Elspet Gray


Elspet Jeans Gray, Baroness Rix (née Gray; 12 April 1929 – 18 February 2013) was a Scottish actress, who became well known for her partnership with her husband, Lord Rix, and was later familiar to British television audiences for various roles in the 1970s and 1980s. She was best-recognised as Mrs. Palmer, in the British TV comedy Solo, alongside Felicity Kendal, and as Lady Collingford in the British TV series Catweazle.

Gray appeared in many television programmes, her first appearance being in Love in Waiting in 1948. She had several roles in the 1970s including parts in Fawlty Towers, as the wife of a psychiatrist baffled by Basil's behaviour, The Crezz, Catweazle, and in the 1980s with Doctor Who story Arc of Infinity and the World War Two drama Tenko. She appeared as the Queen in the BBC sitcom The Black Adder (1983), with Rowan Atkinson as her son in the title role, and as Mrs Palmer in Solo (1981–82), another comedy, this time with Felicity Kendal in the lead as her daughter.

She remained active until the late 1990s, appearing in Agatha Christie's Poirot, the films The Girl in a Swing (1988) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), and as Hilary in the British TV comedy Dinnerladies.

In 1949 Gray married actor and later Mencap chairman and president Brian Rix, who became a life peer in 1992. They had four children - two sons and two daughters. Their eldest child, daughter Shelley Elspet (b 1951),had Down's syndrome and died in July 2005 in Hounslow, Middlesex, aged 53.

Their other daughter Louisa (b 1955) is an actress. Eldest son Jamie (b 1959) is a children's author who has produced television programmes such as My Hero. They had one other son, Jonathan (b 1960).

Lady Rix served on the Council of the Actors' Charitable Trust for many years, particularly giving her time to the management committee of the actors' care home, Denville Hall.

Elspet Gray, Lady Rix, died in hospital on 18 February 2013, aged 83.

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