1978.[3] Adrian is now known as A.A. Gill, the British newspaper columnist and writer. Her younger son Nicholas (Nick), a talented chef, unaccountably disappeared in 1998, and has not been heard from since. "He was an incredibly successful Michelin-starred chef, but he had reached rock bottom".[4]


  1. ^ "Meet Our Trainers". Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Welsh accent". BBC. 21 February 2003. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Paul Levy (24 October 2005). "Michael Gill (obituary)". London: The Independent, 24 October 2005. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  4. ^ Rumbelow, Helen (14 March 2005). "Missing persons charity faces closure". London: Times Online, 14 March 2005. Retrieved 23 May 2009.