For four series (1976-79), she played philanthropic Letty Gaunt, introduced as governess to the daughter of rugged sea captain-turned-fleet owner James Onedin after his wife dies in childbirth. In 1961, after appearing as a schoolgirl in the film The Pure Hell of St Trinian’s (1960), she switched to acting in repertory theatres across England and Scotland. After five series (1980-84) and audiences of up to 18 million, Gascoine and Maggie were transplanted to CATS Eyes (1985-87), Britain’s answer to the hit American drama Charlie’s Angels. Bill Keith is on Facebook. She is survived by Molina, her two sons and her stepdaughter, Rachel. Join Facebook to connect with Bill Keith and others you may know. Gascoine began her acting career in theatre in the 1960s and had regular roles at the Dundee Repertory Theatre. Thirteen years later, she was set for a return to British TV in the soap EastEnders as Glenda Mitchell, mother of Ronnie and Roxy. They were married from 1965 to 1971. She also suffered from clinical depression, which she blamed on an unhappy time at boarding school as a child. Jill Gascoine, here in 1982, as DI Maggie Forbes in the groundbreaking police drama, Jill Gascoine: First woman to star in a British TV police drama, Honor Blackman: Actor who starred in The Avengers and Goldfinger, Tim Brooke-Taylor: Comedian who found fame in The Goodies, You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully, Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable, Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties, We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification. She was seen on screen for the first time in the chorus of the West End musical Expresso Bongo (1958), broadcast on TV. The Telegraph values your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Her television appearances included parts in Z Cars, Softly Softly, Within These Walls, Dixon of Dock Green, Armchair Theatre and General Hospital. Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate? Jill Gascoine, who has died aged 83 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, became the first woman to star in a British television police series when she was cast as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in The Gentle Touch. Early in her career in the 1950s, Gascoine had been soubrette in a UK tour of the Crazy Gang Show. The agents took on the mafia, triads and Russian spies, but attempts to recreate the glamour of Charlie’s Angels were stifled by the necessity to film in locations across the north Kent coast, close to the production company’s base. They later married in Tower Hamlets, London, in 1986. Eyes from 1985 to 1987. In Dundee she met her first husband, hotelier Bill Keith. You can also choose to be emailed when someone replies to your comment. As an actress she returned to Britain in 2008 to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Colette Freedman’s play Sister Cities. She recalled herself as a “chubby” child and being referred to as “the little fat one on the end” in auditions for shows. Jill Gascoine was a stalwart Labour Party supporter, and at the height of her television fame in the 1980s appeared in party political broadcasts. Jill Viola Gascoine was born in Lambeth, south London, in 1937, the only child of Irene (nee Greenwood) and Francis Gascoine. Her first two books were semi-autobiographical – Addicted (1994), about a middle-aged woman falling in love with a half-Spanish younger man, and Lillian (1995), featuring a woman suffering from depression. As Det Insp Maggie Forbes, stationed at Seven Dials and covering Soho and Covent Garden in central London, Jill Gascoine broke the traditional police series template. Gascoine also had a regular role throughout 1977 in the daytime soap opera Rooms as Ruth Harris, one of the tenants in a London house converted into bedsits. They were married from 1965 to 1971. Early episodes concentrated on Maggie’s home life. Her third novel, Just Like A Woman (1997), told the story of a middle-aged woman who finds herself pregnant in her fifties. The Gentle Touch was a huge ratings hit in the UK and ran for five series until 1984, though Gascoine continued to play Maggie Forbes in the more action-orientated spin-off series C.A.T.S. She pulled out after a day’s filming, saying: “I lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama.”. Following this, she then appeared as Judy Schwartz in the final series of the sitcom Home to Roost (1989–1990) opposite John Thaw, and continued to make guest appearances on British television. Gascoine’s life was dominated by two health issues: clinical depression, which she put down to being miserable at boarding school as a young child and controlled by taking Prozac for the rest of her life; and her weight. Keith Urban says he 'definitely married up' when he wed Nicole Kidman and her ... from her first marriage to Dundee hotelier Bill Keith. She was also an actress in the Downfield Musical Society in Dundee. A further stage appearances included playing Dorothy Brock opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones in Forty Second Street in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane London and in the musical Destry playing Frenchie, the role played by Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again. Jill Gascoine, actor and novelist, born 11 April 1937, died 28 April 2020. This was followed by her second novel, Lilian (1995), about a woman who begins a love affair when she goes on holiday to California with her best friend. Create a commenting name to join the debate, There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts, There are no comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. Her early work also included collaborations with future film and television director Ken Loach. Although still living in Los Angeles, she returned to the UK in 2008 to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the play Sister Cities at the Gilded Balloon Theatre. In November 2016 it emerged that she was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease and had been in a specialist care home for more than two years. Gascoine was treated successfully for kidney cancer in 1997. But on her first day filming on set she withdrew, explaining that she felt she “lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama”, and the role was re-cast with Glynis Barber. The first series was preoccupied with her home life, but subsequent series featured more thrills and spills, culminating at the end of series four with her being caught up in a grenade explosion. However, the marriage ended in 1972. Petite but tough-minded, her oversized bubble perm seemingly none too ruffled by the experience, Jill Gascoine carried on for a further 13 episodes. Her television breakthrough came with a one-off role in Dr Finlay’s Casebook in 1970. Turning to acting in 1961, she took regular roles at Dundee Rep, appeared as principal boy in provincial panto, beginning in Babes In The Wood at Halifax, and toured numerous repertory theatres throughout the 1960s before launching her television career in 1972. By then Jill Gascoine had begun having problems with her memory, and she was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. Please review our, You need to be a subscriber to join the conversation. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. After marrying in 1986, she and Molina moved to Los Angeles, where she made television appearances in series such as Northern Exposure and Touched by an Angel, as well as performing extensively in theatre. Jill Gascoine, born April 11 1937, died April 28 2020. From the start, the emphasis was on a woman in a previously male-only domain – and facing sexism from some fellow officers. She started a new career as a novelist. Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines. Gascoine married twice. During driving and pursuit sequences in The Gentle Touch, Jill Gascoine, a non-driver, always had to be filmed at the wheel of a stationary car. From series two, Jill Gascoine’s character was promoted to team leader, but other changes had been made on the production side that proved less successful. Her first novel was Addicted (1994), about a successful television actress in her fifties who embarks on a destructive affair with a younger, half-English/half-Spanish actor in his thirties (Gascoine's real-life widower Alfred Molina is an English actor of Italian/Spanish descent, who was 16 years her junior). After a high-profile career that had spanned over twenty years on British television, Gascoine and her second husband, actor Alfred Molina, moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s where she made appearances on US television in series such as Northern Exposure and Touched by an Angel, as well as performing extensively in theatre. [1] However, during her first day on set, she withdrew from her filming commitments, as she felt that she "lacked the right experience to film such a big continuing drama". She also took the Marlene Dietrich role of Frenchy in a stage adaptation of the 1939 Western film spoof Destry Rides Again (Donmar Warehouse, 1982), where she met her second husband, the actor Alfred Molina, 16 years her junior. She was Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in the 1980s television series The Gentle Touch and its spin-off series C.A.T.S. It beat the BBC’s Juliet Bravo to the screen by four months and was a whole decade ahead of the more hard-edged, intense Prime Suspect. [citation needed], Gascoine suffered from clinical depression for most of her life, which she believed stemmed from her unhappy time in a boarding school as a child. She appeared topless in the British sex-farce feature film Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975), before achieving her television breakthrough as Letty Gaunt in The Onedin Line (1976–79). She had a part in the British sex-comedy Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975) and then had a recurring role playing Letty Gaunt in the BBC period drama The Onedin Line (1976–1979). Gascoine also worked alongside Tony Award winning Victor Spinetti in intimate revue in the Irving Theatre in London. In the 1990s, Gascoine began a career as a novelist. Her success in the series led to a second career on the stage, and in 1982 she was booked to play Prince Charming in the pantomime Cinderella at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

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