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Lim, Pik-Sen (c. 1944- )


Main image of Lim, Pik-Sen (c. 1944- )

Alongside David Yip, Pik-Sen Lim was probably the most familiar Chinese actor on British television screens in the 1970s and 80s. Born in Penang, Malaya, but of Chinese ethnicity, she arrived in Britain as a teenager at the turn of the 1960s, and began acting shortly after. In early 1964 she was in the cast of Bernard Miles' Mermaid Theatre production of Euripedes' The Bacchae, before a two-year stint as Nurse Kwei on Emergency-Ward 10 (ITV, 1957-67), during which she met her husband, writer Don Houghton. She later appeared in Houghton's historical children's adventure series, The Flaxton Boys (ITV, 1969-73), and in his six-part 'The Mind of Evil' (1971) for Doctor Who (BBC, 1962-89; 2005-).

Although much or most of her career has seen her in straight roles on both big and small screens - including work with Peter Watkins (Gladiotarena, Sweden, 1969), Bette Davis (Madame Sin, d. David Greene, 1972) and Dennis Potter (Cream in My Coffee, ITV, tx. 2/11/1980) - her best-known work has been in TV comedy. She was one of three young beauties improbably chasing anxious bachelor Derek Nimmo in the BBC sitcom Sorry I'm Single (1967), but probably (and regrettably) her best-remembered role was as the little-red-book-hugging Chinese Communist Party stalwart Su-Lee, inexplicably attending an English language evening class in the parade of national stereotypes that was Mind Your Language (ITV, 1978-79).

Parts for Chinese actresses on British TV have never been plentiful, but she has kept busy. A regular on the short-lived BBC2 soap Albion Market (1985-86), in the 1980s she made guest appearances on the likes of Shoestring (BBC, 1979-80), The Professionals (ITV, 1978-93), and appeared in the David Hare-scripted Plenty (US, 1985). More recently she has turned up in the feature- length Cracker story White Ghost (ITV, tx 28/10/1997), episodes of The Bill (ITV, 1984-) and Little Britain (BBC, 2003-04) and in the FilmFour comedy feature Miranda (d. Mark Munden, 2002). Her daughter, Sarah Houghton, is also an increasingly successful actress.

Mark Duguid

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Red (1995)Red (1995)

In 1977, a Chinese woman emigrates to Britain in search of her family

Thumbnail image of Albion Market (1985-86)Albion Market (1985-86)

Shortlived soap set in a Manchester covered market

Thumbnail image of Emergency - Ward 10 (1957-67)Emergency - Ward 10 (1957-67)

British TV's first long-running medical drama series

Thumbnail image of Mind Your Language (1977-79, 1986)Mind Your Language (1977-79, 1986)

Sitcom about a class of foreign students learning English

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