|A longtime fan's tribute to this underrated, and much missed actress
Yootha Joyce was born Yootha Joyce Needham in Wandsworth, South London, on the 20th August 1927 to bass baritone, Hurst Needham and concert pianist and singer Jessica Revitt. Her entry into the world was almost on Wandsworth Common as her mother was walking, but instead was at the Bolingbroke Nursing Home.
She made her film debut in the 1962 Joan Littlewood Workshop production, Sparrows Can't Sing, alongside fellow Workshop actors, Brian Murphy and Roy Kinnear. Her then husband, Glynn Edwards (who she was married to from 1956-68), also appeared briefly in it.
Between then and 1973 she guest starred in numerous television series such as Steptoe and Son, The Fenn Street Gang, On The Buses, Jason King, The Avengers and The Saint, as well as
co-starring in Me Mammy which helped make her name. Her films included A Man For All Seasons, The Pumpkin Eater, Charlie Bubbles, Fanatic, Kaleidoscope and Our Mother's House.
But in 1973 she was cast in a role which would change her life forever. That role was one Mildred Roper (alongside her former Workshop collegue, Brian Murphy). The series was Man About The House. This ran for 6 successful series, 39 episodes with a 1974 spin-off film until 1976 when the Ropers were given their own series, George and Mildred. From its debut in 1976 to the 38th episode at Christmas 1979 it was rarely out of the top 5 programmes. A spin-off film was released in late 1980.
Sadly though, Yootha was taken seriously ill while preparations were underway for what Brian has since said would be the final series and spent 18 days in hospital before she died on the 24th August 1980 of alcoholism.
| © Patricia Dempsey 5th January 2002
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Updated 3rd June 2009
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