Una Stubbs dead: Till Death Us Do Part, Sherlock and EastEnders actress dies in Edinburgh aged 84
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Stubbs, who was born in Hertfordshire in 1937, had a career in film, television and theatre spanning decades, including a recent role as Mrs Hudson in the BBC’s Sherlock opposite Benedict Cumberbatch.
It’s understood the Hertfordshire-born actress moved to the Duddingston area of the city – where she is believed to have family – shortly prior to the first lockdown.
A statement from her family said: “Mum passed away quietly today with her family around her, in Edinburgh. We ask for privacy and understanding at this most difficult and sad of times.”
Her agent Rebecca Blond said: “We are desperately sad to have lost not only a wonderful actress, whose screen and stage career, spanning over 50 years, was so extraordinarily varied, from Till Death Us Do Part to Sherlock, as well as memorable performances in the West End, at the Old Vic, Donmar Warehouse, Sheffield Crucible and National Theatre, but also a wickedly funny, elegant, stylish, graceful, gracious and kind and constant friend.
“She was also a highly respected and exhibited artist. We will miss her enormously and remember her always.”
The 1963 film Summer Holiday helped to make Stubbs’ name after she starred in the musical alongside Sir Cliff Richard.
She went on to star in BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part and its sequel In Sickness And In Health, playing Rita Rawlings.
Other well-known television roles include Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge and Miss Bat in The Worst Witch, as well as a role in the Fawlty Towers episode The Anniversary.
She first appeared on screen in the 1950s in series such as Benny Hill and Rush Hour.
After her turn as Sandy in Summer Holiday, she appeared in Sir Cliff’s next film Wonderful Life and later in his BBC TV series It’s Cliff Richard!
For several years, she was a team captain in the weekly game show Give Us A Clue in the 1980s and also made appearances in Heartbeat, Benidorm, Victoria Wood’s We’d Quite Like To Apologise, The Catherine Tate Show and Agatha Christie’s Marple.
She also played Caroline Bishop in the BBC soap EastEnders and more recently appeared in The Durrells, Call The Midwife and Midsomer Murders.
Stubbs was married to actor Peter Gilmore from 1958 to 1969, with whom she adopted son Jason, and then married Nicky Henson in 1969, before they split in 1975.
The couple had two sons, Joe and Christian, both of whom are composers.
Christian wrote on Twitter: “Some of you may have known her as Rita, as Sally as Bat or Hudson but to my two brothers and I she was known as Mum.
“Thanks for everything Mum RIP.”
Sherlock creator Steven Moffat remembered Stubbs as “the loveliest light on Baker Street” as he paid tribute to her.
Writing on Instagram, he said: “The loveliest light on Baker Street has gone out. What a woman, what a talent, what a star – and just about the kindest, nicest, funniest person you could meet. I don’t know how anyone even starts summing up that career – Till Death Us Do Part, Fawlty Towers, the incomparable Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge… and, of course, the irreplaceable heart and soul of Sherlock”.
Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss tweeted: “It was one of the great joys of my life to work so closely with and to adore Una Stubbs. She was a wonderful, wonderful woman and a great and serenely graceful actor. Mischief was in her blood. We were so blessed that she became our imperishable Mrs Hudson. Goodbye, darling.”
TV channel Gold also paid tribute to Stubbs following news of her death.
In a tweet, they said: “We’re all deeply saddened to learn that the magnificent Una Stubbs has passed away at the age of 84. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time”.
EastEnders paid tribute to Stubbs in a tweet saying: “We are so sad to hear the heart-breaking news that Una Stubbs has passed away. Playing the role of Caroline Bishop, Honey’s aunty, Una will always be a much-loved part of the EastEnders family. Our thoughts are with her family and friends. RIP”.
Actress Bonnie Langford said: “Such a loss. She made everything look so effortless.
“A consummate professional, kind, gracious, elegant, versatile and fun. Her Aunt Sally was a masterclass alone.
“Condolences and love to those loved ones left behind.”
A statement from Call The Midwife said: “We are sad to hear of the death of the wonderful Una Stubbs, who we were fortunate to work with here on #CallTheMidwife.
“We send her family our deepest condolences at this time. xxx”
Musician Paul Weller remembered her as “a wonderful & talented lady”, while Michael Moran said: “I remember seeing Una Stubbs in the street in Victoria, and smiled at her out of recognition before I quite realised who she was.
“She responded with a lovely beaming smile. Good people.”
Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth said: “Oh, this is so sad. Such a funny, lovely, gifted lady – a marvellous actress with a special style & a great (and impish) sense of humour.
“I first met her when she was in Cowardy Custard in 1972 & last saw her at Nicky Henson’s funeral last year. A sad day.”
Meanwhile TV star Baroness Floella Benjamin said: “#UnaStubbs was not only a great actress but a delightful person too.
“I remember appearing on her team in ‘Give Us a Clue’ and she made my mum, who I took to the recording feel very special. I’ll be eternally grateful to her for that. May she rest in peace.”