Friday 24 February 2012

Birthday Betty

Betty Marsden(that's her between Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Horne in this jolly Beyond Our Ken photo)was born on this day in 1919. Radio listeners of a certain age would still instantly recognise her range of 'voices' - from Fanny Haddock (a barely exaggerated version of the the appalling celebrity cook Fanny Cradock) to the husky Daphne Whitethigh, the ancient actress Bea Clissold ('many, many, many times'), the Celia Johnson soundalike Dame Celia Molestrangler, Aussie ultra-feminist Judy Coolibar (no doubt an early role model for Germaine Greer), Buttercup Gruntfuttock (wife of J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, the world's dirtiest dirty old man) and more...
Apparently Betty once told her fellow actress Dilys Laye that she wanted to die with a glass of gin in her hand - and she managed just that, one day after moving in to a home for elderly thespians. She died in the bar after subsiding into a chair so gracefully that she didn't spill a drop. What artistry!


  1. Thanks, Nige. I was delighted to see this little tribute to one of radio's true greats. Her versatility was astonishing; those Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne characters unforgettable. You mention several wonderful characters, including a great favourite, the ham actor Dame Celia Molestangler:

    MARSDEN: Excited, Charles?
    PADDICK: Yes, Fiona, intoxicatingly, flutteringly, heart-thumpingly, passionately excited. And yet somehow - calm. And you Fiona?
    MARSDEN: Yes, I'm calm too. Resignedly, tranquilly, stoically, placidly calm. And yet - somehow - excited.
    PADDICK: I know.
    MARSDEN: I know you know.
    PADDICK: I know you know I know.
    MARSDEN: Yes, I know.


  2. Ah yes indeed - dear Noel himself couldn't have put it better...