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Jean Marsh OBE


Jean Lyndsey Torren Marsh, OBE was born on 1st July 1934, in Stoke Newington, London and is an British actress and screenwriter.

She is perhaps best known for co-creating the television series The House of Eliott as well as co-creating and starring in Upstairs, Downstairs for which she received several awards including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Rose Buck in 1975. She later reprised her role of Rose for the BBC's revival of the series in 2010.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Marsh made many appearances on British and American television including an episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Lonely" (1959), in which she played Alicia, a very lifelike and attractive female robot; The Moon and Sixpence (1959) opposite Laurence Olivier and Denholm Elliot; The Wonderful World of Disney (1961); Gideon's Way (1965); I Spy (1967); The Saint (4 episodes between 1964 and 1968); and UFO. She was a regular in the ITV series 'The Informer' (1966-67) starring Ian Hendry.

She appeared several times in the BBC series Doctor Who. She first appeared alongside William Hartnell in the 1965 serial The Crusade as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in the 12-part serial The Daleks' Masterplan. Although the character was killed off at the end of that serial, Marsh reprised the role of Sara Kingdom in the audio plays Home Truths in 2008, The Drowned World in 2009, The Guardian of the Solar System in 2010, The Five Companions in 2011, and The Anachronauts in 2012. She also appeared in the 1989 television serial Battlefield as Morgana Le Fay, as well as the 2007 audio play The Wishing Beast. She made an un-billed cameo appearance in the 2013 docudrama about Doctor Who, An Adventure in Space and Time.

Marsh was featured as Bertha Mason Rochester in the George C. Scott-Susannah York version of Jane Eyre, directed by Delbert Mann. The film was released theatrically in the United Kingdom in 1970 and shown in the United States on NBC Television in 1971.

With Eileen Atkins she created the British period drama Upstairs, Downstairs, and played the role of the house parlourmaid Rose Buck for the duration of the series, from 1971 until 1975. The programme was internationally popular and received numerous awards including two BAFTAs, two Royal Television Society awards, eight Emmys and a Golden Globe. Marsh received a Royal Television Society award in 1971 and an Emmy Award for her role in 1975; and was nominated for the same award on three further occasions - 1974, 1976 and again for the revival in 2011. The actress also received awards from the American Drama Centre and American Drama Critics Circle for the role, and two Golden Globe nominations.

Marsh and Eileen Atkins created a second television series The House of Eliott, three series of which were broadcast between 1991 and 1994. This time, Marsh did not act in the series, but she did write some of the episodes.

Her film credits include Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), Dark Places (1973), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), The Changeling (1980) and the fantasy films Return to Oz (1985) and Willow (1988). In 1994, she starred in a villain role in the Nickelodeon/Thames Television re-make of The Tomorrow People. Her television films include Goliath Awaits (1981), See China And Die (1981), The Corsican Brothers (1985), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1989), Fatherland (1994) for which she won a CableACE award for supporting actress, and The Pale Horse (1997).

From 2000 until 2002, Marsh appeared in The Ghost Hunter. Her many stage credits included the West End stage revival of Boeing Boeing at the Comedy Theatre in 2007 and in Peter Hall's production of 'The Portrait of a Lady' in 2008. She made an appearance in the 2007 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility; played the recurring character Lizzie Galbraith alongside Joanna Lumley as Davina Jackson (the lead character) in Babycow Productions' Sensitive Skin which aired on BBC Two in 2005 and 2007. She appeared in BBC Four's Crooked House in December 2008 in a part especially written for her by Mark Gatiss.

A three-part revival of Upstairs Downstairs was commissioned by the BBC with the first episode broadcast on BBC One on 26 December 2010 as part of BBC TV's Christmas schedule. Marsh reprised her role as Rose Buck, who had returned to London to run an agency for domestic servants after a period spent nursing her mother in Suffolk. Eileen Atkins, who co-created the original series with Marsh, also starred in the revived series and it was set in the same London house as the original ITV series, 165 Eaton Place, resuming in 1936.

Marsh has also written several books: Fiennders Abbey, The House of Eliott, and Iris.

Marsh was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to drama.