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Obituary: Rosemary Frankau

Rosemary Frankau in the early 1960s

My mother, Rosemary Frankau, who died of emphysema two days after her 84th birthday, was an actor best known for playing Beattie in the sitcom Terry and June.

She was born in London, to the comedian Ronald Frankau and the actress Renee Roberts (who later played the role of Miss Gatsby in Fawlty Towers). Her half-brother was John Frankau, a television producer and director, and father of the actor Nicholas Frankau.

Evacuated during the Blitz to the Kent countryside, she was afterwards sent to boarding school at Monkton Wyld in Dorset, paid for by her aunt, the Cambridge literary scholar Joan Bennett.

After graduating from RADA in her 20s, she learned her trade in the flourishing British repertory theatre of the 1950s, touring around the country. She played many parts on stage, a personal favourite being the role of Cherie in Bus Stop. She spent happy years working for Hazel Vincent Wallace at Leatherhead Theatre.

As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, she played Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1962, a production directed by Peter Hall and starring Judi Dench and Ian Richardson.

She moved into screen acting in the late 1950s, and appeared in many TV shows. She came to specialise, like her father, in comedy. Her screen career included roles in Emergency-Ward 10 (1957), General Hospital (1973-75), Within These Walls (1975), Robin’s Nest (1977), Yes Minister (1981), No Place Like Home (1984-86), Bergerac (1987), Boon (1990), 2point4 Children (1993) and Ken Loach’s film Ladybird Ladybird (1994).

In 1968, she married my father, the Australian television director Bill Bain. We lived first in Ham, then in Twickenham in a house bought from my father’s friend and colleague Edward Woodward. My father directed her in Callan (1967) and The Duchess of Duke Street (1977).

After Bill’s death from cancer in 1982, she lived with the actor Richard Vernon for several years, before her happy second marriage in 1997 to Desmond Bird. They set up home together in Beckenham, from where she gained a degree in literature and history from the Open University. An active Liberal Democrat, she was a founder-member of the party’s Humanist and Secularist Group.

Rosemary Frankau was born on April 14, 1933, and died on April 16. She is remembered with enormous affection for her feisty intelligence, warmth, enthusiasm, and great sense of humour. She is survived by her two sons Matthew and the comedy writer Sam.

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