Margaret Tyzack

Margaret Maud Tyzack CBE (9 September 1931  25 June 2011[2]) was an English actress. Her television roles included The Forsyte Saga (1967) and I, Claudius (1976). She won the 1970 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for the BBC serial The First Churchills, and the 1990 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Lettice and Lovage, opposite Maggie Smith. She also won two Olivier Awards. Her film appearances included 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Prick Up Your Ears (1987) and Match Point (2005).

Margaret Maud Tyzack

Tyzack in the trailer for A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Margaret Maud Tyzack

(1931-09-09)9 September 1931[1]
West Ham, Essex, England
Died25 June 2011(2011-06-25) (aged 79)
Alma materSt Angela's Ursuline School
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1956–2011
Alan Stephenson (m. 1958)

Early life

Tyzack was born in Essex, England, the daughter of Doris (née Moseley) and Thomas Edward Tyzack.[1][2] She grew up in West Ham (now Greater London). She attended the all-girls' St Angela's Ursuline School, Newham, and was a graduate of RADA.


Tyzack was noted for her classical stage roles, having joined the Royal Shakespeare Company to play Vassilissa in Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths in 1962, and had major roles in their 1972 Roman Season as Volumnia in Coriolanus, Portia in Julius Caesar and Tamora in Titus Andronicus. She appeared in another Gorky play, as Maria Lvovna in Summerfolk RSC 1974. In 1977 she joined the acting company of the Stratford Festival in Canada, where she played Mrs Alving in Ibsen's Ghosts, Queen Margaret in Richard III and the Countess of Roussillon in All's Well That Ends Well.[3] In a feature of Stratford's 1977 season, New York Times writer Richard Eder noted "One of the main excitements was the discovery of Margaret Tyzack [...] her work here has been a revelation".[4] Tyzack had been engaged on short notice by the Festival when Canadian actress Kate Reid dropped out, which initially spurred some protests from Canadian nationalists. Theatre critic Robert Cushman later wrote that had the protests succeeded "Canadian audiences would have been deprived of three great performances", noting of her performance in Richard III: "there can never have been a better (Queen) Margaret".[5] She played the Countess role again for the Royal Shakespeare Company on Broadway in 1983.

She received an Olivier Award in 1982 for the National Theatre revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in which she played Martha, replacing Joan Plowright who was ill,[6] and a Tony award in 1990 for the play Lettice and Lovage, in which she appeared in both the London and Broadway productions opposite Dame Maggie Smith.[6] The American Actors' Equity initially refused permission for Tyzack to join the New York production, but Smith refused to appear without Tyzack because of the "onstage chemistry" she believed the two women had created in their roles.[7] In 1994, she played Sybil Birling in the Royal National Theatre production of An Inspector Calls. In 2008, she was acclaimed for her portrayal of Mrs St Maugham in a revival of Enid Bagnold's The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse, London, for which she won the Best Actress award in the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards[8] and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2009.[9] In 2009, she appeared alongside Helen Mirren in Phedre at the Royal National Theatre.

She appeared in two films directed by Stanley Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971).[10] Tyzack also appeared in Ring of Spies (1964), The Whisperers (1967), A Touch of Love (1969), The Legacy (1978), The Quatermass Conclusion (1979), Mr. Love (1985), Prick Up Your Ears (1987), The King's Whore (1990), Mrs Dalloway (1997), Bright Young Things (2003), and the Woody Allen films Match Point (2005) and Scoop (2006).[10]

However, it was as a television actress that Tyzack became a household name. She is remembered for her leading roles in BBC television productions. She came to notice as Winifred, Soames's sister, in the well received BBC adaptation of Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga in 1967,[10] a series shown internationally. Tyzack played Queen Anne in The First Churchills; Bette in Cousin Bette; and Antonia, mother of the Emperor Claudius, in I, Claudius. She also played Clotilde Bradbury-Scott in the BBC adaptation of the Agatha Christie story Nemesis in 1987 in Miss Marple.[11]

In the 1990s, she played a major role in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series as the young Indiana Jones' strict Oxford-educated tutor, Miss Helen Seymour. In the 2000s, she made two appearances in Midsomer Murders. In 2011, she joined the cast of soap opera EastEnders, playing Lydia Simmonds.[12] On 13 April 2011, it was announced that for personal reasons she had departed EastEnders and that her role had been recast to Heather Chasen as a result of the nature of the large storyline needing to continue.


Tyzack was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1970 Birthday Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours,[13] both for services to drama.

Personal life

Tyzack married mathematician Alan Stephenson in 1958 and together they had one son, Matthew.[1][14]

Tyzack died on 25 June 2011 after a short illness.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role
1958Behind the MaskNight Sister
Passport to ShameJune, Heath's secretary
1960Let's Get MarriedStaff Nurse
1961Highway to BattleHilda
1964Ring of SpiesElizabeth Gee
1967The WhisperersHospital Almoner
19682001: A Space OdysseyElena
1969A Touch of LoveSister Bennett
1971A Clockwork OrangeConspirator Rubinstein
1978The LegacyNurse Adams
1985Mr. LovePink Lady
1987Prick Up Your EarsMadame Lambert
1990The King's WhoreLa Comtesse douairière
1997Mrs DallowayLady Bruton
2003Bright Young ThingsLady Throbbing
2005Match PointMrs. Betty Eastby
The Thief LordHead Nun (uncredited)
2006ScoopSid's Co-Passengers
2011Mother's MilkEleanor Melrose (final film role)



  1. "Margaret Tyzack". The Daily Telegraph. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  2. Margaret Tyzack Biography (1931–2011)
  3. "Margaret Tyzack acting credits". Stratford Festival Archives. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  4. Eder, Richard (26 June 1977), "Canada's Stratford Festival Is Looking Pretty Good", The New York Times, retrieved 5 June 2019
  5. Robert Cushman, Stratford Festival of Canada. Fifty Seasons at Stratford. Madison Press Books. ISBN 1-895892-15-5
  6. Baker, Richard Anthony (28 June 2011). "Olivier and Tony award-winning actress Margaret Tyzack dies". The Stage. The Stage Newspaper Limited. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  7. Bruce Weber "Margaret Tyzack, Award-Winning Actress, Dies at 79", New York Times, 27 June 2011
  8. "Tennant's Shakespearean triumph". BBC News. BBC. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  9. Staff (8 March 2009). "Speeches: And the Laurence Olivier Winners Said". Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  10. Sperling, Daniel (27 June 2011). "'Forsyte Saga', 'EastEnders' star Margaret Tyzack dies, aged 79". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  11. Welch, Andy (28 June 2011). "Former EastEnder Margaret Tyzack dies aged 79". AOL. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  12. Humphreys, Matt (15 February 2011). "Janine's in for a shock... from Grandma". Eastenders. London: BBC Online. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  13. "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 8.
  14. Woddis, Carole (27 June 2011). "Margaret Tyzack obituary". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 3 July 2011.

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