Upstairs, Downstairs actress Nicola Pagett dies at 75 after battling brain tumour

Upstairs, Downstairs star Nicola Pagett has died ‘suddenly’ at the age of 75 after battling a brain tumour.

The actress passed away on March 3 after ‘stoically dealing with her illness’, The Guardian reports.

Pagett, described as a ‘glacial, beautiful presence’ was best known for her role as Elizabeth Bellamy, the spoiled daughter of Richard and Lady Marjorie, in Upstairs, Downstairs in the 1970s.

The show was the winner of four Emmy Awards for outstanding drama/limited series.

Sad news: Upstairs, Downstairs star Nicola Pagett, (left) has died 'suddenly' at the age of 75 after battling a brain tumour (pictured in 2000)

Sad news: Upstairs, Downstairs star Nicola Pagett, (left) has died 'suddenly' at the age of 75 after battling a brain tumour (pictured in 2000)

Sad news: Upstairs, Downstairs star Nicola Pagett, (left) has died ‘suddenly’ at the age of 75 after battling a brain tumour (pictured in 2000) 

Iconic: Pagett, (left) was best known for her role as Elizabeth Bellamy, the spoiled daughter of Richard and Lady Marjorie, in the much-loved show (TV still from the show; 1972)

Iconic: Pagett, (left) was best known for her role as Elizabeth Bellamy, the spoiled daughter of Richard and Lady Marjorie, in the much-loved show (TV still from the show; 1972)

Iconic: Pagett, (left) was best known for her role as Elizabeth Bellamy, the spoiled daughter of Richard and Lady Marjorie, in the much-loved show (TV still from the show; 1972)

The series followed the lives of the masters and servants living in a townhouse in Belgravia during the early 1900s. 

Nicola’s character famously made the mistake of marrying poet Lawrence Kirbridge, who had no interest in sex, and her resulting affair with his publisher resulted in a child. 

And she once said of the role: ‘There weren’t any stars really, that was the beauty of it. Everyone had an equal importance in the thing. 

TV history: She also starred alongside David Jason in A Bit Of A Do in 1989 - (L-R ) Gwen Taylor, Pagett, Jason and Diana Weston

TV history: She also starred alongside David Jason in A Bit Of A Do in 1989 - (L-R ) Gwen Taylor, Pagett, Jason and Diana Weston

TV history: She also starred alongside David Jason in A Bit Of A Do in 1989 – (L-R ) Gwen Taylor, Pagett, Jason and Diana Weston 

‘The product was more important than the people in it in those days. So, if it was a success, it was a success because everyone in it was good rather than because the actor in it was well known.’

In fact, the actress left the show after two seasons so that she wasn’t typecast and moved to New York. 

Nicola was born on June 15, 1945, in Cairo, where her father worked as an oil executive. 

Aged 17, she was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and won rave reviews for her work in a stage tour of La Contessa opposite Vivien Leigh. 

She went on to have a successful career on the small screen, starring as Elizabeth Fanshawe in Frankenstein: The True Story in 1973.

Nicola, who openly battled mental health illness in later years, also played the lead role in a TV version of Anna Karenina five years later, alongside Eric Porter as Karenin and Stuart Wilson as Vronsky.

The actress famously starred alongside David Jason, Gwen Taylor and Diana Weston in A Bit Of A Do in 1989.  

CV: She also appeared in the British TV series, Danger Man, in an episode called 'The Mirror's New'  in the 60s

CV: She also appeared in the British TV series, Danger Man, in an episode called 'The Mirror's New'  in the 60s

CV: She also appeared in the British TV series, Danger Man, in an episode called ‘The Mirror’s New’  in the 60s

It was a British comedy-drama series based on the books by David Nobbs. It was produced by Yorkshire Television for two series and aired on ITV from January 13 to December 1, 1989. 

The show was set in a fictional Yorkshire town and told the story of the changing lives of two families, the working-class Simcocks and the middle-class Rodenhursts. 

Nicola went on to have a successdful movie career, starring in There’s a Girl in My Soup, Operation: Daybreak and Mike Newell’s An Awfully Big Adventure, alongside Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. 

On the West End, she starred with Michael Gambon and Liv Ullmann in a 1985 revival of Harold Pinter’s Old Times after being directed by the playwright two years earlier in The Trojan War Will Not Take Place. 

She also appeared in The Rehearsal and The Rules of the Game, and her final performance was inJoe Orton’s comedy What the Butler Saw with Richard Wilson and David Tennant in 1995.  

Well-known face: Nicola pictured looking glamorous back in 1983

Well-known face: Nicola pictured looking glamorous back in 1983

Well-known face: Nicola pictured looking glamorous back in 1983 

Pagett released an autobiography in 1997 called Diamonds Behind My Eyes, which bravely detailed her diagnosis of manic depression, which led to a period of increasingly erratic behaviour. 

She said at the time: ‘We wrote the book in the hope that it might help other people. Manic depression is so common.’

She detailed how she became obsessed with the man she called ‘The Stranger’ and began to send hundreds of love letters to him. 

It later transpired it was then Press Secretary Alastair Campbell whom she had become obsessed with after seeing him on television.

The Independent writes: ‘As her disorder worsened, Pagett wrote hundreds of letters to him, sent him a cheque for pounds six billion pounds and signed it “Moi”.’ 

She and Campbell never actually met in person and most of the mail was returned unopened. 

Family: The actress was married to Graham Swannell from 1975 until their divorce in 1997; and they share a daughter, Eve, (pictured in 1997)

Family: The actress was married to Graham Swannell from 1975 until their divorce in 1997; and they share a daughter, Eve, (pictured in 1997)

Family: The actress was married to Graham Swannell from 1975 until their divorce in 1997; and they share a daughter, Eve, (pictured in 1997) 

The actress was married to playwright Graham Swannell from 1975 until their divorce in 1997; and they share a daughter, Eve. 

Under the illusion it was Campbell’s instruction, she falsely accused her then-husband of having an incestuous relationship with their 15-year-old daughter and feeding her heroin – she was later admitted to a psychiatric unit. 

She later claimed she only partially recovered from her illness saying: ‘Some days were beter than others.’ 

Nicola lived alone in south-west London with her two Persian cats. She is survived by Eve, 40, and her sister Angela. 

Sad: Tributes have flooded in for the actress who was very open about her mental health illness

Sad: Tributes have flooded in for the actress who was very open about her mental health illness

Sad: Tributes have flooded in for the actress who was very open about her mental health illness 

Tributes have flooded in for Nicola from friends and fans alike.

One wrote on social media in tribute to the star: ‘#RIP Nicola Pagett, a wonderful actress and lovely person. 

‘We often bumped into one another when we both lived in SW London, and she was always smiling, always stopped to chat. Another bright star gone (sic)’

Another added: ‘Very sad. Such a striking screen presence (I fell in love with her Anna Karenina) who was unable to perform for the last years of her life. (sic)’

One fan described her as a ‘clever striking witty actor’, writing: ‘Raising a glass to Nicola Pagett. 

‘Clever, striking, witty actor, a luminous presence in everything from Upstairs Downstairs to A Bit Of A Do, and an unforgettably brilliant Anna Karenina. (sic)’

‘Oh no, not the beautiful Nicola Pagett has died, thats such sad news to hear. 

‘She was a brilliant actress, esp loved her in Aint Misbehavin, Bit of a Do, The Avengers, Special Branch, The Persuaders & many more TV and film roles over the years.’

Pride and joy: Nicola, pictured in her garden with her daughter Eve as a baby, who was born in 1980

Pride and joy: Nicola, pictured in her garden with her daughter Eve as a baby, who was born in 1980

Pride and joy: Nicola, pictured in her garden with her daughter Eve as a baby, who was born in 1980 

Link hienalouca.com

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