Josephine Tewson

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Josephine Tewson
Born(1931-02-26) 26 February 1931 (age 83)
Hampstead, London, England, UK
Years active1963–present
Spouse(s)Leonard Rossiter (1958–1961; divorced)
Henry Newman (1972–1980; his death)
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Josephine Tewson
Born(1931-02-26) 26 February 1931 (age 83)
Hampstead, London, England, UK
Years active1963–present
Spouse(s)Leonard Rossiter (1958–1961; divorced)
Henry Newman (1972–1980; his death)

Josephine Ann Tewson (born 26 February 1931) is an English stage and television actress. She is best known for her roles in British television sitcoms, such as Elizabeth in Keeping Up Appearances (1990–95) and Miss Davenport in Last of the Summer Wine (2003–10).

Early life and career[edit]

Tewson was born in Hampstead, London.[1] Her father, William, was a professional musician and played the double bass in the BBC Symphony Orchestra;[2] her mother, Kate (née Morley, born 1908), was a nurse.[3][4] After grammar school, Tewson studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[5] She was briefly married to actor Leonard Rossiter; they divorced in 1961.

A regular comedy performer in sketches featuring Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker on David Frost on Sunday and Hark at Barker (1970), 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.

A widespread rumour is that Tewson was a cousin of the actor John Inman, best known for his role in Are You Being Served?, though she has dispelled the rumour in interviews.[6] She was featured with Inman in Odd Man Out (1977), an unsuccessful sitcom, where they played half-brother/half-sister roles.

Later career[edit]

Tewson appeared semi-regularly as Miss Davenport in Last of the Summer Wine (2003–10), a series written by Roy Clarke who also wrote Keeping Up Appearances. She has 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", 2002). Most recently, 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 nanny in a 30-second commercial for Nabisco Fruit Newtons, first aired in 1997 in the United States. She also played a school teacher in a Sugar Puffs "I Want My Honey" advert during the late 1980s/early 1990s.

In 2012, Tewson launched her one woman show Still Keeping Up Appearances? and is on tour across the UK. She is the granddaughter of Haydn Morley who captained Sheffield Wednesday in the 1890 F.A cup final


Television and film[edit]

1963–64No Hiding PlaceVarious
1963First NightMrs Tullet
1966Sergeant CorkMartha St. Clair
1967Mrs. ThursdayDulci
1968The Charlie Drake ShowVarious
1968Frost on SundayVarious
1969The ChampionsHotel Switchboard Operator (uncredited)
1969–79The Dick Emery ShowVarious
1969Hark at BarkerMildred Bates
1970ITV Saturday Night Theatre "Suffer Little Children"Gladys
1971Six Dates with BarkerTravers
1971Copper's EndWPS Penny Pringle
1971–81The Two RonniesVarious
1972His Lordship EntertainsMildred Bates
1973Comedy Playhouse "Elementary My Dear Watson"Lady Cynthia
1973Whoops Baghdad!Fatima
1973It's TarbuckVarious
1973Son of the BrideMiss McDowdie
1973Casanova '73Mrs Kershaw
1973Tell TarbyVarious
1975Tarbuck and All That!Various
1975Wodehouse PlayhouseMabel Potts
1975Dawson's WeeklyCleoberry
1976Happy Ever AfterMrs Robins
1976Lucky FellerShirley
1977No Appointment NecessaryPenelope Marshall
1977Odd Man OutDorothy
1978The Hound of the BaskervillesNun
1979–84ShelleyEdna Hawkins
1979Rings on Their FingersMrs Harris
1983For 4 TonightActress
1985Terry and JuneMrs Robins
1987Rude HealthMrs Thorpe
1988ClarenceJane Travers
1989WiltMiss Leuchars
1990–95Keeping Up AppearancesElizabeth Warden
1994Coronation StreetPeggy Phillips
1999SunburnLouise Montague
2000Heroes of Comedy: Ronnie BarkerHerself
2000Midsomer MurdersSamantha Johnstone
2002HeartbeatMrs Morris
2003–10Last of the Summer WineMiss (Lucinda) Davenport
2004–05Comedy Connections (2 episodes)Herself
2006Holby CityMabel Phillips
2009DoctorsMrs Winston, a kleptomaniac
2012Inspector LewisHazel O'Brien
2012DoctorsMarjorie Page
2012The Many Faces of Ronnie BarkerHerself
2013The Two Ronnies SpectacleHerself

Theatre roles[edit]

1957Free as AirIvy CrushSavoy Theatre, West End
1961Androcles and the LionMegaeraMermaid Theatre, London
1964CoriolanusNottingham Playhouse, Nottingham
1966The Ballad of False BarmanHampstead Theatre, London
1968The Real Inspector HoundMrs. DrudgeVaudeville Theatre, West End
1972A Cuckoo in the NestThorndike Theatre
1976Absurd Person SingularWimbledon Theatre, London
1985Noises OffDotty OtleySavoy Theatre, West End
1986-87Woman in MindMurielVaudeville Theatre, West End
Moscow ShadowsNatashaNew End Theatre, Hampstead
See How They RunMiss SkillonWatermill Theatre, Newbury
1989Last of the Red Hot LoversJeanette FisherStrand Theatre, West End
Arsenic and Old LaceAbby Brewster
1995The Killing of Sister GeorgeMercy CroftAmbassadors Theatre, West End
The Importance of Being EarnestLady BracknellHorseshoe Theatre, Basingstoke
Talking Heads: A Lady of LettersSwan Theatre, Worcester
1998Romeo and JulietNurseSalisbury Playhouse, Wiltshire and tour
2002A Woman of No ImportanceLady HunstantonNo. 1 Tour
2004The Importance of Being EarnestMiss PrismNo. 1 Tour
2008SalonikaCharlotteWest Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds


Early 1970sMostly MonkhouseVariousBBC Radio
2009Leaves in AutumnIrisWireless Theatre Company


  1. ^ "Josephine Tewson in one-woman show at Hertford Theatre". Hertfordshire Mercury. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Longhurst, Jenny (25 May 2002). "An actress of great importance; Josephine Tewson has starred alongside such comic greats as The Two Ronnies and Patricia Routledge. She talks to Jenny Longhurst about her latest role.". South Wales Echo. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Keeping up appearances with the first player signed by the Rams". Derby Telegraph. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Josephine Tewson Biography". Film Reference. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Ean, Tan Gim (25 September 1988). "Comedy Queen who is very down to earth". New Straits Times. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Shaw, Karen. "Tonight Josephine." Northern Life. Last modified 27 September 2012. Accessed 28 March 2013.

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