Actress Stephanie Beacham is currently one of the celebrity housemates in the latest and final series of Celebrity Big Brother. With so many high profile roles behind her and having appeared in so many memorable dramas such as Dynasty, Bad Girls and Beverley Hills 90210 we take a look back at her career.
Stephanie Becham’s television career started in the late 1960s and early 1970s when she appeared in one-off roles in a series of high profile shows of the time such as Callan, The Saint, UFO, Armchair Theatre and Public Eye. Becham hadn’t intended to go into acting but entered the profession having done some modelling and was cast in several parts. Following her early appearances on television she was cast in several films such as The Nightcomers opposite Marlon Brandon which was directed by Michael Winner. Another high-profile film role for the actress was in the 1972 film Dracula AD 1972 which starred Peter Cushing.
In 1973 alongside several other roles Beacham was cast in her first regular role on television. The actress starred alongside Heather Chasen in the Thames Television daytime drama series Marked Personal. The daytime drama/soap was Thames first foray into daytime drama and came about because of the decision in the early 1970s that the ITV franchises should also air during the afternoon. As the commercial station moved into afternoon broadcasting it needed new programmes to air during this period which resulted in an influx of short-lived soaps and daytime dramas such as Castle Haven or the far more successful Crown Court from Granada. Marked Personal saw Beacham play the role of Georgina Layton while Heather Chasen, who later found fame in the 1980s a bitchy Valerie Pollard in Crossroads, played Isabel Neal – the big boss. The daytime serial aired on Tuesday and Wednesdays afternoons and ran for 94 episodes before being cancelled by Thames.
After the end of Marked Personal Beacham returned to a mixture of guest appearances on television and film roles until 1981 where she was amongst the cast of acclaimed BBC war-based drama Tenko. The drama was set during the Second World War in a Japanese run camp for English prisoners of war – residents of English colonies which were invaded by the Japanese army during the course of the war. The drama was created by Lavinia Warner and had a notable cast with other regulars in the series including Louise Jameson, Stephanie Cole, Jean Anderson and Ann Bell. Beacham starred in the first two seasons of the drama being killed off in the final episode of season two. Her character of Rose had been shot while trying to escape the camp and the shooting resulted in her being paralysed. It was left ambiguous whether Rose had died as a result of her injuries or had been killed by one of her fellow prisoners. Following the second series the drama was cancelled even though it was one of the highest rated dramas on the BBC. Michael Grade revived the series in 1984 when he joined the corporation.
Following her work on Tenko Beacham landed another major role in the ITV drama series Connie in 1985 which ran for 13 episodes. The series was a commentary on Thatcherite Britain of the time and it was thanks to her role in Connie that the actress landed her big role as Sable Colby in Dynasty and its spin-off series The Colby’s. Dynasty and Dallas were the two big super-soaps of the 1980s and dominated television in America with their series of daft plots, bitches and glamorous antics entertaining millions and millions of audiences not just in America but around the world. Dallas had successfully launched its own spin-off series Knots Landing and so the producers of Dynasty were keen to cash in on its success by launching their own spin-off, The Colby’s. The main characters for the new series were introduced in Dynasty in the lead up to the launch of the new bonkers drama.
Sable Colby was the cousin of Dynasty super-bitch Alexis Carrington [Joan Collins] and there were hints of deep rooted rivalry between the two that would later be developed in main show Dynasty. Starring alongside Beacham in the series were Emma Samms, who had moved over from Dynasty, Tracey Scoggins, Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck, John James and Maxwell Caulfield. The Colby’s was set in Los Angeles and as the title suggests follows the antics of the Colby family, an extended part of Jeff’s family previously unseen and unheard off. Sable is married to Jayson (Charlton Heston) and is constsntly scheming to secure the futures of her children, especially Miles (Maxwell Caulfield) and trying to secure her future with her husband. Jayson meanwhile has previously had an affair with Sable’s sister, Fran (Katherine Ross) who is also the long-lost mother of Jeff. Jayson’s sister Connie (Barbara Stanwyck) leaves at the mansion with them and gives Jeff her shares of the Colby Enterprises company, incuring the wrath of Sable, and invites Fran back to Los Angeles to be reunited with her son. Miles meanwhile returns from Denver with a new bride; Fallon Carrington (Emma Samms) now calling herself Randall and suffering from memory loss. Sable is delighted with the match, Fallon being Blake Carrington’s (John Forsythe)daughter and therefore very rich and is determined to stop Jeff from revealing the truth to Randal/Fallon. Unfortunately the spin-off was not the success that producers had hoped for and notably actress Joan Collins was somewhat hostile towards it refusing to crossover. The spin-off lasted for two seasons and ended in perhaps one of the most infamous soap moments of the 1980s. Fallon Colby [Emma Samms] is driving along a deserted road when a UFO appears before her and she is abducted by aliens! The Colby’s was cancelled after this episode even though it was the highest rated of the entire run. Emma Samms returned to Dynasty the following season and in 1988 producers invited Beacham and Tracy Scoggins to reprise their roles for Dynasty. In what was to be the final season of the spin-off Sable and Alexis were locked in a “battle of the bitches” which producers hoped would boost flagging ratings – it didn’t and the soap was cancelled.
Following the cancellation of Dynasty the actress played the lead role in the short-lived drama Sister Kate and played Mrs Peacock in the game-show Cluedo, based on the popular board game. Having worked for producer Aaron Spelling on Dynasty the actress was cast in a recurring role on his 1990’s teen-drama series Beverly Hills 90210. Between 1991 and 1994 the actress appeared in 8 episodes of the popular teen-drama. In 1993 she guest-starred in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Burke’s Law. In the same year she appeared in 23 episodes of sci fi drama SeaQuest DSV but left the series at the conclusion of its first year. Over the following years the actress made frequent appearances on television in various roles such as another Aaron Spelling series; Charmed, New Tricks and Legend.
In 2003 the actress was offered the role of bitchy hotel owner Angel Samson in Carlton Television’s revival of Crossroads. The midlands soap had been revived in 2001 but bosses at ITV decided the series needed to be revamped and wanted to give it a “Dynasty” feel and so the soap went all camp aiming at the audience which had enjoyed Dallas and Dynasty in the 1980s. Wisely Stephanie Beacham turned down the role and it eventually went to Jane Asher. However, her Tenko co-star Louise Jameson had also been in the running for the role but had lost out to Asher. The revamped Crossroads lasted five months before sinking ratings prompted ITV to axe the series completely. Speaking sometime later Beacham put the show’s demise down to the fact to create such a feel to the series they needed Aaron Spelling and it just wouldn’t work on British television.
Turning down Crossroads however, meant the actress was free to take a role in ITV’s prison drama series Bad Girls. The actress played Costa Con Phyl Oswyn who had been sent down with her partner-in-crime Bev Tull [Amanda Barrie]. The addition of the Costa Cons to the series proved popular with fans as their various antics to con their fellow inmates out of money and rewards proved to be a welcome bit of light, and camp, relief amongst the darker plots of the series. On several occasions the two plotted to escape and even managed it one occasion running off to Spain. Unfortunately for them prisoner officer Sylvia Hollamby [Helen Fraser] was on her honeymoon there and the duo had to save her from the murderous hands of her husband. The actress appeared in the drama between 2003 and its final season in 2006 appearing in over 40 episodes.
During her appearance in Bad Girls she also guest-starred in a 2004 episode of American soap The Bold and the Beautiful as herself. In 2007 she was amongst the contestants on BBC One’s dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing but was the first female contestant to leave the series. In 2009 she had a three month stint in Coronation Street a boat-owner Martha who caught the eye of street resident Ken Barlow [William Roach]. Martha offered Ken the chance to leave Weatherfield with her but although he seemed to choose her at first he later relented and returned to wife Deidre leaving a heart-broken Martha to leave on her own. Tabloid rumours have stated producers of the ITV soap are considering bringing the character back at some point.
And coming up to date in early 2010 the actress was announced as one of the contestants in the final series of Channel Four’s Celebrity Big Brother – to add a little glamour to the series.