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Carol Burns
Carol Ann Burns

(1947-10-29)29 October 1947
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Died 22 December 2015(2015-12-22) (aged 68)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Education Brisbane Arts Theatre, Twelfth Night Theatre
  • Actress
  • theatre director
  • theatre founder (founding member of Queensland Theatre Company
Years active 1965–2015
Spouse(s) Alan Lawrence (1979–2015, her death)

Carol Ann Burns (29 October 1947 – 22 December 2015) was an Australian actress, theatre director and patron of the arts, with a career spanning 50 years. She worked extensively in theatre and television serials, as well as telemovies and mini-series in Australia and the United Kingdom. In Australia she was a founding member of the Queensland Theatre Company.

Burns was an original cast member, as Franky Doyle, in the serial Prisoner during the first season in 1979 and although she only appeared in the first 20 episodes, she became a major breakout and much loved character, and gained cult status as a fan favourite.

Early life

Burns was born and raised in Brisbane, Queensland. Her mother Mary (née Langford) was a receptionist and her father William was a motor spare parts manager. She attended Milton State Primary School where her initiation into the world of theatre began with speech and drama classes in 1958. Burns acted with Brisbane Arts Theatre and also Twelfth Night Theatre, where she was a student of theatre director, Joan Whalley, and also tutored within the junior drama workshops, in Brisbane.


Television and film

Burns' major television role was her performance in the cult television program Prisoner, in which she played Frieda "Franky" Doyle. Although only appearing in the first 20 episodes, her character attained cult status, resulting in her winning a Logie Award for Best Lead Actress in a Series. Burns stated in a 2011 interview that she left the show due to very low pay and an increased workload as a result of the more rapid production of episodes. She also stated that it was her decision to be killed off as she did not want to be lured back. After Burns's departure from the series the producers released a telemovie titled The Franky Doyle Story which they compiled using footage from the episodes in which Burns had participated.

Burns, an experienced and versatile theatre actress, went to the UK and appeared in numerous West End theatre productions and had roles in TV series such as The Bill, Taggart and Heartbeat. Burns also appeared in films, particularly during the late 1970s and 1980s, including The Mango Tree (1977), Bad Blood (1981), Starstruck (1982) and Strikebound (1984)


Burns had acted exclusively in the theatre for ten years before film or television, based in Brisbane. In 2005, Burns performed in the Queensland Theatre Company's sell-out season of Edward Albee's production of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. As part of the 2007 season, she appeared in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. She performed for La Boite Theatre. She was in a stage production of Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman by Italian playwright Dario Fo. In 2015, Burns played, in what turned out to be her final performance, the lead role of Winnie in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days for Queensland Theatre Company.

Burns directed the Queensland Theatre Company productions of The Road to Mecca (2002) and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2003), as well as her own adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock (2013) at Brisbane Arts Theatre.

Personal life and death

Burns was married to Alan Lawrence, a British-born musician and composer, for 36 years. She died on 22 December 2015, after a brief cancer illness at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane at the age of 68.


Year Title Role Director Type
1977 The Mango Tree Maudie Plover Kevin James Dobson Feature film
1981 Bad Blood Dorothy Graham Mike Newell Feature film
1982 Starstruck Teacher Gillian Armstrong Feature film
1983 Dusty Clara John Richardson Feature film
1984 Strikebound Agnes Doig Richard Lowenstein Feature film
2002 Lolly Pops Film short
2003 Gettin' Square Parole Board Chairman Jonathan Teplitzky Feature film
2010 Girl Clock! Ms Thompson Jennifer Ussi Feature film
2011 The Golden Plate Gretta
  • Michael Gabel
  • Todd Shoemaker
Film short
2013 Tracks Mrs. Ward John Curran Feature film
2013 The Turning (segment: "Small Mercies") Marjorie Keenan Rhys Graham Feature film
2014 Drive Hard Granny Brian Trenchard-Smith Feature film
2015 Bullets for the Dead Miss Winnie Michael Du-Shane Feature film
Year Title Role Director
1977 Kirby's Company TV series, 2 episodes
1977 Young Ramsay TV series, 1 episode
1978 Pig In A Poke Alex TV series, Episode 3: "Christina's Story"
1978 Loss of Innocence Eleanor Miniseries, 3 episodes
1978 Run From the Morning Sylvia Blake TV series, Season 1, 6 episodes
1979 Everyday Guest (with Richard Moir) TV series, 1 episode
1979 Prisoner Franky Doyle TV series, Season 1, 20 episodes
1979 The Franky Doyle Story Franky Doyle TV movie
1979 The Oracle TV series, 1 episode
1979 The John Sullivan Story Biljana TV movie
1979 The Dolebludgers Shirley TV movie
1979 Lucinda Brayford Julie Vane Miniseries, 1 episode
1980 Australian Theatre Festival: Bedfellows Teleplay
1980 The 22nd Annual TV Week Logie Awards Herself TV special
1981–84 Cop Shop Joan Wright TV series, 3 episodes
1983 The Dismissal Cairns's Secretary Miniseries, 1 episode
1983 Carson's Law May Campbell TV series, 3 episodes
1983 All the Rivers Run Mrs. Slope Miniseries, 2 episodes
1984 Eureka Stockade Anastasia Hayes Miniseries, 2 episodes
1985 Taggart Molly Barron TV series, Season 1, 1 episode
1986 Strike it Rich! Stella Kingsley TV series, Season 1, 3 episodes
1989 Hannay Muriel Thorpe TV series, Season 2, 1 episode
1989 The Bill Doreen McKenzie TV series, Season 5, 1 episode
1989 TV AM Guest (with Fiona Spence & Val Lehman) TV series, 1 episode
1990 The Great Escape Herself TV special
1992 Moon and Son Lucy Gilbert TV series, Season 1, 1 episode
1993–94 Casualty Jean Hall TV series, Season 7 & 8, 2 episodes
1993 Paediatric Registrar Season 8, 1 episode
1996 Fire Counsellor TV series, Season 2, 1 episode
1996 Flipper Mes. Hillier TV series, Season 1, 1 episode
1996 40 Years Of TV Stars... Then And Now Herself TV special
1997 Where Are They Now? Guest TV series, 1 episode
1998; 2000 Good Morning Australia Guest TV series, 2 episodes
1998 The Day of the Roses Greta Miniseries, 2 episodes
1998 Medivac Mrs. Ryan TV series, Season 3, 1 episodes
1998; 2001 Blue Heelers Gladys Fraser TV series, Season 5, 1 episode
1998 Misery Guts Ticket Seller TV series, Season 1, 1 episode
1999 Queen Kat, Carmel & St Jude Nance McCaffery Miniseries, 4 episodes
2000 The Love of Lionel's Life Mavis TV movie
2001 Blue Heelers Eunice Johnson TV series, Season 8, 1 episode
2003 (S)truth Miniseries (3 shorts)
2004 Small Claims Pamela TV movie
2005 Small Claims: White Wedding Pamela TV movie
2006 Small Claims: The Reunion Pamela TV movie
2006 Where Are They Now Guest (with Amanda Muggleton, Peta Toppano & Val Lehman) TV series, 1 episode
2009 Heartbeat Mrs Pike TV series, Season 18, 2 episodes
2011 A Current Affair Guest (with Prisoner cast: Elspeth Ballantyne, Jane Clifton, Patsy King, Judith McGrath, Val Lehman & Margaret Laurence) TV series, 1 episode
2012 The Strange Calls Gwen TV series, Season 1, 1 episode)
2013 The Morning Show Guest (with Prisoner cast: Fiona Spence, Patsy King, Val Lehman, Colette Mann & Elspeth Ballantyne) TV series, 1 episode
2013 Reef Doctors Mrs. Ogilvy TV series, Season 1, 1 episode

Awards, honours and nominations

Association Year Award Work/s Results
Logie Awards Silver Logie - Best Lead Actress in a Series 1979 Prisoner (aka Prisoner: Cell Block H (USA/UK) and Caged Woman (Canada) Won
Australian Film Institute Best Actress in a Guest Role in a Television Drama Series 1994 Blue Heelers, Episode: "Deadly Fascination" Nominated
Australian Film Institute Best Actress in a Lead Role 1984 Strikebound Nominated
Australian Film Institute Best Actress in a Supporting Role 1977 The Mango Tree Nominated
Queensland Actors Equity Award Best Established Artist 2006 Honoured
Matilda Awards Gold Matilda 2015 (posthumously) Honoured
Actors' & Entertainers' Benevolent Fund Alan Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award 2003 Honoured
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