Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Maureen O'Brien (career biography)

Maureen O'Brien (Vicki) Born Jun 29 1943

Doctor Who credits
Played: Vicki in The RescueThe RomansThe Web PlanetThe CrusadeThe Space MuseumThe ChaseThe Time MeddlerGalaxy 4The Myth Makers (1965).


Maureen as Vicki with James
Lynn as Troilus in her last
Doctor Who, The Myth
Makers (1965)
Maureen's first TV work was playing Vicki in Doctor Who, the companion which replaced the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan. On October 9th, 1964, Maureen was contracted to play a character called Tanni (renamed Vicki on November 20th) for an initial 12 episodes (this would comprise The Rescue, The Romans and The Web Planet). After being unveiled to the media with a photo call on November 11th, she started recording The Rescue on December 4th, and appeared in a total of 38 episodes broadcast between January 2nd and November 6th, 1965. On July 30th, 1965, Maureen was issued with a revised contract which included an option for a further 20 episodes after The Myth Makers (which meant she would have appeared in The Daleks' Master Plan, The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, The Ark, The Celestial Toymaker, The Gunfighters and The Savages, and then probably leave with Peter Purves). However, after Maureen complained about the dialogue she was being given for the serial Galaxy 4, producer John Wiles decided to replace Vicki with a new companion after The Myth Makers, which the actress was told on September 3rd. Her final recording day on Doctor Who was October 8th, 1965 - just one day shy of a year since she was first contracted for Doctor Who!

So what was the first thing Maureen did after leaving Doctor Who? Well, it was over six months until her next on-screen role, playing Janet Kent in three episodes of the medical soap Emergency Ward 10 (broadcast May 24th-31st, 1966). All three episodes are missing from the archives, but the ironic thing is that her first episode was written by William Emms, the man who'd written the dialogue she'd complained about on Doctor Who: Galaxy 4! Joining her on the cast list of her episodes were Ken Barker (Revelation of the Daleks, 1985), Ian Cullen (The Aztecs, 1964), Leslie Dwyer (Carnival of Monsters, 1973), Colin Jeavons (The Underwater Menace, 1967) and Pik Sen Lim (The Mind of Evil, 1971).

On January 4th, 1967, Maureen appeared in a Thirty Minute Theatre on the BBC entitled Taste, written by novelist Roald Dahl and directed by John Glenister (father of actors Robert and Philip). At a dinner party, the host hints that one of his guests, an appalling wine snob, will be unable to identify a particularly rare vintage. The snob takes on the bet, but suggests an unusual stake... Maureen played Louise Schofield in this now missing drama, and was joined by Donald Pleasence, Leonard Rossiter, Marion Mathie and Barbara Leake (Terror of the Autons, 1971). This Dahl story was remade for Tales of the Unexpected in April 1980, with Debbie Farrington in Maureen's previous role.

Sat'day While Sunday was a twice-weekly ATV series about first-year university students in the north of England, and starred Malcolm McDowell and Timothy Dalton (The End of Time, 2009-10). Maureen played a salesgirl in The Boss's Son Part 1, broadcast on October 13th, 1967 and also starring Sandra Bryant (The War Machines, 1966, and The Macra Terror, 1967), Eric Francis (The Sensorites, 1964) and Godfrey Quigley (Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD, 1966).

Next up was the TV special Mr Dickens of London, a 55-minute production in which the ghost of Charles Dickens (played by Michael Redgrave) materialises in 20th century London and escorts actor Juliet Mills around some of the locations important to him in his life and novels. It was made for an American market, and was shown there on December 12th, 1967. It's not clear what part Maureen took, as with her co-stars Michael Crockett and Sydney Sturgess. The play still exists, but is not available commercially.

The Mock Doctor was a three-part serial broadcast between March 13th-27th, 1968 presenting an English language translation of a Moliere comedy, Le Medicin Malgre Lui, which is an attack on quack doctors. Maureen played Lucinde, who pretends to have lost the power of speech in order to get out of a marriage arranged by her father (played by Robert Eddison). Others in the cast included Patrick Bedford, Ken Wynne and George Benson, and it was directed by Charles Warren. Again, these recordings have not been retained.

On April 3rd, 1968, Maureen appeared in a now-missing Wednesday Play called Light Blue, written by Gerald Vaughan-Hughes and directed by Alan Cooke. An African-American jazz trumpeter spends a few hours in a provincial English town with a white girl and each learns to care for one another as human beings rather than as representatives for their race or culture. Maureen played the girl, Jane Peel, to Calvin Lockhart's Damon Page.

ITV Saturday Night Theatre presented Maureen as Jackie in the play Steve, written by Hugh Forbes. Broadcast on April 26th, 1969, Steve's maverick personality costs him his job and he drops out of conventional society to earn a living by rogueish means. Then he meets Paula, who forces him to question his ideals and beliefs. The play starred Jon Finch and Isobel Black, with Billy Murray, Richard Shaw (The Space Museum, 1965; Frontier in Space, 1973; and Underworld, 1978), Rudolph Walker (The War Games, 1969) and Derrick Slater (The Seeds of Death, 1969). All indications are that this play still exists in the Yorkshire Television archives.

A few weeks later, on May 12th, Maureen was in an ITV Playhouse called Double Agent, a story written by John Bingham and adapted for TV by Anthony Steven (writer of The Twin Dilemma, 1984). Maureen played Nadia Seranova, alongside Leonard Rossiter, Brian Blessed (The Trial of a Time Lord, 1986), Bernard Archard (The Power of the Daleks, 1966, and Pyramids of Mars, 1975), Edward Judd, Hildegard Neil (Blessed's wife), Timothy Carlton (husband of Wanda Ventham; father of Benedict Cumberbatch), Edwin Finn (The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, 1966) and Harold Innocent (The Happiness Patrol, 1988). This play is thought to survive in the Anglia TV archives.

Maureen's next role was in a two-part story for Z Cars, called Not That Sort of Policeman, broadcast September 29th-30th, 1969 (and now, of course, missing!). Written by David Ellis and directed by Gerry Mill, who co-wrote and directed respectively The Faceless Ones in 1967, it also featured Timothy Carlton (who appeared in Maureen's previous project), James Ellis (Battlefield, 1989), Bernard Holley (The Tomb of the Cybermen, 1967, and The Claws of Axos, 1971), Colin Prockter (The Long Game, 2005, and Victory of the Daleks, 2010) and Leonard Trolley (The Faceless Ones, 1967). Maureen played Nora Leach in a story about amateur thieves who blow up an office with gelignite, injuring themselves in the process but only making off with £20.

Two and a half years passed until Maureen's next role on TV, playing Alayne in episode one of The Whiteoaks of Jalna on February 13th, 1972. It was a $2m Canadian mini-series based upon the novel by Mazo de la Roche.

Maureen then appeared in the BBC2 themed anthology series Away From It All, in Carey Harrison's The New Life, broadcast on April 8th, 1973. Produced by former Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd, it told the tale of Helen (Maureen's character), who recalls an old life when she goes on holiday with her parents. It co-starred Philip Latham (The Five Doctors, 1983) and Kathleen Byron. Seven of this eight-part series are missing, The New Life one of them.

Vienna 1900: Games with Love and Death was a series of adaptations of the work of Arthur Schnitzler, and Maureen appeared in the fourth story, The Gift of Life, on January 5th, 1974, playing Marie (the episode was repeated twice, in August 1975). Marie's lover Karl was played by Christopher Gable (The Caves of Androzani, 1984), and others included Robert Stephens, Jacqueline Pearce (The Two Doctors, 1985) and Neville Phillips. The director was Herbert Wise, and this series survives in the BBC archive.

Maureen seemed to have a liking for anthology drama series around this time as her next project was another, Six Days of Justice, a Thames TV series telling tales from magistrate and children's courts. Maureen appeared in a Series 4 episode called Angelica, broadcast on April 28th, 1975. It was written by actress Eleanor Bron (City of Death, 1979, and Revelation of the Daleks, 1985) and directed by 1960s Doctor Who director Richard Martin, and featured Maureen as Susan Derby, alongside Anne Ridler (The Wheel in Space, 1968) and John Woodnutt (various stories, 1970-81). Series 1 and 2 were released on DVD in 2012, but series 3 and 4 have yet to follow.

The Poisoning of Charles Bravo was a melodrama in which a Victorian gentleman becomes convinced that somebody is trying to kill him. Told in three parts from June 18th, 1975, the plays featured Maureen as Florence, who gets engaged to the ill-fated Charles, played by Paul Darrow (Doctor Who and the Silurians, 1970, and Timelash, 1985) after ending her affair with Dr Gully. After Charles dies, Florence becomes a prime suspect... Also on the bill were Milton Johns (The Enemy of the World, 1967-68; The Android Invasion, 1975; and The Invasion of Time, 1978), Donald Bisset (The Highlanders, 1966-67), Geoffrey Palmer (Doctor Who and the Silurians, 1970; The Mutants, 1973; and Voyage of the Damned, 2007), Roger Hammond (The Chase, 1965, and Mawdryn Undead, 1983), John Woodnutt (various stories, 1970-81) and Charles Morgan (The Abominable Snowmen, 1967, and The Invasion of Time, 1978).

Persevering with her penchant for anthology plays, Maureen's next role was in the series Victorian Scandals, which dramatized true stories that shocked mainstream Victorian society. Broadcast on September 10th, 1976, Skittles was written by Elizabeth Jane Howard and directed by June Howson. Maureen played the title character - the last Victorian courtesan - and was joined by Simon Callow (The Unquiet Dead, 2005, and The Wedding of River Song, 2011), Julian Fellowes and John Moulder-Brown.

Maureen as Lizzie in The Duchess of
Duke Street (1976)
Maureen was in another costume drama next, an episode of The Duchess of Duke Street called Trouble and Strife, broadcast on October 23rd, 1976. The cast included Gemma Jones (who I always thought strikes a remarkable resemblance to Maureen), John Cater (The War Machines, 1966), Richard Vernon, Mary Healey (The Happiness Patrol, 1988) and Robin Wentworth (The Daemons, 1971). Maureen played Lizzie, an old acquaintance of hotel porter Starr who agrees to get her a position at the Bentinck. But soon after Lizzie starts work as a maid, money starts to go missing from guests' rooms... You can see a clip of Maureen as Lizzie on Videomosh here.

The Squirrels was a sitcom made by ATV and written by Eric Chappell which concerned office politics in the accounts department of a TV rental firm. It starred Bernard Hepton, Ken Jones, Patsy Rowlands, Alan David (The Unquiet Dead, 2005) and Ellis Jones (Spearhead from Space, 1970), and Maureen appeared in three episodes in the second and third series (Fluffy-Bun, July 16th, 1976; The Weaker Sex, August 27th, 1976; and What a Way to Go, January 6th, 1977) as Jean. Some episodes of this sitcom are missing, but luckily all three of Maureen's exist, and were released on DVD in 2013.

Maureen as Mathilde in The Devil's
Crown (1978)
The Devil's Crown was a BBC series telling the stories of King Henry II and his sons Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland. Maureen appeared in Tainted King, broadcast on July 16th, 1978, the penultimate in the series. Maureen played the ill-fated Mathilde (or Maud), Lady of Bramber, and was joined by a cavalcade of other Doctor Who names, including Christopher Gable (The Caves of Androzani, 1984), Anthony Ainley (the Master in the 1980s, here playing the Pope!), Denis Carey (The Keeper of Traken, 1981, and Timelash, 1985), Anthony Carrick (The Masque of Mandragora, 1976), Vernon Dobtcheff (The War Games, 1969), Jimmy Gardner (Marco Polo, 1964, and Underworld, 1978), John Hallam (Ghost Light, 1989), Ian Hogg (Ghost Light, 1989), Alan Judd (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, 1964), Clifford Rose (Warriors' Gate, 1981) and, wonderfully, the Second Doctor himself, Patrick Troughton! The entire episode is viewable on YouTube here:

Maureen as Mary Barrie in
The Lost Boys (1978)
The Lost Boys was a docu-drama series directed by Rodney Bennett (The Ark in Space, 1975; The Sontaran Experiment, 1975; and The Masque of Mandragora, 1976) about the relationship between Peter Pan creator J M Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys, the inspirations for the author's work. Aired on BBC2 in three 90-minute episodes from October 11th, 1978, the series featured Maureen as Mary Barrie (J M's wife) along with Ian Holm as Barrie, and Ann Bell (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, 1964), Tim Pigott-Smith (Invasion of the Dinosaurs, 1974, and The Masque of Mandragora, 1976), Anna Cropper, William Hootkins, Peter Tuddenham (Time and the Rani, 1987) and Hugh Martin (Terror of the Zygons, 1975, and Vengeance on Varos, 1985), while the producer was Louis Marks (writer for a number of stories, 1964-76), the composer Dudley Simpson (Doctor Who's go-to musician, 1964-80) and the designer was prolific Doctor Who designer Barry Newbery.

Diana Rigg and Denis Quilley as
Clytaemnestra and Agamemnon,
parents to Maureen's Elektra
Maureen next appeared in a staging of the Oresteia, a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus concerning, among other incidents, the murder of Agamemnon by Clytaemnestra. This is ironic, of course, as Maureen's Doctor Who character Vicki left the series when she married Troilus and remained in ancient Greece in The Myth Makers (which also featured Agamemnon!). Maureen appeared in two episodes - Agamemnon, broadcast on March 7th, 1979, and Grave Gifts, broadcast on March 14th, 1979 - and played Elektra, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, who plots revenge against her mother for her father's murder. Playing her mother was Diana Rigg (The Crimson Horror, 2013) - in truth, only five years older than Maureen - while Agamemnon was played by Denis Quilley. Also featured were Alfred Burke, Nickolas Grace (Death is the Only Answer, 2011), Terrence Hardiman (The Beast Below, 2010), Anton Lesser, Patrick Magee, Frank Middlemass, Helen Mirren, Eileen Helsby (The Ark, 1966), Flora Robson, Billie Whitelaw and Geoffrey Toone (The Curse of Peladon, 1972).

Maureen as Morgan le Fay in The Legend
of King Arthur (1979)
The Legend of King Arthur was an eight-part series, again directed by Rodney Bennett, and produced jointly by the BBC, Time-Life and the Australian Broadcasting Commission and broadcast between October 7th and November 25th, 1979 (Maureen was in all but episode 1). Maureen played Morgan le Fay, while Andrew Burt (Terminus, 1983) played King Arthur. Also on the cast list were Godfrey James (Underworld, 1978), Denis Carey (The Keeper of Traken, 1981, and Timelash, 1985), Tom Kelly (The Face of Evil, 1977; The Sun makers, 1977; and The Invasion of Time, 1978), Kevin Stoney (The Daleks' Master Plan, 1965-66; The Invasion, 1968; and Revenge of the Cybermen, 1975), Richard Beale (The Ark, 1966; The Gunfighters, 1966; The Macra Terror, 1967; and The Green Death, 1973), Geoffrey Beevers (The Ambassadors of Death, 1970, and The Keeper of Traken, 1981), Donald Eccles (The Time Monster, 1972), Eric Francis (The Sensorites, 1964), Hilary Minster (Planet of the Daleks, 1973, and Genesis of the Daleks, 1975), William Morgan Sheppard (The Impossible Astronaut, 2011) and Margot van der Burgh (The Aztecs, 1964, and The Keeper of Traken, 1981). Very poor copies of the series are on YouTube, but it has also been issued on DVD.

Maureen in Tales of the Unexpected
Next was an edition of Tales of the Unexpected called Depart in Peace, written by Ronald Harwood from a Roald Dahl story, and directed by Alan Gibson. Broadcast on May 3rd, 1980, it told the story of art dealer Lionel, who asks painter Roydon to paint his fiancee Janet nude - but Janet (Maureen's character) is not amused. The drama co-starred Joseph Cotten, Gloria Grahame, Peter Cellier (Time-Flight, 1982) and John Bennett (The Talons of Weng-Chiang, 1977). The episode is on YouTube, albeit squeezed through a strange cinema screen graphic:

Maureen in C2 H5 OH (1980)
On October 28th, 1980, Maureen appeared in her first of two Play for Todays, called C2 H5 OH, written by David Turner and directed by James Cellan Jones (the title is the chemical formula for ethanol, or alcohol!). An alcoholic writer in a psychiatric hospital enters into an intellectual duel with his patronising, passive-aggressive doctor - the brilliance of the writer finally prevails! It starred Dinsdale Landen (The Curse of Fenric, 1989) and John Normington (The Caves of Androzani, 1984, and The Happiness Patrol, 1988) with Maureen as Jill Secombe. Also featured were Keith Drinkel (Time-Flight, 1982), Anne Ridler (The Wheel in Space, 1968) and Roy Holder (The Caves of Androzani, 1984), while the producer was Doctor Who's own Innes Lloyd. The opening of the play (including Maureen's scene) can be seen on YouTube:

Maureen in Bergerac (1981)
Next up was an episode of Jersey-set detective series Bergerac called Relative Values (broadcast December 13th, 1981) in which Maureen played Joan Hadley, accompanied by regulars John Nettles and Terence Alexander (The Mark of the Rani, 1985), as well as Lynda La Plante, Geoffrey Bayldon (The Creature from the Pit, 1979), Warren Clarke, Annette Badland (Aliens of London/ World War Three and Boom Town, 2005) and Freddie Earlle (Warriors' Gate, 1981). The series was, of course, created by Robert Banks Stewart, writer of Terror of the Zygons (1975) and The Seeds of Doom (1976). The episode can be watched on Dailymotion here.

The second Play for Today Maureen appeared in was John David (broadcast November 23rd, 1982) in which she had a small role as 1st Social Worker. After giving birth to a Down's Syndrome baby, Judith decides she doesn't want to keep him. She chooses John David as his birthname; a few months later she learns the baby has died. The play, written by Paula Milne and directed by Rodney Bennett (The Ark in Space, 1975; The Sontaran Experiment, 1975; and The Masque of Mandragora, 1976) starred Dearbhla Molloy, James Hazeldine and Gwen Watford, and co-starred Edward Hardwicke and Rhoda Lewis (State of Decay, 1980). The play was designed by Dalek designer Raymond Cusick.

With no screen work in 1983, Maureen's next role was in the one-off drama On the Shelf, for Central Television. Based upon a novel by Mary O'Malley, it concerned Linda (played by Maureen), who discusses every aspect of her relationship with Michael (James Hayes) with her friend Jackie (Jill Baker). It also featured Eric Francis (The Sensorites, 1964) and Stephen Thorne (The Daemons, 1971, and The Three Doctors, 1972-73).

Zina (1985) was a biographical film by Ken McMullen about Zinaida Volkova, daughter of Leon Trotsky, who is exiled to Berlin following Stalin's purges. As the Nazis rise to power in Germany, Zinaida becomes obsessed with Antigone, from the Greek tragedy, and loses her mind. It starred Domiziana Giordano as the title character, with Philip Madoc (various roles between 1968-79) as Trotsky and Maureen as Natalya.

Maureen as Joan in She'll Be Wearing
Pink Pyjamas (1985)
Also that year, Maureen appeared in the film She'll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas, based on the novel by Eva Hardy, and directed by John Goldschmidt. Eight women attend one of Britain's toughest survival schools in the Lake District to challenge themselves and conquer the fears, but they learn there's more to survival than passing the course. It starred Julie Walters, with Janet Henfrey (The Curse of Fenric, 1989, and Mummy on the Orient Express, 2014), while Maureen played Joan, one of the eight survivalists. The whole film is on YouTube, and if you've ever wanted to see Janet Henfrey (or Maureen, come to that!) in a swimsuit, this is the video for you...

Maureen on Children in Need (1985)
On November 22nd, 1985, Maureen joined a whole host of former companions and Doctors to present a £100 cheque from the Doctor Who Appreciation Society to Children in Need on the charity's annual telethon. Doctors 2, 3, 5 and 6 were there, as well as actors now sadly no longer with us, such as Adrienne Hill, Nicholas Courtney, Ian Marter, Elisabeth Sladen, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee.

Maureen's next role was as a regular in the BBC's medical drama Casualty. She secured the role of Elizabeth Straker in 15 episodes of the second series, shown between September 12th and December 19th, 1987 (pretty much the duration of Doctor Who's 24th season!). Straker was a hospital administrator who went from being quite resistant to change, to becoming quite open to it, but at the end of the series she left Holby for a new life in America. Several of the series 2 episodes are available on YouTube.

Maureen as Elizabeth Straker in
Casualty (1987)
Maureen in Needle (1990)
It was another three years until Maureen next appeared on screen, in the play Needle (broadcast September 12th, 1990), written by Jimmy McGovern and directed by Gillies McKinnon. The play imagined an alternative Britain where a pilot scheme to decriminalise heroin had been launched in Liverpool to combat the rising tide of criminality and disease. The story follows hapless Danny who begins as a casual user, but succumbs to addiction.

Maureen played a prison doctor in the 85-minute play, accompanied on the cast list by Sean McKee, Emma Bird, Pete Postlethwaite, John Bennett (The Talons of Weng-Chiang, 1977), Paul Barber, John Shackley (best known for his lead role in the BBC's adaptation of The Tripods), Stephen Walters (Cold Blood, 2010), Mark Moraghan, Tim Barlow (Destiny of the Daleks, 1979), Vincent Maguire and Geoffrey Hughes (The Trial of a Time Lord, 1986). Maureen's part is very small, near the end (1hr 19m 39s).

Maureen in Taggart (1994)
On April 24th, 1993, Maureen appeared in her first of three episodes of police series The Bill. In Coming to Terms she played Pat Tolman, and was joined by Stephen Churchett as the parents of a young man awaiting trial for the murder of a child. When their home is broken into and they receive threatening phone calls, WPC Ackland discovers the connection!

Maureen's next role was in the Scottish detective series Taggart. In Forbidden Fruit (broadcast on New Year's Day, 1994) Taggart and Jardine are confronted by a bizarre case revolving around a fertility clinic. The series starred Mark McManus, Blythe Duff and James MacPherson, and also featured Phyllida Law and Gray O'Brien (Voyage of the Damned, 2007). Maureen played Ruth Millar, the wife of a doctor discovered to have fathered 60 children at an IVF clinic. The episode is available to view on the STV Player here (registration required).

Maureen in Cracker (1994)
Maureen's next role was in another popular crime series, Cracker. In the three-part story The Big Crunch (broadcast October 31st to November 14th, 1994) she played Virginia Trant, the wife of a respectable schoolmaster and lay preacher who is seen by  his sister-in-law having sex in the woods with one of his students. When it is revealed that the girl is pregnant, the Trant brothers and their wives devise a plan to eliminate her and throw the blame on a local innocent. Also taking part were Robbie Coltrane, Jim Carter, Samantha Morton, Barbara Flynn, James Fleet, Geraldine Somerville, Lorcan Cranitch, Ricky Tomlinson, Ellie Haddington (Last of the Time Lords, 2007), Kieran O'Brien and Emma Cunniffe (Night Terrors, 2011). You can see The Big Crunch on YouTube, with one of those odd cinema graphics framing it:

Maureen in The Sculptress
On June 8th, 1995, Maureen appeared in her second episode of The Bill. In Other Voices she played Joy Grainger, the owner of a home for the mentally ill where a violent stabbing takes place. The detectives think they've identified the culprit until the victim wakes up and reveals that their attacker was none other than Joy Grainger...

The Sculptress was a four-part psychological thriller which gave Pauline Quirke - usually known for comedy - one of her first mainstream straight roles, playing convicted murderer Olive Martin in an adaptation by Reg Gadney of the Minette Walters novel published in 1993. Quirke was nominated for a Best Actress BAFTA.

Maureen appeared in episode one as Sister Bridget (broadcast February 24th, 1996), joined on the cast list by Christopher Fulford, Caroline Goodall, Dermot Crowley and Timothy Bateson (The Ribos Operation, 1978). The series was directed by Stuart Orme. You can find the entire series on YouTube (Maureen appears at 35m 36s):

A Royal Scandal was a BBC/ WGBH co-production written by Stanley Price and directed by Sheree Folkson (In the Forest of the Night, 2014) about the matrimonial disaster which took place between George IV and his wife Caroline of Brunswick in the 1790s. Broadcast in the UK on June 16th, 1996, it starred Richard E Grant (The Snowmen, 2012, and The Name of the Doctor, 2013), Michael Kitchen, Denis Lawson, Frances Barber (Madame Kovarian in the 2011 series), Ian Richardson, John Arnatt (The Invasion of Time, 1978), Cheryl Fergison (The Empty Child, 2005) and Philip Voss (Marco Polo, 1964, and The Dominators, 1968). Maureen played Lady of Edinburgh.

Maureen in Moll Flanders (1996)
Also in 1996, Maureen played Mrs Richardson in a four-part ITV adaptation of Daniel Defoe's 18th century novel The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (broadcast December 1996). The series was a vehicle for the rising talent Alex Kingston (better known to Doctor Who fans as River Song), and also featured Geoffrey Beevers (The Ambassadors of Death, 1970, and The Keeper of Traken, 1981), Struan Rodger (the voice of the Face of Boe (2006-07), plus The Woman Who Lived, 2015), Mary Healey (The Happiness Patrol, 1988), Daniel Craig, Christopher Fulford, Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Robot of Sherwood, 2014), Tom Ward (The Snowmen, 2012), Diana Rigg (The Crimson Horror, 2013), James Fleet, John Savident (The Visitation, 1982), Milton Johns (The Enemy of the World, 1967-68; The Android Invasion, 1975; and The Invasion of Time, 1978), Nicola Walker and Ronald Fraser (The Happiness Patrol, 1988).

Maureen in Jonathan Creek (1997)
Next up was an episode of Jonathan Creek called Jack in the Box (broadcast May 17th, 1997) in which Maureen plays Kirsten Holiday, wife of the "victim of the week", Jack Holiday (played by John Bluthal).

The murder mystery starred Alan Davies and Caroline Quentin, with Bernard Kay (various stories between 1964-71), Robin Soans (The Keeper of Traken, 1981, and Face the Raven, 2015) and Geoffrey Beevers (The Ambassadors of Death, 1970, and The Keeper of Traken, 1981).

The episode is on YouTube, surrounded by a delightful blue chequered graphic:

September 25th, 1997 saw the broadcast of the third of Maureen's three episodes of police series The Bill, Sparks, written by P J Hammond. Maureen played Margaret Ames.

Maureen in The Land Girls
The film The Land Girls was released on June 12th, 1998 and concerned three young women from very different walks of life who join the women's land army during World War Two and are sent to work together on a farm in Dorset - the experience changes their lives forever. Starring Catherine McCormack, Anna Friel and Rachel Weisz, the film was directed by David Leland and also featured Steven Mackintosh (Timelash, 1985), Tom Georgeson (Genesis of the Daleks, 1975, and Logopolis, 1981), Paul Bettany, Ann Bell (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, 1964), Nigel Planer, John Gill (Fury from the Deep, 1968) and Alan Bennett. Maureen played Mrs Lawrence, the wife of Tom Georgeson's John Lawrence, who owns the farm the girls are sent to. The film is not available on YouTube, but Maureen is seen very briefly in the trailer.

As Corinne in Falling for a Dancer
In September, 1998, the four-part serial Falling for a Dancer was broadcast on BBC1, a romantic drama set in rural Ireland in the 1930s. Adapted by Deirdre Purcell from her own 1993 novel, and directed by Richard Standeven, it starred Elisabeth Dermot Walsh, Dermot Crowley and Liam Cunningham (Cold War, 2013), with Maureen playing Corinne Sullivan, the religious mother of the main character.

It also featured a pre-Hollywood Colin Farrell, Oliver Maguire (The Ribos Operation, 1978) and Brian McGrath. All four episodes are on YouTube. Maureen appears just a few minutes (4m 51s) into episode one, but she doesn't seem very impressed with her daughter's lateness...

Maureen's next role was in crime drama A Touch of Frost, in the episode Private Lives broadcast on March 21st, 1999. Written by Russell Gascoigne and directed by David Reynolds, the plot revolved around a woman who id discovered in a critical condition in a remote village, the apparent victim of a hit and run. Inspector Frost's investigations uncover the secrets of a rural corner of England. It starred David Jason and Philip Jackson, along with Peter Egan, Tom Chadbon (City of Death, 1979, and The Trial of a Time Lord, 1986), Jerome Willis (The Green Death, 1973) and Peter Benson (Terminus, 1983). Maureen played maid Marion, and can be seen 1h 5m 42s into this YouTube copy:

Maureen appeared in Heartbeat, the rural police drama set in the 1960s, twice. On February 27th, 2000, she appeared in Wise Guys, which concerned strife in the world of fish and chip restaurants! In a side-plot, Maureen plays lonely widow Emily Poole, the victim of a break-in which PC Ventress investigates too willingly as she serves him tea and biscuits at a time when his wife has put him on a diet! Ventress was played by William Simons (The Sun Makers, 1977) while the episode also featured Jason Durr, Mark Jordon, Bill Maynard, Philip Franks, Peter Benson (Terminus, 1983), Clive Russell, Derek Fowlds and Tricia Penrose.

The Closer You Get (aka American Women) was a film directed by Aileen Ritchie released on September 8th, 2000 and written by William Savory from a story by Herbie Wave. Irish lads sent an advert to the Miami Herald inviting fit and enticing women aged 20-21 to live in their remote Donegal village. The entire village knows of the advert, and it makes them consider how happy they are living there. It starred Ian Hart, Sean McGinley and Niamh Cusack and featured Maureen as Dollie Doyle.

The Blind Date was released on March 13th, 2000, and concerned Lucy Kennedy trying to get her life back together after the death of her sister. She has her memories of her sister's murder revived when her friend enters the world of the blind date... Directed by Nigel Douglas and based on the novel by Frances Fyfield, it starred Zara Turner, Mark Letheren, Samantha Beckinsale, Ben Miller (Robot of Sherwood, 2014), Joanna David and Michael Elwyn (The Highlanders, 1966-67), and Maureen as Mrs Smythe.

McCready and Daughter was a short-lived BBC crime drama starring Lorcan Cranitch and Patsy Palmer as father and daughter Irish private investigators (the father character was written with Tony Doyle in mind, but he died just days before shooting began). In the episode Pasta la Vista (broadcast July 5th, 2001, about the murder of a TV chef, Maureen played Sinead Fiorucci, who works at the Italian restaurant where the chef worked. The drama co-starred Richard Hope (Cold Blood, 2010), Christine Kavanagh (Timelash, 1985), Philip McGough (Resurrection of the Daleks, 1984) and Albert Welling (Let's Kill Hitler, 2011), while it was written by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch (Meglos, 1980). The series was a huge flop and has never been commercially released (this episode attracted 4.6m viewers when standard dramas of the time were regularly getting twice as much).

Maureen's penultimate screen acting role to date was in her second Heartbeat, The High Life (broadcast March 9th, 2003) in which she played Joyce Greaves, disabled wife of vicar Harold Greaves who grows marijuana to ease her suffering. But when the local mods find out about the drug, they begin harass them for a supply. As well as starring Jason Durr, Derek Fowlds, Mark Jordon and William Simons (The Sun Makers, 1977), the episode also starred Peter Benson (Terminus, 1983), Robert East and Tricia Penrose.

Maureen's very last acting role to date was in an episode of BBC1 daytime medical soap Doctors, in an episode called Good Grief, broadcast on May 20th, 2003. Written by Bernard Padden (Full Circle, 1980), the story also featured Toby Whithouse in his acting days, before he became a writer for Doctor Who (School Reunion, 2006; The Vampires of Venice, 2010; The God Complex, 2011; A Town Called Mercy, 2012; Under the Lake/ Before the Flood, 2015). Maureen played a character called Doreen Crossland.

And Maureen hasn't appeared on screen since, seemingly having retired from the acting profession at the age of 60. She did, however, appear at the BBC3 Doctor Who at 50 After Party, along with most of the other Doctors and companions, on November 23rd, 2013.

Maureen, who is married to photographer Michael Moulds, was a founding member of Liverpool's Everyman Theatre in 1964, and lived for a time in Canada in the 1970s. In 1970 she learned that she could not have children of her own due to having tuberculosis of the ovaries ("I lost a great deal of weight and grew weaker and weaker," she told the Liverpool Echo in 2003. "Even though I had countless blood tests they could find nothing wrong with me.") In 1987, Maureen became a crime novelist, all of her books featuring the character Detective Inspector John Bright, in titles including Every Step You Take, Unauthorised Departure, Revenge, Dead Innocent, Mask of Betrayal, Deadly Reflection and Close Up on Death.
In 2014 Toby Hadoke released his Who's Round interview with Maureen here.

Maureen O'Brien, aged 71, at Big Finish Day 5 in September 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome! If you have corrections or amendments, please quote/ link to your source.