Angharad Rees

Angharad Mary Rees, The Hon. Mrs David McAlpine, CBE (16 July 1944 – 21 July 2012) was a Welsh actress, best known for her British television roles during the 1970s and in particular her leading role as Demelza in the 1970s BBC TV costume drama Poldark.[1]

Angharad Rees
Angharad Mary Rees

(1944-07-16)16 July 1944
Edgware, Middlesex, England
Died21 July 2012(2012-07-21) (aged 68)
London, England
OccupationActress, jewellery designer
Notable work
Christopher Cazenove
(m. 1973; div. 1994)

The Hon. David McAlpine (m. 2005)
AwardsFellow, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Early lifeEdit

Rees was born at Redhill Hospital (now Edgware Community Hospital), Edgware, Middlesex, to Welsh psychiatrist William Linford Rees and his wife Catherine Thomas.[2]

When she was two, in 1946, her family moved from 13 Engel Park, Mill Hill, to Cardiff.[1] Rees had two brothers and a sister.[2] She attended the independent Commonweal Lodge School, then the Sorbonne in Paris for two terms and the Rose Bruford Drama College in Kent. She also studied at the University of Madrid and taught English in Spain before acting in repertory theatre in England.[3]

Throughout her professional life, her birth year was given as 1949, but her birth certificate shows she was born in 1944.[4]

Acting careerEdit

Rees made her television debut as a parlour maid in 1968 in an adaptation of Shaw’s Man and Superman, appearing alongside Eric Porter and Maggie Smith. Other appearances in various television dramas and comedy series quickly followed, including The Way We Live Now, The Avengers, The Wednesday Play, Doctor in the House, Crown Court, and Within These Walls.

Her most notable early roles included the daughter of Winston Churchill (played by Richard Burton) in The Gathering Storm (1974), Lucy in Dennis Potter's television play Joe's Ark (also 1974), and as Celia in As You Like It opposite Helen Mirren (1978). Director Alan Bridges said of Rees' performance in Potter's television play that it was one of the finest performances he had ever witnessed.[5]

She starred as the fictional murderous daughter of Jack the Ripper in the Hammer horror Hands of the Ripper (1971)[6] and the following year’s star-studded film version of Under Milk Wood (1972) starring Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Elizabeth Taylor. Her other film roles included Jane Eyre (1970), To Catch a Spy (1971), The Love Ban (1973), Moments (1974), La petite fille en velours bleu (1978), The Curse of King Tut's Tomb (1980), the television miniseries Master of the Game (1984) and The Wolves of Kromer (1998) a British-made fantasy film, narrated by Boy George.

Rees appeared in many stage productions in London's West End, including It’s two foot, Six Inches Above The Ground World (Wyndhams, 1970); The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lyric, Hammersmith, 1975); The Millionairess (Haymarket, 1978–79); Perdita in A Winter’s Tale (Young Vic, 1981) and A Handful of Dust (Lyric, Hammersmith, 1982). Her other Shakespearean roles included Ophelia for the Welsh Theatre Company (1969) and Hermione at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff (1985).[7]

From 1975 to 1977 she played the lead role of Demelza in the BBC TV costume drama Poldark, the role with which she is most closely associated, appearing in all but the first episode.[8]

She toured in the Bill Kenwright production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, directed by Peter Hall, with Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray and appeared regularly with John Mortimer in Mortimer’s Miscellany, his self-devised anthology of poetry and prose presented at theatres around Britain.[3]

Later television work included the sitcom Close to Home (1989–90) and the sporting drama Trainer (1992).[7]


She was made a Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. She also had a public house named after her in Pontypridd.[9]

Jewellery designEdit

Following the death of her son Linford in 1999 she turned her back on acting and concentrated on her passion for jewellery design.[10] Rees founded a jewellery design company, Angharad, based in Knightsbridge. Pieces that she designed and produced featured in the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007).[11]

Personal lifeEdit

On 18 September 1973, Rees married the actor Christopher Cazenove, who had made his name at around the same time in The Regiment. They had two sons: Linford James (20 July 1974 – 10 September 1999) and Rhys William (born 1976).[12] Linford was killed in a car accident on the M11 motorway in Essex while returning to collect his books from Cambridge University, where he had been awarded the degree of Master of Philosophy.[13] Cazenove and Rees divorced in 1994 but remained close. Cazenove died from the effects of septicaemia in 2010.[14]

Rees had a relationship with British actor Alan Bates;[15] on 29 April 2005, after Bates' death, Rees married David McAlpine, a member of the McAlpine construction company, at The Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. She remained married to McAlpine until her death.


Rees died on 21 July 2012, aged 68, of pancreatic cancer.[16][17][18]

A memorial service was held for her at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, London, on 27 September 2012. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes led the tributes. He said "If there was one thing she was superb at, it was friendship. And not just sympathetic friendship, but hard-working, useful, practical assistance. She was anxious, I think, that she should not be defined, entirely, as the star of a popular series, as one half of a golden couple, as a mother and hostess, although she excelled in all of these. She wanted also to be remembered as a serious actress whose early career might have gone on to greatness had she not made the personal decision to change direction [by having a family]."[15]



  1. ^ a b Anthony Hayward (22 July 2012). "Angharad Rees obituary | Television & radio". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b Edwards, Griffith (12 August 2004). "Linford Rees". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Angharad Rees (obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. 22 July 2012.
  4. ^
  5. ^ W. Stephen Gilbert The Life and Work of Dennis Potter, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1998, p.215
  6. ^ Hands of the Ripper, 13 July 1972, retrieved 13 September 2016
  7. ^ a b Angharad Rees: Obituary from
  8. ^ Poldark, Museum of Broadcast Communications
  9. ^ "Angharad's, Pontypridd". Retrieved 13 September 2016.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Poldark star Angharad Rees remembered". BBC News. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  11. ^ ANGHARAD REES LIMITED 04534252 (E1) 14/12/2010 (listing at London Gazette)
  12. ^ Online Video Websites Database biography Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "BBC News | Wales | Welsh actress pays tribute to her son". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  14. ^ "BBC News - Former Dynasty star Christopher Cazenove dies". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  15. ^ a b Eden, Tim Walker. Edited by Richard. "Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes leads tributes to Angharad Rees". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  16. ^ "BBC News - Poldark actress Angharad Rees dies from cancer". 21 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  17. ^ Welsh actress Angharad Rees dies, The Guardian, 22 July 2012
  18. ^ Angharad Rees (1949-2012), Peerage News, 22 July 2012

External linksEdit