Jean Fergusson: 1944-2019

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of November 25, 2019

Last of the Summer Wine viewers will be saddened to learn about the passing of another long-time star of the series.

Tea Time Tidbit

Jean Fergusson as Marina

Jean Fergusson, who played Marina in the series, died at her home in London in the early hours of the morning on Thursday, November 14th, at the age of 74. The cause of death has yet to be announced, but a few days before she died Fergusson attended a birthday party where she told friends that she wasn’t feeling well.

Fergusson, who was born "up north," in the Yorkshire town of Wakefield, enjoyed an acting career of over 50 years, having graduated from what was then the Cardiff Castle College of Music and Drama (now the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama) in 1965. After performing in theatres throughout the U.K., Fergusson made her television debut in 1974, in a popular tea-time soap called Crossroads, but it was the mini-skirted Marina in Last of the Summer Wine which made her a household name.

Fergusson’s affair with the hapless Howard lasted 25 years, from when Fergusson joined the series in 1995, until its conclusion in 2010. One of the drawbacks to portraying Marina was the skimpy outfits she had to wear.

“My character doesn’t get to wear an overcoat,” she once said. “There’s no room for thermals! I never knew what teeth-chattering meant until I came to do this series.”

Tea Time Tidbit

Fergusson with actress Vicki Michelle
(‘Allo, ‘Allo) at the birthday party
Fergusson attended shortly before she died.
(Image: Vicki Michelle/Twitter)

In 1998, the West End production of a one-woman play Fergusson had written called She Knows, You Know, was nominated for a prestigious Olivier Award. Fergusson not only wrote the show, which was about north country comedienne Hilda Baker, but also starred in it. The show was described by some as being both tragic and poignant and Fergusson went onto adapt it for BBC Radio and published it in book form.

Fergusson’s success with LOTSW lead to her often taking star billing come panto season. In more recent years the actress appeared on a variety of celebrity quiz shows.

Fergusson’s death was announced by her agents, Scott Marshall Partners, who said "Jean was a much-loved and respected actress, a brilliant comedienne, raconteur, and the life and soul of any gathering. She will be much missed by her many friends and colleagues.”

Fergusson’s partner of 30 years, Paul Jenkinson, died in 2011. The couple had no children.

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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