Felicity Ann Kendal
(born 25 September 1946
) is an English actress
who is well known in the United Kingdom
for her television work.
Born in 1946, Kendal spent much of her childhood in India, where her father managed a touring rep company. First appearing on stage aged 9 months, Kendal appeared in her first film, Shakespeare Wallah, in 1965. Returning to Britain that year, Kendal struggled in her career until 1975, when she started playing Barbara Good in The Good Life, the BBC sitcom. This made Kendal a household name, although later sitcoms where she was the lead did not achieve the popularity of The Good Life. In 2003, Kendal first played Rosemary Boxer in Rosemary & Thyme, a murder mystery drama that aired for three series ending in 2007.
Felicity Kendal was born in Olton
, then Warwickshire
now West Midlands
, in 1946, and is the younger sister of Jennifer Kendal
and the daughter of Geoffrey and Laura Kendal
. Her father was an English actor-manager who made his living leading a repertory
company on tours of India
after the Second World War
. They performed Shakespeare
before royalty one day, and in rough rural villages the next. Her father had adopted his birthplace of Kendal
, then Westmorland
, as his stage name, his original surname being Bragg. Felicity Kendal was educated at six convents in India.
Kendal made her stage debut aged 9 months, when she was carried on stage as a changeling boy in A Midsummer Night's Dream
. Later she started her career proper at the age of nineteen and starred in the Merchant Ivory
film, Shakespeare Wallah
(1965), loosely based on her family's real-life experience. At eighteen, Kendal returned to Britain against her father's wishes, where she found that her film appearance was not a passport to immediate success. She made her London stage debut in Minor Murder
(1967), and went on to star in a number of well regarded plays, including several by Sir Tom Stoppard
In 1975, she got her big break in television with the situation comedy The Good Life. At the time of the first series she was also to be seen in a very different dramatic role, that of Queen Victoria's eldest daughter 'Vicky' in Edward the Seventh.
After The Good Life ended in 1978, she starred in several other BBC sitcoms, including Solo, The Mistress and Honey for Tea, none of which achieved the success of The Good Life. Despite this, she maintained her popularity.
Kendal's stage career blossomed during the 1980s and 1990s. She formed a close professional association with Sir Tom Stoppard, starring in the first productions of many of his plays, including The Real Thing (1982), Hapgood (1988), Arcadia (1993), and Indian Ink (1995). From November 2006 to February 2007, she starred in the West End play Amy's View by David Hare.
Her most recent TV work is the ITV murder mystery series Rosemary & Thyme, in which she plays gardener Rosemary Boxer, who, together with colleague and ex-policewoman Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris), solve mysteries near their various workplaces as landscape gardeners.
In 2008, she appeared in Doctor Who alongside David Tennant and Catherine Tate. The episode is entitled "The Unicorn and the Wasp".
From February to June 2008, she is appearing in London's West End in a revival of Noel Coward's play The Vortex.
- 1976 - Most Promising Newcomer - Variety Club
- 1979 - Best Actress - Variety Club
- 1980 - Clarence Derwent Award
- 1984 - Woman of the Year - Best Actress - Variety Club
- 1989 - Best Actress - Evening Standard
- White Cargo (memoirs) - 1998
Kendal is particularly popular with male viewers:
- She was voted "Rear of the Year" for her appearances wearing wellington boots and tight jeans in The Good Life. This compliment was later reiterated in an episode of Red Dwarf by ship's computer Holly: "..last month, we came across a moon shaped like Felicity Kendal's bottom. We flew around that one a couple of times".
- Kendal was selected as one of the FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" in 1995.
- In an episode of The Young Ones, the only way that a launderette washing machine could be induced to take the main characters' revolting washing was by being told that the load contained a pair of Felicity Kendal's knickers.
- She was considered thinking man's crumpet in the 1970s.
Kendal is 152 cm (5 ft) tall and has been married twice. Her first marriage was to Drewe Henley
between 1968 and 1979 and the second was to Michael Rudman from 1983 to 1990. She converted to Judaism
at the time of her second marriage. She has two sons; Charlie, from her marriage to Henley, and Jacob, from her marriage to Rudman. In 1991 the playwright Tom Stoppard
left his second wife
to start a relationship with Kendal. She has since reunited with Michael Rudman. She was made a CBE