Diana Coupland

Betty Diana Coupland (5 March 1928[1] – 10 November 2006), billed as Diana Coupland, was an English actress and singer, best remembered for her role as Jean Abbott in the sitcom Bless This House, which she played from 1971 to 1976.

Diana Coupland
Diana Coupland.jpg
Coupland c. 1973
Born
Betty Diana Coupland

(1928-03-05)5 March 1928
Died10 November 2006(2006-11-10) (aged 78)
Coventry, England
Years active1943–2006
Spouse(s)Monty Norman (?-?) (divorced) (1 child)
Marc Miller (1980–2006) (her death)
Childrendaughter

Early lifeEdit

Coupland was born in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1928, the only child of Elsie (née Beck) and Denis Coupland. She originally wanted to be a ballet dancer but could not fulfil this ambition, owing to a horse-riding accident. Her music career began when she was 15; Barney Colehan, a BBC producer, heard her sing and invited her onto one of his radio shows.[2] By the time she reached the age of 18, she was singing full-time at the Mecca Locarno in Leeds, and the following year, moved to London with her parents, where she became a resident singer at Mecca's Tottenham Court Road ballroom. Coupland became a leading singer of the 1940s and 1950s, working at the Dorchester Hotel and the Savoy Hotel. She also dubbed the singing voices of actresses who could not sing, including Lana Turner in Betrayed, and, most famously, was heard performing the song "Under the Mango Tree" in the first James Bond film Dr. No. She gave up professional singing in the 1960s.

Acting careerEdit

Coupland serenades the opening scene of the film Flannelfoot (1953) in which she starred as a nightclub singer. In 1959, she was unexpectedly cast by Joan Littlewood as Sally in the Theatre Workshop musical Make Me An Offer, and soon appeared in a number of West End shows including Gigi and Not Now, Darling.[2]

She made her television debut in a 1961 episode of Emergency – Ward 10. Her other early roles were in Dixon of Dock Green, The Wednesday Play, Softly, Softly and Z-Cars. After playing a mother in Please Sir! and the Siberian wife in Mel Brooks's film The Twelve Chairs (1970), she was cast as Jean Abbott, the long-suffering wife of Sid James's character, in Bless This House, which began its run in February 1971. She reprised the role in the 1972 feature film, and continued in the role until James died in 1976. She appeared in several other films, including The Millionairess (1960), The Family Way (1966), Charlie Bubbles (1967), Spring and Port Wine (1970), The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970), The Best Pair of Legs in the Business (1972) and Operation Daybreak (1975).

During the late 1970s and 1980s, Coupland appeared in Wilde Alliance, Triangle, Dickens of London and Juliet Bravo. Her casting in Triangle occurred after the death of the actor originally due to play the owner of the shipping line. She had been on the set with her husband, a director on the programme, and was offered the part. She appeared in an episode of One Foot in the Grave in 1992, and in 2000 had a six-week role as Maureen Carter in EastEnders. Following this, Coupland appeared in Doctors, Casualty and in 2005 Rose and Maloney, her final television appearance.

Personal lifeEdit

Coupland married twice. She and her first husband, composer Monty Norman, divorced after 20 years of marriage, having had one daughter.[3] In 2001, she gave evidence in a High Court case after her former husband sued The Sunday Times following a 1997 article suggesting that Norman had falsely taken credit and royalties for the James Bond theme music, which was claimed actually to have been written by John Barry. Coupland described the article as "blatantly untrue"; Norman was awarded £30,000.[4]

She married Marc Miller, a producer, in 1980. Coupland, who was a patron of National Lupus UK, died at the University Hospital in Coventry in November 2006, aged 78, after failing to recover following an operation to resolve long-term heart problems.[5]

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1953 Flannelfoot The Singer
1960 The Millionairess Nurse
1966 The Family Way Mrs. Ross
1968 Charlie Bubbles Maud
1970 Spring and Port Wine Daisy Crompton
1970 The Twelve Chairs Madam Bruns
1970 The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer Mrs. Spimm
1972 Bless This House Jean Abbot
1973 The Best Pair of Legs in the Business Mary Sheridan
1975 Operation Daybreak Aunt Marie
2001 Another Life Mrs. Lester

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ "FreeBMD birth record". Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Diana Coupland". Telegraph. London. 11 November 2006. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007.
  3. ^ "Diana Coupland". The Times. London. 13 November 2006.
  4. ^ "Diana Coupland". Telegraph. London. 11 November 2006. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007.
  5. ^ "Actress Diana Coupland dies at 74". BBC News. BBC. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 9 January 2012.

External linksEdit