Sylvia Syms OBE (born 6 January 1934) is an Ondas Award-winning English actress. She is probably best known for her roles in the films The Tamarind Seed, Ice Cold in Alex, No Trees in the Street and Woman in a Dressing Gown. She is remembered by most for her film work through the 1950s and 1960s but is still active in films, television and the theatre. She will be starring in the post-production film Is There Anybody There?, alongside Michael Caine and Anne-Marie Duff.
Syms was born in London, England
to Daisy (Hale) and Edwin Syms, a trade unionist and civil servant. She was educated at RADA
, on whose council she has served. Her daughter Beatie Edney
is also an actress.
She started as a starlet. In her second film My Teenage Daughter
(1954), she played Anna Neagle
's "problem" daughter, and by 1960 had worked with Flora Robson
, Orson Welles
, Stanley Holloway
, Lilli Palmer
and William Holden
— and made the film Ice-Cold in Alex
(1958). Co-starring John Mills
, Anthony Quayle
and Harry Andrews
, this has become a cult film in recent years because an extract from it was used in a beer commercial. It is an entertaining story about four British Army medical personnel trying to get through enemy territory. A love scene between Mills and Syms was dropped from the film because it was considered too strong.
Also in 1958, she appeared in the English civil war story The Moonraker
with George Baker
her male lead. Syms played Tony Hancock
's wife in The Punch and Judy Man
(1962) along with her nephew, Nick Webb
. Other comedies followed, such as The Big Job
(1965) with Hancock's former co-star Sid James
, but it was for drama that she won acclaim, including The Tamarind Seed
(1974) with Julie Andrews
and Omar Sharif
, for which she was nominated for a British Film Academy award. My Good Woman
in 1972 was a husband-and-wife television comedy series which ran until 1974 with Leslie Crowther
. She has played British prime minister Margaret Thatcher
on TV and the stage and appeared in the Doctor Who
story Ghost Light
In 2002, she starred in the serial The Jury. In 2006, she co-starred as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in Stephen Frears' The Queen alongside Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren. She also appeared in The Poseidon Adventure, an American television movie with little connection to the original movie of the same name made in the 1970s. She has also taken up producing and directing. In March 2007, it was announced that she will be appearing in EastEnders as a mystery woman called Olive. Syms was made an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2007.
Among the many other famous names she has worked with are: Dirk Bogarde, Marius Goring, Hardy Krüger, Herbert Lom, Cliff Richard, Jenny Agutter, Sophia Loren, George Peppard, Roger Moore, Ray Milland, Bernard Miles and Richard Todd.