Neighbours star Joan Sydney dead aged 83 - 'Adored her!'

Joan Sydney with Alan Fletcher, who played Karl Kennedy on Neighbours.
Joan Sydney with Alan Fletcher, who played Karl Kennedy on Neighbours.

The actress has been remembered as ‘a corker of a character’


Neighbours star Joan Sydney has died aged of 86 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

The British-Australian actress died in a care facility in Victoria, Australia, on December 29.

Sydney, who was the older sister of actress Maggie King, became a household name after starring in A Country Practice as no-nonsense character Matron Margaret Sloane.

She went on to star in more than 400 episodes of the hit drama about the residents of the small country town of Wandin Valley in New South Wales.

Sydney would later go on to appear in Neighbours playing fan-favourite character Valda Sheergold before becoming a permanent cast member in 2007.

The actress’ other TV credits include playing Ruth Dooley in Something In the Air, appearing as Merle MacDonald in Mother And Son and starring in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries where she played Mother Aloysius.

Born in England on 5 September 1936, Sydney grew up in Wales and trained as a classic actor at Oldham Repertory Theatre.

She emigrated to Australia in 1965 and played in theatre, musicals and theatre restaurants in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne before her television career.

Another of her defining roles was playing Mary Patchett in Australian soap opera E Street, where she became known for her bright nature, comedic timing and cheerful singing voice.

She is survived by her daughter and two sons and will be laid to rest near her sister at a private ceremony.

Joan Sydney with Ian Smith (Neighbours’ Harold Bishop)
Joan Sydney with Ian Smith (Neighbours’ Harold Bishop)

A Country Practice co-star Shane Withington expressed his sadness following her death, paying his respects on Twitter: “Comedy is never as easy as it looks and this lady made it look effortless. I adored her.”

Long-time friend and Miss Fisher co-star Sally-Anne Upton said Sydney had “a beautiful soul”.

Speaking about the actress and her sister, she told PA news agency: “They were very English, they were very distinguished, they were very naughty.

“She had a beautiful soul, Joan, they both did, and a sense of benevolence. They understood to look after the underdogs.

“They also had a great sense of pride about their heritage and were incredibly family orientated.

“(Sydney) was an absolute corker of a character.”

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