Anna Keaveney

The Stage

Actress Anna Keaveney, who died on November 20 aged 55, had a prolific career in television and was best known to viewers for her role as Marie Jackson in the soap Brookside, which she played for 12 years from 1982. Ten years previously she caught the public eye when she appeared as April Brooks in Emmerdale Farm, as the soap Emmerdale was then known.

Born in Runcorn, Cheshire on October 5, 1949, Keaveney appeared in repertory before breaking into television and films. With her striking looks and distinctive voice she was rarely out of work and played both leading and character roles in series such as the prison drama Within These Walls, Heartbeat and Peak Practice.

She was the matron in the ITV drama Footballers’ Wives and had a scene stealing cameo role as Tom Farrell’s mother, Sheila, in the BBC comedy Gimme Gimme Gimme. More recently she appeared with Richard Wilson in King of Fridges and with Martin Clunes in Doc Martin.

Keaveney’s stage career included several seasons at the National Theatre, where she appeared in Neaptide, Private Lives and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

She made a number of films, playing Jeanette, the holidaymaker from hell, in Willy Russell’s bittersweet romantic drama Shirley Valentine (1989), Lady Marchant in Plunkett & Macleane (1999) and the secretary in Ali G Indahouse, to name but a few. Earlier this year she played Nellie in Mike Leigh’s award-winning film Vera Drake.

The actress had suffered from lung cancer.

Patrick Newley

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