British actress Barbara Shelley, known for starring in several Hammer Horror classics as well as a key role in 1984 Doctor Who storyline Planet of Fire, has passed away at the age of 88.
Deadline reports that Shelley contracted covid-19 before Christmas. Her extensive filmography was filled with genre titles, including 1960’s Village of the Damned (in which her character gives birth to an alien child) and Hammer hits like 1964’s The Gorgon, 1966’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (opposite Christopher Lee as you-know-who), 1966’s Rasputin the Mad Monk (also starring Lee as the title character), and 1967’s Quatermass and the Pit.
Alongside and following her Hammer heyday, Shelley had a lengthy career in television, notably appearing in the 1984 Doctor Who serial Planet of Fire, but also popping up on shows like Blake’s 7 and The Avengers. Her Doctor Who co-star Nicola Bryant shared this tribute on Twitter:
So very sad to hear of the passing of #BarbaraShelley. A darling person and a talented actress. When we worked together on Planet of Fire she was so kind to me. She gave me a little owl, still in my possession and some good advice. #RIPBarbaraShelley Wise and wonderful lady. ♥️ pic.twitter.com/O4keVU7ow5
— Nicola Bryant (@thenicolabryant) January 4, 2021
It’s never a bad time to have yourself a Hammer marathon — and what better way to pay tribute to the studio’s favourite leading lady?