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Obituary: Petra Davies

Petra Davies pictured in 2000

Petra Davies, who has died at the age of 85, was a familiar face on television for more than four decades.

She was at her elegant best in costume dramas, notably in the family saga Whiteoaks (1951) and as Amelia Sedley in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1956) and Jane Fairfax in Jane Austen’s Emma (1960).

Trained at RADA in 1947-49, she spent her early career in touring theatre, revues and at the Palace Theatre, Watford.

She was seen in The Rivals alongside Kay Hammond and Athene Seyler at the Saville Theatre (1956), and shared the stage of Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre with Donald Wolfit in the drama A Stranger in the Tea (1960). She also took the role of Mollie Ralston in The Mousetrap at the Ambassadors Theatre briefly in 1962.

She returned to the West End as Elizabeth in Sheila Hancock’s production of Pride and Prejudice at the Arts Theatre and was an admired Masha in The Three Sisters at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, in 1981.

She was last seen on screen in a 1991 episode of the Ruth Rendell Mysteries before retired from acting shortly after.

An opera buff with an appreciable mezzo-soprano singing voice of her own, in 1954 she recorded an album, The Cost of Loving.

She was married to the actor Jack May (The Archers’ Nelson Gabriel) for 40 years until his death in 1997, and is survived by two children.

Petra Davies was born on July 24, 1930 and died on March 22, aged 85.

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