Queenie Ashton

Edith Muriel Cover (née Ashton)[1] AM (11 November 1903  21 October 1999), known professionally as Queenie Ashton, was an English-born character actress. She had a long career, beginning in her native England as a soprano, theatre performer and radio personality before emigrating to Australia where she became best known for her radio and television soap opera roles, although she did also feature briefly in films. Ashton's best known role was that of "Granny Bishop", a character many years her senior in the long-running Gwen Meredith radio serial Blue Hills, a role she would later reprise for television, with the first locally produced soap opera Autumn Affair.[2]

Queenie Ashton

Edith Muriel Ashton

(1903-11-11)November 11, 1903
DiedOctober 23, 1999(1999-10-23) (aged 95)
Other namesEdith Muriel Cover
OccupationActress, singer, dancer, radio personality
Years active1916-1993
Known forBlue Hills
  • Lionel Lawson (married 1931–1940)
  • Frederick John Cover (married 1946–1999)
AwardsMacquarie Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role


Edith Muriel Ashton was born in London, England on 11 November 1903. She was an accomplished ballet dancer, and specialist in voice production and drama, who started performing when she was fourteen. She appeared in musical comedy on the London stage (even appearing with playwright Noël Coward), and performed for Dame Nellie Melba in 1927 while travelling to Australia through the Suez Canal.[3]

In the 1930s she appeared in radio musical comedy opposite Dick Bentley. She played Budge's mother in "Budge's Gang", a segment of the ABC Children's Session (ca. 1941–45 and it was so popular it was made into a comic book). Most notably, she played the wife of Dr. Gordon[3] and the long-running role of Granny Bishop (a character many years her senior) in the radio serial Blue Hills, for the entire 27 years of the serial's run (1949–1976 – hers were the very first and last spoken parts). She also played this role on Australia's first television serial Autumn Affair. In 1957 she appeared in a one-off television play called Tomorrow's Child. Other television roles included Division 4, Certain Women (as "Dolly Lucas"), The Restless Years (as "Jessica Metcalf"), and Mother and Son. She was a semi-regular cast member of A Country Practice (as "Lillian Coote") and G.P. (as "Mrs Sculthorpe")[4] Film roles included Mama's Gone A-Hunting, opposite Judy Morris in 1977 and The Year My Voice Broke in 1987. She also appeared in many television commercials, most notably for Sara Lee. She was still performing in stage and cabaret plays and films in her nineties and was one of Australia's last great grand dames and one of the oldest entertainers still performing. She died on 23 October 1999, in the Sydney suburb of Carlingford, New South Wales at the age of 95, having had a successful 80-year career in the arts.

Personal life

In 1931 she married Lionel Lawson (who died in 1950), violinist and later leader of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; they had a daughter, nurse Janet Lawson, in 1933 and a son, Tony Lawson, in 1935.[5] They divorced in 1940[1] and six years later she married theatrical agent Frederick John Cover, managing director of Central Casting.[3]

Selected stage appearances


Year Title Role
1948Always Another DawnMolly Regan
1949The Farrer Story
1957Tomorrow's Child (TV movie)
1958Autumn Affair (TV series)Granny Bishop
1959Lady in Danger (TV movie)
1959Pardon Miss Westcott (TV movie)Lydia Patterson
1961Whiplash (TV series)Mrs. Culbert
1962–1964Consider Your Verdict (TV series)Adelaide Upton
1967My Name's McGooley, What's Yours? (TV series)Miss Fitchett
1967Hunter (TV series)Mrs. Parkhurst
1969Pastures of the Blue Crane (TV series)
1965–1970Homicide (TV series)4 roles:
-Dulcie Reynolds
-Mrs. Hamilton
-Miriam Pinkerson
-Emily Simpson
1971Matlock Police (TV series)Mrs. McIntyre
1972Crisis (TV movie)
1971–1972The Godfather's (TV series)Mrs. Frenchmen
1969–1973Division 4 (TV series)5 roles:
-Mother o'Connell
-Mrs. Wilde
-Mary Larkins
-Elixzabeth King
-Emily Harrison
1973Elephant Boy (TV series)Doreen Graham
1974The Evil Touch (TV series)Elspeth Pfeiffer
1976Solo One (TV series)Annie Robinson
1973–1976Certain Women (TV series)Dolly Lucas
1977Mama's Gone A-HuntingWoman in Restaurant
1977The Restless Years (TV series)Jessica Metcalf
1977Say You Want Me (TV movie)
1979Skyways (TV series)Mrs. Fow
1980Young Ramsay (TV series)Dolly Farrell
1980Cop Shop (TV series)2 Roles:
-Mrs. Roberts
-Betty Walton
1981The Love Boat (TV series)Mrs Selfkirk
1985Warming UpMrs. Marsh
1986Mother and Son (TV series)Elsie
1986Double Skull (TV movie)Pianist
1987Poor Man's OrangeMrs Casement
1987The Year My Voice BrokeMrs O'Neil
1988The Dirtwater Dynasty (miniseries)Patient
1988Rafferty's Rules' Mrs Coote
1982–1990A Country Practice (TV series)Mrs. Lillian Coote
1991The Miraculous Mellops (TV series)
1991–1992G.P. (TV series)Mrs Sulthorpe


Year Title Role
1949–1976Blue Hill (radio serial)Granny Bishop


In 1950 she won the Macquarie Network's award for "best performance by an actress in a supporting role" (in "Edward, My Son").[12]

In 1980, she was appointed by her stage name Queenie Ashton a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to the performing arts.[13]



  1. "Rift in Violinist's Lute". Truth (2638). New South Wales, Australia. 28 July 1940. p. 21. Retrieved 1 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "Women in Early Radio, Queenie Ashton, National Film and Sound Archive of Australia". Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  3. Crocker, Patti Radio Days (with foreword by Queenie Ashton), Simon and Schuster 1989 ISBN 0-7318-0098-2
  4. Lane, Richard The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Melbourne University Press 1994 ISBN 0-522-84556-8
  5. Sydney Morning Herald 1 October 1953
  6. Sydney Morning Herald 28 January 1927
  7. The Argus 26 January 1929
  8. Sydney Morning Herald 17 June 1929
  9. Sydney Morning Herald 2 February 1944
  10. Sydney Morning Herald 22 April 1951
  11. Sydney Morning Herald 30 June 1951
  12. The Argus 12 February 1951
  13. It's an Honour


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