Dandy Nichols

Last updated

Dandy Nichols
Actress Dandy Nichols.jpg
Daisy Sander

(1907-05-21)21 May 1907
Fulham, London, England
Died6 February 1986(1986-02-06) (aged 78)
Whitechapel, London, England
Years active1947–1985
Stephen Bagueley Waters
(m. 1942;div. 1955)

Dandy Nichols (born Daisy Sander; 21 May 1907 6 February 1986) was an English actress best known for her role as Else Garnett, the long-suffering wife of the character Alf Garnett who was a parody of a working class Tory, in the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part . [1] [2]


Early life and career

Born Daisy Sander in Fulham, London, [3] she started her working life as a secretary in a London factory. Twelve years later, after drama, diction and fencing classes, she was spotted in a charity show by a producer, who offered her a job in his repertory theatre company in Cambridge. During her early career on stage she acted under the name Barbara Nichols but later changed it to Dandy, her childhood nickname. [2]

When the Second World War broke out, she returned to office work but later undertook a six-week tour with ENSA. When the war was over, she returned to the theatre and also began appearing in films: usually comedies and almost invariably as a maid or charlady. [4] The latter role she took on in the music video "Goody Two Shoes" by Adam Ant. [5]

Her successes in theatre include the Royal Court Theatre and Broadway productions of Home . [6] [7] Her big screen debut was in Hue and Cry , in 1947, [3] followed with performances in Nicholas Nickleby , [3] The Fallen Idol , The Winslow Boy , The History of Mr Polly , Scott of the Antarctic , Mother Riley Meets the Vampire and Dickens' The Pickwick Papers . [2] [8]

Till Death Us Do Part

Dandy Nichols's best-known role was Else Garnett in the landmark series Till Death Us Do Part, where she played the long-suffering wife of the character Alf Garnett who was a parody of a working class Tory. [9] The part was originally played in the pilot episode for the series (as part of the BBC's Comedy Playhouse ) by future EastEnders actress Gretchen Franklin. [2] However, when it was commissioned as a series, Franklin was unable to break her contract for a West End play and Nichols was cast. [10]

Dandy's role seemed, at first, almost negligible: spending the best part of one early episode reading the telephone book as Alf embarked on another of his tirades. However, Else proved to be a perfect foil for Alf, and could put him down effortlessly with a withering look or cutting remark. [2] Perhaps her finest hour – in an episode shown by the BBC in tribute to Dandy in 1986 – was when, in 1974, Else took a leaf out of Prime Minister Edward Heath's book and went on a "three-day week", forcing Alf to fend for and feed himself on her days off. [11]

In the original scripts, Alf was to refer to his wife as a "silly cow". This was firmly vetoed by BBC Head of Comedy Frank Muir, who thought this was inappropriate. Nichols said that it was "a lot of silly fuss about a silly moo" which was overheard by script writer Johnny Speight and became the series' most enduring catchphrase. [12]

In Sickness and in Health

Till Death Us Do Part came to an end in 1975 but was revived in 1981, entitled Till Death... , and again in 1985. [13] Dandy agreed to appear, but had been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and had to use a wheelchair. [2] Her illnesses were written into the scripts, and the series was appropriately renamed In Sickness and in Health . [14]

The series continued after her death, with Alf left on his own. [3]

Film career

She appeared in numerous films, which included Carry On Doctor , [3] Ladies Who Do , The Holly and the Ivy , The Vikings , [3] the Beatles' film Help! , [3] Georgy Girl , Doctor in Clover , The Birthday Party , The Bed Sitting Room , O Lucky Man! , Confessions of a Window Cleaner and Britannia Hospital amongst others. [1]

Later years

After her role in Till Death Do Us Part, Nichols found work in television, notably playing opposite Alastair Sim in William Trevor's production of The Generals Day. [15] She made appearances in Flint , The Tea Ladies and Bergerac . [1] [2] On stage, she appeared in Ben Travers's comedy Plunder, as well as playing alongside Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir John Gielgud in David Storey's Home, in both London and on Broadway. [16] [17] [18]

Personal life

Dandy Nichols was married to the newspaper editor Stephen Bagueley Waters in 1942, [19] but the marriage ended in divorce in 1955. [3]

Her poor health led to a fall in her flat and she died three days later of pneumonia and heart disease on 6 February 1986 aged 78 at the London Hospital, Whitechapel. [3]

Television roles

1966 to 1975
Till Death Us Do Part
Till Death...
In Sickness and in Health
Else Garnett
1971The Trouble With You, LilianMadge
1981 The Bagthorpe Saga Mrs Forsdyke
1983 Bergerac Mrs HoneymanEpisode: A Message for the Rich

Partial filmography

Source: [1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Warren Mitchell</span> British actor (1926–2015)

Warren Mitchell was a British actor. He was a BAFTA TV Award winner and twice a Laurence Olivier Award winner.

<i>Till Death Us Do Part</i> British television sitcom (1965–1975)

Till Death Us Do Part is a British television sitcom that aired on BBC1 from 1965 to 1975. The show was first broadcast in 1965 as a Comedy Playhouse pilot, then as seven series between 1966 and 1975. In 1981, ITV continued the sitcom for six episodes, calling it Till Death.... The BBC produced a sequel from 1985 until 1992, In Sickness and in Health.

In Sickness and in Health is a BBC television sitcom that ran between 1 September 1985 and 3 April 1992. It is a sequel to the successful Till Death Us Do Part, which ran between 1966 and 1975, and Till Death..., which ran for one series of six episodes in 1981. The series includes 47 episodes, and, unlike its predecessor, all the episodes have survived and are available on DVD.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Una Stubbs</span> British actress, television personality, and dancer (1937–2021)

Una Stubbs was a British actress, television personality, and dancer who appeared on British television, in the theatre, and occasionally in films. She became known after appearing in the film Summer Holiday (1963) and later played Rita Rawlins in the BBC sitcoms Till Death Us Do Part (1965–1975) and In Sickness and in Health (1985–1992). Her other television roles include Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge (1979–1981) and Miss Bat in The Worst Witch (1998–2001). She also appeared as Sherlock Holmes's landlady Mrs. Hudson in the BAFTA-winning television series Sherlock (2010–2017).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johnny Speight</span> English television writer (1920–1998)

Johnny Speight was an English television scriptwriter of many classic British sitcoms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ernest Clark</span> British actor

Ernest Clark MC was a British actor of stage, television and film.

Alfred Edward "Alf" Garnett is a fictional character from the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part and its follow-on and spin-off series Till Death... and In Sickness and in Health. He also appeared in the chat show The Thoughts of Chairman Alf. The character was created by Johnny Speight and played by Warren Mitchell.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mona Washbourne</span> English stage, film and television actress

Mona Lee Washbourne was an English actress of stage, film, and television. Her most critically acclaimed role was in the film Stevie (1978), late in her career, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award.

Gerald Harper is an English actor, best known for his work on television, having played the title roles in Adam Adamant Lives! (1966–67) and Hadleigh (1969–76). He then returned to his main love, the theatre. His classical work includes playing on Broadway with the Old Vic company, playing Iago at the Bristol Old Vic and Benedick at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Other plays in London included Crucifer of Blood at the Haymarket Theatre, House Guest, A Personal Affair, Suddenly at Home and Baggage. He has directed many plays, amongst them a production of Blithe Spirit in Hebrew at the Israeli National Theatre.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joan Benham</span> English actress (1918–1981)

Joan Benham was an English actress best known for her portrayal of Lady Prudence Fairfax in the ITV period drama series Upstairs, Downstairs. She was born in London and was the first cousin of Hollywood actress Olive Sturgess.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rita Webb</span> English actress (1904–1981)

Olive Rita Webb, later known as Olive Rita Thompson, was an English character actress, mainly in comedy roles. She was the eldest child of Henry Augustus Webb (1880–1926) and Rose Jeannette Keysor. She had a younger brother, Henry Richard Webb, also an actor, and two elder identical twin half-brothers, Leslie and Gordon Durlacher, from her mother's first marriage to Samuel Durlacher. She was the niece of Leonard Keysor, the first Jewish serviceman to win the Victoria Cross in the First World War. A half-brother was the actor George Webb.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alison Leggatt</span> English character actress

Alison Joy Leggatt was an English character actress.

<i>Till Death...</i> British TV sitcom (1981)

Till Death... is a British sitcom of six episodes that was produced by ATV and aired on ITV from 22 May to 3 July 1981. It is a continuation of the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part that aired from 1965 to 1975. The title was changed to Till Death... because the title Till Death Us Do Part was controlled by the BBC.

<i>Till Death Us Do Part</i> (film) 1968 British comedy film by Norman Cohen

Till Death Us Do Part is a 1968 British comedy film directed by Norman Cohen, written by Johnny Speight, and starring Warren Mitchell and Dandy Nichols. It was based on the BBC television series of the same name. Speight was the creator of the television version. The film was considered successful enough at the box office that a sequel, The Alf Garnett Saga, followed in 1972.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marianne Stone</span> English actress (1922–2009)

Marianne Stone was an English character actress. She performed in films from the early 1940s to the late 1980s, typically playing working class parts such as barmaids, secretaries and landladies. Stone appeared in nine of the Carry On films, and took part in an episode of the Carry On Laughing television series. She also had supporting roles with comedian Norman Wisdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maureen Pryor</span> British actress (1922–1977)

Maureen St John Pook, known professionally as Maureen Pryor, was an Irish-born English character actress who made stage, film, and television appearances. The Encyclopaedia of British Film noted, "she never played leads, but, with long rep and TV experience, she was noticeable in all she did."

Nora Gordon was a British film and television actress. She was married to Leonard Sharp. Her daughter was the actress Dorothy Gordon. She also appeared in a number of British Ministry of Information films, notably during World War II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Merle Tottenham</span> British actress (1901–1958)

Merle Tottenham was a British stage and film actress. Her stage work included the original West End production of Noël Coward's Cavalcade in 1931; and she reprised her role as Annie the servant in the subsequent Hollywood film, in 1933. She also appeared as Dora, the maid in Night Must Fall (1937) with Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell, and the film version of Coward's This Happy Breed (1944), as Edie, the maid.

<i>The Alf Garnett Saga</i> 1972 British comedy film by Bob Kellett

The Alf Garnett Saga is a 1972 British comedy film directed by Bob Kellett and starring Warren Mitchell, Dandy Nichols, Paul Angelis and Adrienne Posta. The film was the second spin-off from the BBC TV series Till Death Us Do Part. It starts where the first film finished, but with Angelis and Posta now playing Mike and Rita, the roles previously played by Anthony Booth and Una Stubbs. Unlike the first movie, it has never been released on DVD.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fanny Carby</span> British actress (1925–2002)

Fanny Carby was a British character actress. She had two different roles on Coronation Street: she played Mary Hornigold in 1965, then in 1987 she took the role of Vera Duckworth's domineering mother, Amy Burton, a role she played into the following year. Fanny's other credits include Street spin-off Pardon the Expression, On The Buses, Sykes, The Bill, In Sickness and in Health and Goodnight Sweetheart.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Dandy Nichols". Bfi.org.uk. Archived from the original on 11 August 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Nichols, Dandy (1907-1986)". Screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Dandy Nichols". Television Heaven. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  4. McFarlane, Brian (16 May 2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. p. 557. ISBN   9781526111975.
  5. Ant, Adam (4 September 2008). Stand and Deliver: My Autobiography. Pan Macmillan. p. 195. ISBN   9780330464574.
  6. "Production of Home - Theatricalia". Theatricalia.com. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  7. "Home – Broadway Play – Original". IBDb.com. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  8. "Dandy Nichols - Movies and Filmography - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  9. "Dandy Nichols - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  10. "Gretchen Franklin". Telegraph.co.uk. 12 July 2005.
  11. "Else's Three Day Week (1974)". Bfi.org.uk. Archived from the original on 12 August 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  12. Condon, Paul (15 February 2018). 1001 TV Series: You Must Watch Before You Die. Octopus. ISBN   9781788400466.
  13. "BFI Screenonline: Speight, Johnny (1920-1998) Biography". Screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  14. Pickering, David. "NICHOLS, DANDY: British Actor". Museum.tv. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  15. "The General's Day (1972)". Bfi.org.uk. Archived from the original on 15 August 2020. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  16. "Production of Plunder - Theatricalia". Theatricalia.com. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  17. "Royal Court Theatre recordings at the British Library - English and Drama blog". Britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk.
  18. "Dandy Nichols – Broadway Cast & Staff". IBDb.com.
  19. "Stephen Bagueley Waters". Biographies.net. Retrieved 23 October 2018.