Doreen Mantle, who has died aged 97, discovered fame in her 60s as Mrs Warboys, the hapless, naive greatest good friend of Margaret, the grumpy Victor Meldrew’s longsuffering spouse, within the sitcom One Foot within the Grave. The much-loved programme, created by David Renwick, starred Richard Wilson as Victor and Annette Crosbie as Margaret, and ran for six sequence between 1990 and 2000.
The character of Mrs Warboys was initially devised for a narrative within the first episode, by which Renwick wanted a guinea pig for the forcibly retired Victor when, on the lookout for methods to fill his time, he exams his magican’s rusting guillotine, recovered from the attic after 12 years. Feeling that the scene wouldn’t be as humorous with Margaret struggling the humiliation, Renwick substituted her good friend. “I need to get out – I really feel extraordinarily dizzy,” Mrs Warboys says, mendacity flat on her entrance, shortly earlier than the blade falls and he or she survives the ordeal.
Renwick famous in his journal that “a moderately conservative-looking” Mantle gave a “weighty, truthful studying” in her audition, including that she was “amusing in a subtler approach than I’d envisaged, like a cultured model of Doris Hare”.
Mantle turned the perennial sufferer, alongside Crosbie and Wilson, whose character’s fixed irritation with the world round him was embodied in his catchphrase: “I don’t consider it!”
Of Mrs Warboys, Mantle advised the creator Richard Webber: “She all the time wished to assist and meant nicely on a regular basis. It’s simply that she was tactless and never very vivid, though sometimes she’d have these unusual streaks of information, just like the time she knew all of the solutions whereas enjoying Trivial Pursuit.” Mrs Warboys beating Victor at board video games was a operating joke within the present.
Mantle’s newfound fame led to appearances in exhibits akin to a Weakest Hyperlink sitcom particular in 2002. Requested by the host, Anne Robinson, for her most memorable second, she replied, deadpan, as within the mode of her character: “I used to be rolled down a hill and mounted by a canine.” The studio viewers roared with laughter.
Doreen was born in Johannesburg, to English mother and father, Hilda (nee Greenberg) and Bernard Mantle, who ran a resort. When she was six weeks outdated, the household moved to Britain, returning to South Africa 4 years later, in 1930, shortly after the beginning of her brother, Alan.
Whereas taking a social research diploma on the College of Witwatersrand, she acted with its dramatic society and appeared on the South African novice stage and radio, earlier than turning into a social employee. On a go to to London in 1949, she carried out on the Gateway theatre.
Again in South Africa, she married Joshua Smith in 1951 and, not eager to carry up a household below the apartheid regime, the couple settled in Britain. “I wished to see new locations, to get away from parochial views and to alter the world,” Mantle stated; she had met Nelson Mandela when he was a younger lawyer. She turned a volunteer with a authorized support organisation: “I actually wished to make a distinction and cease injustice.”
She acted at Colchester repertory theatre (1954) earlier than taking a break from the stage after the beginning of her first son. Shortly after her return, she had a small position as a marriage visitor on the Aldwych theatre in a 1967 Royal Shakespeare Firm manufacturing of Jules Feiffer’s play Little Murders.
After a lean spell throughout which she labored as a London vacationer information, Mantle’s profession was kickstarted by William Trevor’s play Going House on the King’s Head theatre membership, Islington, in 1972. The Stage praised her “uncannily truthful” efficiency as a college’s repressed under-matron expressing a want to look after an insolent boy she is accompanying on a railway journey. The London Night Normal critic Nicholas de Jongh described it as “essentially the most shattering efficiency to be seen in London”.
Mantle continued enjoying ladies consumed by loneliness in different fringe performs written by Trevor, A Evening With Mrs da Tanka (King’s Head, 1972) and The forty seventh Saturday (Open Area theatre, 1973). She additionally starred in Miss Fanshaw’s Story, a 1973 TV model of Going House.
Later, her portrayal of Linda, the dignified spouse of the title character (Warren Mitchell), in a revival of the Arthur Miller play Loss of life of a Salesman on the Nationwide Theatre (1979-80) gained Mantle an Olivier award as greatest supporting actress.
Shortly afterwards, she starred as Helene Hanff, alongside Ronnie Stevens as Frank Doel, within the suitably charming West Finish manufacturing of 84 Charing Cross Highway (Ambassadors theatre, 1982-83).
By then, tv casting administrators had noticed her abilities as a personality actor and saved her busy on display screen for greater than 40 years. A lot of her elements had been one-offs, however she had a brief run as Mrs Catchpole within the first sequence of The Duchess of Duke Road (1976) and performed Karl Marx’s spouse within the first two elements of the Eleanor Marx trilogy (1977) and Rita Sterne, mom of the detective (Ivan Kaye) in Sam Saturday (1992).
She additionally appeared as Queenie, the college crossing attendant, within the first two sequence (2006 and 2008) of the sitcom Jam & Jerusalem, written by Jennifer Saunders. Then got here a stint in Coronation Road (2010-11) enjoying Pleasure Fishwick, mom of Colin, a instructor who died and was buried beneath the Underworld manufacturing unit after John Stape stole his id. She got here on the lookout for her son, solely to finish up dying at Stape’s arms herself.
Mantle’s later stage roles included Florence Boothroyd, grandmother of the daydreaming undertaker’s assistant (Ralf Little), in a 2004 tour of Billy Liar and Mrs Voysey reverse Julian Glover in The Voysey Inheritance on the Nationwide Theatre in 2006.
Her marriage led to divorce. She is survived by her two sons, Quentin and Nicholas, and her brother.