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Posted 01 August 2016 - 12:55 AM
"Vivean Gray, who has died aged 92, was a British-born actress who became familiar to television viewers of the 1970s and 1980s for her roles in a series of Australian television soap operas, including as Edna Pearson in Prisoner Cell Block H, as Ida Jessop in The Sullivans (which earned her a Logie Award in 1978 for Best Sustained Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role), and later, and most famously, as the loathsome busy-body Mrs (Nell) Mangel in Neighbours.
For years afterwards, Vivean Gray topped opinion polls as the nastiest television “baddie” of all time, with some of the more dedicated viewers of Neighbours failing to distinguish between the actress and the fictional character.
Aside from her work on the small screen, Vivean Gray enjoyed success on film, notably as Miss McCraw in Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), which tells the story of the Valentine’s Day disappearance in 1900 of several Appleyard College students and their maths teacher (Vivean Gray) at Hanging Rock. The film, which was often mistakenly thought to have been based on a true story, won a BAFTA Award for Cinematography.
Vivean Gray was born Jean Vivra Gray on July 20 1924 at Cleethorpes, where she attended Thrunscoe Grammar School. She was the eldest of four children. Her father, Allan, was a fish merchant at Grimsby Docks. During the mid-1930s, the family moved to Kingston upon Thames, only to be evacuated back to Cleethorpes in 1941. The family moved backed to Surrey in 1945, settling in New Malden.
Vivean Gray always wanted to be an actress but found limited opportunities in Britain outside repertory theatre. Struggling to make it as a serious actress, she took a number of jobs, including as a local reporter and a photographer. Later she became a nurse and served with the Women’s Land Army, before emigrating to Australia in 1952."
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