The actress, famous in recent years for her role as Doris in BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey and her seven-year stint in ITV’s Crossroads, is celebrated in an episode of Welsh Greats.
The television tribute looks back at the life and career of the Swansea-born star that had a long and varied stage and television career, becoming a very much loved ‘national treasure’ by the time she died last February.
Born in 1926, she first performed for the public at Swansea Grand Theatre in repertory productions. She then moved onto radio drama before making her television debut in the 1950s. By the late 1960s she was a regular on screens playing parts in a range of television serial and drama ranging from Z Cars to Coronation Street.
In 1978 she joined four-days-a-week saga Crossroads where she remained as a recurring semi-regular character until 1985. As Marion Owen, the doctor’s receptionist, she was part of some of the shows big stories of the era, including dealing with the suicide of a patient, supporting her family when a member was accused of sexual assault and even had time for a romance with the Kings Oak village postmaster.
While in Crossroads she also flitted across to the BBC to star in drama The District Nurse. But it was her later years that brought her to a new generation, and made her a cult figure thanks to a BBC sitcom.
As the randy old lady Doris in Gavin and Stacey John was asked to play some outrageous scenes, the humour continued in the BBC Wales comedy High Hopes where her role of ‘mam’ had equally as outrageous one-liners.
In 2009, John was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bafta Cymru Awards. Her personal life however wasn’t so happy. She was engaged six times and widowed in 1978.
Welsh Greats, The Margaret John Story airs on BBC One Wales. January 16th at 11.05pm