Elsie Noël Dyson (23 December 1916 – 29 June 1995) was an English character actress[1]

Noël Dyson
Noel Dyson as Ida Barlow.jpg
Noel Dyson as Ida Barlow in Coronation Street
Elsie Noël Dyson

(1916-12-23)23 December 1916
Died29 June 1995(1995-06-29) (aged 78)
Years active1938 – 1995
TelevisionCoronation Street
Spouse(s)Kenneth Edwards
Harry Judge

Dyson appeared in a number of stage and films (including telemovies) but is best remembered as a versatile television character actress in serials who became a familiar face to British viewers in a career spanning almost 50 years from 1949 until her death. Dyson's best remembered roles are as matriarch Ida Barlow, one of the original characters in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street (1960–61), and Nanny in the sitcom Father, Dear Father (1968–73).

Early life and careerEdit

Dyson was born into a wealthy Manchester family (she was given the middle name Noel because she was born two days before Christmas), and was educated at the prestigious Roedean School in Brighton. Following a period at a finishing school in Paris, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London from which she graduated in 1938. Initially she performed in repertory companies around Britain, in Birmingham, Oxford and Windsor and elsewhere, before moving on to London's West End.

During the Second World War Dyson temporarily ceased acting to become a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. She returned to the acting profession, initially mainly in stage productions, then from the late 1940s started to become involved with television productions. Dyson's first known TV credit came in a 1948 BBC production The Guinea Pig, and for the next decade or so she would appear, mainly in one-off supporting roles, in a number of TV programmes as well as a handful of films. Her most significant roles in this period included seven appearances in the series The Vise (first broadcast in the U.S. between October 1954 and December 1955, but not shown on TV in the UK until 1957-59) and a BBC adaptation of The Secret Garden in 1960.

Coronation StreetEdit

In 1960 Dyson was cast in the role of Ida Barlow in the newly commissioned Coronation Street set in a fictional working class district (Weatherfield) of Salford. Ida was married to Frank Barlow, a postman, and had two sons, Ken and David. She was written as a calm-natured, placid character who frequently had to act as mediator between her hot-headed husband and Ken, whose upwardly-mobile aspirations were seen by Frank as a rejection of his family background.

The initial commission for Coronation Street ran to 13 episodes. The first episode was transmitted on 9 December 1960 and was panned by TV critics, who predicted a short-lived ignominious fate for the programme. However the series became an instant hit with viewers. By March 1961 Coronation Street was topping the British TV ratings with an estimated 75% of all television-owning households in the UK tuning in, and it was decided to extend its run indefinitely. This proved to be a problem for Dyson, who had only envisaged a limited commitment to the programme. Coronation Street was produced in Manchester by Granada TV while Dyson's home and family were now in London, and she did not feel able to commit to ongoing lengthy absences, so when her contract came up for renewal she declined to sign. The programme's producers decided that rather than replacing Dyson with another actress, which they felt would be unpopular with viewers, Ida would be the first regular character to die. No death scene was filmed, but in the episode of 6 September 1961 it was announced that Ida had been knocked down and killed by a bus.

Later careerEdit

During the 1960s Dyson continued to appear regularly on TV, but was cast in either one-off productions for strands such as the BBC's The Wednesday Play and ITV's Play of the Week or supporting roles in popular shows such as Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green and The Likely Lads. However she took the role of Nanny in the Thames Television sitcom Father, Dear Father which ran for seven series between 1968 and 1973 and also spawned a spin-off film in 1973. Her only other long-running TV role came as the long-suffering wife of Arthur Lowe in the sitcom Potter between 1979 and 1983 but she continued to make cameo appearances in many top-rated shows such as Me and My Girl, London's Burning, Bergerac, Prime Suspect and Casualty until shortly before her death. She also appeared as John Hurt's mother in the 1983 film Champions.[2] Her last credit was an episode of Heartbeat, broadcast posthumously in September 1995.

Private life and deathEdit

Dyson was married twice, to actor Kenneth Edwards and Major. Harry Judge (died 2003).[3] She died of cancer on 29 June 1995, aged 78.[4]


1985|| Summer Season (TV series) || Mrs. Nesbit
Year Title Role
1949 The Guinea Pig (TV movie) Mrs Read
1950 Chance of a Lifetime Tea Lady
1951 The Concert Miss Vesey
1952 Emil and the Detectives (TV series) Mrs Tichburn
1952 Huckleberry Finn (TV series) Aunt Polly
1953 Stranger in the House (TV series) Mrs Benfield
1953 Seven Woman Mrs Tovey
1954 Eight O'Clock Walk Gallery Regular
1954 Bless this House (TV movie) Mrs Bevan
1954 The Gay Dog Lecturer
1955 Patrol Car (TV series) Cora
1955 The Women on the Beach (TV movie) Madame Suzette
1956 A Girl Called Jo (TV movie) Mrs March
1956 Non de Plume (TV series) Queen of Bavaria
1956 Adventure Theatre (TV series)
1956 Tomorrow May Be Fine (TV movie) Anne Wright
1956 Bill Radford: Reporter (TV series) Mrs Barry
1956 Joan and Leslie (TV series) Mrs Henshaw
1957 The Lonely House (film short)
1957 Dick and the Duchess (TV series) Pamela Culberson
1958 ITV Television Playhouse (TV series) Meg Cooper
1958 Private Investigator (TV series) Mrs Landon
1958 The Voyagers (TV movie) Meg Cooper
1959 Three Crooked Man unknown role.
1959 Emergency - Ward 10 Mrs Haines
1959 The Gay Dog (TV movie) Maggie Gay
1951-1959 BBC Sunday Night Theatre (TV series) 2 roles
-Mrs. Ellis
1959 Probation Officer (TV series) Mrs West
1959 The Young Lady From London (TV miniseries) Pamela Hamilton-Huntley
1957-1959 The Vise (TV series) 7 roles
-Emma Pine
-Mrs Mayes-
-Princess Dariana
Mrs Watson
1959 Please Turn Over Mrs Brent
1960 The Secret Garden (TV series) Mrs Sowerby
1960 Carry On Constable Vague Woman
1960 Man from Interpol (TV series) 2 role-
Countess Salon-
1960 Annual Outing (TV movie) Maud Higgins
1960 Saturday Playhouse Miss Minney, Maud Higgins
1961 Coronation Street Ida Barlow
1961 Jacks and Knaves (TV series) Alice Hitchins
1961 The Middle Course Maria Gerard
1962 The Silent Invasion MM Veroux
1962 Studio 4 (TV series) Dorrie Robinson
1962 Z-Cars (TV series) Elsie Heskeith
1962 No Hiding Place Landlady
1962-1963 BBC Sunday Night Play (TV series) 3 roles-
-Mrs Peck
-Alice Preston
Mrs Woodbridge
1963 The Odd Man (TV series) Mother Eve
1963 Gutter Girls Muriel Donahue
1963 Carry on Cabby District Nurse
1962-1964 Compact (TV series) Mrs Jean Henderson
1964 First Night (TV series) Gracie
1964 The Villians (TV series) Flo
1964 Taxi (TV series) Sandra's mum
1964-1965 Thursday Theatre 2 roles
-Annie Parker
-Rhoda Lucas
1965 Gidion C.I.D (TV series) Mrs Lane
1965 Londoners (TV series) Vesta Bardell
1965 Comedy Playhouse (TV series)
1965 Jury Room (TV series) Mrs Whiteside - The Juror
1965 Dixon of Dock Green (serial) Mrs Egan
1965 Theatre 625 Emma Moxen
1959-1966 ITV Play of the Week 6 roles
-Laura Priolleau
-Mrs. Tartleton
-Mrs Phillips
1966 The Likely Lads (TV series) Mrs Perrin
1966 Press for Time Mrs Corcoran
1965-1966 Meet the Wife (TV series) Cousin Olive
1967 Turn Out The Lights (TV series) Mrs. Wennington
1967 The Newcomers (TV series) Mrs Wilberforce
1967 Mister Ten Per Cent Mrs Gorman
1964-1968 Sergeant Cork (TV series) 2 roles
-Mrs. Bellamy
-Mrs. Stebens
1968 Softly, Softly (TV series) Anne Anderson
1968 The First Lady (TV series) Betty Haynes
1968 Scene (documentary)
1968 ITV Playhouse (TV series) Clara Dixon
1969 Hark at Barker (TV series)
1969 Fraud Squad (TV series)
1969 The Wednesday Play Mrs. Dyson
1969 All Star Comedy Carnival (TV movie) Nanny
1970 The Main Chance (TV series) Janet Harrison
1970 Play for Today (TV series) Jane Budd
1971 The Ronnie Barker Yearbook (TV movie) Various Characters
1971 Persuasion (TV miniseries) Mrs. Musgrove
1972 Thirty Minute Theatre (TV series) 2 roles
-Mrs. Proctor
-Mrs. Trant
1968-1973 Father Dear Father (TV series) Nanny
1974 Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads (TV series) Mrs. Chambers
1974 Late Night Drama Kitty
1976 ...and Mother Makes Five (TV series) Auntie Betty
1976 The Molly Wopsies (TV series) Mrs. James
1977 Jackanary Playhouse (TV series) Miss. Jordan
1977 Second City Firsts (TV series) Patricia
1978 An Englishman's Castle (TV miniseries) Mrs. Worth
1979 Secret Orchards (TV movie) Netta Ackerley
1979 BBC2 Playhouse (TV series) Mrs. Fly
1979-1983 Potter (TV series) Aileen Potter
1983 Partners in Crime (miniseries) Mrs. Kingston Bruce
1984 Love and Marriage (TV series) Mrs. Rodgers
1984 Champions Mrs Champion
1972-1985 The Two Ronnies 4 roles
-Jacks wife
-Rose Spooner
-Woman with Dog
Mrs. Thompson
1986 The Practice (TV series) Ada Fielding
1986 The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (TV miniseries) Brenda
1987 Me and My Girl (TV series) Winifred Spalding
1986-1987 All in Good Faith (TV series) Barbara Lambe
1987 C.A.T.S. Eyes (TV series) Old Lady
1987 Rainbow (TV series) Mrs. Smith
1988 London's Burning (TV series) Mrs. Sims
1988 Executive Stress (TV series) Miss Pledger
1989 May to December (TV series) Mrs. Arlett
1990 Bergerac (TV series) Mrs. Williams
1990 Never the Twain* (TV series) Vera
1991 Prime Suspect (TV series) Mrs. Tennison
1993 Casualty (TV series) Mary
1994 The Knock ((TV series) Barbara Simmons
1994 Super Grass Gran
1995 Heartbeat (TV series) Netty Pickard


  1. ^ British Film Institute
  2. ^ "Champions (1984) - John Irvin | Cast and Crew".
  3. ^ Obituary: Major Harry Judge, Daily Telegraph, 13 December 2003
  4. ^ British Film Institute database

External linksEdit