Jane Freeman (actress)

Shirley Ann Pithers (12 June 1935 9 March 2017),[1] better known as Jane Freeman, was an English-born Welsh actress who was best known for her work on British television, mostly for her role as Ivy in Last of the Summer Wine.

Jane Freeman
BornShirley Ann Pithers
12 June 1935
Died9 March 2017 (aged 81)
Years active1962–2010
Spouse(s)Michael Simpson (19712007, his death)

Early years

Freeman was born in Brentford, Middlesex, in 1935, the daughter of railway engineer Arthur Pithers and his wife, Joan Dewhurst Pithers.[2] She was raised in Merthyr Tydfil following the death of her father in an accident when she was 9 years old and her mother's subsequent remarriage[1] to Russell Evans. For a time, she used his surname and was known as Jane Evans.[2] She graduated from the City Cardiff College of Music and Drama[3] in 1955.


After a stay in London, Freeman joined the Osiris Repertory Theatre touring company, based in Gloucestershire. She joined the Arena Theatre, Sutton Coldfield in 1958, followed by Birmingham Rep from 1968. Her stage appearances include Margaret More in the Welsh Theatre Company's first production, A Man for All Seasons, at Cardiff's New Theatre in 1962.[1]

Freeman appeared on television in Diary Of a Young Man(1964), Crossroads (1964), Touch And Go (1978), as Hannah (1980). Her film credits included Ghost In The Water (1982), Scrubbers (1982) and Silas Marner (1986). She was best known for her role as the abrasive but ultimately kind-hearted café owner Ivy, one of the main characters in the long-running British TV comedy Last of the Summer Wine. She was one of only 2 actors to appear in all series of the show, from 1973 until 2010 (the other being Peter Sallis, who played Norman Clegg): however, unlike Sallis, Freeman did not appear in all of the episodes.

Personal life

In 1971, Freeman married Michael Simpson, whom she met when he became artistic director of the Birmingham Rep while she was a member of that group.[3]


Freeman died on 9 March 2017 at the age of 81 from lung cancer.[3] Her age was often incorrectly reported as being 96 at the time of her death, but official birth records prove that she was born in 1935.[4]



1964Diary of a Young ManNurse
1964CrossroadsEmily Burrell
1972The Fishing Party (Play for Today)Audrey
1973 to 2010Last of the Summer WineIvy
1973Play for TodayHousing Official
1973Trinity TalesCashier
1973Play for TodayHousing Official
1975Within These WallsMadge Boyle
1975Play for TodayMartha Paisley
1976Within These WallsEthel Cumberpatch
1978Play for TodayMrs. Scully
1978Touch and GoMrs. Meighan
1979Prince RegentLady de Clifford
1980HannahLilla Spencer-Smith
1980ITV PlayhouseMrs. Allen
1981BBC2 PlayhouseAunt Anna
1983The Hard WordLabour candidate
1983The Black AdderMrs Applebottom
1984LettyFlorence Jones


1979All Day on the SandsMrs. Cattley
1980Dark WaterManagers's Wife
1982Ghost in the WaterMrs. Willets
1985Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe Mrs. Kimble

See also


  1. Quinn, Michael (12 April 2017). "Obituary: Jane Freeman". Archived from the original on 12 April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  2. Lewsen, Charles (17 April 2017). "Jane Freeman obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  3. Hayward, Anthony (24 April 2017). "Obituary - Jane Freeman, actress who played café owner in Last of the Summer Wine". The Herald. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  4. Witherow, John, ed. (14 April 2017). "Jane Freeman". The Times (72197). p. 58. ISSN 0140-0460.

Jane Freeman at Find a Grave

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