The television and theatre star passed away last week following a short illness.
“Extremely sad about this. Carolyn joined almost at the same time as I did; she was delightful fun to share a rehearsal room with & a very talented actress. R.I.P. Carolyn Jones” – Judy Matheson, Crossroads co-star
The news was revealed on social media by a friend of the actress, and confirmed by the BBC, with The Archers production team leading the tributes to Carolyn who had performed in everything from lavish theatre productions, television dramas and several soap operas.
‘Having started her career with Olivier’s celebrated National Theatre Company at the Old Vic, she played most of the theatres in the UK. She became a familiar face in the golden age of British drama in the 1970s and 80s and is best remembered for playing Sharon Metcalfe, the tough-talking, soft-hearted garage secretary in Crossroads from 1977 to 1983.’ – BBC The Archers
Carolyn married actor Jeremy Mason in 1969. Jeremy’s father Edward J. Mason had co-created The Archers and Jeremy went on to appear as Roger Travers-Macy in the series, husband to Jennifer and father to Debbie and Adam. The couple also worked together in the 1970s and 80s on ATV’s Crossroads when Jeremy was signed up to play dubious teacher Richard Lord.
Ground-breaking soap first: The Downs Syndrome story with Nina Weill as Nina Paget and Carolyn as Sharon
Reginald Marsh as Reg Lamont with Carolyn as Sharon Metcalfe in Crossroads
In the Midland Motel based series Carolyn, as Sharon Metcalfe, was at the centre of several big storylines including her character being involved in a road traffic crash which saw her dealing with the guilt of the other driver not surviving, befriending Nina – soap’s first Down Syndrome character, several love affairs including with the married Jim Baines (John Forgeham) and boss Victor Lee (Victor Winding).
“Lovely Carolyn was my Flo in Andy Capp the musical 1985 god bless you wonderful lady RIP xxx Tim” – actor Tim Healy
Carolyn was part of the teatime serial when each episode could command up to 17 million viewers, and following the axing of central character Meg Mortimer (Noele Gordon) in 1981 her character became one of the leading strong women in the saga.
However while at the centre of the Nina storyline Carolyn decided to quit the series, looking for ‘new challenges’. These ventures came, for many years, in the form of stage roles. This she told the Crossroads Fan Club in 2012 was due to, in the 80s, casting directors not being keen on hiring people from ‘soap opera’ for commercials or other major TV parts. She added that the plus side was thanks to Crossroads she could fill theatres for many plays that otherwise may not have been so successful.
“Desperately sad to hear that Carolyn Jones has passed away. My love for her as Sharon Metcalfe in Crossroads got me to cast her as a mad Thatcheresque villain in the
@bigfinish play The Last and then as Davros’s insane mum in I, Davros. Glorious actor, fun person, amazing friend.” – Production Executive Gary Russell
Carolyn with Margaret Nolan as Denise Paget, mother of Nina in Crossroads
Actor Kenneth Gilbert as Oliver Banks and Carolyn as Sharon Metcalfe in Crossroads
“This is not good news. I met Carolyn when we were both up at Granada and we both got on really well. She was a lovely girl, straightforward and very funny.” – actor John Challis
In the 1990s she returned to television regularly in Channel 5 soap Family Affairs as Vera Flannigan and made several guest spots in shows such as Holby City, Doctors and EastEnders. Prior to Crossroads, she had starred in a number of television series including Z Cars for the BBC and Within These Walls for LWT. She recalled in 2012 that she, then living in a ‘dubious’ part of London, would often relay ideas – based on real-life incidents – from regulars in the local pub to writers of Within These Walls to make the prison drama more authentic.
Former The Archers boss Sean O’Connor especially created a role for Carolyn to play in the long-running beeb Radio 4 series with the actress debuting as the villainous Ursula, mother of abusive Rob Titchener, in Autumn 2016. Carolyn died peacefully surrounded by her closest friends on Wednesday, July 25th following a short undisclosed illness.
“RIP Carolyn Jones aka Ursula, Rob Titchener’s mother in
@BBCTheArchers. A member of Olivier’s @NationalTheatre (she went on repeatedly for Maggie Smith), she did everything from Oh, Calcutta! to The Devils to Sharon Metcalfe in Crossroads. Now that’s what I call a career.” – David Benedict
Carolyn as Joy in EastEnders
Carolyn Jones 1941 – 2018
“Carolyn’s career includes working for Lord Olivier and Paul Raymond as well as appearing in London’s West End, sundry fringe theatres and a host of provincial playhouses countrywide. She trained at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where the Academy’s then principal sent her whole year group to meet the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (around about the time The Beatles did the same).
Carolyn’s is delighted to be working in Birmingham again, the bygone home of a certain infamous Midland Motel, where as Sharon Metcalfe she ran the Motel’s garage for several years.
She has a vivid memory of being chased up New Street by a serious group of furious, fraught ladies with very sharp umbrellas when, in the previous evening’s episode of Crossroads her character had implied that her fellow garage employee (Bubble-hatted Benny) might have been implicated in a murder!
All these years later, the memory is as clear as ever though all the recent changes and spectacular new building in the town centre make it almost impossible for her to locate New Street in the first place. Carolyn has been a long-term member of the BBC Radio Rep on two occasions and is enjoying working in front of a microphone again and the learning process it always turns out to be.”