Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Alexandra Bastedo Passes On

Actress and animal welfare advocate  Alexandra Bastedo died on 12 January 2014 at the age of 67. The cause was cancer. She was perhaps best known for her role as Sharron Macready on The Champions. She was the founder of the Alexandra Bastedo Champions (ABC) Animal Sanctuary as well.

Alexandra Bastedo was born on 9 March 1946 in Hove, East Sussex. She grew up in Brighton, East Sussex. As a child she wanted to be a veterinarian and helped at the local veterinary surgery. When she was 16 William Castle was holding a contest to cast girls as the daughters of diplomats in his film 13 Frightened Girls. Alexandra Bastedo was one of the girls selected and made her film debut as "Alex" (the daughter of the diplomat from England) in the film, which was released in 1963.

In the Sixties Miss Bastedo made guest appearances on several television shows. She made her debut on television in the show The Flying Swan (which starred Margaret Lockwood and her daughter Julia) in 1965. During the decade she went onto guest star on such shows as R3, The Man Who Never Was, The Scales of Justice, The Saint, Department S, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and From a Bird's Eye View. From 1968 to 1969 she appeared as Sharron Macready in The Champions. While only one series of the show was made, it would prove quite successful outside the United Kingdom and United States, and has since developed a large cult following in both the UK and the U.S. She was also a regular on the short lived series Codename. In the Sixties Alexandra Bastedo also appeared in such films as The Liquidator (1965), Doctor in Clover (1966), That Riviera Touch (1966), Casino Royale (1967), I Can't... I Can't (1969), Tibetana (1970), and A Promise of Bed (1970).

In the Seventies she was a regular on the television series The Aphrodite Inheritance. She guest starred on such shows as Jason King, The Adventurer, Suspicion, Men of Affairs, and Witness to Yesterday. She appeared in such films as La novia ensangrentada (1972), Odio mi cuerpo (1974), The Ghoul (1975), Tu dios y mi infierno (1976), Find the Lady (1976), and Estigma (1980).

In the Eighties Alexandra Bastedo semi-retired from acting. From the Eighties to the Naughts she guest starred on the shows The Agatha Christie Hour, Boon, Absolutely Fabulous, and EastEnders. She appeared in the American TV film Draw. She also appeared in the films A Choice of Two (1981) and Batman Begins (2005). Following her acting career Miss Bastedo returned to animal welfare. She was president of her local branch of the RSPCA for a time before founding the ABC Animal Sanctuary in West Chiltington, West Sussex. By the year 2000 the ABC Animal Sanctuary housed over 180 abandoned animals of various species.

The first thing anyone would notice about Alexandra Bastedo is that she was incredibly beautiful. What they might not realise at first notice is that she was actually a very talented actress.  She gave consistently good performances as Sharron Macready on The Champions. She also did a fine job of playing Mireille, a countess who may not be everything she seems in the episode of  The Saint "The Counterfeit Countess".  Over the years she played a vampire (La novia ensangrenta), an Italian in the midst of family feud (in the From a Bird's Eye View episode "The Sicilian Affair"), and Lucrezia Borgia (in an episode of Witness to Yesterday). She proved she had a gift for comedy in her guest appearance in the Absolutely Fabulous episode "Fat", playing Eddy's still slender and youthful rival Penny Capar-Morse.

Of course, Alexandra Bastedo was more than an actress. Through the ABC Animal Sanctuary and other activities over the years she saved hundreds of abandoned animals. She was also active in several other animal rights organisations.  The first thing anyone might have noticed about Alexandra Bastedo may have been her beauty, but she was so much more than that.

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