Angela Browne

Angela Browne was infatuated with cinema from early childhood, imagining herself in the the part of the screen heroine during her frequent visits to the pictures. Aged thirteen, she left her Catholic convent school to study at the Cone-Ripman Drama Academy in London. After four years, she earned herself a scholarship to RADA. She then joined repertory companies in Worthing, York and Scarborough, eventually making her West End debut as an uninhibited Swedish girl in the 1959 comedy, “The Marriage Go-Round”, alongside John Clements and Kay Hammond. She was serious enough about her newly acquired craft to study the films of Ingmar Bergman in order to appear as ‘authentically Swedish’ as possible. By 1960, after further theatrical success in both comedy and drama, Angela came to be regarded as one of the most promising up-and-coming actresses of the stage.

A vivacious blonde of uncommon and exquisite beauty, Angela inevitably attracted the attention of television producers. After a few early bit parts she co-starred with Patrick McGoohan as the titular “Girl in Pink Pajamas” in the Danger Man: The Girl in Pink Pajamas (1960) episode of the cult series, Danger Man (1960). She got on extremely well with McGoohan who proved very supportive on the set. Years later, Angela jumped at the chance — when offered — to appear with him again in the aptly-titled The Prisoner: A Change of Mind (1967) episode of The Prisoner (1967). Her role as “No. 86”, a mind-control specialist tasked with ‘rehabilitating’ “No. 6” (McGoohan) by means of a pre-frontal lobotomy, has become the one for which she is best-remembered. In a later interview, Angela confessed that she never quite understood the intricacies of the plot and simply ‘got on with it’ by following an old axiom she had learned from Noël Coward: “learn your lines and don’t bump into the furniture”.

Gainfully employed within Britain’s ITV network, Angela had a recurring part in the crime series Ghost Squad (1961) and made appearances in The Saint (1962) and The Avengers (1961). She was also the obligatory romantic interest in the Norman Wisdom farce Press for Time (1966), a rare role in a feature film. Guesting on television — which meant a less rigorous schedule than either films or the stage — became, for several years, her preferred means of deriving a living from her profession. After her marriage to actor Francis Matthews (best known as the urbane lead of Paul Temple (1969)), Angela took a step back from performing to raise a family, in essence eschewing any further chance of stardom. By the early 1970s, she had eased into character roles, turning up at auditions in deliberately un-glamorous attire in order to snare more interesting assignments. While her screen appearances became fewer, she remained active on the stage in plays by Noël Coward, Henrik Ibsen and Alan Ayckbourn. She retired from acting altogether in 1990 and devoted her sadly few remaining years to her family and to charity work.

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