Diana Coupland

Betty Diana Coupland (5 March 1928[1]– 10 November 2006), billed as Diana Coupland, was an English actress and singer, best remembered for her role as Jean Abbott in the sitcom Bless This House, which she played from 1971 to 1976.

Diana Coupland
Coupland c. 1973
Betty Diana Coupland

(1928-03-05)5 March 1928
Died10 November 2006(2006-11-10) (aged 78)
Coventry, England
Years active1953–2006
Spouse(s)Monty Norman
Marc Miller (1980–2006) (her death)

Early life

Coupland was born in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1928, the only child of Elsie (née Beck) and Denis Coupland. She originally wanted to be a ballet dancer but could not fulfil this ambition, owing to a horse-riding accident. Her music career began when she was 11; Barney Colehan, a BBC producer, heard her sing and invited her onto one of his radio shows.[2] By the time she reached the age of 14, she was singing full-time at the Mecca Locarno in Leeds, and the following year, moved to London with her parents, where she became a resident singer at Mecca's Tottenham Court Road ballroom. Coupland became a leading singer of the 1940s and 1950s, working at the Dorchester Hotel and the Savoy Hotel. She also dubbed the singing voices of actresses who could not sing, including Lana Turner in Betrayed, and, most famously, was heard performing the song "Under the Mango Tree" in the first James Bond film Dr. No. She gave up professional singing in the 1960s.

Acting career

Coupland serenades the opening scene of the film Flannelfoot (1953) in which she starred as a nightclub singer. In 1959, she was unexpectedly cast by Joan Littlewood as Sally in the Theatre Workshop musical Make Me An Offer, and soon appeared in a number of West End shows including Gigi and Not Now, Darling.[2]

She made her television debut in a 1961 episode of Emergency – Ward 10. Her other early roles were in Dixon of Dock Green, The Wednesday Play, Softly, Softly and Z-Cars. After playing a mother in Please Sir! and the Siberian wife in Mel Brooks's film The Twelve Chairs (1970), she was cast as Jean Abbott, the long-suffering wife of Sid James's character, in Bless This House, which began its run in February 1971. She reprised the role in the 1972 feature film, and continued in the role until James died in 1976. She appeared in several other films, including The Millionairess (1960), The Family Way (1966), Charlie Bubbles (1967), Spring and Port Wine (1970), The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970), The Best Pair of Legs in the Business (1972) and Operation Daybreak (1975).

During the late 1970s and 1980s, Coupland appeared in Wilde Alliance, Triangle, Dickens of London and Juliet Bravo. Her casting in Triangle occurred after the death of the actor originally due to play the owner of the shipping line. She had been on the set with her husband, a director on the programme, and was offered the part. She appeared in an episode of One Foot in the Grave in 1992, and in 2000 had a six-week role as Maureen Carter in EastEnders. Following this, Coupland appeared in Doctors, Casualty and in 2005 Rose and Maloney, her final television appearance.

Personal life

Coupland married twice. She and her first husband, composer Monty Norman, divorced after 20 years of marriage, having had one daughter.[3] In 2001, she gave evidence in a High Court case after her former husband sued The Sunday Times following a 1997 article suggesting that Norman had falsely taken credit and royalties for the James Bond theme music, which was claimed actually to have been written by John Barry. Coupland described the article as "blatantly untrue"; Norman was awarded £30,000.[4]

She married Marc Miller, a producer, in 1980. Coupland, who was a patron of National Lupus UK, died at the University Hospital in Coventry in 2006, aged 78, after failing to recover following an operation to resolve long-term heart problems.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1953FlannelfootThe Singer
1960The MillionairessNurse
1966The Family WayMrs. Ross
1968Charlie BubblesMaud
1970Spring and Port WineDaisy Crompton
1970The Twelve ChairsMadam Bruns
1970The Rise and Rise of Michael RimmerMrs. Spimm
1972Bless This HouseJean Abbot
1973The Best Pair of Legs in the BusinessMary Sheridan
1975Operation DaybreakAunt Marie
2001Another LifeMrs. Lester


  1. "FreeBMD Entry Info". Freebmd.org.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  2. "Diana Coupland". Telegraph. London. 11 November 2006.
  3. "Diana Coupland". The Times. London. 13 November 2006.
  4. "Diana Coupland". Telegraph. London. 11 November 2006.
  5. "Actress Diana Coupland dies at 74". BBC News. BBC. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
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