Sylvia Syms

Last updated 09 January 2020

Sylvia Syms
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Sylvia M. L. Syms

Born: Saturday 6th January 1934 (age: 88)


Sylvia Syms OBE is an English actress. She is probably best known for her roles in the films Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957), Ice Cold in Alex (1958), No Trees in the Street (1959) , Victim (1961) and The Tamarind Seed (1974). She remains active in films, television and theatre.

Syms was born in WoolwichLondonEngland, the daughter of Daisy (née Hale) and Edwin Syms, a trade unionist and civil servant. She was educated at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, on whose council she later served. Her daughter Beatie Edney is also an actress.

Syms started her career as a starlet. In her second film, My Teenage Daughter (1954), she played Anna Neagle's "problem" daughter. In 1958, she appeared in the film Ice Cold in Alex (alongside John MillsAnthony Quayle and Harry Andrews) which, in recent years, has become something of a cult film following its use in a beer commercial. A love scene between Mills and Syms was dropped from the film because it was considered too strong.

In 1958, Syms also appeared in the English Civil War story The Moonraker alongside George Baker. By 1960, she had worked with Flora RobsonOrson WellesStanley HollowayLilli Palmer and William Holden. In 1962, she played Tony Hancock's wife in The Punch and Judy Man. The film also featured 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, includingThe Tamarind Seed (1974) with Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif, for which she was nominated for a British Film Academy awardMy Good Woman in 1972 was a husband-and-wife television comedy series which ran until 1974 with Leslie Crowther. At the same time, she was one of two team captains on the BBC's weekly Movie Quiz, hosted by Robin Ray. In 1975, she was the head of the jury at the 25th Berlin International Film Festival.

Shortly after the downfall of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1990, Syms portrayed her on ITV in a TV play covering the events surrounding her demise. She later recreated the role on the stage.

In 1989, Syms appeared in the Doctor Who story "Ghost Light". From 2000 until 2003, she played the part of Marion Riley in the ITV comedy-drama series At Home with the Braithwaites.

In 2002, she starred in the serial The Jury and contributed "Sonnet 142" to the compilation album When Love Speaks. In 2006, she co-starred as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother alongside Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren in Stephen FrearsThe Queen. She also appeared in The Poseidon Adventure, an American TV movie with little connection to the original movie of the same name made in the 1970s. She has also taken up producing and directing.

Among the many other famous actors and actresses Syms has worked with are Dirk BogardeMarius GoringHardy KrügerHerbert LomCliff RichardJenny AgutterSophia LorenGeorge PeppardRoger MooreRay MillandBernard Milesand Richard Todd.

In 2009, she appeared in the film Is Anybody There? alongside Michael Caine and Anne-Marie Duff and in the ITV1 drama series Collision. In 2010, she guest-starred as a patient in BBC1's drama series Casualty, having played a different character in an episode from 2007. Syms had also appeared as another character in Casualty's sister series Holby City in 2003.

Since 2007, Syms has also had a recurring role in BBC1's EastEnders, playing dressmaker Olive Woodhouse. Her most recent appearance in the role was on 20 July 2010.

In 2010, Syms took part in the BBC's The Young Ones, a series in which six celebrities in their 70s and 80s attempt to overcome some of the problems of ageing by harking back to the 1970s.

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA