Accomplished actress dies aged 81

By Farnham Herald in Community News

ACTRESS Polly Broadwood (nee Taylor) from Farnham has died aged 81, leaving behind an illustrious professional acting career including appearances in A Clockwork Orange, How I Won the War, Z Cars and countless parts on stage most notably in the West End.

Polly led a very interesting life. Born in 1935 in Hammersmith, to parents Ernest Taylor, a veteran of the First World War, and Kathleen Ansell, a librarian, Polly was evacuated to Wales during the war, having been shot at by a passing Messerschmitt and was later brought up by her mother and step-father Paul Schechner, a Czech refugee.

She attended Godolphin and Latymer school and attained a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, paving the way to her first acting roles at the Little Theatre in Bristol.

Starting with walk-on parts, soon enough she was playing leading roles and remembered the period as one of the happiest of her life.

In the early 1960s she appeared in a number of plays at the Royal Court and from 1964 to 1965, Polly was part of the National Theatre company at the Old Vic, touring Poland and Russia and going on as Beatrice for Maggie Smith in Franco Zaffirelli’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Turning her attention to the West End, Polly appeared opposite Robert Duval in The Admiration of Life by Patricia Broderick and Violet Carpenter in Roy Kendall’s Body and Soul. She also toured Europe as part of Charles Marowitz’s Open Space company.

In the UK she appeared regularly on tour and with repertory theatres, and counted among her favourite roles Doris in Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path at the Redgrave Theatre, Farnham in 1981. She also had a long association with the Bellerby Theatre, Guildford.

Adding to her already impressive repertoire she also acted in TV and film, playing WPc Parkin in the long-running police series Z Cars, Aunt Barking in the BBC children’s series Model Millie, and Ada Larkin in The Bill.

In the cult classic A Clockwork Orange, Polly played Dr Taylor the psychiatrist, directed by Stanley Kubrick, and Flo in How I Won The War, starring John Lennon.

Acting through these mediums wasn’t all though. Her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was published on cassette and subsequently sold out, and her radio work for LBC in London featured award-winning productions of Canterbury Tales.

Polly married the actor Mike Shannon with whom she had two children, Richard and Kate who survive her. Her second husband Stewart Broadwood - the last member of his family to be chairman of the world-renowned piano makers John Broadwood & Sons - died in October 2011, but together they had a very happy marriage for over 30 years.

Her later years were spent taking an active part in a Writers’ Circle, looking after her beloved cats, spending time with family and friends and writing an 800-page historical novel, set in England in the 1850s about a young female cartoonist.

She was also a life-long supporter of King Richard II, steadfastly believing in his innocence and qualities as a monarch. In 2015, she travelled to Leicester to see the tomb of the king after he had been discovered buried under a council car park.

Polly’s son Richard said in tribute at his mother’s funeral: “Polly had many valuable human qualities, an unfailing ability to find wonder in the world combined with a genuine innocence.

“She was vibrant, loving and a warm-hearted human being, who will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her.”

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