+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    5,599
    Liked
    103 times
    From The Times

    August 13, 2007








    Ruth Kettlewell

    Actress best known for playing ‘character bags’ on stage and screen who also ran a church amateur drama society







    Ruth Kettlewell was one of that generation of British character actresses whom people were bound to recognise on sight, even if they could not always put a name to the face. During her career, which spanned 50 years, she was constantly in work, either on stage or on television or in films.

    She was born Ruth Anne Berry in Worcester in 1913, the second daughter and youngest child of the Rev and Mrs B. A. Berry, and the niece of the author Lieutenant-Colonel W. P. Drury.



    She was educated at Casterton School, and from there went on to study art at college. In 1932, at the age of 18, she married the Rev Robert Kettlewell. She settled down to the life of a clergyman’s wife, but even from this time she dreamt of a career on the stage, and just before the outbreak of war she played some small parts with a local repertory company.

    The Second World War put paid to her acting career – temporarily, at least – and both she and her husband enlisted: he as an army padre, and she in the Women’s Land Army, in which she served from 1942 to 1946.

    When her husband died as a result of scarlet fever contracted while on active service, she decided to pursue her acting career, gaining a place in Windsor Rep. Throughout the 1950s she toured all over the country.

    By the late 1950s she had managed to transfer to the West End, and for the next two decades was frequently to be seen in a variety of plays, mainly comedies and dramas, but even an occasional musical, such as The Music Man at the Adelphi Theatre, in which she played Mrs Parroo alongside Van Johnson.

    Among other plays, she appeared in Paris Match, The Killing of Sister George and Bed at the National.

    In 1959 she had her first break in films when she played a small part in Room at the Top, the gritty melodrama set in the North of England. She went on to act in a great many more films, among them Oh! What a Lovely War, in which she played the small but crucial role of the Duchess Sophie, Sons and Lovers (Mrs Bonner), Zeppelin (Mrs Parker), Great Balls of Fire and, as late as 1995, Funny Bones.

    She also acted in foreign films, including a Norwegian children’s movie, in which she had to speak in Norwegian, and an Italian film directed by Dino Conti.

    In the 1960s her career on television unfolded: she worked alongside the likes of Harry Worth, Joan Sims and Deryck Guyler, and went on to play the Dean’s wife in the first series of All Gas and Gaiters, a role she had to give up to Joan Sanderson as she was due to go on tour. Acting alongside Sheila Hancock, she played the Swiss harridan of a landlady, Mrs Wagner, in Take My Husband. In 1966 she appeared in the groundbreaking TV drama Cathy Come Home, directed by Ken Loach, in which she played the judge.

    Throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the 1990s she mainly played what she termed “character bags” in a host of television programmes as diverse as The Onedin Line, On the Buses, Juliet Bravo, The Dick Emery Show, The Good Life, That’s My Boy, All Creatures Great and Small, Inspector Morse, Crimewatch and Heartbeat. She also appeared in numerous children’s programmes, among them Catweazle, Worzel Gummidge and The Double Deckers.

    As well as her mainstream career, she was also involved with taking drama to the prisoners at Wormwood Scrubs prison, where she did a great deal of work with both long and short-term inmates, about whom she always spoke fondly as “her boys”.



    A dedicated churchgoer, she created, in the 1960s, an amateur dramatic society, the St Augustine’s Players, drawn from members of several Highgate churches of various denominations, and directed about a dozen plays with religious or church historical themes, such as The Way of the Cross and Murder in the Cathedral. These were of a standard sufficient to be taken on to play in other churches apart from Kettlewell’s home church of St Augustine of Canterbury, Highgate.

    She played an active part in the running of St Augustine’s, being at times churchwarden and sacristan and drawing up the duty rotas until her failing eyesight made this impossible.

    Always a great devotee of the Marian Shrine at Walsingham, she went two or three times a year and last visited it in the week of her passing.



    Until recently, she played an active role in the Actors’ Church Union, and always looked forward to having its newsletter read out to her by one or other of her many friends.



    Ruth Kettlewell, actress, was born on April 13, 1913. She died on July 17, 2007, aged 94

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    5,860
    Liked
    150 times
    I loved Ruth Kettlewell - very predictable but instantly recognisable, even though I doubt many of us remembered her name!



    What a wonderful age! RIP, Ruth - farewell to another stalwart.



    Starry x.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: England
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    259
    Liked
    0 times
    Don't know if it's my eyes, but I think she looks remarkably like Judith Furse, in that photograph. Made me do a double take.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    3
    Liked
    0 times
    name='julian_craster']

    Throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the 1990s she mainly played what she termed “character bags” in a host of television programmes as diverse as The Onedin Line, On the Buses, Juliet Bravo, The Dick Emery Show, The Good Life, That’s My Boy, All Creatures Great and Small, Inspector Morse, Crimewatch and Heartbeat. She also appeared in numerous children’s programmes, among them Catweazle, Worzel Gummidge and The Double Deckers.


    Hmm, I wonder in which episode of All Creatures Great And Small she appeared.



    _________________________



    The 'All Creatures Great And Small' forum:

    freeforen.com/cgi-bin/yabbserver/foren/F_508/YaBB.cgi

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK kelp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    676
    Liked
    0 times
    As you say, another stalwart of our business has departed.

    Sleep Well.

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    27,566
    Liked
    418 times
    name='Jutter']Hmm, I wonder in which episode of All Creatures Great And Small she appeared.



    _________________________



    The 'All Creatures Great And Small' forum:

    freeforen.com/cgi-bin/yabbserver/foren/F_508/YaBB.cgi
    She played Mrs Coates in episode 7.6, "Out With the New"

    Everyone in Darrowby is preparing for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Tristan has taken himself off to London to take in the event live. Rosie is to play a princess in the school pageant but has come down with the flu and Jimmy, who is to play the Archbishop, thinks his cloak makes him look like a sissy. James has to treat Wolfie, a dog who appears to live up to his name. Thieves are taking advantage of some of the elderly residents of Darrowby. Sigfried tries his hand at a herbal remedy to treat a sick sheep.



    Steve

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    5,599
    Liked
    103 times
    Ruth Kettlewell

    Actress often cast as a battleaxe



    THE INDEPENDENT

    24 August 2007



    Ruth Anne Berry (Ruth Kettlewell), actress: born Worcester 13 April 1913; married 1932 The Rev Robert Kettlewell (deceased); died London 17 July 2007.



    By her own admission, the character actress Ruth Kettlewell often played battleaxes, but it kept her in regular work on stage and television for half a century, sometimes only in fleeting roles.



    A lifelong Christian, she even felt sympathy for those on the receiving end of her characters' stern actions. In Cathy Come Home (1965), the classic television drama that put homelessness on the political agenda, she played the unsympathetic judge serving an eviction order on Cathy and Reg (Carol White and Ray Brooks). This led to the couple and their two children being forcibly evicted from their squalid council house, a scene in which fear is etched on the toddlers' eyes as the door is hammered down, in this shocking play written by Jeremy Sandford, directed by Ken Loach and filmed documentary-style.

    "I only had a cough-and-spit role, to condemn these poor souls and shift them," recalled Kettlewell, who had visited a magistrates' court to get a feel for the part. "I was very harsh to them. They were going through a very bad time."

    She was born Ruth Berry in Worcester in 1913, the daughter of a clergyman and niece of Lt-Col W.P. Drury, a former Royal Marine and prolific author of novels and short stories, many featuring Private Pagett of the Marines. From the age of seven, she was brought up in North Yorkshire, where her father was the rector of Kildale.

    In 1932, after attending Casterton School at Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire, then art college, she married the Rev Robert Kettlewell, the vicar of the North Yorkshire village of Great Ayton, given away by her uncle in a ceremony performed by her father.

    She later started acting with a local repertory company, before joining the Women's Land Army during the Second World War. Her husband, who contracted scarlet fever while working as an Army padré, died after the war. Never marrying again, Kettlewell continued her fledgling acting career by joining the repertory company at Windsor, in 1949, then performed all over Britain.

    She appeared in the West End as Miss Yorke in the Tennessee Williams play The Rose Tattoo (New Theatre, 1959) and Mrs Paroo in the original London cast of Meredith Willson's musical comedy The Music Man (Adelphi Theatre, 1961). Later, she took the role of Bosom in the National Theatre Company's production of the Jim Cartwright play Bed (Cottesloe Theatre, 1989).

    Kettlewell's first film role was as a member of a group of actors seen in Room at the Top (1958), one of the first "kitchen sink" dramas, based on John Braine's novel about the working-class Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey), who falls for two women and will do anything to further his social ambitions.

    Marked out clearly as a character actress, Kettlewell was subsequently cast as Mrs Bonner in the film version of Sons and Lovers (1960) and Duchess Sophie, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand's wife, in the satirical Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), but it was in television that she found herself most in demand.

    Her earliest small-screen appearance had been as Mrs Murphy in an episode of the children's adventure serial Potts – Gangbuster (1956). Later, she played Mrs Jackson in the BBC serialisation of Swallows and Amazons (1963) and the by-the-book Dean's wife, Mrs Pugh-Critchley, in the sitcom All Gas and Gaiters, centring on the rivalries of clergy at the fictional St Ogg's Cathedral, but had to hand over to Joan Sanderson after the first run because of her own stage commitments.

    She had regular roles on children's television, as the larger-than-life cook Mrs Grapple in Hope and Keen's Crazy House (1970-73) and Bessie Dearlove in both Boy Dominic (1974) and its sequel, Dominic (1976). Kettlewell also enjoyed appearing with comedians. She was in the sitcoms The Howerd Confessions (with Frankie Howerd, 1976) and How's Your Father? (alongside Harry Worth, 1979), as well as entertainment programmes such as The Mike Reid Show (1977) and Mike Yarwood in Persons (1977).

    A regular in the congregation at St Augustine of Canterbury Church, Highgate, in north London, Kettlewell formed the St Augustine's Players as an amateur dramatics group for members of local churches. She was also an active member of the Actors' Church Union.



    Anthony Hayward

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    168
    Liked
    0 times
    I live near Great Ayton where she was the vicar's wife.



    Will be sadly missed.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK Dandy Forsdyke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    502
    Liked
    12 times
    Just watched an episode of On The Buses and great to see such a familiar face. I admit I didn't know her name and checked the crdeits of the recording, the IMDB and this thread. Just wanted to pay my respects here. A bit late, but there you go ...

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1
    Liked
    0 times
    name='Dandy Forsdyke']Just watched an episode of On The Buses and great to see such a familiar face. I admit I didn't know her name and checked the crdeits of the recording, the IMDB and this thread. Just wanted to pay my respects here. A bit late, but there you go ...


    Good to read about dear Ruth. However, there is no mention of The Little Theatre in Great Yarmouth. I had the great joy of working with her back in the 50s. She was very kind to a spotty teenager just at the beginning of his career. She played my mother on numerous occasions and was a lovely Miss Whitchurch in The Happiest Days of Your Life.

    She was loved by the Yarmouth audiences and also by me.

    I lost touch with her for many years but made contact after seeing her in All Creatures. We became firm friends again and she often stayed with us in Gosfield. Driving her black MGB like a bat out of hell!. We returned to Yarmouth 8 years ago when we played Night Must Fall. She received a standing ovation for her performance and afterwards we talked for hours and drank far too much gin.



    The week before she died she planned to visit us again and be the guest of honour at an Equity Party which we were holding. Sadly, she never made it.

    A great lady - full of love and enthusiasm for life. Rest in peace dear Ruth - and thank you for allowing me to be your friend. Jonnyxx

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    3,895
    Liked
    98 times
    Ruth can be seen in the Yorkshire Television colour serial Boy Dominic (1974), which is being released on DVD by Network on March 8th, 2010.

Similar Threads

  1. The Story of Ruth - BBC 1981
    By ajhooper in forum Looking for a Video/DVD (TV)
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 29-12-10, 03:00 PM
  2. Life For Ruth
    By Marky B in forum Your Favourite British Films
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 29-11-10, 11:01 AM
  3. Ruth
    By kingbman in forum Off-Topic Discussion
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-10-09, 10:52 AM
  4. Ruth Kettlewell, actress, R. I. P. (1913-2007)
    By JamesM in forum Obituaries
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 15-08-07, 07:44 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts