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Heather Chasen

Heather Chasen

Heather Chasen
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Actress
Is Actor
From United Kingdom
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 20 July 1927, Singapore
Age 95 years
Father: Frederick Nutter Chasen
The details (from wikipedia)


Heather Jean Chasen (born 20 July 1927) is an English actress. Chasen is known for her roles in soap operas; playing Valerie Pollard in the ITV soap opera Crossroads from 1982–86 and guest roles in Doctors, Holby City and Family Affairs. Chasen also played many roles in BBC Radio 2's The Navy Lark from 1959–77, and appeared in the television series Marked Personal from 1973–74. She played Lydia Simmonds in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, a role which received positive reviews from critics, EastEnders cast members and crew. Furthermore, she has appeared extensively in theatre productions and film; in 2012, she appeared in a film version of Les Misérables.

Early and personal life

Chasen was born on 20 July 1927, in Singapore. Chasen's father, F.N. Chasen was an English ornithologist, who fought in World War I under the Norfolk Yeomanry as a trooper. In 1921, he left England, to work at the Raffles Library and Museum in Singapore, marrying Chasen's mother, Agnes H McCullock, in 1926. After Chasen's birth, her parents had another daughter, Christine Elizabeth, on 4 May 1931. Her parents split in 1938, and both remarried. Before the Japanese occupation, which led to the Battle of Singapore during World War II, Chasen and her mother left Singapore on the last boat before the occupation. Her father, on a separate ship, HMS Giang Bee, perished however, when it was sunk by the Japanese on 12 February 1942, and Chasen's new stepfather, G.C.R Franks, too perished fighting, a month later, on the 22 March. Chasen and her mother moved to England and Chasen trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she then acted on stage and went on a tour with Frankie Howerd in Hotel Paradiso. She also appeared with Sybil Thorndike in Call Me Jacky, as well as going on tour with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in The Pleasure of his Company, in Toronto. Chasen is good friends with, and previously had a relationship with, Amanda Barrie. In 1949, she married John Webster in Surrey and has one son with him, Rupert, born in Kensington, 1955.


Crossroads and EastEnders

In 2011, Chasen was cast as Lydia Simmonds, Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks)'s maternal grandmother and Norman Simmonds' (George Layton) mother, in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, after the original actress Margaret Tyzack had to pull out of the role due to personal reasons. Two episodes featuring Tyzack had already been broadcast, and she featured in a further one on 14 April. The producers wanted to keep Lydia in the show as they had plans for her, so Chasen was cast and she replaced Tyzack in the role, beginning filming on 15 April for scenes broadcast from 21 April. EastEnders' executive producer, Bryan Kirkwood, added: "In order to continue the current storyline we've taken the decision for Heather Chasen to take over the role of Lydia." The character died on-screen and Chasen made her last appearance on 13 June 2011, and, though not credited for it, did a voice-over for the 14 and 28 June episodes. Kirkwood later said "Lydia's storyline was perfect" and that Chasen had made the part her own after Tyzack's departure. Brooks said of the storyline as a whole, "I absolutely loved exploring Janine's background. I was really proud with the scenes with Heather Chasen [Lydia]. It was really hard work, but worth it."

Other work

Chasen has appeared in other television programmes such as The Bill and The Harry Hill Show. She has had guest roles in Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green and has voiced a number of characters in the radio show The Navy Lark, most notably WREN Heather Chasen and "battle axe" Ramona Povey. In soaps, she has had four separate stints in the BBC soap opera Doctors, with her most recent stint in 2014, reprising her role as Grace Barberry from 2012, played Sylvie Leigh in Holby City and played Madge Bennet in the Channel 5 soap opera, Family Affairs, for five episodes. More earlier credits include, playing "rich bitches" Caroline Kerr, in The Newcomers and Isabel Neal in Marked Personal, alongside Stephanie Beacham. She also played the "evil" headmistress in Schoolgirls in Uniform at the Battersea Arts Centre. In stage and theatre, Chasen appeared in The Rat Trap. Michael Billington from The Guardian described Chasen's character, Burrage the maid, as "trundling", rating the play three stars. Other than this, she has appeared in Pardon Ma Prime Minister alongside Gerald Flood and Paul Curran, written by Edward Taylor and John Graham who created the BBC radio series The Men from the Ministry. The Birmingham Mail described the play as "hilarious" and "promising". One of Chasen's more recent plays was My Three Angels in which she played Madame Parole, other plays include, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Who Bombed Birmingham playing Margaret Thatcher, and The Lizard of Rock, in which she played the main role, appearing alongside actor Jack Hawkins. Chasen opined that she had a "lovely time" playing Miss Marple in A Murder is Announced alongside Richard Todd and Barbara Murray. In 2009, Chasen appeared in the award-winning Anglo-Russian feature film Season of Mists, playing Jane. Chasen appeared alongside Marina Blake, Sergei Chonishvili, Ifan Huw Dafydd and ex-EastEnders actor Dudley Sutton. Other films Chasen has appeared in include, The Kiss of Tosca in 2000, The Toybox in 2003 and Cat Run, a 2011 film.

Awards and nominations

Chasen was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, while she appeared in the New York adaptation of A Severed Head between 1963-65. She appeared the cast of the Seasons of Mists which won a number of awards internationally.


Year Title Role Notes
1960 No Hiding Place Brenda 1 episode
The Cheaters Mary Calder
The World of Tim Frazer Helen Baker 6 episodes
Danger Man Helen Hamilton 1 episode
1961 Lorain Zameda
Walk a Crooked Mile Angela Charles
Inspector Maigret Guest
Dixon of Dock Green Laura Beckley
1962 Saki Agnes Huddle
Dixon of Dock Green Stella Judd
1963 Jezebel ex UK Rita Lorraine
Suspense Clarice Morrison
1965 The Newcomers Caroline Kerr
1967 Z-Cars Pamela Raven 2 episodes
1969 Call My Bluff Herself 1 episode
1973–74 Marked Personal Isabel Neal 84 episodes
1977 Play of the Month: Waste Lady Julia Farrant
1978 A Traveller in Time Mary, Queen of Scots 3 episodes
1981 Ladykillers Mrs. Martinetti 1 episode
1982 Crossroads Reporter
Young Sherlock: The Mystery of the Manor House Aunt Rachel 5 episodes
1982–86 Crossroads Valerie Pollard Unknown
1983 Shades of Darkness Minor Role 1 episode
1989 Heat of the Day Mrs Kelway
1990 Who Bombed Birmingham Margaret Thatcher
1992 The Eligible Bachelor The Hon Amelia
Surgical Spirit Sabatini's Mother
2003 The Bill Mrs. Belstram
2002 Holby City Sylvie Leigh
2003 The All New Harry Hill Show Betty
Doctors Norma
2005 Casualty Bessie Symes
Family Affairs Madge Bennett 5 episodes
2006 Doctors Ida Price 1 episode
2010 Holby City Sylvie Leigh
2011 EastEnders Lydia Simmonds 12 episodes
Lydia Simmonds (voiceover) 2 episodes
2012, 2014 Doctors Grace Barberry
2013 Dancing on the Edge Lady Altringham 1 episode
Year Title Role
1949 Meet the Duke Carol
1971 Naughty! Victorian Madame
1971 Suburban Wives Kathy Lambert
1972 Commuter Husbands Wife
1972 On the Game Madame
1976 The Deadly Females Frances
1989 The Plot to Kill Hitler The Baroness
2000 The Kiss of Tosca Tosca
2003 The Toybox Gran
2009 Season of Mists Jane
2010 The Social Network Matt's wife
2011 Cat Run Bingham's Mom
2012 Les Misérables Madame Magloire
Year Title Role
1959–77 The Navy Lark WRN Chasen
Mrs Ramona Povey
Rita Murray
Morpeth Goldstein
Natasha Snogitoff
Lady Quirk
Miss Simpkins
Lady Todhunter-Brown
Lucy Doll
Queen Jaratova
Wren Simkins
Second Officer Maclootie
Lady Hamilton
Myrtle Pertwee
Mrs Sedgwick
Fatima Sumpbolt
Nurse at the RN College, Dartmouth
Renee, daughter of the landlord of the Popple's Head pub and barmaid at the pub
Judith "Judikins" Povey
Exotic & Sultry Tanya (Agent no.5)
1966 The Embassy Lark HE Fatima Soriaya Fazalik, Turkish Ambassador to Tratvia
1967 Sexton Blake adventures Paula Dane
Year Title Role
1945 Donna Clarines Marcella
1954 Blood Wedding Leonardo's wife
1958 Little Eyolf Rita Allmers
Templeton Anna Dasousa
The Mousetrap Mollie Ralston
1960 The Lizard of the Rock Main Role
1962 A Midsummer Night's Dream Helena
Policy for Murder Lee Miller
1963 The Maids Solange
1963, 1964, 1965 A Severed Head Antonia Lynch Gibbon
1966 Love from Liz Nancy Morrow
Jorrocks Mrs Barnington
Thriller of the Year Gillian Howard
1967 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
1967–68 Call me Jacky Countess
Gina Ekdal
The Wild Duck
Jacqueline du Bois
1969 Forty Years On Matron
Lady S Lady Susan
1970 Lady Frederick Marchioness of Mereston
1970–72 The Pleasure of his Company Katherine Daugherty
1971 Hello and Goodbye Hester
The Amorous Prawn Mrs. Fitzadam
The Magistrate Queen Margaret
Richard III
1972 Children of the Wolf Helena
1973 Baby Love Mrs. Taylor
1975 Hay Fever Judith Bliss
Butterflies Are Free Mrs. Baker
Madame de Sade Alison
Comtesse de Saint Fond
1977 Rebecca Beatrice Lacy
1978 Murder in a Bad Light Olivia Waynward
1979 The Eagel Has Two Heads Edith de Berg
The Man Who Came To Dinner Miss Preen
1994 A Murder is Announced Miss Marple
1996 Black Chiffon Nanny
1997 School Girls in Uniform The Headmistress
1999 Sweet Bramleys June
Laying the Ghost Freda
2000 Getting On Minor Role
2001 Mountain Language Elderly Lady
2002 My Three Angles Madame Parole
2006 The Rat Trap Burrage the Maid
2008 Pardon Ma Prime Minister Lead Role

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