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Josephine Tewson
Josephine Ann Tewson

(1931-02-26)26 February 1931
Hampstead, London, England
Died 18 August 2022(2022-08-18) (aged 91)
Northwood, London, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1952–2019
Leonard Rossiter
(m. 1958; div. 1961)
Henry Newman
(m. 1972; died 1980)

Josephine Ann Tewson (26 February 1931 – 18 August 2022) was an English actress, best known for her roles in British television sitcoms, such as Edna Hawkins ("Mrs H") in Shelley, Elizabeth "Liz" Warden in Keeping Up Appearances (1990–1995), and Miss Davenport in Last of the Summer Wine (2003–2010).

Early life and education

Tewson was born in Hampstead, London on 26 February 1931. Her father, William, was a professional musician and played the double bass in the BBC Symphony Orchestra; her mother, Kate (née Morley, born 1908), was a nurse, the daughter of Haydn Morley who captained Sheffield Wednesday in the 1890 FA Cup Final. After grammar school, Tewson studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from which she graduated in 1952.

Early career

A regular comedy performer in sketches featuring Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker on David Frost on Sunday and Hark at Barker (1969), she later appeared in Mostly Monkhouse, a BBC Radio Comedy programme with David Jason supporting Bob Monkhouse. She also appeared a few times in Z-Cars (1963–69) and The Charlie Drake Show (1968). Tewson played Edna Hawkins (usually referred to as "Mrs H" by Shelley) in the first six series of the British sitcom Shelley (1979–82). Later, she played Jane Travers in Ronnie Barker's sitcom Clarence (1988), which he also wrote, and was his last starring television role before his retirement.

Tewson was featured with John Inman in Odd Man Out (1977), an unsuccessful sitcom in which they played adult half-siblings who had recently met. She was rumoured to be Inman's cousin, though she has denied this idea in several interviews. She appeared in the 1984 children's film Gabrielle and the Doodleman as the characters Mrs. Briggs (Gabrielle's father's housekeeper) and the Fairy Godmother.

Tewson was well-known in England for her role as Elizabeth Warden, neighbour and reluctant confidante of social wannabe Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances. Tewson appeared in nearly every episode for the 5 series run, providing a counter to "Mrs Bucket".

Later career

Tewson appeared semi-regularly as Miss Davenport in Last of the Summer Wine (2003–2010), a series written by Roy Clarke who also wrote Keeping Up Appearances. She also appeared in two episodes of the documentary series Comedy Connections, talking about her work in Keeping Up Appearances (2004) and opposite The Two Ronnies (2005). In 2009, she played the role of Iris in the radio drama Leaves in Autumn written by Susan Casanove, produced by the Wireless Theatre Company.

Other television appearances were in an episode of Heartbeat ("Closing The Book", 2002) and as the competition judge, Samantha Johnstone, in an episode in the mystery drama Midsomer Murders ("Judgement Day", 2000). She was featured in two episodes of Doctors as kleptomaniac, Audrey Wilson, ("Now You See It...", 2009) and as Marjorie Page, a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease ("The Bespectacled Bounder", 2012). Tewson played a school teacher in a Sugar Puffs "I Want My Honey" advert during the late 1980s/early 1990s. Tewson played a nanny in a 30-second commercial for Nabisco Fruit Newtons, first aired in 1997 in the United States.

In 2012, Tewson launched her one-woman show, Still Keeping Up Appearances?, and toured across the UK until early 2019.

Personal life and death

Tewson was married to actor Leonard Rossiter from 1958 until their divorce in 1961. She later married Henry Newman in 1972, who died in 1980.

Tewson died at Denville Hall, a retirement home in London for actors, on 18 August 2022, aged 91.



Year Title Role Notes
1972 The Troublesome Double Mrs Wentworth
1977 The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It Miss Hoskins
1978 The Hound of the Baskervilles Nun
1984 Gabrielle and the Doodleman Mrs Briggs/Fairy Godmother
1989 Wilt Miss Leuchars
2000 The Mumbo Jumbo Miss Hodges


Year Title Role Notes
1959 Preview Joan Garnett Episode: "Marriage Bureau"
Charlesworth Mrs. Furse Episode: "Long Hot Spell"
1963 ITV Play of the Week Barmaid Episode: "Double Stakes"
No Hiding Place Mavis Peters Episode: "Four Faces of Clare"
First Night Mrs Tullet Episode: "The Initiation"
Z-Cars Elizabeth Hepton Episode: "Wait for It"
1964 No Hiding Place June Merrall Episode: "The Things Money Can Buy"
1965 The Sullavan Brothers WPC Episode: "The Outsider"
Z-Cars Mrs. Rogers Episode: "The Mice Will Play"
Emergency-Ward 10 Mrs. Close 5 episodes
1966 Sergeant Cork Martha St. Clair Episode: "The Case of the Devil's Daughter"
1967 Emergency-Ward 10 Dr. Saunders Episode: "Devil Doll"
Mrs Thursday Dulcie Ainsworth Episode: "The Old School Tie Up"
1968 Z-Cars Muriel Finch Episode: "Aren't Policemen Wonderful: Part 2"
The Charlie Drake Show Various 6 episodes
Frost on Sunday Various 14 episodes
1969 The Champions Hotel switchboard operator Episode: "The Night People"
1969–1970 Hark at Barker Mildred Bates All 15 episodes
1969–1979 The Dick Emery Show Various 15 episodes
1970 ITV Saturday Night Theatre Gladys Episode: "Suffer Little Children"
1971 Six Dates with Barker Travers Episode: "1937: The Removals Person"
Copper's End WPS Penny Pringle 13 episodes
1971–1981 The Two Ronnies Various 5 episodes
1972 His Lordship Entertains Mildred Bates All 7 episodes
1973 Comedy Playhouse Lady Cynthia Episode: "Elementary My Dear Watson"
Whoops Baghdad! Fatima Episode: "The Wazir Takes a Wife"
It's Tarbuck Various 6 episodes
Son of the Bride Miss McDowdie All 6 episodes
Casanova '73 Mrs Kershaw Episode: #1.3
Tell Tarby Various 6 episodes
1974 Thriller Yvonne Episode: "A Coffin for the Bride "
1975 Tarbuck and All That! Various 5 episodes
Wodehouse Playhouse Mabel Potts Episode: "Rodney Fails to Qualify"
Dawson's Weekly Cleoberry Episode: "Stage-Struck"
Larry Grayson Various 2 episodes
1976 Happy Ever After Mrs Robins Episode: "Mistaken Identikit"
Lucky Feller Shirley Episode: "Where There's Life There's Soap"
1977 Whodunnit? Miss Frisby Episode: "No Happy Returns"
No Appointment Necessary Penelope Marshall All 7 episodes
Odd Man Out Dorothy Sutcliffe All 7 episodes
1979 Rings on Their Fingers Mrs Harris Episode: "Home Market"
1979–1984 Shelley Edna Hawkins 23 episodes
1983 Terry and June Brenda Episode: "A Day in Boulogne"
Tears Before Bedtime Beatrice Episode: "Show Me the Way to Leave Home"
1985 The Caucasian Chalk Circle Various TV film
Terry and June Mrs Robins Episode: "Mistaken Identity"
1987 Rude Health Mrs Thorpe 8 episodes
1988 Clarence Jane Travers All 6 episodes
1990–1995 Keeping Up Appearances Elizabeth "Liz" Warden 43 episodes
1994 Coronation Street Peggy Phillips 2 episodes
1999 Sunburn Louise Montague Episode: #1.1
2000 Midsomer Murders Samantha Johnstone Episode: "Judgement Day"
2002 Heartbeat Mrs Morris Episode: "Closing the Book"
2003–2010 Last of the Summer Wine Miss Lucinda Davenport 62 episodes
2006 Holby City Mabel Phillips Episode: "Looking After Number One"
2009 Doctors Audrey Winston Episode: "Now You See It..."
2012 Lewis Hazel O'Brien Episode: "The Indelible Stain"
Doctors Marjorie Page Episode: "The Bespectacled Bounder"
2015 Doctors Eileen Wilkie Episode: "A Quiet Life"

Theatre roles

Year Production Role Venue
1957 Free as Air Ivy Crush Savoy Theatre, West End
1961 Androcles and the Lion Megaera Mermaid Theatre, London
1964 Coriolanus Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham
1966 The Ballad of False Barman Hampstead Theatre, London
1968 The Real Inspector Hound Mrs. Drudge Vaudeville Theatre, West End
1972 A Cuckoo in the Nest Thorndike Theatre
1976 Absurd Person Singular Wimbledon Theatre, London
1985 Noises Off Dotty Otley Savoy Theatre, West End
1986–87 Woman in Mind Muriel Vaudeville Theatre, West End
? Moscow Shadows Natasha New End Theatre, Hampstead
See How They Run Miss Skillon Watermill Theatre, Newbury
1989 Last of the Red Hot Lovers Jeanette Fisher Strand Theatre, West End
1994 Arsenic and Old Lace Abby Brewster Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford and tour
1995 The Killing of Sister George Mercy Croft Ambassadors Theatre, West End
? The Importance of Being Earnest Lady Bracknell Horseshoe Theatre, Basingstoke
Talking Heads: A Lady of Letters Swan Theatre, Worcester
1998 Romeo and Juliet Nurse Salisbury Playhouse, Wiltshire and tour
2002 A Woman of No Importance Lady Hunstanton No. 1 Tour
2004 The Importance of Being Earnest Miss Prism No. 1 Tour
2008 Salonika Charlotte West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
2009 Separate Tables Lady Matheson Chichester Festival Theatre


Year Title Role Company
1971, 1973 The Secret Life of Kenneth Williams Maisie BBC Radio
Early 1970s Mostly Monkhouse Various BBC Radio
July 1981 It Sticks Out Half a Mile Miss Baines BBC Radio
1994 Uncle Dynamite Lady Bostock BBC Radio
2009 Leaves in Autumn Iris Wireless Theatre Company
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