Partner Jean Ridge

Joyce Grant (January 23, 1924 – July 11, 2006) was a South African-born actress who made a name for herself on the British stage with her comic flair. In 1975 James Roose-Evans, director and founder of Hampstead Theatre Club,was directing two Noel Coward plays: The Vortex and Fallen Angels. Already well known for her versatile comic talent, Joyce was in her element playing two defining roles. In the early 90s after a particularly gruelling tour of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Ian Judge, she decided to retire from the stage.

Joyce, in her 70s, was looking for something else to do with the next phase of her life - something that would be both stimulating to her and useful to others. She volunteered at London Lighthouse, the pioneering Centre for HIV and Aids. She made an excellent buddy, befriending also many of the men's mothers. Hearing of her death, a volunteer recalled how one man had looked forward to the car calling to take him from his miserable flat to Joyce: "He spoke so warmly of how she would greet him as an old friend, of her making him his tea and toast and how she listened to his problems and fears. He said how she would quietly and tenderly absorb so much and then bring comfort with words of wisdom, leavened with laughter. Another Grant smash hit."

Joyce grew up on a farm in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Studying first at the University of Cape Town and then at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, she made a name for herself on the British stage. Among her many parts were delicious portrayals of wacky witches, prying maids, galumphing ballerinas and good and bad fairies. One critic wrote of her part in Fallen Angels as the omniscient maid, Saunders, that Joyce Grant stole the show with "the ghost of a confidential smile for the audience as she scores her points".

Over the four decades of her acting career she scored many points and became a delight to watch for both critics and audiences alike. Among many West End performances were Jack Pulman's The Happy Apple, Something's Afoot, Death Trap, The Club, and a season at the National Theatre with Michael Rudman, as well as at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her work in television included The Black Adder, The Larry Grayson Show and Doctor at Large.

In the last 10 years of her life, Joyce suffered from chronic ill health, finally succumbing to cancer. She was gregarious, inquisitive, wholehearted, uncompromising, and people fell for her hook, line and sinker. As Jean Ridge - a fellow South African who shared Joyce's life for the last 35 years - said: "For everyone who knew and loved Joyce, a light has gone out."


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