Helen Fraser (actress)

Helen Fraser (born Helen Margaret Stronach; born 15 June 1942) is an English actress, who has appeared in many television series since the early 1960s.[1] For international audiences, she may be best known for her roles in Billy Liar (1963) and Repulsion (1965).[2] She is also well known for portraying the role of miserable warder Sylvia Hollamby in the prison drama series Bad Girls.[3] She appeared in the series from the first episode in 1999 to the last in 2006.[1]

Helen Fraser
Helen Fraser in Cardiff.jpg
Fraser in 2011
Helen Margaret Stronach

(1942-06-15) 15 June 1942 (age 79)
Oldham, Lancashire, England
Years active1962–present
Spouse(s)Peter Handford (1964–2007, his death)


She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alongside Tom Courtenay and John Thaw, among others.[4] She gained her breakthrough role alongside Courtenay in Billy Liar (1963).[5] They later played the parents of character Dave Best in the Christmas special of The Royle Family (2008).[6]

She is best known to television viewers for her long-running role in the ITV women's prison drama Bad Girls as unpleasant prison officer Sylvia Hollamby[7] from the first episode in 1999 to the last in 2006.[1] She reprised the role in the West End production of Bad Girls: The Musical in 2007.[6]

She made her TV debut in the early 1960s and her credits include Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, The Likely Lads, Doctor in the House, The Dustbinmen, On the Buses, Rising Damp, Tales of the Unexpected, Duty Free, One Foot in the Grave and Casualty.[8] She also worked on TV with comedians like Dick Emery and the Two Ronnies in the 1970s.[6]

She has also appeared on stage, including with the Royal National Theatre, in the West End and in regional theatres across the country.[9] In 2009 and 2010, she toured the UK as Mrs Fisher in a stage version of Billy Liar.[3] In 2011, she joined the tour of Calendar Girls.[10]

Fraser has appeared in the ITV soap Coronation Street twice – in 1998 as Magenta Savannah and again in 2013 as Doris Babbage.[11][12][13]

In 2015, she appeared in an episode of the BBC daytime soap Doctors.[14]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1964, she married the recording engineer Peter Handford, the couple had met on the set of Billy Liar.[3] Handford died in 2007.[15] Fraser lives in Eye, Suffolk.[16]


Year Title Role Notes
1962 A Kind of Loving Ingrid's Friend Uncredited
1963 Billy Liar Barbara
1965 Repulsion Bridget
1966 The Uncle Mary Ream
1968 The Birthday Party Lulu
1972 Something to Hide Miss Bunyan
1970 Start the Revolution Without Me Mimi
1974 From Beyond the Grave Guest Segment 1: The Gate Crasher; uncredited
1977 Joseph Andrews Mrs. Adams
1988 Gorillas in the Mist Mme. Van Vecten
Year Title Role Notes
1962 Silent Evidence Tina 1 episode: "Driven to the Brink"
Z-Cars Hilda Stansfield/Vicky Bell 1962–1963; 2 episodes: "Contraband", "The Bad Lad"
ITV Play of the Week Ellen/Millie 1962–1965; 2 episodes: The Door, The Way of All Flesh
1963 Friday Night Betty/Sheila/Mavis/Brenda Holroyd 4 episodes
1964 The Villains Pat 1 episode: "Amateurs"
No Hiding Place Jill 1 episode: "The Hoarders"
Thursday Theatre Janey Jenkins 1 episode: "The Cure for Love"
1965 The Valiant Varneys 1 episode: season 2.3
Comedy Playhouse Mousy Bird (Greta Spavin) 1 episode: Here I Come Whoever I Am
Pardon the Expression Hilda Norton 2 episodes: "The Trouble with Ada", "The Visitor"
Six of the Best Vanessa 1 episode: "Charlie's Place"
Dixon of Dock Green Gwen 1 episode: "Castles in the Air"
Knock on Any Door Madge 1 episode: "A Paragraph of for Mr Blake"
Theatre 625 Mrs. Hampton 1 episode: "Portraits from the North: The Nutter"
The Likely Lads Helen 1965–1966; 2 episodes: "Talk of the Town", "Love and Marriage"
Blackmail Brenda/Daphne Appleton 1965–1966; 2 episodes: First Offender, Boys and Girls Commute to Play
1966 The Wednesday Play Linda/Polly 1966–1967; 2 episodes: Way off Beat, The Fat of the Land
1967 Love Story Sue 1 episode: A Diamond is Forever
The Gamblers Joyce 1 episode: "Oil and Water"
1969 Doctor in the House Rigor Mortis 1 episode: "Getting the Bird"
Dombey and Son Susan Nipper TV serial; 9 episodes
1970 The Dustbinmen The Goddess 1 episode: season 2.4
1971 Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width Doreen Lawton 1 episode: "Mix Me a Marriage"
Now Look Here Tracey 1 episode: Season 1.2
On the Buses Linda 1 episode: "Boxing Day Social"
The Dick Emery Show Lampwick's Daughter 12 episodes
1972 A Day Out Mrs. Ackroyd Television film
Doctor in Charge Dr. Mary Parsons/Dr. Mary Bingham 1972–1973; 6 episodes
1973 The Upper Crusts Mrs. Smith 1 episode: "Sitting Pretty"
Hunter's Walk Janet Kenwright 1 episode: "Disturbance"
Man About the House Gabrielle 1 episode: "Three's a Crowd"
1974 Sporting Scenes Helen 1 episode: "The Needle Match"
1975 Cilla's Comedy Six Gloria 1 episode: "Father's Doing Fine"
...And Mother Makes Five Miss Finch 1 episode: "Legs Eleven"
Rising Damp Gwen/Bride 1975–1978; 2 episodes: "For the Man Who Has Everything", "Pink Carnations"
1976 Jumbo Spencer Mrs. Spencer
1978 BBC2 Play of the Week Polly Wright 1 episode: Fairies
1980 BBC2 Playhouse Lou Parker 1 episode: The Black Madonna
1981 Partners Monica 1 episode: "Fair Shares"
The Patricia Neal Story 2nd Neighbour Television film
1982 Tales of the Unexpected Beryl 1 episode: Blue Marigold
Sorry! Psychotherapist 1 episode: "Perchance to Dream"
Play for Today Joyce Midgley 1 episode: "Intensive Care"
1983 Dramarama Joan Osgerby 1 episode: "Rig It Up"
1984 Duty Free Emily 1 episode: "Spanish Lace"
The Box of Delights Ellen 4 episodes
1986 In Loving Memory Enid Bracegirdle 1 episode: "They Shoot Undertakers, Don't They"
1987 Screen Two Mrs. Mortland 1 episode: Northanger Abbey
1988 Beryl Markham: A Shadow on the Sun June Carberry Television film
1990 One Foot in the Grave Dr. Snellgrove 1 episode: "The Big Sleep"
1995 Under the Moon Miss Prudhomme Television film
1997 The Uninvited Charge Nurse Mini-series
1998 Coronation Street Magenta Savannah 2 episodes: episode #4394, episode #4397
1999 Bad Girls Sylvia Hollamby 1999–2006; 92 episodes, main role
2003 Casualty Joan Jowell 3 episodes: "Flash in the Pan, Truth or Dare, In the Frame"
2008 The Royle Family Jocelyn Best 1 episode: "The New Sofa"
2012 The Unforgettable Herself 1 episode: The Unforgettable John Thaw
2013 Coronation Street Doris Babbage Guest appearance
2015 Doctors Mary Star 1 episode: "Pudding"


  1. ^ a b c "Helen Fraser". BFI.
  2. ^ "Helen Fraser | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  3. ^ a b c "Helen Fraser on life with Billy Liar". walesonline. 2 March 2009.
  4. ^ "Helen Fraser — RADA". www.rada.ac.uk.
  5. ^ McFarlane, Brian; Slide, Anthony (16 May 2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526111968 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c "Helen Fraser – Actress". bslbt.co.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Helen Fraser plays Sylvia Hollamby". badgirls.co.uk. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  8. ^ "Helen Fraser". www.aveleyman.com.
  9. ^ "Helen Fraser | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  10. ^ "Calendar Girls open in Carlisle". ITV News.
  11. ^ Young, Glenda (19 February 2013). "Coronation Street Blog: Helen Fraser joins Coronation Street".
  12. ^ "Actress Helen Fraser's top five films". 10 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Actress voices race row fears". Ipswich Star.
  14. ^ "BBC One - Doctors, Series 17, Pudding". BBC.
  15. ^ "Big Interview - Helen Fraser". www.lep.co.uk. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  16. ^ Clarke, Andrew. "Bad Girl Helen Fraser's journey back to the beginning of a dramatic career". Retrieved 15 December 2017.

External linksEdit