As Time Goes By's Janet Henfrey
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of February 6, 2017
Seeing “Mrs. Bale” in As Time Goes By recently reminded me that the actress who plays her, Janet Henfrey, is one of the few cast members in the series who hasn’t been featured in these weekly tidbits.
Henfrey, who turned 81 last August, seems to be almost as busy as her ATGB castmate, Judi Dench. Since the series left, she’s been in numerous television series, including Father Brown, Miss Marple and Wolf Hall, a few films, the latest of which was Bridget Jones’s Baby last year, and several stage productions, the most recent of which was just a few months ago when she appeared in a revival of Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart.
In The Singing Detective
Henfrey didn’t set out to be an actress. Instead she went from a boarding school she reportedly "detested", to study history at Oxford, where one of her tutors was the novelist Iris Murdoch. Following her time at Oxford, Henfrey spent a graduate year at Smith College in Massachusetts as part of an educational exchange program and it was there that she started to act. She must have been pretty good, because the Smith drama teacher encouraged her to go to New York where London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art was holding auditions for American students. Henfrey was accepted and on joining RADA felt she’d “come home”.
After leaving RADA, Henfrey spent about a decade in repertory theatres, where her thin, bony frame and features lead to her being cast in mainly old lady parts – even in the early 1960s, while she was still in her 20s!
After the success of The Singing Detective, in which Henfrey played a strict disciplinarian schoolteacher, the memory of whom comes back to haunt Michael Gambon’s character, Marlow, Henfrey was out of work for a year. She then found herself typecast in "teacher" parts and at times she reportedly thought about leaving the profession. Fortunately for us she persisted and would eventually appear – albeit intermittently - in all nine series plus a reunion special of As Time Goes By, which you can see on Afternoon Tea every weekday afternoon at 3pm.
BONUS: Give yourself a treat and follow this link to Jenny Funnell ("Sandy")'s twitter page to see a fantastic picture of the As Time Goes By cast and crew having a reunion lunch in November 2016. Many familiar faces, including Henfrey's.
To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117