Obituary: Carolyn Jones – Canada-born actor who played alongside Olivier and starred in Crossroads and The Archers
Although born in Vancouver, Canada, Carolyn Jones worked for a range of British institutions from the National Theatre to iconic television soaps Crossroads and EastEnders and Radio 4’s flagship drama serial, The Archers.
She came to the UK to study at LAMDA, graduating in 1963 to briefly become a member of Dundee Rep before the company folded.
The following year she made her West End debut in bit parts supporting Siobhan McKenna in Brecht’s St Joan of the Stockyards, directed by Tony Richardson at the Queen’s Theatre, after which she joined Laurence Olivier’s fledgling National Theatre company at Chichester and the Old Vic.
Notable appearances included the premiere of Peter Shaffer’s Black Comedy (1965) and, alongside Olivier, as Jenny in The Dance of Death (1967), which was also televised.
She spent two years in Kenneth Tynan’s controversial nude revue Oh! Calcutta! at the Royalty Theatre (1971-73) and was seen in Bryan Blackburn’s raunchy comedy Snatch ’69 at the Whitehall Theatre in 1975.
Although television commitments increasingly took her away from theatre, she returned regularly to the stage, appearing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East (1975-76), a tour of Charles Dyer’s Rattle of a Simple Man (1980), and as Flo, long-suffering wife to Tim Healey’s work-shy Andy Capp, in Trevor Peacock and Alan Price’s musical of the same name, with the Tynewear Theatre Company in 1985.
At the Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue she was seen alongside Jerry Hall in William Inge’s Bus Stop in 1990 and as Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine at the Everyman, Cheltenham in 1993. She struck up relationships with Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Wales, and the Cambridge Theatre Company where she appeared in Mike Alfreds’ adaptation of Uncle Silas in 1994.
Sean O’Connor, who became editor of The Archers and executive producer on EastEnders, directed her in Dorothy Parker’s The Ladies of the Corridor at the Finborough in 1995.
She was the wife, Pheobe, to Stephen Ley’s Archie Rice in a 1996 revival of John Osborne’s The Entertainer at Norwich Playhouse, in The Life and Death of King John at Shakespeare’s Globe in 1998, Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba with Shared Experience at the Young Vic in 1999, and in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2002.
A stalwart of the Brentford-based interactive and site-specific company Gideon Reeling, she was also a member of BBC Radio Drama’s repertory company. From 2016 to earlier this year, she played Ursula, the villainous mother to the abusive Rob Titchener, in The Archers.
From 1977 to 1983 she was the mechanic-turned-garage-owner Sharon Metcalfe in Crossroads. Other television credits included The Pallisers (1974), Within These Walls (1974-75), Holby City (1999), Family Affairs (2005) and EastEnders (2012).
Carolyn Jones was born on April 18, 1941 and died on July 25 aged 77. She was married to the actor Jeremy Mason from 1969 until his death in 1989.
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