Penny Cook

Penelope Cook[1] (13 July 1957 – 26 December 2018) was an Australian actress, stage director, TV presenter and writer. She played roles in the soap opera A Country Practice, as Vicki Dean Bowen, E Street as Dr Elly Fielding and Neighbours in the recurring role of Prue Brown and was a presenter on travel show The Great Outdoors[2][3]

Penny Cook
Penelope Cook

(1957-07-13)13 July 1957
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died26 December 2018(2018-12-26) (aged 61)
  • actress
  • television presenter
  • stage director
  • writer
Years active1979−2018
Known forA Country Practice (1981–1985)
E Street (1989–1991)
The Great Outdoors (1992–1996)
Neighbours (2007–08, 2010)
All Saints (2007–2008)
Pulse (2017)
Spouse(s)David Lynch
Clive Robertson (divorced)

Early life

Cook was born in Melbourne, and grew up in Woollahra, Sydney. Her mother was a physiotherapist and her father served in the Royal Australian Navy, based at Garden Island Naval Precinct. After completing high school, Cook auditioned for the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) but failed to gain a place. Instead, her mother helped her get a radiography traineeship at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. A year later, Cook auditioned for NIDA again and was successful.[3] She graduated in 1978.[4]



Cook made her debut on television in 1979 as Susie Denning in soap opera The Restless Years.[4] Her most well-known role was as veterinarian Vicky Dean Bowen in the drama series A Country Practice from 1981 to 1985, a role for which she won Logie Awards in 1984 and 1985. Her relationship and wedding in A Country Practice to Dr Simon Bowen, played by Grant Dodwell, became one of the highest rated and most popular storylines of that series.[5] She also played the original Dr Elly Fielding in the Ten Network soap E Street from 1989 to 1991, before being replaced in that role by actress Diane Craig.[6]

From 1992 to 1996 Cook was a presenter on the Australian travel show The Great Outdoors. She appeared in the police drama Young Lions in 2002.[7] From June 2007 until late 2010, she joined the cast of Australian soap opera Neighbours in the recurring role of Prue Brown, mother of Frazer Yeats (Ben Lawson) and Ringo Brown (Sam Clark).[8][9] Cook also guest starred in episodes of All Saints in 2007 and 2008. In 2017, she played a supporting role in the ABC hospital drama Pulse.[10]


Cook had a long involvement in the theatre, both as an actress and director. She was involved in nearly 40 stage productions, including at the Ensemble Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Company, and helped establish the Griffin Theatre Company in 1979.[4][7] Her most notable stage appearances included the John BellRichard Tognetti production of The Soldier's Tale[11] with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Australian tour of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, directed in Sydney by English director Sir Peter Hall.[5]

She served on the board of Sydney's Monkey Baa Theatre and worked extensively with the Australian Theatre for Young People.[3][5]

Personal life and death

Cook was married twice; first to radio broadcaster and television personality Clive Robertson and subsequently to David Lynch. In 1998 they had a daughter, Poppy.[7]

Cook died from cancer on 26 December 2018, aged 61.[7][10]


  1. "Penelope Cook". Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  2. "A Country Practice actor Penny Cook dies aged 61". ABC News. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  3. Taffel, Jacqui (6 September 2017). "Acting still a passion for Penny Cook". The Daily Telegraph. News Pty Ltd. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  4. "A Country Practice star Penny Cook dies". Blue Mountains Gazette. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  5. Idato, Michael (27 December 2018). "The Cook's tale: Australian TV legend dead at age 61". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  6. "Elly Fielding played by Penny Cook". Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  7. Australian Associated Press (27 December 2018). "Penny Cook, A Country Practice star, dies aged 61". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  8. The Sunday Telegraph (18 March 2007). "Ramsay Street's ratings slump". Archived from the original on 18 October 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  9. Knox, David (15 April 2008). "Soapie mums play 'monsters-in-law'". TV Tonight. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  10. Noyes, Jenny (27 December 2018). "Australian actor Penny Cook dead at 61". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  11. "Putting a sting in the devil's tale". The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 September 2002. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
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