Joan Sanderson (24 November 1912 – 24 May 1992) was a British television and stage actress born in Bristol. During a long career, her tall and commanding disposition led to her playing mostly dowagers, spinsters and matrons, as well as intense Shakespearean roles. Her television work included the sitcoms Please Sir! (1968–72), Fawlty Towers (1979) and Me and My Girl (1984–88).
|Born||24 November 1912|
|Died||24 May 1992 (aged 79)|
Born and educated in Bristol, Sanderson trained at RADA. She had teaching diplomas in elocution. She appeared in repertory theatres, on the West End stage and at the Stratford Memorial Theatre, where she made her début in 1939 playing Amelia in The Comedy of Errors, a phase in her career that culminated in 1953 when she played both Goneril to Michael Redgrave's King Lear, and Queen Margaret in Richard III.
During the Second World War she gained experience in repertory and toured North Africa and Italy entertaining the troops. In 1948 she married fellow actor Gregory Moseley. She achieved her apotheosis as Delia, Lady Rumpers, in Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett (Lyric Theatre 1973). She starred in numerous West End productions including See How They Run and Anyone for Denis.
TV and filmEdit
She played Doris Ewell in the television comedy series Please Sir! (1968–72) and Mrs Pugh-Critchley, in the series All Gas and Gaiters (1970–71), as well as a role in the short-lived sitcom Wild, Wild Women (1969). In 1979, she played the abrasive and selectively deaf Mrs. Richards in the Fawlty Towers episode: "Communication Problems". She also appeared in After Henry, a gently comic series on both radio (1985–88) and television (1988–92), in which she played the domineering Eleanor, mother of Sarah (Prunella Scales), who lives below her in the basement flat in Sarah's large house. Her movie roles were rare but she appeared in the Hylda Baker film She Knows Y'Know (1962), Who Killed the Cat? (1966), the film version of Please Sir! (1971), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), playing John Cleese's wife, and Prick Up Your Ears (1987), the film based on the life of playwright Joe Orton.
The final series of After Henry was broadcast July-August 1992, following her death; the last episode of which paid tribute to Sanderson.
TV and filmEdit
|1951||Young Wives' Tale||Nurse|
|1954||Sunday Night Theatre||Mrs. Dangerfield|
|1955||St. Ives||Miss Gilchrist|
|1961||The Pocket Lancer||Countess of Clarencourt|
|1962||She Knows Y'Know||Euphemia Smallhope|
|1962||Dial RIX||Mrs. Hathaway|
|1965||The Wednesday Play:
The Confidence Course
|1965||Night Train To Surbiton||Manageress|
|1966||Seven Deadly Sins||Hotel Receptionist|
|1966||Who Killed the Cat?||Mrs. Sandford|
|1967||Boy Meets Girl||Germaine|
|1967||The Wednesday Play:
Fall of the Goat
|1969||Wild, Wild Women||Mrs. Harcourt|
|1970||The Human Element||Lady Brancaster|
|1970–1971||All Gas and Gaiters||Mrs. Grace Pugh-Critchley|
|1971||Please Sir!||Miss Doris Ewell|
|1975||The Les Dawson Show||various|
|1975||Crown Court||Susan Halls|
|1976||Yus, My Dear||Mrs. Hartington|
|1976||Well Anyway||The Countess|
Strychnine in the Soup
|1978||The Ghosts of Motley Hall||Alexandra|
|1978||Mixed Blessings||Aunt Dorothy|
|1978||Doris and Doreen||Dorothy Binns|
"Roger of the Raj"
|1980||How's Your Father?||Unknown|
|1981||The Great Muppet Caper||Dorcas|
|1981||Janet and Company||Unknown|
|1982||Play for Today:
|1982||Anyone for Denis?||Rear Admiral|
|1983||All for Love||Mrs. Davidson|
|1983||Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime The House of Lurking Death||Rachel Logan|
|1984||The Fainthearted Feminist||Mother|
|1984–1988||Me and My Girl||Nell Cresset|
|1985||Alice in Wonderland||The Queen of Hearts (voice)|
|1986||Full House||Mrs. Hatfield|
|1987||Prick Up Your Ears||John Lahr's mother-in-law|
|1987||East of Ipswich||Miss Wilbraham|
|1988–1992||After Henry||Eleanor Prescott|
|1989||Alexei Sayle's Stuff
"Tinkering With Teeth"
|1992||Land of Hope and Gloria||Nancy Princeton|
|1954||Personal Call||Mrs. Lamb|
|1962–1977||The Men from the Ministry||Various|
|1971–1972||All Gas and Gaiters||Mrs. Grace Pugh-Critchley|
|1973–1981||What Ho! Jeeves||Aunt Agatha|
|1976–1979||Jim the Great||Queen Esmeralda|
|1985–1989||After Henry||Eleanor Prescott|
- "Joan Sanderson".
- "Joan Sanderson – Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos – AllMovie". AllMovie.
- "Production of See How They Run". theatricalia.com.
- "Theatre " 15 May 1981 " The Spectator Archive".
- "A Short Biography of Joan Sanderson". radiosoundsfamiliar.com.
- "Fawlty Towers, Communication Problems". British Classic Comedy. 25 April 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- BBC. "After Henry".
- Please Sir! The Official History, Barry David Barry (2020) ISBN 9781789824735
- Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988–1998, Michael Palin (2015), p. 240 ISBN 9781466888913