Eleanor Bron, the actress who inspired a Beatle, made a sensational appearance on Radio 4 soap The Archers tonight as Carol Tregorran.
Her character - famed among fans of the soap for dining at the hotel Grey Gables the night Grace Archer was killed in a fire in 1955 – returned in tonight’s episode to attend the funeral of on-air husband, John Tregorran. She will be a long-term fixture in the soap, according to sources.
Bron has been a successful actress for a number of decades, working with comedians and satirists including Jonathan Miller, David Frost, Dudley Moore, Jennifer Saunders and Rowan Atkinson.
She appeared in several of the iconic films of the 1960s and 70s including HELP! with The Beatles in 1965 when she is said to have inspired Paul McCartney to conjure the name Eleanor Rigby. She also appeared with Michael Caine in Alfie and with Glenda Jackson, Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Ken Russell’s Oscar-winning Women in Love.
For Doctor Who fans she is known for appearing in the Tom Baker story City of Death and returning to play the villain Kara in Revelation of the Daleks in the Colin Baker era.
She said of joining The Archers: “I was thrilled when my agent called. I have been around long enough that The Archers is part of my history. It is such a valuable part of the narrative of British life; partly because of the daily-ness of it and partly because of this broad set of characters that all have good sides and bad sides - and you see all of it, and it is so like-life.
“Playing Carol has been wonderful. I think she is possibly quite forceful and independent, even now in her 80s. Now she has returned to Ambridge she is able to be around friends, a particular older generation, people whom she’s known for a very, very long time – there’s something very wonderful when you can pick up those sorts of friendships and see them play out in a drama.”
The character of Carol Tregorran, a forthright and successful businesswoman originally played by Anne Cullen, first appeared in The Archers in 1954, and quickly became a favourite with listeners. Known to be the most stylish of The Archers female characters, she was thought to be a role model for women at the time and remained in the cast until 1980.
Sean O’Connor, the Editor of The Archers said: “We needed an extraordinary actress to play one of the most iconic characters in Archers mythology. We’re completely thrilled that Eleanor has taken on the role - and, already, she has fitted into Ambridge as if she has been here for thirty years. In the 1950s, Carol was a significant role model for young women and we hope she will continue to be so for older women today- an independent, spirited woman who embraces her later years on her own terms and without compromise.”