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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Pat Coombs: Stalwart of comedy
Pat Coombs
Pat Coombs: A foil to many of the comic greats
Pat Coombs was a stalwart of British post-war comedy, enjoying a career which began in the early 1950s on Arthur Askey's radio show, Hello Playmates.

She was still working in February 2002 starring, with Roy Hudd and June Whitfield, on another radio show, Radio Four's Like They've Never Been Gone.

As Marge Green in EastEnders
Playing Marge Green in EastEnders
Tall and thin, she was often cast as dim-witted and shy spinsters, the perfect foil for many a leading man or woman. But this pidgeon-holing often belied her ability as a serious actress which was rarely allowed to flourish.

Fortunately, this situation was partly remedied with roles in television adaptations of Dickens' Bleak House and Dombey & Son.

Patricia Coombs was born in 1926 in Camberwell, south London. She worked initially as a kindergarten teacher but, after a number of conversations with her then next-door neighbour, Vivien Merchant - then wife of Harold Pinter - decided to move into acting.

She won a scholarship to the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), where her contemporaries included Diana Dors.

After graduating, Pat Coombs honed her comedic talents in repertory theatre before starting her long broadcasting career with Askey in the 1950s, playing the none-too-bright daughter of Irene Handl.

Pat Coombs with Dick Emery
She was a foil for comedians like Dick Emery
She was a familiar presence on radio throughout her career, enjoying roles in everything from Hancock's Half Hour, through The Men From The Ministry to The Ken Dodd Show.

But it was the plethora of classic television situation comedies in the 1960s and 70s which made her a nationally-known actress. Working opposite stars like Dick Emery, Peggy Mount and Terry Scott.

She also appeared in a number of films, including the truly dire On The Buses and, more pleasingly, in two Carry On movies, Carry On Doctor and Carry On Again, Doctor.

Pat Coombs with June Whitfield and Roy Hudd
BBC Radio Four's Like They've Never Been Gone.
"I shall always remember the joy of being a part of what has now become a legend", she said of Carry On in 1999, "and each of my brief appearances were made a delight by the others."

Among her many other appearances were cameos in 'Til Death Us Do Part, You're Only Young Twice and a regular spot on Noel's House Party.

More recently, Pat Coombs played the role of Marge Green on BBC's EastEnders.

After being diagnosed with osteoporosis she promoted the work on the National Osteoporosis Society in 1995, becoming a patron of the charity in 1998.

See also:

27 May 02 | Entertainment
24 Sep 99 | Medical notes
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