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Peggy Mount

Margaret Rose Mount (Peggy Mount) – born in Leigh on Sea, Essex – 2nd May 1916 – 13th November 2001.

She had an unhappy and poverty stricken childhood. Peggy and her sister were brought up by their mother, after her father died when she was tem. She later described her mother as “not a nice woman”. She never put her arms round me or gave me a kiss. She was always telling me that I was overweight and ugly. If you’re told that often enough, you become ugly, and no matter what other people say you believe it.” To no surprise she cut off contact with her family, not speaking to her sister for over 50 years.

The TV and theatre actress became known to millions as the battleaxe in ITV sitcom The Larkins. Yet behind this public image lay a very down-to-earth woman and a versatile, talented actress whose long and successful career spanned not only television but theatre and films too.

Aged 14, Peggy left school and started work as secretary. She attended the drama society of the Wesleyan chapel, where her love of acting begun. She took private drama lessons from Phyllis Reader and appeared in various local amateur productions, gaining the nickname of the ‘Amateur Queen of Southend’. She went to the theatre as often as possible, buying ‘late doors’ tickets sold five minutes before curtain up, with 3d carefully saved from her wages. She also travelled to London for some productions, dreaming of one day seeing her own name up there in lights but never really believing it would be possible.

Miss Mount was made on Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1996.

‘She grew through amateur theatre and wartime productions and by the 1950s was appearing professionally in the West End of London. She starred in the West End for many years, winning praise for performances in ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Old Vic. Later serious stage work includes roles in Shakespeare productions and she also acted in the film of the musical Oliver! and in Hotel Paradiso.

Best known for her television comedy roles over three decades, her first television role was The Larkins in 1958. She followed this with George and the Dragon in 1966, alongside Sid James and John le Mesurier. 1977 to 1981 she starred in You’re Only Young Twice, as the forthright Flora Petty who bullied her friend Cissie Lupin (played by Pat Coombs).

Later on her television appearances included a role in the Doctor Who story ‘The Greatest show in the Galaxy’ in 1988.

I’m not a bit like my screen image’, she once said. ‘I don’t bully. I don’t shout. And if I do have a row with somebody it makes me ill for at least a week’. People used to stop her in the street and ask her to bellow at them in the voice that was one of her trademarks – this really did horrify her. She ended her career in 1998 when she lost her sight during a performance of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.”

Peggy Mount, aged 85, died at the Denville Hall Nursing Home for aged actors in Northwood, West London on November 13, 2001. She had recently lost her sight and had suffered a series of strokes. Shortly before her death she said ‘I’ve never married but I worked with a lot of very eligible men and I’ve had my chances’. However, she revealed that in the 1970s she unofficially adopted a teenage boy whose mother had died and whom she regarded as a son. This went some way towards healing the deep wounds of her personal family background.

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