Felicity Ann Kendal|
25 September 1946
Olton, Warwickshire, England
|Relatives||Jennifer Kendal (sister)|
Felicity Ann Kendal CBE (born 25 September 1946) is an English actress, working in television and theatre. She has appeared in numerous stage and screen roles over a 45-year career, but the role that brought attention to her career was that of Barbara Good in the 1975 television series The Good Life.
Felicity Kendal was born in Olton, Warwickshire, England, in 1946. She is the younger daughter of Geoffrey Kendal, an actor and manager, and his wife Laura Liddell. Her sister, Jennifer Kendal (died 1984, aged 51), was also an actress.
After early years in Birmingham, Kendal went to India with her family at age seven: her father was an English actor-manager who led his own repertory company on tours of India. The ensemble would perform Shakespeare before royalty one day and in rough rural villages the next, where audiences included many schoolchildren. As the family travelled, Kendal attended six Loreto College convent schools in India, and contracted typhoid fever in Calcutta at age 17. She left India at age 20.
The Good Life
In 1975 Kendal had her big break on television with the BBC sitcom The Good Life. She and Richard Briers starred as Barbara and Tom Good – a middle-class suburban couple who decide to quit the rat race and become self-sufficient, much to the consternation of their snooty but well-meaning neighbour Margo and her down-to-earth husband Jerry Leadbetter (played by Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington). Kendal appeared in all 30 episodes, which extended over four series from 1975 to 1978.
Kendal has said that she can be "short-tempered and difficult", in contrast to the generally cheerful, patient and upbeat Barbara, with whom the public have come to associate her.
She made her London stage debut in Minor Murder (1967), and went on to star in a number of well regarded plays.
Kendal's stage career blossomed during the 1980s and 1990s when she formed a close professional association with Tom Stoppard, starring in the first productions of many of his plays, including The Real Thing (1982), Hapgood (1988), Arcadia (1993), and Indian Ink (1995). This last was originally a radio play and the role was written for her.
In 2013 she starred in the first London revival of Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn at the Wyndham's Theatre. In 2014, she toured the UK and Australia as Judith Bliss in Noël Coward's Hay Fever, which then played in the West End.
Kendal has appeared in many television series (both before and after The Good Life), including:
From 1976, Kendal has appeared as herself in about 40 television shows and documentaries, the most recent being:
- Strictly Come Dancing (series 8), (2010) – partnered with Vincent Simone. The couple were eliminated in the eighth week (staged in Blackpool).
- Felicity Kendal's Indian Shakespeare Quest, (2012)
- Piers Morgan's Life Stories, (2012)
Kendal's film roles are:
- Shakespeare Wallah (1965) – as Lizzie Buckingham. The film (by Merchant Ivory) was loosely based on the Kendal family's real-life experiences in post-colonial India.
- Valentino (1977) – as June Mathis
- We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993) – voiced Elsa
- Parting Shots (1999) – as Jill Saunders
- How Proust Can Change Your Life, (2000) – as narrator
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- 1976 – Most Promising Newcomer – Variety Club
- 1979 – Best Actress – Variety Club
- 1980 – Clarence Derwent Award
- 1981 – Rear of the Year
- 1984 – Woman of the Year – Best Actress – Variety Club
- 1989 – Best Actress – Evening Standard Theatre Awards
Kendal's first marriage to Drewe Henley (1968–79) and her second to Michael Rudman (1983–90) ended in divorce. Kendal has two sons: Charley, from her marriage to Henley, and Jacob, from her marriage to Rudman. In 1991 she left Rudman, and subsequently started a relationship with playwright Tom Stoppard. The affair with Stoppard ended in 1998, and Kendal has since reunited with Michael Rudman.
Kendal was brought up as a Catholic. She converted to Judaism at the time of her second marriage, and has stated about the conversion, "I felt I was returning to my roots". Her conversion took more than three years; she has stated that her decision to convert had "nothing to do" with her husband.
In 1998 Kendal published a book of memoirs titled White Cargo.
When asked (by The Guardian in 2010) whom she would invite to her "dream dinner party", Kendal replied "Emmeline Pankhurst, Gandhi, Byron, Eddie Izzard, George Bernard Shaw, Golda Meir, and Marlene Dietrich".
- "Felicity Kendal". Strictly Come Dancing. BBC Online. 2000. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "Shakespeare Wallah". Merchant Ivory Productions. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- McGibbon, Rob (10 February 2012). "Felicity Kendal: The Good Life portrayed me as sweetness and light, but I can be difficult and very short-tempered". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- Kendal 1998.
- "Meet Jennifer Kendal". Good Wrench. 2000. Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Desert Island Discs Revisited, The Good Life, Felicity Kendal". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- Greenstreet, Rosanna (27 March 2010). "Q&A: Felicity Kendal". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- "Felicity Kendal and Simon Callow to Star in U.K. Tour of Classic Comedy Chin-Chin" by Mark Shenton, Playbill, 16 July 2013
- "Relatively Speaking, Wyndham's Theatre, review" by Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph, 21 May 2013
- "Hay Fever review – hysteria rules as Felicity Kendal does Coward" by Michael Billington, The Guardian, 28 August 2014
- "Win tickets to Noel Coward's Hay Fever!", 774 ABC Melbourne, 8 October 2014
- "History of Event". Rear of the Year. 2012. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- "No. 53893". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1994. p. 9.
- Garvey, Anne (26 October 2006). "Felicity Kendal's good (Jewish) life". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- Hardy, Rebecca (2 October 2010). "'I've never felt sexier': Felicity Kendal on men, her new tattoos – and why she can't wait to sizzle on Strictly". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- "Felicity Kendal interview with Saga Magazine". www.saga.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.