Anita Carey

Anita Carey
Anita Carey

Anita Carey was born in 1948 in Halifax.   She featured as ‘Joyce Smedley’ in “Coronation Street” and as ‘Violet’ in “Doctors”.   Her films include “Ordeal By Innocence”.

Anita Carey died in 2023.

Guardian obituary in August 2023:

Anita Carey obituary

Actor known for her roles in television comedies, the epic drama The Spoils of War and Coronation Street

Anthony HaywardSun 6 Aug 2023 17.35 BST

At one time in the mid-1970s, the actor Anita Carey, who has died of breast cancer aged 75, seemed ever present in television comedy. But she switched to soap in 1978 when offered a short run in Coronation Street as Brenda Summers, a victim of domestic violence, who was befriended by Emily Bishop (played by Eileen Derbyshire).

“I’ve done so much comedy on television that I was anxious to get a really meaty dramatic role,” said Carey, who researched the subject by talking to women at a Manchester refuge. “The social relevance of the part was a big challenge. It made me think hard about battered wives.”

She was back in Coronation Street two decades later to play a woman with very different problems. As Joyce Smedley, the debt-laden mother of Judy Mallett (Gaynor Faye) for a year from 1996 to 1997, she was a cleaner at the Rovers Return pub and Sunliners travel agency – sacked from the second job by her boss, Alec Gilroy, after stealing money.

Eileen Derbyshire (as Emily Bishop), left, and Anita Carey (as Brenda Summers) in Coronation Street, 1978.
Eileen Derbyshire (as Emily Bishop), left, and Anita Carey (as Brenda Summers) in Coronation Street, 1978. Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock

Joyce met an untimely end when her dog, Scamper, slipped his lead and she was knocked down by a car while rushing across the road after him. Carey was one of the victims of a headline-hitting cast cull by a new Coronation Street producer, Brian Park.

Her talent for comedy had previously shone in the first two series (1973 and 1974) of I Didn’t Know You Cared. As Pat Partington, she was the girlfriend, then wife, of Carter Brandon (Stephen Rea) in Peter Tinniswood’s sitcom about a dour, miserable north of England working-class family. Pat, a women’s libber firmly against parenthood underwent an about-turn that saw her with one baby and another on the way before Carey left halfway through the programme’s four-series run.

“I opted out after a while because I couldn’t develop the character,” she explained. “Now, I want to concentrate on heavy dramatic parts.”

In The Spoils of War (1980-81), an epic drama from the pen of the Family at War creator John Finch, she played Martha Blaze, marrying into one of the two families facing the hopes and fears of the post-1945 world. “Anita Carey lit up all the scenes in which she appeared with her customary sharpness and intelligence,” wrote the Stage’s critic.

Anita Carey, Richard Griffiths, centre, and Tim Healy in the ITV comedy A Kind of Living, 1989.
Anita Carey, Richard Griffiths, centre, and Tim Healy in the ITV comedy A Kind of Living, 1989.Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock

The drama became political in ITV’s 1986 adaptation of Jeffrey Archer’s novel First Among Equals. Carey played Joyce Gould, devoted wife of the northern Labour MP Raymond (Tom Wilkinson), who feels mildly ashamed of her after leaving his working-class roots behind as he aspires to top office.

She returned to sitcom in the third series (1990) of A Kind of Living as Linda, an unmarried mother moving in with her brother Brian (Tim Healy), owner of a fish and chip shop, and falling for his friend Trevor (Richard Griffiths).

Later, she was in soap again as Vivien March (2007-09), receptionist at the Mill Health Centre, for almost 400 episodes of the afternoon serial Doctors. Her portrayal of Vivien coping with the ordeal of being raped by a burglar brought the actor a British Soap award for best dramatic performance.

Anita was born in Halifax, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, to Sidney Carey, a postal worker, and Louisa Crowther. She was brought up in Brighouse and, on leaving Holmfirth secondary modern school at 14, worked as a typist for a carpet firm. At the same time, she took drama classes at the Bradford Playhouse.

Aged 19, Carey and her then fiance, Steve Hodson – who went on to star in the children’s TV series Follyfoot – successfully auditioned to train at Central School of Speech and Drama in London (1967-70). She gained her first professional experience with the rep company at the Lyceum theatre, Crewe (1970-71). Then, in 1973, a tour of Butley – in which she played Miss Heasman – visited the Crucible theatre, Sheffield, where she met the actor Mark Wing-Davey, a member of the rep company there.

The two began living together the following year after they both took part in a Crucible production of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Alongside appearances in the provinces and on tour with roles including Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest (1975) and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1998), Carey was in the West End as Alice Hobson in Hobson’s Choice (Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 1982).

She established herself in television comedy by playing Susan Chambers, whose sister Thelma (Brigit Forsyth) marries Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes), in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (1973-74).

Then came appearances in One-Upmanship (1974-76), a sketch show based on Stephen Potter’s spoof self-help books, and in the second and third series (1975 and 1977) of the comedy-drama Beryl’s Lot, playing Babs Humphries, one of the children of the cleaner (Carmel McSharry) looking to improve her life by signing up for an evening course in philosophy.

Carey took dozens of other character roles on television until moving to New York after Wing-Davey – by then a successful director in the US – became chair of the graduate acting programme at New York University in 2008.

Even after her cancer diagnosis two years later, she continued to act on stage in Berkeley, Washington and New York.

She is survived by Wing-Davey, whom she married in 2002, and their daughters, Zanna and Isabella.

 Anita Eileen Carey, actor, born 16 April 1948; died 19 July 2023

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