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Carmen Silvera obituary

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Carmen Silvera, actress, was born on June 2, 1922. She died of lung cancer on August 3, 2002, aged 80.

'Allo 'Allo star, poker player and charity fundraiser

GIVEN that her own wartime experience had been rather traumatic, it was ironic that Carmen Silvera became so well known for her part in the Second World War sitcom 'Allo 'Allo, which ran for ten years from 1983. In it she played Edith Artois, the bossy wife of Rene Artois (Gorden Kaye), a reluctant member of the French Resistance.

"She was stupid and vain, but loyal, with the heart of a patriot," Silvera said of Edith, and as the series developed, she helped the writers to develop the character. "I persuaded the producer to let me be to singing what Les Dawson is to piano playing," she recalled. Edith could empty her husband's cafe by opening her mouth.

During her career -which began in the 1960s -Silvera's reported age fluctuated by 20 years. "I decided long ago never to reveal my true age -it influences others' perceptions of you," she said.

She was born in Toronto in 1922, and moved with her family to Coventry as a child. The family were all musical, but her tuneless singing soon became a family joke.

As a teenager she was due to be evacuated back to Canada on a ship that was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 85 children. But because of overcrowding she travelled instead on the City of Benares, arriving safely. In Canada she dis-covered her love of acting, but her father disapproved, his final words as she left home for her first job being: "Never ask me for money."

After the war she made her home in Britain, appearing on stages around the country, and becoming a poker expert while resting (she also loved golf). By the 1960s she was guest-starring in television favourites such as Dad's Army and Dr Who. Her first big break was as Camilla Hope in the glossy television soap opera Compact, which ran from 1962 to 1965. It was set in the office of a women's magazine, and Silvera later described her role as "a Marjorie Proops type".

In a newspaper interview in the 1980s Silvera admitted that the next phase of her career had included an appearance in the soft porn movie Clinic X-clusive (1971). "It was great fun," she said. She also acted in the mini-series Lillie (1978) based on the life of Lillie Langtry who, trapped in a loveless marriage, took full advantage of her beauty, attracting many lovers and admirers including the Prince of Wales and Oscar Wilde.

When 'Allo 'Allo was first broadcast, it was considered by some to be making light of a very serious subject -as Dad's Army had been a generation before. But the complaints soon subsided, while the viewing figures rose to some 18 mil-lion at its peak.

But the filming could still cause antagonism. On one occasion members of the cast had to walk through Cromer in Norfolk dressed as members of the Hitler Youth. Unfortunately no one had warned the local populace, and as Silvera later recalled, "people shouted and old gentlemen waved their fists at us".

Although her co-stars found her entertaining to work with, they also found Silvera had her eccentricities, as Kaye once recalled: "She was ditsy. She always left her spectacles all over the place. She was clumsy. You had to be careful not to sit next to her during a black-tie dinner. She was fun and she had a wicked sense of humour."

At the height of her fame she made an anti-smoking video and was the subject of an episode of This is Your Life. Although 'Allo 'Allo faded from the small screen almost nine years ago, she carried on working until the end of her life. Last year she toured the country with the comedy show You Only Live Twice. She was also a prominent member of the Grand Order of Lady Rat-lings, the charity run by women in showbusiness.

Carmen Silvera was married at 19, to a fellow actor, John, whom she met on stage in Tonbridge. Tragically the couple lost their baby, and she was divorced at 26. She never remarried.


CORRECTION: John Cunliffe writes: The obituary of Carmen Silvera (August 8) was well compiled, with one exception -the final paragraph. In fact she married in 1949, which would make her somewhat older than 19 and there were no children of the marriage. How do I know this? I was her husband.

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2002-08-05). Carmen Silvera obituary. The Times .
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  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Carmen Silvera obituary | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Carmen_Silvera_obituary | work=The Times | pages= | date=2002-08-05 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=5 August 2021 }}</ref>
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