Obituary: Betty Paul
10 Mar 2011
Betty Paul - Telegraph
Betty Paul, who has died aged 89, was half of the husband-and-wife
team behind the countryside drama serial Weavers Green – ITV’s
short-lived answer to The Archers; she also wrote novels and radio
plays, and was a successful stage and screen actress.
Billed as television’s first rural soap, Weavers Green launched in
1966 and was set in an imaginary East Anglian village of that name. It
featured a fictional veterinary practice run by the Armstrong family.
Betty Paul, who with her third husband, the Hungarian-born sculptor
Peter Lambda, created the serial and wrote the scripts, was dismayed
when Anglia cancelled the show after little more than a year. She
blamed the fact that although it was shown twice weekly, it was never
given a regular slot in the schedules and so failed to attract a big
“It didn’t work,” Betty Paul admitted. “We’d have liked the programme
to be shown either during the week or at weekends, but not a mixture
of both. Back then, it was a different audience who watched television
at weekends.” Also disappointed was Weavers Green’s glamorous star,
Kate O’Mara, who played the young vet “Mick” Armstrong. “It was
successful,” she recalled, “but the network refused to give it a
regular slot, so people couldn’t get into it.”
Betty Paul and her husband learned that the show was to be dropped,
after 49 episodes, when they read the news in the paper.
Betty Paul was born Betty Percheron on May 21 1921 at Hendon,
north-west London, the youngest of three children of a French father,
a fabrics importer, and an Irish mother.
She began performing at an early age, encouraged by her stage-struck
mother. Educated at South Hampstead High School and the Institut
Francais, she left at 14 to pursue a career as an actress, singer and
Her first speaking role came in 1936 when she was 15, playing Adele in
Jane Eyre, and in 1938 she joined CB Cochran’s Young Ladies,
attracting much press attention as the youngest of his revue artistes.
She chose Betty Paul as her stage name in the early 1940s and
performed throughout the Second World War, serving with ENSA and
appearing on radio with Vic Oliver, Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris. In
1941 she was in Lady Behave, a Stanley Lupino musical at His
Majesty’s, Haymarket, performing alongside the American actor Hartley
Power, whom she married four years later. In 1947, she won excellent
reviews in the musical Bless the Bride at London’s Adelphi, and a year
later landed a small singing part in David Lean’s film of Oliver
This was followed in 1949 by a revival of Noël Coward’s Bitter Sweet,
and in 1951 by one of her most highly-acclaimed performances, as
Mistress Pepys in And So To Bed, with Leslie Henson and Keith Michell.
In the same year she appeared in The Dish Ran Away, directed by Leslie
French at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Two years later she made her Broadway debut in Maggie, a musical
adaptation of JM Barrie’s What Every Woman Knows. Although Maggie had
only a short run, Betty Paul was nominated for a New York Critics’
Award and invited by Yul Brynner to play Anna in the stage version of
The King and I. American Equity union rules prevented her from
accepting his offer.
She continued to appear on stage and radio throughout the 1950s. After
marrying Peter Lambda in 1958, Betty Paul formed a writing partnership
with him and wrote prolifically for stage and television. As well as
Weavers Green, they wrote for ATV’s Probation Officer between 1959 and
1962 and scripted more than 50 episodes of Harriet’s Back in Town,
Thames Television’s first daytime soap, broadcast in 1973. She was
also a scriptwriter on its successor, Marked Personal.
Betty Paul returned to the theatre in 1979, playing the housekeeper
Mrs Pearce for three years in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of My
Fair Lady. It marked her final stage appearance before she left London
to live in Gloucestershire.
Settling in the village of Tibberton, Betty Paul continued writing and
had some half a dozen radio plays broadcast.
She also published two novels, Lucky Star in 1989, and Conditions of
Love in 1992.
Betty Paul, who died on February 27, was thrice married. Her first
husband, Robin Hood , brother of the actress Miki Hood, was killed in
action in 1944 while serving with the RAF. The following year she
married Hartley Power; they divorced in 1955. Peter Lambda died in
1995. She had no children.