Sheridan is best-known to Doctor Who fans as Chancellor Flavia in The Five Doctors (1983), but her TV career stretched back to 1937’s crime drama, Landslide. Though she appeared in a few films in the 1940s – including Full Speed Ahead (1940) and Murder in Reverse (1945) – she mainly focussed on being an ambulance driver during the Second World War.
Sheridan was actually born Dinah Mec (pronounced ‘mess’) in 1920 to a German mother and Russian father. Her career really took off when she starred as Wendy McKim in Genevieve (1953), which tells the story of the rivalry between Alan McKim and Ambrose Claverhouse at the annual London to Brighton vintage car rally. Many people will know her as Mrs. Waterbury in1970’s The Railway Children, in which she starred opposite Bernard Cribbins (Doctor Who’s loveable Wilfred Mott) and William Mervyn (Sir Charles Summer in The War Machines, and father of current-series production designer, Michael Pickwoad).
In 1999, these two movies were named on the list of the Top 100 British Films of All Time, as voted for by 1,000 actors, writers, directors and producers.
Aside from her work in films, Dinah also appeared in TV comedy series like Don’t Wait Up (alongside The Sarah Jane Adventures’ Nigel Havers); All Night Long (with Keith Barron aka. Enlightnment’s Captain Striker); and Keeping Up Appearances, which also starred The Trial of a Time Lord’s Geoffrey Hughes as Onslow and Clive Swift (Revelation of the Daleks; Voyage of the Damned) as Richard Bucket.
Dinah Sheridan was also in the Agatha Christie adaptation, The Mirror Crack’d (1980); as Grace Marston in The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953); and as Dolly Mayhew in Lovejoy. After being a regular on quiz show, Countdown between 1988 and 1993, Dinah last acted on screen in a 1999 episode of Jonathon Creek. She was last seen in 2007’s Comedy Connections.
Sheridan was married four times, and had three children to her first husband, Jimmy Hanley (Crossroads; The Blue Lamp): the politician, Sir Jeremy Hanley; and actress, Jenny Hanley (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; The Morecambe & Wise Show); while one, sadly, died at birth.
Her official website says:
We are deeply saddened to hear that Dinah passed away peacefully on Sunday morning at her home in Northwood surrounded by her family including her daughter Jenny Hanley and Sir Jimmy Hanley.
You can relive her role as Chancellor Flavia in The Five Doctors, here bestowing the ultimate privilege on an unsuspecting Doctor!
Further tributes can be found at: