Jean Fergusson spent nearly half of her career as the femme fatale Marina in Roy Clarke’s Last of the Summer Wine. She first played Marina in a 1983 stage adaptation in Eastbourne and again the following year at Bournemouth Pier before joining the hit television show in its eighth series in 1985. She stayed until its 31st and final series in 2010.
Her only venture into writing, She Knows You Know!, a solo portrait of Hylda Baker, which Fergusson also performed, was first seen in 1993 and toured extensively, its 1997 Vaudeville Theatre run earning an Olivier award nomination. Her biography of Baker was published the same year.
Born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Fergusson was raised in Bridgend, Glamorgan from the age of 12, where she began acting in amateur companies. After training at the Cardiff Castle College of Music and Drama (now Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama) she made her professional debut with Theatre Centre in 1965.
Seasons in regional reps, and a venture into directing for Bag and Baggage Women’s Theatre Company, followed before drawing attention as a moving, finely judged Linda in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman in 1981, in Harrogate.
Despite television commitments, she often returned to the stage, notably as the house-proud Betty in Willy Russell’s Breezeblock Park (touring, 1988). At York Theatre Royal she formed a “rare and rich comic combination” (The Stage) with Jack Smethurst as the Hardcastles in Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer in 1989.
She was seen in JB Priestley’s When We Are Married (1990) and as Mrs Malaprop in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals (1992) at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. In 1996 she returned to the West End in Michael Cooney’s Cash on Delivery at the Whitehall Theatre. Her swansong was Ray Cooney’s 2014 revival of his own Two Into One at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory.
Having made her television debut in Crossroads in 1974, Fergusson’s other small-screen credits included All Creatures Great and Small, The Practice, Dennis Potter’s Lipstick on Your Collar, and three roles each in Coronation Street (Dorothy Hoyle, 2010-11) and Doctors, most recently in 2013.
Jean Mitchell Fergusson was born on December 30, 1944 and died on November 14, aged 74.