Patricia Rowlands, was born in London on the 19th January 1934, and past away in Hove, East Sussex on 22nd January 2005.
Even if she reached her biggest audience because of her work in nine of the massively popular "Carry On" movies, the skills of Patsy Rowlands were recognized by theatre goers years earlier.
She made her theatre début with a note worthy performance in Sandy Wilson's Valmouth in 1959, she was then to become part of the "New Wave" of talent that re-energized both stage and screen in the 1960’s. She was associated with many key movers of the period such as, Tony Richardson, John Schlesinger, Harold Pinter and N.F. Simpson, but although such impressive credits and enormous respect within the profession, it is almost certainly true to say that her talents were not recognized until she became a firm fixture of the "Carry On" cast.
Born in Palmers Green, London and educated at a number of convent schools, she had no direction in life until her parents sent her for elocution lessons. She was encouraged by her teacher and she went on to win a scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she was only 15.
Making her first theatrical appearance in the chorus of the touring production of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ in 1951, she then spent several years at the Players' Theatre, singing music-hall pieces and appearing in their traditional pantomimes.
She made her London theatre début when she was cast by the director Vida Hope in Sandy Wilson's dazzling, bold and controversial musical version of Ronald Firbank's novel ‘Valmouth’, which opened at the Lyric, Hammersmith in 1958 and moved to the Saville Theatre the following year.
As part of theatre's New Wave of the early 1960’s, she performed as Sylvia Groomkirby, in N.F. Simpson's bizarre 1959 comedy, ‘ Way Pendulum’, and as Avril Hadfield in David Turner's ‘Semi-Detached’ in 1962, directed by Tony Richardson and starring Sir Laurence Olivier.
Richardson, who was a supporter of Rowlands' versatile talents, gave her one of her first significant screen roles, as a nubile young girl in his Oscar-winning version of Tom Jones (1963), scripted by Pinter.
She had made her first Film appearance in the 1961 British comedy ‘On The Fiddle’ and followed it with a performance as the heroine's tenacious girl-friend in John Schlesinger's biting 1962 movie, ‘A Kind of Loving’ also starring June Ritchie and Alan Bates.."
In 1969 ‘Carry On Again Doctor’ was the first of nine "Carry Ons" in which she appeared, playing a varity of roles from the Queen in ‘Carry On, Henry’ in 1971 to the character Hortence Withering the personal assistant to the managing director of a lavatory factory in ‘Carry On at Your Convenience’ in 1971.
She often played the shy character who would hide her passions, which would finally erupt, such as the mayor's wife in ‘Carry On Girls’, disrupting her husband’s beauty contest by burning her bra and joining Women's Lib.
Her last film in the series was ‘Carry On Behind’ in 1975.
Future films included Richardson's’ Joseph Andrews’ in 1976 and Roman Polanski's ‘Tess’ in 1980, and then moving back onto the stage she was directed by Lindsay Anderson in the 1975 production of ‘The Seagull’ She was also a familiar face on television. Appearing in ITC cult drama such as Danger Man and The Avengers.
In 1969 she gave a refreshingly humorous performance in Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's TV play ‘An Extra Bunch of Daffodils’.
She also played Betty, the ineffectual neighbour, in the long-running Thames Television series ‘Bless This House’ which ran from 1971 to 1976. later going on to star in Nigel Kneale's sci-fi comedy ‘Kinvig’ for London Weekend Television in 1981.
Her later stage roles included ‘The Wind in the Willows’ in 1990, directed by Nicholas Hytner, and a delightful performance as Mrs Pearce in the National Theatre’s 2002 revival of ‘My Fair Lady’.
I personally remember her playing ‘Susan’ the wife of ‘Rex’ played by Ken Jones in the ATV sitcom ‘The Squirrels’ which ran for 28 episodes between 1974 and 1977. She was always welcome addition to any cast.