RIP Dinah Sheridan

Dinah Sheridan, the actress who played the caring mother in the original The Railway Children, died peacefully on Sunday, surrounded by her family in Northwood, Middlesex. Dinah Sheridan brought a classic, sophisticated and reliable air to all her roles. She had a variety of other low-key roles, and at one point in her career looked to be launched into stardom, but in the end her career was never as grand as her talents deserved.

Dinah Sheridan’s first big break was the 1953 comedy Genevieve, in which she played a steadfastly supportive wife participating with her husband in a vintage car race from London to Brighton. She was well regarded in the role, and there was an expectation that she would go on to do bigger and better things, but it was not to be. She married Sir John Davis in 1954, who was head of the Rank Organisation, the makers of Genevieve. Demanding that his bride stay at home to take care of the children as a housewife, he made Dinah Sheridan give up her burgeoning career.

The marriage was not a happy one. Dinah Sheridan ended up seeking psychiatric help, and sought divorce on the grounds of cruelty. The Railway Children served as her comeback in 1970, and she subsequently entered the world of television. A staple on British sets for many years, her longest-running role was in comedy Don’t Wait Up from 1983 to 1990. Her final appearance was in a cameo role for an episode of Jonathan Creek in 1999, but she will always be remembered by us at BFF as the sweetly understanding Mrs. Waterbury in The Railway Children.

When she had her knees replaced in the 1970s, she said that her crutches made her feel like “a pissed spider”, which is possibly the greatest metaphor ever uttered. Dinah Sheridan is survived by two of her children, actress Jane Hanley and Conservative politician Sir Jeremy Hanley, and will be fondly remembered as an idyllic English rose.

RIP Dinah Sheridan


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