Did You Know They Were Jewish?

By October 14, 2016Blog-Leeds, Blog-Manchester


We’re back with another DYKTWJ. This time round, we shine the spotlight on actress, Maureen Lipman.

This Sunday as part of Stand Up To Cancer sees the return of The Crystal Maze. The beloved ‘90s show saw contestants use their physical and mental skills to battle their way through to the Crystal Dome, where they could win fabulous prizes.

The retro throwback will be hosted by Stephen Merchant and feature celebrities including Jonnie Peacock, Sara Cox and Josh Widdicombe. There will also be a cameo from host of the original series, Richard O’Brien, and his beloved Mumsie, who this time around will be played by actress, Maureen Lipman.

This is a fun foray for the actress, who has built a career across stage and screen, starring as Sylvie in the 1968 film Up the Junction; the protagonist Jane Lucas in sitcom, Agony; and Edwarda Szpilman, the mother of the piano player in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist.

Born into a Jewish family in Hull in 1946, Maureen attended Newland School for Girls in the city and showed an interest in the performing arts early on. She ultimately went on to train at the London academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where she honed her skills. Following her training, she appeared in her stage debut in The Knack at the Palace Theatre in Watford in 1969. Her passion for treading the boards is evident throughout her career to date, with roles in J B Priestley’s When We Are Married at the Garrick Theatre and just last year she starred with James Dreyfus in Mary Chase’s play Harvey at Birmingham Rep, on tour and at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

While Maureen was accepting roles on stage, she was also carving a career on TV and in films, with Up the Junction signalling her first big screen appearance. But it was her starring role as Jane Lucas in Agony in 1979 that made her a household name. It was two decades after the agony aunt became part of everyone’s regular TV viewing schedule that Maureen was awarded a CBE for her contribution to the world of acting in 1999.

Today, she is a regular on panel shows such as Have I Got News For You , has lent her voice to radio and written a regular column for Good Housekeeping magazine.

On being Jewish, the actress, who is on the editorial advisory board of Jewish Renaissance magazine, has stated that she’d consider leaving the UK given the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the country in recent years. She told LBC radio after Holocaust memorials took place across the world in early 2015: “When the going gets tough, the Jews get packing …it’s crossed my mind that it’s time to have a look around for another place to live. I’ve thought about going to New York, I’ve thought about going to Israel.” She has since clarified that she has no plans to leave. She is extremely pro-Israel and has spoken out against some of the reporting of the conflict in the country.

Maureen recently appeared in Leeds at the UJIA Women’s Appeal Lunch, where she discussed politics, Israel, Brexit, anti-Semitism, resignations, and Boris Johnson: “It is beyond my comprehension that Boris got the Foreign Office.” She wowed the audience with her witty impersonation of Prime Minister Theresa May and her feelings towards her home city: “That special place, that funny little strip of Humber…by gosh, coming from this part of the world certainly gives you gumption.”

As we tune into The Crystal Maze on Sunday night, we’ll see our new Mumsie in a whole new light…

The Crystal Maze Stand Up To Cancer Special is on Channel 4 at 9pm this Sunday.