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Yvonne Gilan (born 1930) is an English actress who is best remembered for her portrayal of Mrs. Peignoir in Fawlty Towers

In 1964 she wrote a short fantasy film The Peaches, starring Juliet Harmer, with a small cameo role for her son, Adrian as a bespectacled chess player. The film became the British choice for the Cannes Film Festivalmarker, and won several international awards.

Her Fawlty Towers appearance in "The Wedding Party", first transmitted on 3 October 1975, was as a French Antique Dealer who seems to have a soft spot for Basil Fawlty. She had an unusual take on his character: "Are you a romantic, Mr. Fawlty ? ... Well, I think you are. I think beneath that English exterior throbs a passion that would make Lord Byron look like a tobacconist."

Her comic skills were displayed earlier in Alan Bennett's comedy series On the Margin (1966). Gilan's acting career has also included roles in Z Cars (1967) as Vera Cowley, Dixon of Dock Green (1969), Crossroads (1976) as Eileen Blythe, a few episodes of Dr. Finlay's Casebook (1963-69) in several roles and The House of Elliot as Ruth Bannister. Her film credits include Agatha (1979) as Mrs. Braithwaite, Chariots of Fire (1981) as Mrs. Liddell, and Empire of the Sun (1987) as Mrs. Lockwood.

Since 1980 she has worked as a motivational speaker at the Oxford Said Business Schoolmarker, helping leaders improve their presentation and communication skills, and lectures at the Imperial College of London. Gilan was consulted on picking the right voice for 118 118 directory enquiry service,

In May 2009 G.O.L.D. screened Fawlty Towers: Re-Opened, a show that brought the original Fawlty Towers cast back together for the first time since Torquay's most notorious hotel closed. In the show, Gilan was interviewed and suggested that her French accent sounded more like a Hungarian accent to her now.

Personal life

At Edinburgh University Gilan met Michael Gill, later to have career as a the television director and producer; they married in 1951 and had two sons, Adrian and Nicholas, but their marriage was dissolved in 1978. Her younger son Nicholas (Nick), a talented chef unaccountably disappeared in 1998, they have not heard from him since. “He was an incredibly successful Michelin-starred chef, but he had reached rock bottom".


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