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Maria Charles (born 22 September 1929) is an English film, television and stage actress, director and comedian. She is probably best known for her TV performance as the overbearing mother Bea Fisher in the ITV sitcom Agony. Charles has also appeared on the stage in original West End productions including musicals by Stephen Sondheim, Charles Strouse and Sandy Wilson.

Maria Charles
Maria Zena Schneider

(1929-09-22) 22 September 1929 (age 90)
London, England
Spouse(s)Robin Hunter
(m.–1966, divorced)
ChildrenThe production manager Samantha Hunter [1] and the actress Kelly Hunter[2]

Early lifeEdit

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Charles was born in London as Maria Zena Schneider, the daughter of David and Celia Schneider.


Maria Charles has had an exceptionally long acting career that spans over seven decades. She made her stage debut as the Dormouse in a 1945 production of Alice in Wonderland at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing and her West End theatre debut in the Pick up Girl at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1946. Charles appeared in the original London production of The Boy Friend as 'Dulcie' which ran for a total of 2,082 performances from (1954 to 1959). She played the part of 'Solange Lafitte' in the original West End production of Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre by Stephen Sondheim. The show ran for 644 performances from 21 July 1987 to 4 February 1989 and starred Julia McKenzie, Daniel Massey and Eartha Kitt. Charles has worked extensively in theatre, TV and films and has carved a niche for herself on television playing clingy Jewish mothers. She appeared in the memorable BBC Play for Today anthology TV series which ran from (1970 to 1984) in the TV play the Bar Mitzvah Boy which won the BAFTA, British Academy Television Award for (best single play); in 1977 it was placed 56th in a BFI poll of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of the 20th century, voted by industry professionals. She also played Maureen Lipman's character's mother in the ITV sitcom Agony from 1979 to 1981. In 1981 she starred in Nell Dunn's new comedy play, Steaming at the Comedy Theatre Stratford East, playing alongside Brenda Blethyn;[3] the production won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy that year.

Other notable TV credits include well known television series such as: Z-Cars, Crossroads, Secret Army, Brideshead Revisited, Coronation Street, Whoops Apocalypse, Boon, Never the Twain, Lovejoy, Casualty, Holby City and Bad Girls.

Her notable film credits have included: Sisterhood,[4] Hot Fuzz, Cuba,[5] Revenge of the Pink Panther,[6] Victor Victoria,[7] and Sixty Six.[8]

Stage appearancesEdit

Film appearancesEdit

Television appearancesEdit



TV filmsEdit

TV specialsEdit

  • Mrs Hartop, "The Mill",[19] Country Matters I, 1972
  • Mrs. Rita Green, Bar Mitzvah Boy (also known as Play for Today:Bar Mitzvah Boy), 1977

TV episodesEdit

Directing creditsEdit

  • The Boy Friend, (40th anniversary original cast reunion), at the Players Theatre, London, 1995.
  • Poppy at the ICA, London, 1999.


  • Anna Gemignani, Anna (pilot), NBC, 1990

She has also appeared in Angel Pavement, Down Our Street, Easter Passion, The Fourth Wall, The Good Old Days, La Ronde, Rogue's Gallery, Shine on Harvey Moon, Turn Out the Lights, The Ugliest Girl in Town, The Voice of the Turtle, and Sheppey.


  1. ^ "Samantha Hunter". IMDb, 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Kelly Hunter". IMDb. IMDb, 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Brenda Blethyn – Other works". IMDb. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Full Cast & Crew List for Sisterhood". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Full Cast & Crew List for Cuba". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Full Cast & Crew List for Revenge of the Pink Panther". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Full Cast & Crew List for Victor Victoria". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Full Cast & Crew List for Sixty Six". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  9. ^ Gaughan, Gavin (7 December 2010). "Geoffrey Wright obituary with reference to production". The London Guardian Newspaper. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Guide to Musical Theatre". Divorce me darling!. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  11. ^ "The Players Theatre Archive". 1974. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Cast & Crew List for Party Time & One For the Road". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Full Cast & Crew List for The Fool". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Full Cast & Crew list for Antonia & Jane". New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Full Cast & Crew list for Hot Fuzz". IMDb. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  16. ^ "Nicholas Nickelby cast list". British Film Institute. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  17. ^ "BBC TV Film". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  18. ^ Gallo, Phil (13 November 1997). "TV Review". Variety. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  19. ^ "Full Cast & Crew list for the Mill 'Country Matters'". IMDb. Retrieved 21 July 2013.

External linksEdit