Obituary: Anne Stallybrass, actress

The actress Anne Stallybrass, who has died at 82, was most familiar to audiences in the 1970s and 80s as Jane Seymour in The Six Wives of Henry VIII and, even more memorably, as Anne Onedin in the BBC’s oceangoing saga The Onedin Line.

Anne Stallybrass

The actress Anne Stallybrass, who has died at 82, was most familiar to audiences in the 1970s and 80s as Jane Seymour in The Six Wives of Henry VIII and, even more memorably, as Anne Onedin in the BBC’s oceangoing saga The Onedin Line.

She was also at home in Yorkshire, appearing opposite Frank Windsor as a Northern couple who spend their redundancy money on a Rolls Royce in Flying Lady, and as part of the ensemble cast of the long running North Riding police serial, Heartbeat. Both were productions of Yorkshire Television.

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But it was The Onedin Line, the tale of a shipping family in 19th century Liverpool, memorably orchestrated by Khachaturian’s Spartacus, that made her a household name – especially when she and her screen husband, Peter Gilmore, were romantically linked in real life.

She left the show after the first two series, to return to her first love of the theatre, but she and Gilmore remained together and married in 1987.

Jacqueline Anne Stallybrass was born in Essex in December 1938, the daughter of a clerk at the Bank of England. She went to convent school and studied drama at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with a gold medal.

She gained early experience with the Arthur Brough Players in Folkestone and Westcliff-on-Sea, but it was with the repertory company at Sheffield Playhouse that she broke through, appearing in a radio adaptation of its 1963 play, A Jug of Bread, about a family who win the pools. She made her TV debut in ATV’s Emergency – Ward 10 and then undertook the first of her Yorkshire roles, as the housekeeper Ellen in a four-part BBC adaptation of Wuthering Heights in 1967.

Her first starring role was in a 1967 Granada production of Love on the Dole, Walter Greenwood’s controversially realistic account of depression-era life in the tenement slums of Salford’s Hanky Park. She took on the role of Sally Hardcastle – played by Deborah Kerr in the 1941 film version – who abandons her conscience by succumbing to the advances of a wealthy local bookie in order to keep her family in work.

Other TV parts included Susan, the wife sold to a sailor by Alan Bates’s Michael Henchard in Dennis Potter’s adaptation of The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Anna Strauss in ATV’s lavish 1972 series, The Strauss Family.

She was in Heartbeat, as Eileen Reynolds, aunt of Niamh Cusack’s family GP Kate Rowan, for five years from 1993, and her character became romantically involved with the local police sergeant, Oscar Blaketon, played by Derek Fowlds. The series, filmed largely in the North York Moors, was based on the Country Constable series of novels by the real-life former police inspector, Peter Walker.

Her final screen role was in A Song for Jenny, in which she played a mother who lost a daughter in the July 7 London bombings.

She married twice, first in 1963 to the actor Roger Rowland, whom she met in Nottingham, and later to Gilmore, who remained her partner until his death in 2013 and with whom she owned a Devon cottage named Onedin House.

She is survived by two nieces and a nephew.