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Stubbs, Una (1937-)


Main image of Stubbs, Una (1937-)

Dancer turned actress Una Stubbs has several memorable reference points spanning her long and varied career - starring alongside Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday (d. Peter Yates, 1963), playing Alf Garnett's daughter in Till Death Us Do Part (1966-75), team captain in ITV's ultimate parlour game Give us a Clue (1979-86), Aunt Sally in children's series Worzel Gummidge (1979-81) and Mrs Hudson in the BBC's recent updating of Sherlock Holmes - each different from the other but each in their own way encapsulating her bright-eyed, perky persona.

She was born on 1 May 1937, in Hinckley, Leicestershire and sent to La Roche dancing school in Slough by her mother. She made her debut stage appearance as a dancer at the London Palladium. Her TV career started in earnest as part of ITV's early attempt at capturing the youth pop market in Cool for Cats (1958), performing with The Dougie Squires Dancers who performed dance routines to hit records of the day. In 1963 she joined the cast of new charades-based gameshow Don't Say A Word (ITV, 1963) - a forerunner of Give us a Clue.

Nevertheless her fresh-faced charm and dancing talent saw her join the wholesome gang surrounding Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday and Wonderful Life (d. Sidney J. Furie, 1964). In the early 70s she became a regular on his TV shows - dancing, singing and appearing in sketches with the star.

Given her background in such unthreatening fare, it was a surprise to find her in of the 1960s' most controversial comedy, as the often exasperated Rita, daughter of foul-mouthed bigot Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part. She reprised the part in the subsequent series 'Til Death (ITV, 1981) and In Sickness and In Health (BBC, 1985-86).

Younger viewers would remember her as the spiteful Aunt Sally in ITV's immensely popular children's adventures of amiable scarecrow Worzel Gummidge. During this time she was appealing to yet another demographic as team captain opposing Lionel Blair in daytime gameshow Give Us a Clue. She later returned to children's fare in a comedy drama set in a school for witches, The Worst Witch (ITV, 1998-2000).

During the 2000s she made regular TV appearances, including, in 2006, a short run on EastEnders (BBC, 1985-), as well as comic roles in The Catherine Tate Show (BBC, 2004-07) and holiday-from-hell sitcom Benidorm (ITV, 2007-).

In recent years her stage career has continued to defy typecasting, with more serious roles, including several for director Michael Grandage. In 2010 she was back on TV as an engaging Mrs Hudson, housekeeper to Holmes and Watson in the BBC's summer hit Sherlock.

She was married and divorced from actors Peter Gilmore and Nicky Henson.

Eddie Dyja

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Summer Holiday (1962)Summer Holiday (1962)

Cliff Richard and chums cross Europe by double-decker bus

Thumbnail image of Till Death Us Do Part (1966-75)Till Death Us Do Part (1966-75)

Controversial comedy with Warren Mitchell as the bigoted Alf Garnett

Thumbnail image of Worzel Gummidge (1979-81)Worzel Gummidge (1979-81)

Children's series with Jon Pertwee as the living scarecrow

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