Doreen Mantle

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Doreen Mantle (1926-2023) was an actress.


Born in Johannesburg on 22 June 1926, she went to Barnato Park School for Girls and then went to the University of the Witwatersrand, obtaining BA Social Science degree in 1948.

Her stage career started while performing with companies such as the University Players, the Johannesburg Repertory Society (of which she was Chairperson for a time), the Munro-Inglis Company and the National Theatre Organisation. She was also active in radio in the early 1950s in shows devised by Ian Messiter, who later in the UK, would create BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute.

After graduating, Mantle worked as a social worker in the townships around Johannesburg, witnessing first-hand the social injustice of apartheid. She followed this with work for Legal Aid South Africa. Mantle had met Joshua Graham-Smith, a computer engineer, at the theatre and they married in 1952. Aware that she was being investigated by the authorities for her activism and not wanting to bring up children under apartheid, the couple emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1953.

There she gradually established herself as a prominent professional actress on stage, TV and film, becoming a national figure as "Mrs Warboys" in the TV series, One Foot in the Grave.

She died aged 97 in her London home on 9 August 2023, survived by her sons Quentin and Nicholas and her brother Alan.[1]

For more on her illustrious British career, see the Wikipedia entry on her (at and the entry in IMDb (at

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Stage roles performed in South Africa include:

Pop Goes the Queen (1945-6), Peer Gynt (1946), The Witch (1948), Hassan (1950), Grand National Night (1950), Desire under the Elms (1951), Tartuffe (as Elmire, 1952), The Young Elizabeth (1953).

She was the Chairperson of the Johannesburg Reps for a while as well.

In 2014 she was one of the featured artistes at the South African Season at Jermyn Street Theatre in London, put on to celebrate 20 years of the Rainbow Nation[2] and political freedom in South Africa.

Awards, etc.


Trek, 10(15):18, 1946;

Trek, 14(5):43, 1950.

Hassan theatre programme, 1950.

Helikon, 1(6):41, 31 August 1952.

Percy Tucker. 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, p. 38.

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