From author's collection of Liverpool autographs

STEADMAN, Alison   [b. 1946]

What was the greatest screen portrayal of a monster ? Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s creation ? Christopher Lee’s Dracula ? Lon Chaney’s werewolf ? Forget all those, the most dreadful monster was undoubtedly the 1970’s hostess Beverly, brought to life on the screen by Alison Steadman in Mike Leigh’s play Abigail’s Party. She epitomised all that was so excruciatingly dreadful about that acquisitive, aspirational, tasteless decade. (And I speak as one who spent that decade being acquisitive, aspirational and tasteless so I should know). In an act of sheer genius Mike Leigh managed to distil everything about the shallow vacuity of 1970’s lower middle class pretension when he has Beverly put on a Demis Roussos album.

Alison Steadman had met Mike Leigh at the East 15 Acting School in Essex, where she had gone in 1966 to escape life as a secretary in the Liverpool Probation Service. Born on 26th August 1946 to parents George Percival and Margaret, of 4 Sherwyn Road L4, she attended Childwall Valley High School for girls and had always yearned for a life illuminated by the bright lights of the theatre.

Although she had appeared in two episodes of Z Cars (as WPC Bayliss) her first major TV roles came in Abigail’s Party and another Mike Leigh play Nuts In May . From this start she went from strength to strength embracing roles in Television and film as well as on stage. A look at her career record in IMDB or Wikipedia shows not only a huge body of work, but one which is characterised by great breadth, from Moliere at the Royal Shakespeare Company to reprising the role of Mrs Fox in the film re-make of Dad’s Army. It is also a career littered with awards and nominations.

She married Mike Leigh in 1973 and they had two sons, Toby and Leo, being divorced in 2001.

4 Sherwyn Road L4

The Steadman family home at the time of Alison's birth


Both the IMDB and Wikipedia entries give comprehensive details of her many acting roles.