Sylvia Syms 1934-2023
The British actress Sylvia Syms has died at the age of 89.
Sylvia Syms was a star of British cinema. She appeared in a number of iconic movies including Ice Cold in Alex, No Trees in the Street, Victim, and The Tamarind Seed.
She appeared in Doctor Who in 1989 playing Mrs. Pritchard in the Seventh Doctor story Ghost Light.
Sylvia Syms was born in South East London in 1934. At the age of five World War II broke out and she became one of the thousands of children who were evacuated from London, moving first to Kent and then, in 1940, to Monmouthshire in Wales. She later recalled the trauma of being separated from her mother, who was to die of a brain tumour when Syms was just 12.
At 16, she suffered a nervous breakdown and contemplated suicide but, at the insistence of her stepmother, had psychotherapy which helped her through the crisis.She trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
After graduating she quickly moved into filmmaking earning plaudits with her second role, playing the delinquent daughter of Anna Neagle in My Teenage Daughter. The following year she had a key supporting role in the kitchen-sink drama Woman in a Dressing Gown, for which she was nominated for the Bafta for best British actress
A couple of years later she was appearing alongside John Mills in the war movie Ice Cold with Alex. She later played the wannabe singer Maisie in Expresso Bongo. By 1960 had worked with Flora Robson, Orson Welles, Stanley Holloway, Lilli Palmer and William Holden.
In 1961 she played the wife of Dirk Bogarde in the film Victim. The movie dealt with homosexual activity, then unlawful in the United Kingdom, and the movie is thought to have helped change the law. In 1963 she played Tony Hancock's wife in The Punch and Judy Man. Another comedy followed with The Big Job alongside Sid James, Dick Emery, and Joan Sims.
She was again nominated for a British Film Academy award for the 1974 film The Tamarind Seed where she starred with Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif. In 2006 she played The Queen Mother in the Stephen Frears film The Queen
From the mid-seventies onwards her main work was on Television appearing in many supporting roles. In 1991 she portrayed Margaret Thatcher in Thatcher: The Final Days for Granada. She played Marion Riley in the ITV comedy-drama series At Home with the Braithwaites and in 2007 joined EastEnders for a short run playing dressmaker Olive Woodhouse.
Her last role was in the 2019 series Gentleman Jack, where she played Mrs Rawlinson
Sylvia Syms died peacefully on Friday at Denville Hall, a care home in London for those in the entertainment industry.
She is survived by her two children, Beatie and Ben Edney who said