Friday, 2 February 2007

Anna Cropper - obituary.

Anna Cropper, actress: born Brierfield, Lancashire 13 May 1938; married William Roache (marriage dissolved 1974; one son, one daughter); died Tangmere, West Sussex 22 January 2007.

The actress Anna Cropper was a commanding presence in challenging television plays of the 1960s and 1970s, most shockingly as the young schizophrenic, Kate Winter, in the writer David Mercer's In Two Minds.

Born in Brierfield, Lancashire, in 1938, Cropper was the daughter of Jack, a dentist, and Margaret, a keen actress and director in amateur dramatics, from whom she gained a love of theatre. She trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, in London, and, after repertory experience in Nottingham, was soon making her mark in television plays at the cutting edge of the revolution that was taking place in the arts.

Over the years, she also popped up in soapy roles. While married to William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, she appeared in three episodes of the serial as Joan Akers (1962), a disturbed woman who, after the trauma of her own baby's death, kidnapped Harry and Concepta Hewitt's new-born son, Christopher. The drama brought the serial its biggest audiences since its inception two years earlier - more than 20 million viewers.

Later, she played Mrs Laker in the daytime marriage-guidance counsellors serial Couples (1975-76), Nan Wheeler, who nursed farmer Tad Ryland's sick wife, Bella, in Emmerdale (1976) and the matriarch Margaret Castle in the family saga Castles (1995).

Cropper was frequently in demand to act in BBC radio plays and she appeared on the West End stage in How's the World Treating You? (Wyndham's Theatre, 1966), Little Boxes (Duchess Theatre, 1968) and Separate Tables (as Miss Cooper, Apollo Theatre, 1976).

After her final screen appearance. in an episode of Midsomer Murders (1999), Cropper spent an increasing amount of time at her holiday home in Turkey. Her son with William Roache, from whom she was divorced in 1974, is the actor Linus Roache.

Anthony Hayward, The Independent: