I was never a leading lady; the only talent I had was for mimicry and doing funny voices.
For over 40 years, Pat Coombs was a familiar face and voice on TV and radio. Pat, who said she never wanted to play Shaw’s St Joan... “or any of those serious parts,” appeared in many of the leading comedies of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, including Beggar My Neighbour, Dad’s Army and You’re Only Young Twice. She often appeared alongside her friend Peggy Mount.
Pat also made a brief cameo in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as the revolting Veruca Salt’s mum Henrietta and brought fun to many TV game shows.
Filming a TV commercial for a breakfast cereal in the 1970s earned Pat a place in The Guinness Book of Records for the largest number of takes required in the recording of a TV commercial (twenty-nine!). She later confessed she kept forgetting the product’s name.
Although she did not seek out major roles and was more comfortable in supporting parts, she was a considerable comic talent in her own right.
In her later career, her portrayal of the luckless Marge Green in EastEnders – a woman in the thrall of an elderly domineering mother – demonstrated her flair for more serious roles, even though the character had initially been brought in to bring more humour to the series.
She never married, explaining: “I've never been wildly ambitious; I think if I'd been married, my career would have gone out of the window.”