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Elspet Jean Gray, Lady Rix (née Gray; 12 April 1929 – 18 February 2013) was a Scottish actress, who first became well known for her partnership with her husband, Lord Rix, and was later familiar to British television audiences for various roles in the 1970s and 1980s.[1] She was best recognised as Mrs. Palmer in the television series Solo, alongside Felicity Kendal, and as Lady Collingford in the television series Catweazle.

Elspet Gray, Lady Rix
Elspet Jean MacGregor Gray

(1929-04-12)12 April 1929
Inverness, Scotland
Died18 February 2013(2013-02-18) (aged 83)
London, England
OccupationTelevision actress
Years active1948-2013
Brian Rix
(m. 1949; her death 2013)



Gray appeared in many television programmes, her first appearance being in Love in Waiting in 1948. She had several roles in the 1970s including parts in Fawlty Towers, as the pediatrician wife of a psychiatrist baffled by Basil Fawlty’s behavior,[2] The Crezz, Catweazle, and in the 1980s with Doctor Who story Arc of Infinity and the World War Two drama Tenko. She appeared as the Queen in the BBC sitcom The Black Adder (1983), with Rowan Atkinson as her son in the title role, and as Mrs. Palmer in Solo (1981–82), another comedy, this time with Felicity Kendal in the lead as her daughter.

She remained active until the late 1990s, appearing in Agatha Christie's Poirot, the films The Girl in a Swing (1988) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), and as Hilary in the British television comedy Dinnerladies.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1949 Gray married actor and later Mencap chairman and president Brian Rix, who became a life peer in 1992. They had four children - two sons and two daughters. Their eldest child, daughter Shelley (born 1951),[3] had Down syndrome and died in July 2005, aged 53.[4]

Their other daughter Louisa (born 1955)[3] was an actress, and now runs an Interior Design Company. Their eldest son Jamie (born 1959)[3] is a children's author who has produced television programmes such as My Hero. They had one other son, Jonathan (born 1960).[3]

She served on the Council of the Actors' Charitable Trust for many years, particularly giving her time to the management committee of the actors' care home, Denville Hall.


Gray died in hospital on 18 February 2013, aged 83.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1948 Fly Away Peter Phyllis Hapgood
1948 Love in Waiting Brenda Lawrence
1948 The Blind Goddess Daphne Dearing
1949 Trottie True Honor Bellaire Uncredited
1951 Reluctant Heroes Lt. Virginia
1954 Johnny on the Spot Joan Ingram
1954 Devil's Point June Mallard
1961 The Night We Got the Bird Woman with dog
1969 Goodbye, Mr. Chips Lady Sutterwick Uncredited
1988 The Girl in a Swing Mrs. Dresland
1990 Double Sin Miss Penn
1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral Laura's Mother - Wedding One


External linksEdit