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Bron, Eleanor (1938- )


Main image of Bron, Eleanor (1938- )

Possessed of a quirky wit and striking Eastern European looks, Eleanor Bron was one of the few women to take a leading role in the male-dominated 'satire boom' of the early 1960s, following her 1959 Cambridge Footlights debut (alongside Peter Cook) in 'The Last Laugh'. However, subsequent decades saw this quirky yet stylish performer and writer gradually relegated to guest star status.

After appearing in the pilot for That Was the Week That Was (BBC, 1962-63), she missed out on becoming a regular when she joined Peter Cook's Establishment troupe on a year-long American trip. Upon her return she became part of another David Frost-fronted, Ned Sherrin-produced show, Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life (BBC, 1964-65), and the following year made her film debut in the Beatles' second feature, Help! (d. Richard Lester, 1965), as enigmatic high priestess Ahme. There were regular film roles over the next few years, providing romantic interest and comic relief in Two for the Road (d. Stanley Donen, 1967) and Bedazzled (d. Stanley Donen, 1967), while Women in Love (d. Ken Russell, 1969) gave her the opportunity to display more depth as Hermione. On television she collaborated with Johns Bird and Fortune, blending social commentary and political satire with bizarre flights of fancy in her writing and performing on BBC3 (BBC, 1965-66), My Father Knew Lloyd-George (BBC, 1965), and Where Was Spring? (BBC, 1969-70).

Following The National Health (d. Jack Gold, 1973) her film career lost momentum, but small-screen work remained plentiful, including collaborations with Michael Frayn on the sketch series Beyond a Joke (BBC, 1972) and comedy drama Making Faces (BBC, 1975). After concentrating mainly on her theatrical career in the 80s, the following decade saw a return to the big screen in Black Beauty (d. Caroline Thompson, 1994), and a recurring role as Patsy's flamboyant mother in Absolutely Fabulous (BBC, 1992-2004).

Richard Hewett

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