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Obituary: Rita Davies

Rita Davies Rita Davies
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Rita Davies, who has died after a short illness aged 82, enjoyed a golden autumn as a much in-demand presence on television and film. Roles in such BBC stalwarts as Casualty, Holby City and Doctors were contrasted by The Trip with Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, and appearances in Sherlock and House of Anubis, which introduced her to generations of children. She thoroughly enjoyed her cameo in The Da Vinci Code whose director, Ron Howard, she “adored”.

Davies delighted in her long association with The Actors Centre where she took classes in the teachings pioneered by Sanford Meisner. The experience seemed to liberate her and she acquired an enhanced screen presence with an emotional immediacy that in the words of her daughter “could always make you cry”. It was a strange irony that her career did not take flight until her late middle age.

Rita Davies was born in rural Herefordshire but grew up in Brighton where she trained at the Florence Moore Theatre Studios. She then went into Rep, notably as an Assistant Stage Manager at Swansea. Moving to London, she met and married future Monty Python director Ian Macnaughton and largely withdrew from acting to bring up the couple’s two children. After divorcing in 1978, Davies returned to the theatre with credits at the Watermill, the Orange Tree, Theatr Clwyd and the National. She made several appearances on Monty Python’s Flying Circus and is featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Davies amassed scores of television credits, playing characters known variously as Old Lady, Old Woman and Old Hag. She was soon cast in more substantial roles, invariably in medical dramas. It was the ultimate irony that she should die only three days after her character was seen expiring in an episode of Casualty.

A keen gardener, she also enjoyed the occasional margarita and was obsessed by finding the perfect cup of coffee. She is survived by her children and by two grandsons.

Rita Davies was born on February 24, 1933 and died on January 19.

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