A West End actress, she was also well known for her television and radio performances, and in the 1950s and 1960s was the UK's favorite battleaxe - not least because of her performance in the comedy Sailor Beware!, in which she played a ferocious mother-in-law figure.
Despite being often cast in these rather grotesque comic roles, she was an accomplished performer who was capable of a wider range than she was generally given credit for, earning excellent reviews for her acting in Shakespeare and Chekhov, and playing the lead in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage.
She worked with the RSC at Stratford and London in the early 1980s, appearing in Measure for Measure among other plays, and was in a revival of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit where she played Madame Arcati. She was frequently seen on television, while her film credits include Oliver!, Sailor Beware! and Hotel Paradiso.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow