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JOAN BLACKHAM

Actress

Photograph of Joan Blackham
Photograph of Joan Blackham
Photograph of Joan Blackham
Photos: Lisa Bowerman (2); L.B. Photography (1&3)

JOAN BLACKHAM R.I.P.

Joan passed away on 6th September 2020 after a long fight with cancer.

SCROLL DOWN TO THE FOOT OF THE PAGE FOR A SERIES OF TRIBUTES BY AWL FRIENDS.

Her last theatre appearance was in David Hampshire’s new play Funny Turns at the Museum of Comedy, transferring to Jermyn Street Theatre in July 2019.

She was nominated an Offie Best Female in a Play 2017 for her performance in Naylah Ahmed’s play Ready Or Not at The Arcola and on tour for Kali Theatre.

She also played a retired war correspondent in Blown Apart, which won the Kenneth Branagh New Short Play Prize at the Windsor Fringe Festival.

TV work included a council estate vigilante in Doctors, a shape shifting ‘frail’ pensioner in Netflix series Innocents; delivering a tragic phone call in Dr Who; hitting Nicholas Lyndhurst over the head in New Tricks; a disgruntled patient in Take Five and a flirtatious receptionist in the Moran SistersC4 sitcom Raised by Wolves.

Films include starring in a Ukrainian/Russian feature The Battle of Sevastopol, as Eleanor Roosevelt, and playing another American, Mrs. Fitzgerald, in the Czech film A Prominent Patient (Masaryk).

AWL Credits

Year
Writer(s)
Play
Role
Director
2013
Wendy Wareham
Annabel
2012
Roger Mortimer-Smith
Chorus 1
2012
Roger Mortimer-Smith
Maggie

Non-AWL Credits

Year
Production
Role
Director
Org/Venue
2016
A PROMINENT PATIENT
Mrs Fitzgerald
Julius Sevcík
In Film Praha
2015
BATTLE FOR SEVASTOPOL
Eleanor Roosevelt
Sergei Mokritsky
Film UA
2012
THE KNOT
Aunt Claire
Jesse Lawrence
2012
THE SWEENEY
The Landlady
Nick Love
Sweeney Productions Ltd
2011
A ROOM TO LET
Dorothy
Abner Pastoll
February Films
2011
AWAY FROM IT ALL
Jenny
Simon Bovey
Rural Media Company
2005
THESE FOOLISH THINGS
Mrs Griffin
Julia Taylor-Stanley
These Foolish Things Ltd
2004
MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS (Cannes) Miranda Hart’s mother
Paddy
Hannah Davis/David Connolly
Lynda La Plante / Dolly Pictures
2001
EDGE OF REASON / BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY
Aunty Shirley
Beeban Kidron/Sharon McGuire
1997
KEEP THE ASPIDISTRA FLYING
Librarian
Bob Bierman
Overseas Film Group
1995
SOLITAIRE FOR 2
Jo
Gary Sinyor
New Circle Entertainment
1988
THE ZIP
Doctor
Jo Ann Kaplan
Usualstone
1985
PLENTY
Miss Simpson
Fred Schepisi
Twentieth Century Fox
Year
Production
Role
Director
Org/Venue
2019
DOCTORS
Jean Parr
Debbie Howard
BBC
2018
THE INTERROGATION
Hilary Martin
David Nath
Channel 4
2018
THE INNOCENTS
Shapeshifting Pensioner
Farren Blackburn
Netflix Original Drama
2016
NIGEL FARAGE GETS HIS LIFE BACK
Margaret
Ben Palmer
BBC
2015
THE FIVE
Mrs Harrison
Mark Tonderai
Red Productions for Sky
2015
RAISED BY WOLVES
Carol
Ian Fitzgibbon
Big Talk Productions for C4
2015
NEW TRICKS
Iris
Brian Grant
Headstrong Pictures for BBC TV
2015
DOCTORS
Maureen Whittaker
Owen Brenman
BBC TV
2014
DOCTOR WHO
Rachel Talalay
BBC TV
2013
WHITECHAPEL
Lady Ailesbridge
Jon East
Carnival Films for ITV
2013
DOCTORS
Yvonne Cummings
Peter Chipping
BBC TV
2011
DOCTORS
Eleanor
Graham Moore
BBC Television
2011
MIDSOMER MURDERS
Maureen Stubbs
Peter Smith
Bentley Productions
2008
HONEST (2 EPISODES)
Margaret
Julian Holmes/Brian Kelly
Greenlit / ITV
2007
LIVING IT
Granny Evans
Rick Stroud
Mentorn / CBBC
2006
JUDGE JOHN DEED (Series Regular 2003-06)
Lady Everard
G F Newman
BBC
2005
DOCTORS
Bridie Taylor (lead)
Michael Baig-Clifford
BBC
2005
THE AFTERNOON PLAY
Irene
Matthew Parkhill
BBC
2004
BLUE MURDER (2 EPISODES)
Pathologist
Alex Pillai
Granada TV
2004
HEARTBEAT
Maud Fforbes Hepplethwaite
Jonas Grimas
Yorkshire Television
2004
ISLAND AT WAR
Mrs La Palotte
Thaddeus O’Sullivan
Granada TV
2003
BABYFATHER
Registrar
Avril E Russell
BBC
2003
SPOOKS: MI5
Simon Crawford Collins
Kudos Film & TV
2001
BACK HOME
Miss Bembridge
Simon Massey
ITV
2001
HAPPINESS
Carol
Declan Lowney
BBC
2001
HOLBY CITY
Jane Heylin
Jim Shields
BBC
2000
CRY WOLF (Sitcom Series Regular)
Jean Wolf
Dewi Humphreys
Alomo
1997
BIG BAD WORLD
Rosemary
Phillipa Langdale
Carlton Television
1997
DANGERFIELD
Mrs Sherbourne
Brett Fallis
BBC
1997
THE GRAND
Mrs Sullivan
Douglas Mackinnon
Granada TV
1996
CALL RED
Mrs Holmes
Michael Jenner
Film & General Productions
1996
SOLDIER, SOLDIER
Judge Advocate
Catherine Morshead
ITV
1995
THE PLANT
Rosemary
Jonathan Lewis
BBC
1993
INSPECTOR MORSE: The Twilight of the Gods
Helen Buscott
Herbie Wise
Zenith Productions
1990
HARRY ENFIELD SHOW
Oxfam Lady
John Birkin
BBC
1990
ON THE UP
Miss Runcorn
Gareth Gwenlan
BBC
1987
A SMALL PROBLEM (Sitcom Series Regular)
Heather
David Askey
BBC
1987
HOME TO ROOST (Sitcom Series Regular)
Fiona Fennell
David Reynolds
YTV
1986
CHOCKY’S CHALLENGE (six episodes)
Mrs Gibson
Bob Blagden
1983
SWEET SIXTEEN (Sitcom Series Regular)
Jane
Gareth Gwenlan
BBC
1981
TAKE A LETTER MR JONES (Sitcom Series Regular)
Ruth
Brian Izzard
ITV
1980
TO THE MANOR BORN
Podge Hodge
Gareth Gwenlan
BBC
1978
JUST WILLIAM
Mrs Randall
John Davies
LWT
1977
REGINALD PERRIN
Miss Erith
Gareth Gwenlan
BBC
1977
THE OTHER ONE
Stella
Gareth Gwenlan
BBC
Year
Production
Role
Director
Org/Venue
2019
FUNNY TURNS
Alice
Hayward B Morse
Museum of Comedy / Jermyn Street Theatre
2017
READY OR NOT
Pat (OFFIE nominated Best Female in a Play)
Helena Bell
Arcola Theatre & UK Tour
2014
BLOWN APART
Clare Doyle
Windsor Fringe 2014
2013
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST
Lady Bracknell
Anna Ledwich
Guildford Shakespeare Company
2012
REGRET RIEN
Iris
Peter-Frank De Wulf
Kenneth Branagh Award Windsor Fringe
2011
CROSSING THE RIVER
The Mother
Ellen McDougal
The Soho Theatre
2009
CALENDAR GIRLS
Brenda Hulse / Lady Cravenshire
Hamish McColl
Chichester / national tour / West End 2008-2009
2006
JANE EYRE
Mrs Reed / Mrs Fairfax
Polly Teale
Shared Experience UK / World Tours / West End
2000
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST
Lady Bracknell
Jean Paul Cherrington
Dramatic Attic, Shanghai
1995
BLITHE SPIRIT
Madame Arcati
Cathy Denton
York Theatre Royal
1994
THE MONA LISA MYSTERY
Miss Parker
Rachel Kavanaugh
Open Air Regent’s Park
1993
THE MOONSTONE
Lady Verinder
James Maxwell
Royal Exchange
1993
WHEN WE ARE MARRIED
Clara Soppitt
John Adams
West Yorkshire Playhouse
1991
LETTICE & LOVAGE
Lettice (Best Actress award)
Chris Dunham
Westcliff Palace Theatre
1990
GAMES
Irene
Derek Wax
Gate Theatre
1989
ACROSS OKA
Margaret
Sarah Pia Anderson
RSC
1989
MAN OF MODE
Lady Townley
Garry Hynes
RSC
1988
KING LEAR
Goneril
Cis Berry
RSC
1988
LOVE OF THE NIGHTINGALE
Queen / Chorus
Garry Hynes
RSC
1981
CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD
Edna Klein
Gordon Davidson
Mermaid / Albery
1980
LOOT
Fay
Kenneth Williams
Hammersmith Lyric Theatre
 
MOTHER
Grace ‘Way to Go’ Mary Kubicek ‘Henrietta Lacks’
Linda Miller
The Female Edit 2019
2019
MOTHER
Grace in ‘Way to Go’; Mary in ‘Henrietta Lacks’
Linda Miller
The Female Edit 2019
Year
Production
Role
Director
Org/Venue
2016
Dark Souls 3
High Priestess Emma
James Kirk
Liquid Violet
2015
Fragments of Him
Mary
Tino van der Kraan
Sassybot

Tributes

Joan was a brilliant actress, an extraordinary person and a dear friend. It was a privilege to act with her and write for her many times, the last being only a few days before her death. Joan was a great inspiration, and whenever we worked together I always learned something new - and we always laughed a lot.

Cathie Harvey

A wonderful actress, with a powerful stage presence, and enormous range of vocal qualities, Joan worked with us first in performance in Secret Stirchley, playing Nan. For our Olympic Torch event in Bexley, Joan was perched on top of a shipping container on the banks of the Thames, reminiscing about being born in a caravan!

She can be found playing a range of characters across our audio projects, memorably Harold’s mother in www.haroldthelastelectedking.co.uk, and most recently Margaret in In My Mind’s Eye for Newham Heritage Month.

Most movingly, she was Susan Owen, learning the news of son Wilfred’s death on November 11, 1918, as our commemoration of the WW1 anniversary. http://www.iwitnesshistory.co.uk/the.../november-11-1918/

Joan was always a supportive and enthusiastic colleague who we will miss very much as both artist and friend.

Brian Abbott (Parrabbola)

Joan will be missed by everyone as she was such a lovely, kind person as well as being a wonderful actress. We were so lucky to have her in AWL - I think she was a member in the old Riverside Studios days - and to have her take part in Zoom meetings right up to the end.

Hilary Field

I had the opportunity of taking part in several readings with Joan at AWL and we always had fun. Most recently, in 2019, I played opposite her at the Jermyn Street theatre in ‘Funny Turns’ (which sadly proved to be her final stage performance) and I can’t recall working with a more truthful actor. Joan inhabited her character and internalized her acting to the point where she sometimes appeared to be doing very little, but what came across was a performance of dignity, honesty and truth. It’s only now I realize that Joan was battling her illness at that time, which made what she did even more special. I respected Joan’s talent and I learnt from her. The acting profession has lost a stalwart and we are the poorer for it. Rest in peace Joan, and thank you.

David Hampshire

I directed Joan in the stage play ‘Funny Turns’ about a year ago and found her interpretation to be funny, moving and as truthful as I could ever have wished. She provided the sensitive, sincere qualities needed for the part beautifully and it is a performance I shall long remember. I would also often encounter her at Equity meetings where I believe she was an important contributor, and was very impressed by that too. A sad loss and she will be greatly missed.

Hayward B Morse

Joan was a tremendous and talented actress with a powerful and earthy voice, particularly suitable for some of the commanding roles she often played in a long and distinguished career. More importantly though, she was a warm, witty and wise woman it was always a delight to work with - and I feel privileged to have first met her years ago on a TV production at the BBC. More recently, she has graced many an AWL rehearsed reading with that unmistakable style and authority we have come to love her for. And in ‘Funny Turns’ she was simply outstanding. We shall all miss her greatly, and it is a terrible loss both to the group and the wider profession. Rest in Peace, Joan.

Gregory Cox

Joan Blackham was an actor of distinction. Her presence on stage demanded attention, whether in a heavy drama or light comedy. Her voice offered a deep seriousness or hysterical desperation. As one of her directors, if you asked for it, she could provide it, though not always without question! After it was all over, she might approach you with a flattering apology, saying that it was all her fault. It never was. Thank you, dear Joan, for being you.

Martin Cort

I was so very sad to hear that our Joan had lost her valiant battle against cancer. She was an absolute inspiration. I had so much admiration for her, not only as a hugely talented actor, but also for the way she carried on with her daily life - attending AWL zoom meetings, performing at quite a few, and even going to auditions right up until the end, in such good spirits and with her usual positivity. I feel very privileged to have worked with Joan and to have had a couple of lovely long chats on the phone with her in the last few weeks. She will be sorely missed. Thinking of all her family and friends and sending heartfelt sympathy. RIP dear Joan xxx

Liz Felton

I have such lovely memories of Joan. A superb actress; watching her in Catherine Harvey’s short play two weeks ago, she was brilliant, one would never have known how near the end she was. She was brave and totally without self-pity. I shall miss her friendship and her presence in the group.

Carolyn Pertwee

If Joan was in a play at AWL, you knew you were in safe hands. Joan would deliver a performance that was always beautifully acted, and in that warm, deep, husky voice that was such a pleasure to listen to. She excelled at comedy. I was delighted that she played Olivia in the AWL reading of ‘Murder On Cue’. She brought many little touches to the role which I later incorporated in the rewrites. She was great in ‘Funny Turns’ by David Hampshire, and it’s a tribute to her consummate professionalism that few people knew she was already undergoing treatment by that time. Joan appeared in AWL play readings on Zoom (one only two weeks ago) and was busy acting right up to the end. Joan was also kind, generous in her support of others, nearly always present at AWL whether to perform or to sit in the audience, funny, enthusiastic and wise. I will miss her greatly at AWL.

Robin Miller

Lucky to have seen both ‘Funny Turns’ and the thriller at the Arcola and we did have a nice chat afterwards. I looked her up and, My God, I never realised what an amazing career she had for so many years. It’s so good that she never stopped performing because she was always in demand. She didn’t suffer fools gladly, that’s for sure, quite rightly expecting you to be your best if you were lucky enough to work with her! I will remember her as someone who was a formidable and brilliant actress and friendly, warm and amusing if you could prove your worth. Amusing with a devastating dry wit in those low resonant tones. She had such a strong presence and I can hear her voice clearly now.

Peter Saracen

It is a terrible shock for all of us, as I felt Joan had so much more to give and was such a pivotal part of AWL. Personally, of course, I will miss her as a friend, but equally I will miss her talent. Joan was a fine and dedicated actress - she inhabited a role, took it over, playing it with absolute conviction. The two parts, I particularly remember her by, are her Phoebe in ‘The Entertainer’, where she played opposite me in a performed reading.at the Riverside Studios, and her brilliant Landlady, Alice, in David Hampshire’s wonderful play, ‘Funny Turns’ - funny and yet sadly pathetic at the same time. It was a joy to be on the same stage as her and when that happens, being an actor is the best job in the world. God Bless Joan.

Martin Wimbush

Weirdly I was thinking about her yesterday but although we had been in touch during lock down had not known that the chemo had not worked, she looked so good two weeks ago when she was in a playlet on AWL zoom and was at the last Zoom Equity meeting. I cannot imagine AWL or Equity Branch without her. Whenever we can actually meet I shall wear my brightest lipstick in her honour (a long story, so I leave it a mystery!)

Sylvia Carson

Joan Blackham was an actor of great authority and power, yet she could also create a gentle warmth, her acting had such truth she made you believe in every word her character told you. We will all miss Joan and her talent.

Maurice Thorogood

So sad to hear such tragic news that Joan Blackham is no longer with us...Such a talented, gorgeous, kind and caring lady to know and chat to at AWL evenings. With heartfelt sympathy to her family that she leaves behind at this sad time.

Jane Sheraton

It’s truly shocking news. A wonderfully brave and uncomplaining soul and a true professional to the end. It’s difficult to believe that it’s only a year since she triumphed on stage in ‘Funny Turns’.

Kenneth Michaels

Joan was always such a warm, strong character, it is hard to believe that we won’t be seeing her again at AWL.

Viv Lake

What very sad news. I admired Joan’s work and always enjoyed it when I saw her at meetings. I hope she was supported with love and light during her illness, treatment and her death.

Suzette Llellwyn

So sorry to hear such awful news. I saw Joan in some memorable productions and she was brilliant in ‘Ready Or Not’ at the Arcola Theatre.

Charlotte Jennings

So very sorry to hear of Joan’s passing. I remember how welcoming and supportive she was when I first joined AWL. I also enjoyed her many acting contributions since I became a member. Sending condolences to her family and friends.

Mary Land

How sad that we have lost Joan such a lovely person - riding her bike - lovely humour - fighting to stay with us but now at rest.

Jenny Patrick

Joan was an actor who brought her questioning intelligence, acute sensibility and unmatched stagecraft to every part she played. She was the first choice for so many roles. What will we do without her?

Nicolas Ridley

Joan was a great, versatile performer. And a great encourager. She paid people the compliment of taking their work seriously. I will miss her performances, her analytic mind, and her kindness. I can’t believe we won’t see her again.

Jenny Howe

Oh what sad news. I’ll always remember Joan fondly. She was a delight to work with from the read through of ‘Funny Turns’ in 2018 to her lovely performances last year.

David Forest

So terrible. My memory of her is this. When we did one of our charity evenings at that little theatre in Bedford Street, I’d just read my piece and was coming back to my seat. I was very nervous. Joan grabbed my hand and said “Wonderful. More people should write like that.”

Helen Braithwaite

Very sad news. Unbelievable to think she was going through treatment while performing with her usual gusto at our Zoom meetings. Much missed and will leave an empty space at our meetings when we resume.

Wally Sewell

I am really sad and shocked. She was so strong I was so sure that she’d be all right

Orsolya Nagy

I’m still shocked and very sad to hear the news. Bless her.

Stephanie Connell

I was quite devastated to hear of the news re Joan. She was the second old friend whose death I had heard about yesterday.

Avril Gaynor

I was very sorry to hear your extremely sad news about Joan Blackham. I was lucky enough to talk to her several times at AWL and I admired her as an actor. I’m sure she will be really missed by everyone.

Melanie Ensor

So sad to hear that Joan has died. We worked together briefly, guesting on BBC Doctors and she was charming and very professional.

Amanda Reed

I’m very saddened, indeed shocked, to hear the news of Joan Blackham’s death. Our paths intersected several times over the years, both outside as well as inside AWL, and I always found her charming, strong, fun, and above all truly professional. We are the poorer for her going.

Brendan Gregory

What a shock! Sincere condolences to all her family and friend,s who must be devastated. May she rest in peace.

Robin Marchal

So very sad to hear the news. My condolences to her family. The very little I knew of Joan was that she was young in spirit. God bless her.

Mark Minshall

What a sad loss. We will remember her lovely performances and working with her, and so recently seeing her at the Zoom meetings where she gave us some super characters.

Mary Piercy

A sharp intake of breath as I read the oh so sad news about Joan. I don’t think she was in any of my plays, not for want of trying because when I did offer her a part she was nearly always busy. I admired her acting hugely and we often chatted at AWL. Very very sad

Monty Holender

Dear Joan ... I so admire your courage in the way you faced your illness with a warm smile. You really are to be admired.

Julie Bevan

Joan was one of my favourite actresses at AWL. She was so committed and focused and i always loved watching her act. Always one of the first to congratulate me after a reading. I had such respect for her. She will be sorely missed.

Nadia Ostacchini

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