She will always be remembered as 'silly old moo' Else Garnett, resistant wife to the narrow-minded Alf in 'Till Death Do Us Part' (BBC, 1966-75), Dandy Nichols also enjoyed a long and illustrious theatrical calling, playing opposite John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in the first night performance at the Royal Court of 'Home'. Her doughy face became familiar in big-screen comedies from the 1940s onward, typically portraying the cockney charladies, domestics and dreary housewives.
She started acting on an amateur basis, using her earnings as a secretary to pay for drama, diction and, of all things, fencing classes. After being noticed in a charity show she joined a Cambridge repertory company, adopting the stage name of Barbara Nichols, which she later altered to Dandy, her childhood nickname.
With the outbreak of WWII her theatrical work was put on hold, but she subsequently toured with ENSA, going on to make her film debut in 'Hue and Cry' .
Over the next two decades she swaped between small character parts in film and further significant theatrical bookings followed, also work in TV,appearing in episodes of 'Emergency - Ward 10' (ITV, 1957-67), 'Dixon of Dock Green' (BBC, 1955-76), and 'Armchair Theatre' (ITV, 1959-74), and providing a memorable cameo in the Beatles' film 'Help!'.
The following year she made her debut as Else in long running iconic comedy 'Till Death Do Us Part' , a part originally played by Gretchen Franklin in the Comedy Playhouse pilot transmitted on the BBC on 22nd July 1965. Focusing on the blinkered rants of Warren Mitchell's Alf Garnett, the show ran until 1975 and spawned two feature spin-offs. The put-upon and usually perplexed Else quickly became a focus of audience sympathy, frequently (and unintentionally) raining on her husband's parade with an off-hand remark. However, by the last series Nichols was weary of the role, so Else was moved to Australia to live with her sister.
She later won praise playing opposite Alastair Sim in Play for Today's 'The General's Day' broadcast on the BBC on 20th November 1972, and presented a malevolent take on Else as an absent-minded kidnapper in the Bergerac episode 'A Message for the Rich' which aired on BBC Television on the 9th January 1983.
She twice returned to play Else, first in an ITV revival, Till Death...made by ATV in 1981, and finally in In Sickness and in Health (BBC, 1985-1992).
As Dandy was now in pain from rheumatoid arthritis, Else was confined to a wheelchair. She died shortly after the transmission of her final appearance in the 1985 Christmas special.