Obituary: Alexandra Bastedo, actress

Born: 9 March, 1946, in Hove, Sussex. Died: 12 January, 2014, in Sussex, aged 67
British actress Alexandra Bastedo has died aged 67. Picture: Tim Graham/Getty Images)British actress Alexandra Bastedo has died aged 67. Picture: Tim Graham/Getty Images)
British actress Alexandra Bastedo has died aged 67. Picture: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

Alexandra Bastedo was a glamorous and flamboyant actress who found fame in several films and television dramas. She was a passionate campaigner for animal welfare and a noted linguist. Bastedo spoke Italian, French, German and Spanish fluently and her linguistic skills were in demand at official functions at 10 Downing Street. She once co-hosted on television the Miss World competition – interviewing the contestants with remarkable ease in a variety of languages.

She gained a wide following when she appeared as secret agent Sharron Macready in the 1968 British espionage/science fiction adventure series The Champions.

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Bastedo was a passionate supporter of animal charities and causes. She was the president of her local RSPCA and in her substantial Sussex farm she and her husband, the director Patrick Garland, maintained an animal sanctuary which included a couple of Dobermans, horses, donkeys, pigs and goats.

Alexandra Bastedo was born in Hove, near Brighton. Her Canadian-born father was of Spanish, Dutch, Scottish and native Indian extraction while her mother was of French, German and Italian descent.

She attended Brighton and Hove High School and then Brighton School of Drama. Her first professional jobs were in the movies and at 16 she went to Hollywood to appear in the horror film The Candy Web (also known as 13 Frightened Girls), directed by William Castle.

She gained considerable recognition on the continent where her facility with languages – not to mention her striking beauty – brought her to the attention of several casting directors. She became the Shell Girl for Europe and soon gained the nickname of La Bastedo.

One of her early films was the 1967 version of the Bond movie Casino Royale, starring Peter Sellers.

This recognition led to her being cast in the cult ITV series The Champions, which proved very popular with the viewing public.

It told of three agents for a United Nations law enforcement organisation who gain super-powers after a plane crash in the Himalayas.

Bastedo’s character, which she played with immense gusto, was a recently widowed scientist/ doctor who was socially liberated and a fierce fighter.

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The plot became dense and fast moving but Bastedo brought to the series a relaxed quality and always cunningly avoided being captured and killed.

Amidst all this, her character pretended to be having an affair with a colleague. It was often alluded to but nothing was ever confirmed – Bastedo certainly had much fun keeping the television audience in suspense.

She also much enjoyed wearing outrageous costumes – often in wild pink and usually very tight.

Bastedo appeared in The Saint with Roger Moore, and in Absolutely Fabulous, playing a 1960s model friend of Patsy and Edina.

In 1991, she was in a notable stage production of the psychological thriller Dangerous Obsession by NJ Crisp and was also seem on television in Boon and The Agatha Christie Hour.

In 2008 she spent a year in EastEnders, playing the glamorous Cynthia Marshall.

She turned a few male heads in Albert Square and caused quite a stir when she made her initial appearance by walking into the EastEnders garage with an alluring smile.

Always a practical woman, Bastedo told a reporter: “As the part was fun and as the salary would go towards the animal feed I immediately said yes. It was most enjoyable.”

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A noted stage appearance was alongside Harry Secombe and Roy Castle, both in the London West End and on tour, of the musical Pickwick Papers in 1993.

Bastedo and Secombe sang a glorious duet, There’s Something About You, which was written for the show by Leslie Bricusse.

In 1980, Alexandra married the director Patrick Garland, who was the longest serving director of the Chichester Festival Theatre in Sussex.

She became much involved with the management of the theatre, particularly with raising funds for the theatre’s structural improvements. She often appeared at its smaller space, The Minerva, and wrote her autobiography, titled Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks.

It was her passion for animals that occupied much of last years. The number of animals Bastedo rescued grew enormously – she recently added miniature Shetland ponies and she once admitted “there were always masses of unwanted cats”.

Bastedo was admired for her exceptional beauty, courtesy and charm. In her youth she was known to have dated Omar Sharif, David Frost, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen.

But her marriage to Garland was very successful and the two became well known and much respected figures in the Chichester area.

Patrick Garland died last year.