Mollie Sugden, English comedy actress, Died at 86

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Dead, Isobel Mary “Mollie” Sugden on the 1st of July 2009 at the age of 86, she was an English comedy actress, best known for portraying the saleswoman Mrs. Slocombe in the British sitcom Are You Being Served? (1972-85).

Born in Keighley in the West Riding of Yorkshire on the 21st of July 1922.

When she was four years old, she heard a woman reading a poem at a village concert making people laugh.

The following Christmas, after being asked if she could “do anything”, Sugden read this poem and everyone fell about laughing.

She later remarked that their response made her “realise how wonderful it was to make people laugh”.

Shortly after she left school, World War II broke out, and Sugden worked in a munitions factory in Keighley making shells for the Royal Navy.

Hugh and I was written by John T. Chapman and when he became involved with The Liver Birds series, he suggested Sugden for the role of Sandra’s mother, Mrs Hutchinson.

She appeared in the bulk of the run, from 1971 to 1979.

In 1973, she appeared in Son of the Bride.
She appeared on season three of Little Britain (2003) as herself.

The character of Liz (David Walliams) is always bragging how she was the bridesmaid for Molly Sugden’s wedding, to anyone and everyone, while her poor husband Clive (Matt Lucas) tries to hush her. In one episode, Liz starts again bragging about being Molly’s bridesmaid.

When Molly turns around (we first see only her back) she says to Liz that she only had one bridesmaid and the girl was called Helen, not Liz.

Liz ends the skit with throwing a knife into Molly’s back.

At 23 and after two years of study and three awards, she graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, maintaining that the school had smoothed out her northern accent and made her talk like a duchess.

She went straight to a repertory company in Accrington in Lancashire, where she performed a twice-nightly play with Eric Sykes.

Three months later, for £3 a week, she moved to Oldham rep. There she learned one of the maxims she followed: that situation comedy has to be taken seriously if you are to please the audience rather than yourself.

It lasted two seasons, until 1993. Also in the early 1990s, she played Mrs. White in the second season of the British game show Cluedo. Other appearances at this time included Just William, Oliver’s Travels and Dennis the Menace.

In 2003, Sugden appeared in an episode of The Bill and also appeared (as herself) in an episode of the comedy sketch show Little Britain.

In 2002 a tribute programme called Celebrating Mollie Sugden: An Are You Being Served? Special aired on American PBS stations featuring several members of the cast of Are You Being Served?

 

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