Lilian Ridgway (24 March 1939 – 5 March 2022), known professionally as Lynda Baron, was an English actress and singer. She is best known for having played Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in the BBC sitcom Open All Hours (1976–1985) and its sequel, Still Open All Hours (2013–2016), Auntie Mabel in the award-winning children's series Come Outside (1993–1997), and the part of Linda Clarke in EastEnders in 2006 and from 2008 to 2009, with a brief return in 2016.
Lilian Ridgway was born on 24 March 1939 in Urmston, Lancashire. Her father, Cyril, was a painter and decorator. By the age of five, she was attending local ballet classes, and soon began appearing on stage. She attended Flixton Girls School in Urmston and then trained as a dancer at the Royal Academy of Dance. Early in her career, she appeared in repertory theatre and several West End venues.
Baron's early television roles included small parts in Crossroads (1978), Up Pompeii (1970), Z-Cars (1971), and the British horror film Hands of the Ripper (1971). Baron appeared on television in BBC-3 (1965), a series in the vein of That Was the Week That Was, involving some of the same performers. She also alternated with Annie Ross as the resident singer on Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life (1965). Baron was cast in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who three times. She was heard as a singer in the 1966 serial The Gunfighters. She appeared in front of the cameras as Captain Wrack in the 1983 serial Enlightenment, and again in 2011 in "Closing Time" as Val.
Baron is best known for playing Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in the BBC sitcom Open All Hours with Ronnie Barker and David Jason which ran for four series in 1976, 1981 to 1982 and in 1985, and was subsequently voted eighth in Britain's Best Sitcom in 2004. The script asked for a character "of ample proportions", although she was in fact a slim build at the time. They overcame this by padding her clothes.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Baron co-starred in the ITV sitcom Oh No It's Selwyn Froggitt and the BBC sitcom A Roof Over My Head with Brian Rix. She had a small part in Minder, and played the middle-aged temptress Lily Bless'er in the Last of the Summer Wine episode Getting Sam Home. In 1986, she acted in a party political broadcast for the SDP–Liberal Alliance. Baron also appeared in the 1987 Christmas special of The Two Ronnies and appeared in the BBC Two comedy series KYTV.
In the 1990s, Baron played Auntie Pat in five episodes of the ITV sitcom The Upper Hand (1992–1993). Baron then went on to star in the children's television series Come Outside (1993–1997) playing Auntie Mabel, an everyday woman living in a bungalow set in Denham, who flew around on various adventures in her spotted aeroplane with her dog Pippin, educating children on how things are created and where they come from by visiting various factories or farms and even looking at wildlife in zoos.
In 1997, Baron played the minor part of Renee Turnbull in Coronation Street and took guest roles in dinnerladies (1998), The Mrs Bradley Mysteries (1998), Sunburn (1999), Nancherrow (1999) and Goodnight Sweetheart (1999).
Baron continued to work regularly on television and the stage in the 2000s, with credits including Fat Friends (2000–2005), The Bill (2000), Doctors (2000, 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2014), Peak Practice (2001), Holby City (2002 and 2006), Down to Earth (2005), Rome (2005) and Casualty (2009).
Baron briefly appeared in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders in 2006 as Linda Clarke, the mother of Jane Beale, played by Laurie Brett. In September 2008, it was announced that Baron would be returning to EastEnders. She appeared regularly in the series from November 2008 to February 2009. On 8 April 2016, it was announced that Baron would return to EastEnders once again, alongside John Partridge, who portrayed her on-screen son Christian Clarke. She appeared on screen in May and June 2016.
In August 2010, Baron appeared in an episode of Agatha Christie's Marple on ITV. In September 2010, Baron appeared in a one-off television drama, The Road to Coronation Street on BBC Four, which looked back at the early days of the British television soap opera Coronation Street. Baron portrayed actress Violet Carson, who played Ena Sharples in the soap opera. Baron was nominated for the 2011 British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress for this role.
On 26 December 2013, Baron reprised her role in a special one-off episode of Open All Hours on BBC One, entitled Still Open All Hours. It was watched by 12.23 million viewers, almost a 40% share in audience figures on Boxing Day. The following day, Baron took part in Open All Hours: A Celebration, a programme looking back on the sitcom. Following the success of the Christmas episode, the cast made a full series, which began on 26 December 2014, followed by a second series in December 2015. A third series began in December 2016, but Baron was unable to return because of other commitments.
In December 2016, Baron made a guest appearance in a Christmas special of Citizen Khan and, in January 2017, she appeared in an episode of Father Brown, which was to become her final television appearance.
Baron's film appearances include roles in The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963), Hot Millions (1968), Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter (1968), Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969), Tiffany Jones (1973), and the Hammer film Hands of the Ripper (1971) as an ill-fated prostitute. She also appeared in the Barbra Streisand film Yentl (1983), Carry On Columbus (1992), Colour Me Kubrick (2005) and Scoop (2006) directed by Woody Allen.
In 1987, Baron starred in the London production of the musical Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre. In 2007, she starred with Orlando Bloom and Tim Healy in a stage version of In Celebration. In May and June 2009, she appeared at the Menier Chocolate Factory in a production of Rookery Nook by Ben Travers.
From October 2010 to February 2011, Baron starred with Maureen Lipman and Roy Hudd in a West End production of When We Are Married by J.B. Priestley. In March 2013, she appeared in a production of D.H. Lawrence's play The Daughter-in-Law at the Sheffield Crucible. She appeared at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester from April to May 2014 in Stevie by Hugh Whitemore, alongside Zoe Wanamaker and Chris Larkin. Baron again appeared in the play from March to April 2015 at the Hampstead Theatre.
Baron's other theatre credits include An Inspector Calls, Stepping Out, Entertaining Mr Sloane, and The Full Monty.
In 1995, Baron voiced the character of Nanny Ogg in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the Discworld novel Wyrd Sisters. In April 2012, Richard Kates released an album entitled There's Something About You, which featured Baron performing the track "A Hard Man Is Good to Find". On 11 May 2012, Baron appeared in the Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4, Mrs Lowry and Son, playing the mother of artist L.S. Lowry.
In 1962, Baron married hairdresser and music impresario Cyril Smith, who performed under the name Carol London; they later divorced. In 1966, she married John M. Lee. The couple had two children and were married until his death in 2001.
Baron died on 5 March 2022 aged 82. Numerous actors paid tribute to her, including John Partridge, Lisa Riley, Sally Lindsay and Adil Ray. The official Twitter accounts of CBeebies and EastEnders also posted tributes to Baron.
Many highlighted her role in the educational children's show Come Outside, in which she played Auntie Mabel, accompanied by her dog Pippin. It remains one of the most watched children's shows of all time and due to its popularity was repeated on CBeebies until 2012.
A short tribute to Baron aired as part of The One Show on the evening of 7 March 2022.
|Geburtsdatum:||24.03.1939 (♈ Widder)|
|Alter:||82Jahre 11Monate 9Tage|