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Elizabeth Spriggs (18 September 1929 – 2 July 2008) was an Olivier Award-winning and BAFTA Award-nominated Englishmarker character actress.

Career

Born in Buxtonmarker as Elizabeth Jean Williams, Spriggs' longest role on British television was as Nan on Shine on Harvey Moon. She also appeared in Doctor Who and in the BBC dramatisations of Our Mutual Friend and Martin Chuzzlewit, both by Charles Dickens, and George Eliot'sMiddlemarch. In children's television she appeared as the title witch in the BBC's Simon and the Witch (1987). She made frequent appearances as a supporting player in British television drama and comedy series.

Spriggs also made two appearances on the long running murder mystery series, Midsomer Murders, appearing in the pilot episode (Killings At Badgers Drift) as Iris Rainbird in 1997 and then again as the identical twin sister (Ursula Gooding) of the latter character in the ninth series in 2005. Spriggs' appearances on Midsomer have been with Richard Cant who played her son both times.

A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and RSC Associate Artiste, from 1962 to 1976 she played many important Shakespearean roles, including The Nurse and Beatrice. In Hamlet, directed by Peter Hall in Stratford and in London, she played Gertrude opposite David Warner as Hamlet and Brewster Mason as Claudius. She also interpreted Paulina, Calpurnia and Mistress Quickly for the RSC. Her work at the RSC was followed by a playing Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit in the opening season of the new National Theatremarker on London's South Bankmarker. Spriggs was the recipient of the 1978 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Love Letters on Blue Paper by Arnold Wesker.

On film, she played The Fat Lady in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001), and in the sequel. and Mrs Jennings in Emma Thompson's 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Based on her performance in this film, which also starred Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman, she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role but lost out to co-star Kate Winslet. An early film role was as Mrs. Murray, the PVC-clad personnel manager in the 1968 Peter Hall film Work Is a Four-Letter Word, opposite Cilla Black and David Warner, and based on the play Eh! by Henry Livings. She also played The Duchess in Alice in Wonderland.

One of her last performances was as Miss Doggett in a BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Barbara Pym's Jane and Prudence.

References

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