86 (passed away Jul. 1st, 2009)
Jul. 21st, 1922
Keighley, Yorkshire, England, UK
Mollie Sugden's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1977 - Are You Being Served?
Guest TV Roles
Mrs. Thelma Hutchinson
Mother Of The Bride
Vilhemina Slop Bucket (Voiced)
Minister for Trade and Domestic Affairs
Mollie Sugden is best known for playing Mrs Slocombe in the popular and long running British sitcom Are You Being Served? from 1972 to 1985. She later reprised this role for Grace & Favour, which ran from 1992 to 1993. Sugden has also appeared in The Liver Birds and Coronation Street.
Mary Isobel Sugden was born in Keighley in Yorkshire in 1922. When she was four years old, she heard a woman reading a poem at a village concert and making people laugh. The following Christmas, after being asked if she could "do anything", Sugden read this poem and everyone fell about laughing. She later remarked that their response made her "realise how wonderful it was to make people laugh". Shortly after she left school, the Second World War broke out, and Sugden worked in a munitions factory in Keighley making shells for the Royal Navy. However, she was later made redundant so she attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
When Sugden graduated from the Guildhall School of Drama, she worked in rep for eight years with a company that included Eric Sykes and Roy Dotrice.She also had work in radio and made her television debut in a live half-hour comedy show. Sugden's other appearances before Are You Being Served? included parts in Benny Hill, Just Jimmy, Z-Cars, Up Pompeii!, The Goodies, Steptoe and Son and five episodes of Jackanory in 1968. Later in 1973, she had a 23 week stint on That's Life! and also appeared in Son of the Bride.
Mollie Sugden's first regular sitcom role was from 1962 to 1966 when she played Mrs. Crispin in the sitcom Hugh and I. Hugh and I was written by John Chapman and when he got involved with The Liver Birds, he suggested Sugden for the role of Sandra's mother, Mrs Hutchinson. She portrayed Mrs Hutchinson from 1971 to 1979, and years later in 1996, when The Liver Birds was revived Sugden reprised the role, despite being on steroids at the time due to suffering from polymyalgia.
However, Sugden's big break that gave her nationwide fame was the part of Mrs Slocombe in the popular and long running Are You Being Served? that ran from 1972 to 1985. In 1978, when it was thought that Are You Being Served? was over, she was the lead star in Come Back Mrs Noah, a sitcom that is regarded by some as one of the worst ever made. From 1965 to 1976, she intermittently played Nellie Harvey, the land-lady of The Laughing Donkey pub, in Coronation Street. In this she often appeared opposite Annie Walker, landlady of the Rovers Return.
Mollie Sugden also played main roles in other sitcom, including That's My Boy, that ran from 1981 to 1986 and My Husband and I. My Husband and I ran from 1987 to 1988 and she played opposite her husband William Moore, who she married on 29 March 1958 having met him at Swansea rep. They had twin sons, Robin and Simon. Moore died in 2000.
Seven years after the end of Are You Being Served?, five of the original cast came together, including Sugden, and made Grace & Favour, where the staff are left a manor house in the country, which they have to live in. This lasted for two series until 1993. Other recent appearances include Just William, Oliver's Travels and The Bill. Sugden has also made a cameo appearance in Little Britain, where a regular character always claimed to have been Mollie Sugden's bridesmaid, eventually throwing a knife at her back after Sugden revealed that her only bridesmaid was someone else. In 2002 a tribute programme called Celebrating Mollie Sugden: An Are You Being Served? Special aired on American PBS stations featuring many of the Are You Being Served? cast.
- Was compared with 'Lucille Ball' (qv) by 'John Inman' (qv), who stated that both Ball and Sugden were among the very few actresses who were never afraid to do or accept anything for a laugh (such as having a pie thrown in the face or acting downright silly).
- Close friend of 'Björk (I)' (qv).
- Children: Robin and Simon (twins).
- Had a small speaking role in the San Francisco Opera's 1993 production of Donizetti's "Daughter of the Regiment".
- Mollie Sugden attended the Guildhall school of music and drama in London.
- After the first episode of of _"Are You Being Served?" (1972)_ (qv), she decided her hair was too plain for Mrs. Slocombe - so she bleached it white and dyed it a different colour for each subsequent episode in the first season. But the ends of bleached hair become spongy, so that the dyes never entirely washed out and, she says, her twin boys didn't appreciate being picked up from school "by a mother with multi-coloured ends." So, after the first season, when she saw the show was a hit, she asked the BBC to supply her with wigs instead of dying her hair a different colour every week.
- Worked during the war in a munitions factory in Keighley making shells for the Royal Navy.
- Appeared on season three of _"Little Britain" (2003)_ (qv) as herself. The character of Liz ('David Walliams' (qv)) is always bragging how she was the bridesmaid for Molly Sugden's wedding, to anyone and everyone, while her poor husband Clive ('Matt Lucas' (qv)) tries to hush her. In one episode, Liz starts again bragging about being Molly's bridesmaid. When Molly turns around (we first see only her back) she says to Liz that she only had one bridesmaid and the girl was called Helen, not Liz. Liz ends the skit with throwing a knife into Molly's back. The character of Liz was inspired by a friend of 'David Walliams' (qv) who went to a wedding where he met an older woman who was claiming to have been Molly's bridesmaid.
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