Image copyright Getty Images Image caption ‘Martha’s huge heart was bigger than the stage itself’
Martha Henry, the versatile stage actress who appeared in hit shows including Brideshead Revisited and Casualty, has died aged 83.
Henry suffered a stroke last month while at a theatre in Lancaster, friends said.
Born Martha Louise Williams in London in 1933, she trained at the National Youth Theatre and first appeared on stage in Elgar’s Enigma Variations as part of a summer holiday in 1954.
In 2008, she made her home near Blackpool.
Thomas Archibald Clarke, the artistic director of the Liverpool Playhouse, paid tribute to Henry.
“It is a great shock that Martha Henry has died, she was such a committed and capable performer, who cared passionately about every part she took on,” he said.
“The common denominator in Martha’s performances was her wide-open empathy and huge heart, bigger than the stage itself.”
What do you remember most about Martha Henry? Email: @bbcgill pic.twitter.com/tJjHpIG2G7 — BBC Gaby Roslin (@gabyroslin) June 30, 2018
As well as working in professional theatre, Henry appeared in a number of TV series, including Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and Undercover Crocodile.
Ibiza Stringband, a live band led by Graham McPherson, recalled recording with Henry in a series of videos in the 1990s.
“When Martha said the song was ‘good’, I thought there was no hope. However, her words became words of music and the song was destroyed, no more left to us and we didn’t have a pay check that month,” McPherson told BBC News.
“Martha had such a talent and she genuinely loved music,” he added.
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With a degree in sociology from the University of Exeter, Henry served as a diplomat for the then Foreign Office and was married to the sculptor Nick Webber, who died in 1994.
This year, she collaborated with Harry Potter author JK Rowling to rework Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale for a musical version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The theatre at which she died is the Association of Theatre In Cumbria’s Easington Arts Centre.
The theatre’s website said her death would be “deeply mourned by all at Cumbria Theatre in Lancaster”.
She is survived by her children, Sean Henry and Emma Kay Willson.