Gwen Taylor — things you didn't know about the British actress

Gwen Taylor as EastEnders character Violet Highway.
Gwen Taylor is joining EastEnders as Violet Highway. (Image credit: BBC)

Gwen Taylor burst to fame in 1984 in sitcom Duty Free, since then she has enjoyed a hugely successful career that has spanned more than three decades. After appearing in A Bit Of A Do as Rita Simcock and receiving a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress in 1989, she went on to take the title tole in comedy series Barbara.

Gwen has appeared in TV shows like Heartbeat, Fat Friends, Doc Martin, Tracey Ullman's Show, Sky sitcom Trollied and Coronation Street

She has also starred in films such as Monty Python's Life of Brian and The Lady in the Van and numerous stage shows including Prick Up Your Ears.

Most recently it was announced that Gwen would be joining the EastEnders cast as Violet Highway.

But what else is there to learn about the much-loved actress? Here are a few things you might not know...

1. Gwen Taylor used to work in a bank 

Before becoming a famous actress, Gwen started her career in banking. She was an assistant area manager for the National Provincial Bank in Derby, but soon became increasingly interested in amateur dramatics. Her first professional role was as a green bean in Jack and the Beanstalk. before going on to train at East 15 Acting School. 

2. She dreams of being in Downton Abbey 

Gwen has admitted that she would love to film a period drama. She told WalesOnline: "I would like someone to give me a nice television role, something like Downton Abbey. I love a period drama as I'm a sucker for the costumes, corsets and wigs. My character would have to live downstairs as I'm basically a bit common! I wouldn't mind any role really, whatever they offer, but I think those downstairs have more fun!"

Matt Lucas, Gwen Taylor and Chris New at the afterparty following the press night of Prick Up Your Ears

Gwen Taylor with Matt Lucas and Chris New at the press night of Prick Up Your Ears.  (Image credit: Getty)

3. She played a murderer in Coronation Street 

Gwen joined the cast of Coronation Street in July 2011 as Anne Foster, the mother of notorious Weatherfield rapist Frank. His murder saw a huge whodunit storyline unfold on screen, only for it to be eventually revealed that he's been killed by his own mother. Gwen told WalesOnline: "Some people knew it was Anne who was guilty because she was the only one of the suspects being written out of the show. But other people were surprised she had done it. It was lovely being part of Coronation Street — everyone was so hard working and friendly. I'd been a fan since it began, but when you're in theatre you don't get to see television every night so I've missed big chunks over the years."

4. She collects china pig ornaments 

Gwen has a passion for all thing pig-related, and has been collecting them since she was in her 20s. She told "I've got literally hundreds all over the place. They're super, I can tell you where I got almost all of them."

5. She has a great story about meeting her husband

Gwen met her husband Graham Reid when she was in her 40s — and the pair got together after a chance meeting at an audition at the BBC. "The producer, director and the writer were sitting there and the writer had a terrible frown on his face," she told the Mirror. "Afterwards I rang my agent and said: 'Well, forget that one because the writer thinks I'm complete rubbish'. Anyway, I got the part, and then got a letter from the writer saying: 'Dear Gwen, I've fallen in love with you. I don't know what your situation is, but I can't imagine my life without you in it!" 

David Jason, Nicola Paggett and Gwen Taylor in comedy series A Bit of a Do

Gwen Taylor starred in comedy series A Bit of a Do with David Jason and Nicola Paggett.  (Image credit: Getty)

6. She lives for the weekend

Like most of us, Gwen loves nothing more than spending her weekends with her family. She told "I'm away on tour quite a lot, so to do a Sunday brunch at home is a real treat. I usually make it and we'll have a roast chicken of a joint — a proper Sunday roast. Otherwise Waitrose do nice pies and I'll do roast potatoes and gravy." Gwen also admitted that another highlight of the weekend for her is doing a 'big wash' and getting everything clean and tidy for the following week. 

7. She's got a very good reason for not being on Twitter 

Gwen has confessed that she doesn't do Twitter because she is terrified of being disliked... but with her brilliant career and high fan base, we can't imagine for one moment that her fear would become a reality! 

Gwen Taylor's fact file

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the actress....

How old is she?

Gwen Taylor is 82 years old. She was born on February 19 1939.

Is she married? 

Gwen Taylor married Irish playwright Graham Reid in 1996. 

Does she have children? 

Gwen Taylor has three step-children and two step-grandchildren. 

Where was she born?

Gwen Taylor was born in Crich, Derbyshire.

How tall is she?

Gwen Taylor is 5ft 6in. 

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.