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Eleanor Bron (born 14 March 1938) is a Britishmarker stage, film and television actress and author.

Early life & family

Bron was born in Stanmoremarker, Londonmarker of Eastern European Jewish descent; her father shortened the surname to "Bron" from "Bronstein" when founding Bron's Orchestral Service. She was educated at the North London Collegiate Schoolmarker and Newnham College, Cambridgemarker.

Bron was married to the architect Cedric Price until his death in 2003. They had no children. Her brother is the veteran record producer Gerry Bron.


Early work

Bron began her career in the Cambridge Footlights revue of 1959, entitled The Last Laugh, in which Peter Cook also appeared. The addition of a female performer to the Footlights was a departure, having been until that point all-male, with female characters portrayed in drag. As with many others of the British satire boom, participation in the Footlights was a springboard to a long career in British comedy as both a writer and performer.

Film appearances

Her film appearances include the role of Ahme in the Beatles film, Help!, the doctor who grounds the Lothario played by Michael Caine in Alfie, the unattainable Margaret Spencer in Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's film Bedazzled, and Hermione Roddice in Ken Russell's Women in Love. She appears in the film Two for the Road alongside Albert Finney, Audrey Hepburn and William Daniels. More recently she has appeared in the film adaptations of A Little Princess, The House of Mirth, Black Beauty and in Wimbledon.

Television work

Eleanor Bron's earliest work for television included appearances on Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life and in particular BBC-3, where she performed in sketches with John Fortune; they had already worked together at Peter Cook's Establishment Clubmarker. Later, her work included such programmes as Where Was Spring? and My Father Knew Lloyd George.

She collaborated with novelist and playwright Michael Frayn on the BBC programmes Beyond a Joke (1972) and Making Faces (1975).

She appeared in a 1982 episode ("Equal Opportunities") of the BBC series Yes Minister, playing a senior civil servant in Jim Hacker's Department. Hacker plans to promote her to strike a blow for equal opportunities.

Bron appeared in a brief scene in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who serial City of Death alongside John Cleese as art critics in Denise Rene's art gallery in Parismarker. The pair are admiring the TARDIS, thinking it to be a piece of art, when the Doctor (Tom Baker), Romana (Lalla Ward) and Duggan (Tom Chadbon) rush into it and it dematerialises. Bron's character, believing this to be part of the work, states that it is "Exquisite, absolutely exquisite!"

She also appeared as an art critic in a parody of an Andy Warhol documentary on the BBC sketch comedy show French and Saunders.

Later, she had a more substantial guest role in another Doctor Who television serial, 1985's Revelation of the Daleks. She has more recently also appeared in an audio drama based on Doctor Who by Big Finish Productions, (Loups-Garoux), in which she plays the part of wealthy heiress Ileana de Santos.

She plays, through flashback, the recurring character of Patsy's mother in the sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous, an exuberantly horrible woman who "scattered bastard babies across Europe like a garden sprinkler". After giving birth, she would always say "Now take it away! And bring me another lover."

Stage appearances

In 1975 she appeared in the West Endmarker musical The Card. Throughout the 1980s she appeared in Amnesty International's Secret Policeman's Balls live benefit shows, working alongside Peter Cook and Rowan Atkinson. In 2005 she appeared in the Liverpool Empire Theatremarker in the musical play Twopence To Cross The Mersey. She appeared in the role of an abbess in Howard Brenton's play In Extremis, staged in Shakespeare's Globemarker in 2007. She has also recently appeared in the dramatized version of Pedro Almodovar's film All About My Mother which opened at the Old Vicmarker theatre in the late summer of 2007.

Bron also gave the premiere performance of The Yellow Cake Revue, a series of pieces for voice and piano written by Peter Maxwell Davies in protest against uranium mining in the Orkney Islandsmarker.

Recent work

In 1985, Bron was selected for her authoritative tone to become "the voice of BT" and to this day can be heard on various error messages such as "Please hang up and try again".

In 2001 and 2002 she has appeared in the BBC radio comedy sketch show, The Right Time, along with Graeme Garden, Paula Wilcox, Clive Swift, Roger Blake and Neil Innes. Another notable radio appearance was in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the 2002 episode "The Madness of Colonel Warburton". In 2006 she narrated the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the Craig Brown book 1966 and All That.

Other work includes a recorded tour of Sir John Soane's Museummarker in London, England.

As a writer

She is the author of several books, including Life and Other Punctures, an account of bicycling in France and Holland on an early Moulton bicycle; and The Pillow Book of Eleanor Bron.

Cultural influences

She is often credited as an inspiration for the name of the Beatles song "Eleanor Rigby". She is mentioned in the Yo La Tengo song "Tom Courtenay", in the line "dreaming 'bout Eleanor Bron, in my room with the curtains drawn...".


  1. International Who's Who 2007
  2. Interview with Gerry Bron
  3. Website: Sir John Soane's Museum: Audio Tours

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