Anyone growing up in Britain in the 60s and 70s will remember the remarkable
Barbara Mitchell. If you don't remember the name you will certainly remember
her face. She was an accomplished actress whose adaptable and empathetic
style allowed her to move effortlessly from stage to screen. Barbara lived
with her husband, rep actor Rex Graham and their two children Jeremy and
Mel in Crescent Road in Kingston.
career spanned 2 decades and after establishing herself in theatre she
moved into films and television. She played support roles in Ealing comedies
and British film dramas but Barbara is perhaps better known for her television
appearances in the early 70s. In 1970 she landed the part of Ruth Politt,
daughter of the eponymous Ada in the highly successful 'For the Love
of Ada'. Irene Handl played, widow, Ada Cresswell, who struck up a
relationship with a grave digger (Wilfred Pickles)after he had buried
her first husband. Ruth (Barbara) and on-screen husband , Jack Smethurst
did not approve of the relationship and subsequent marriage.
This gentle and poignant, Thames, situation comedy created by Vince Powell
and Harry Driver ran for 4 series over 27 weeks. In September 1971 the
show took the number one slot in ratings for 3 of the 4 weeks. For the
remaining week it shared top ratings with The Fenn Street Gang,
the sequel to Please Sir which both starred Barbara Mitchell as
the camp, over-protective mother of Frankie Abbott.
of Barbara's on screen contemporaries was the well loved comedy actress
Peggy Mount. Barbara and Peggy were great friends. They appeared together
in the extremely popular comedy, The Larkins. Barbara played Hetty Prout
and Peggy played the legendary battle-axe Ada Larkin. Peggy became godmother
to Barbara's son Jeremy who was born in 1962.
Barbara pictured with Peggy Mount
also starred in Beryl's Lot which ran from November 1973 to June 1977.
The storylines revolved around Beryl Humphries (Carmel McSharry), a woman
hitting a mid-life crisis who went on a crusade of self- improvement.
Barbara played neighbour Vi Tonks bringing her own brand of sympathy and
wisdom to this very successful series from Yorkshire Television which
ran for an amazing 52 episodes.
married actor Rex Graham . Following a career in the Gurka's in Burmah
Rex trained at RADA and became well established in rep and played opposite
Barbara in productions of 'The Lady's not for Burning' and 'Whiteoaks'
. Pictured right (clockwise from the top) is Rex in a production of Some
Damn Thing by Christie at Richmond Theatre; Rex in a play we can't identify
. Rex pictured with Barbara in 1972 ; Barbara playing Jennet and Rex playing
Thomas Mendip in The Lady's not for Burning.
is pictured here in rehearsals with the late Leslie Crowther and, showing
her glamorous persona in a production of The Seven Year Itch by George
Axelrod, starring alongside Elizabeth Chambers, Lesley Jackson and Elizabeth
Rex and children Melanie and Jeremy pictured at their home in Kingston
Crescent Road in 1971 (Click image for larger version) the family lived
here until around 1980. Barbara sadly died from breast cancer in 1978
at the age of 47 and Rex died in 1991. Jeremy still lives in Kingston
with his wife, Kate and baby son, Joseph.
of Barbara's children Mel and Jeremy, taken in 1963.
There is very little to be found on the Internet about Barbara which
is surprising considering her substantial contribution to British comedy
and drama in theatre, film, television and radio. This feature is a small
tribute to a great personality who dedicated her life to entertainment.
www.phill.co.uk Superb online resource
www.mckellen.com Site of actor Ian
Television's Greatest Hits by Paul Gambaccini & Rod Taylor.
and copyright ©
'Famous of Kingston'
Kingston and its surrounding
towns have been witness to many a celebrities life. Here are just
Enid Blyton 1897 - 1968 lived
at 207 Hook Rd. in Chessington. She lived at this address from
1920 -24 and taught at a local school. She had an amazing 600
Eadweard Muybridge 1830-1904
lived at 30 High St. and 2 Liverpool Rd.Kingston. Pioneer of motion
photography, his work included moving pictures of Isadora Duncan.
He changed his name from Edward because of his great pride in
coming from Kingston which has seen several Saxon kings crowned
including one called Eadweard. Though his work laid the foundations
for many other inventors, he rarely gets the credit as he did
not patent his work.Take a look at this superb site for more information
Dame Nellie Melba 1861 - 1931.
The Australian soprano lived in Coombe House in Beverley Lane,
Coombe Lane West. Her real name was Helen Porter Mitchel. Peach
Melba and Melba toast are named in her honour.
Alfred Edmeades Bestall MBE.
1892-1986. Known to his friends at the Rotary Club as Bert and
best known to us as the creator of Rupert Bear. He lived in Surbiton.
John Beard 1716 - 1791. Lived
at Rose Hill Hampton. Beard was one of the most celebrated actors
and vocalists of his time performing at Drury Lane and Covent
Arthur Hughes 1832 1915 lived
at 22 Kew Green in Richmond and at 284 London Rd, Wallington,
Sutton. He was a Pre-Raphaelite artist who worked with Christina
Rossetti. He died a recluse.
Noel Coward 1899- 1973 was
born at Waldergrave Rd in Teddington and lived at 56 Lenham Road
in Sutton. His first appearance was at the Sutton Public Hall
at the age of eight. He is well known for his stage work: Bitter
Sweet, Private Life, Blithe Spirit and screen successes In which
we serve and Brief Encounter.
E C H Rowland the music hall
artist born 1883 and died in 1953 lived at the Times 2 Shopping
Mall entrance, High St Sutton. He is perhaps best known for his
great music hall hit and rugby song Mademoiselle from Armentieres.
Walter de la Mare 1873 - 1956,
the great English poet and writer lived in Twickenham at Southend
House in Montpelier Rd.
JMW Turner 1775-1851 the founder
of the Impressionist movement lived for a while at 40 Sandycombe
Rd in Twickenham
Though not known for his theatrical or artistic talent it's worth
mentioning that Dwight D Eisenhower 1890
to 1969 the US army general and 34th president of USA lived in
a property at the corner of Kingston Hill and Warren Rd.
If you know of any more well known residents - let us know.
celebrities connected with the area
John Altman (Nick Cotton);
Johnny Lee Miller;
Ronnie Wood, Julia McKenzie,
Linda Le Plant; Richard E Grant;