Elizabeth Roma Cresswell née Dumville

Born 25 April 1930 in Bradford, Yorkshire
The Grange High School for Girls, Bradford, Yorkshire
1948–1950: Bradford Civic Playhouse Theatre School
1950: Repertory with The Queen's Players at the Hippodrome Theatre, Keighley, Yorkshire
1951: Repertory with The Saxon Players at His Majesty's Theatre, Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire
1951: Repertory with The Saxon Players at the Theatre Royal, Leicester
1951: On tour in "The Toy Princess"
1952: "The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" (1953) filmed at Shepperton Studios, Middlesex
1953–1954: Repertory with the Repertory Company at the Royalty Theatre, Morecambe, Lancashire
1954: "The Constant Husband" (1955) filmed at Shepperton Studios, Middlesex
1955: "Joy of Living" touring leading provincial cities
1955–1956: "One Family" (ITV), a day-to-day serial in the lives of the Armstrongs
Married John Norris Leonard Cresswell (1928–1992) on 19 May 1956 at St. John's Church, Churt, Surrey
1957–1963: "Jim's Inn" (ITV), an advertising magazine programme
Television commercials and other advertising
Died 27 December 2019 in Sherwood, Nottingham

Mary Paula Dumville, Elizabeth Roma Dumville, Gwynneth Brenda Dumville, December 1936

Sisters, December 1936: Paula (b 1936), Roma (b 1930), Brenda (b 1924)

Roma Cresswell née Dumville
"A Lady Mislaid": Aubrey Richins, Namara Michael, Bruce Fisk, Roma Dumville, Valerie Pearson

"A Lady Mislaid" by Kenneth Horne
Aubrey Richins (Richie), Namara Michael, Bruce Fisk (Bunce), Roma, Valerie Pearson (Val)
Performed by The Saxon Players at His Majesty's Theatre, Barrow-in-Furness
12th to 17th February 1951

From a February 1951 newspaper cutting:

"A LADY MISLAID," His Majesty's Theatre

The ludicrous interpretation of a sinister theme affords excellent entertainment in Kenneth Horne's comedy-thriller in two acts. Wit and genuine sincerity are perfectly proportioned in pleasing contrast.

The appropriateness of the title is revealed when the police disturb a quiet country cottage to probe for the suspected remains of the wife of a former proprietor, and unexpected complications arise when the "murderer" appears on the scene.

Somewhat lethargic dialogue in the first two scenes is counteracted by later use of dramatic irony with great effect.

Talented Bruce Fisk, as the timorous "murderer" gives a distinguished performance, and Aubrey Richins and Peter Welch are superbly confident.

Roma Dumville acts with admirable accomplishment at the head of the female cast. She has a natural ability which should carry her beyond her present horizons in the theatrical world.

Valerie Pearson does not fully exploit a role liberally provided with comedic potentialities.

Although playing a little in the background, Namara Michael captures her fair share of the limelight.

An effective "noises off" department and a well-constructed set by William Alexander give added reality to a play, which although not a howling success, gave complete satisfaction to a "full house" last night.

"Yes and No": Valerie Pearson, Bruce Fisk, Peter Welch, Roma Dumville, Namara Michael

"Yes and No" by Kenneth Horne
Valerie Pearson (Val), Bruce Fisk (Bunce), Peter Welch, Roma, Namara Michael
Performed by The Saxon Players at His Majesty's Theatre, Barrow-in-Furness
19th to 24th February 1951

From a February 1951 newspaper cutting:

"YES AND NO," (The Saxon Players). His Majesty's, all the week.

"Yes" and "No" are despite their brevity, two very important words, not the least reason being that a girl has to make a choice between them when answering the biggest question she will be asked in her life.

Far reaching consequences depend on the correct choice, and toying with this idea Kenneth Horne presents us with, in "Yes and No" which the Saxon Players produce this week, first of all what happens when a rector's daughter refuses a sudden proposal of marriage, and then what occurs when she accepts in similar circumstances.

The net result is that although two different answers can produce a series of hilarious situations the outcome is the same in both cases — the girl falls in love with her father's curate and her former admirer finds that it is her sister that is meant for him.

Even in the epilogue when the audience is shown what really happened the romantic set-up ends like this.

Roma Dumville, who plays the boisterous "Jo," the elder daughter of the Jarrow family, whose amorous tangles and uncertainties upset the whole household, sustains the part well. Bruce Fisk is excellent as Adrian, who proposes marriage to "Jo," as is Valerie Pearson who takes the part of the more demure younger daughter, Sally.

The "friend of everyone," the overworked rector's wife who vainly tries to do everything …

From a 1951 newspaper cutting:

The first Press Ball of the Barrow-in-Furness Branch of the National Union of Journalists, held in March, raised £100 for the Widows' and Orphans' Fund of the Union. The sub-committee responsible for the arrangements consisted of June Hulbert, branch treasurer, Eric Hulley, sub-editor, and Monty Levy, reporter, all of the North-Western Evening Mail staff, Barrow-in-Furness. Actress Miss Roma Dumville, from His Majesty's Theatre, Barrow, and J.R. Green, branch chairman, Barrow correspondent of the Lancashire Evening Post, Preston, officiated at the prize draw at the ball.

From a 1951 newspaper cutting:

‘Film fame? No, it's too chancy!’
— says Roma

Most girls would give quite a lot for a chance of film fame. But 20-year-old Roma Dumville, few-pounds-a-week repertory actress with the Saxon Players at Barrow-in-Furness, is taking no chances.

Roma has an invitation to go to London for a film test. It was sent her by producer Frank Launder, who for four months has been searching for a leading lady for his new picture "Beauty Queen." He thinks she might be the girl. Roma isn't so sure.

"I've been here only a month, and I like it very much" she told me last night.

"I can't get an understudy to take my place … and if I made the trip I should be away from the company for about a fortnight.

"There's no guarantee that if I went to London I'd get the part. And where would I be then? I like this job, and I don't want to lose it. I'd rather have a steady one than go on a trip that might turn out to be a wild goose chase."

Mr. W. Baines, manager of the theatre, told me: "I'm doing what I can to help, but we don't run to understudies here, and Roma will be tied up for four weeks. We're waiting to hear again from London."

And London is waiting to hear something better than "No" from Roma.

[Note: The film "Beauty Queen" became "Lady Godiva Rides Again" (1951), whose cast included Pauline Stroud as the leading lady, Stanley Holloway, Diana Dors, Alastair Sim, George Cole and Dennis Price.]

Roma Cresswell née Dumville as Betty Neville and Aubrey Richins as Freddy Neville in "High Temperature" by Avery Hopwood

"High Temperature" by Avery Hopwood
Roma as Betty Neville and Aubrey Richins as Freddy Neville
Performed by The Saxon Players at His Majesty's Theatre, Barrow-in-Furness
23rd to 28th April 1951

Roma Cresswell née Dumville as Lottie Grady in "When We Are Married" by J.B. Priestley

Roma as Lottie Grady in "When We Are Married" by J.B. Priestley
Performed by The Saxon Players at the Theatre Royal, Leicester
20th to 25th August 1951
The cast also included Billie Whitelaw as Ruby Birtle

Billie Whitelaw and Roma Cresswell née Dumville in "Not Proven" by Lionel Brown

"Not Proven" by Lionel Brown
Billie Whitelaw as Honor Lea, Roma Dumville as Mavis Roberts (Bird)
Performed by The Saxon Players at the Theatre Royal, Leicester
24th to 29th September 1951

Roma Cresswell née Dumville in "Polly With A Past" by Guy Bolton and George Middleton

"Polly With A Past" by Guy Bolton and George Middleton
Roma Dumville as Jennings
Performed by The Saxon Players at the Theatre Royal, Leicester
3rd to 8th December 1951

The typewritten notes, transcribed further below, on the back of a publicity photograph of Roma, for the film "The Constant Husband" (1955), say that after performing in repertory theatre in Leicester, Keighley and Barrow (1950–1951), and before the filming in 1952 of "The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan", Roma went on tour in "The Toy Princess". Does anyone have any more information on this?

From a newspaper cutting:

Passing on the Savoy tradition

Mr. Harry Arnold, who is in Bradford to produce "Trial by Jury" and "The Pirates of Penzance" for the Bradford Gilbert and Sullivan Society, tells me that he has just turned down an offer to act as technical adviser on the Savoy Operas to the producers of the film now being made on the lives of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

This most lucrative offer was rejected simply because Mr. Arnold, the most modest of men, having, after 35 years with the D'Oyly Carte Theatre Company, thrown in his lot with the amateur societies, feels that his present work gives him most opportunities of passing on the great Savoy tradition.

Mr. Arnold is probably the world's greatest living expert on the Gilbert and Sullivan classics and his services are much in demand. He never uses a "prompt" copy, but knows every note, every inflection and every movement by heart — and what is more — knows exactly how to coach amateurs to get the very best out of them.

Incidentally, Leslie Baily, a former Leeds journalist and radio personality, has written the script for the film, in which Roma Dumville, a Bradford girl, formerly a pupil of the Bradford Civic Playhouse Theatre School, has a small role.

"The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" (1953), "Trial by Jury" scene: Roma Dumville is in the front row, second from the right

"The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" (1953)
"Trial by Jury" scene
Roma is in the front row, second from the right
The cast also included Robert Morley (as W.S. Gilbert), Dinah Sheridan and Wilfrid Hyde White
Filmed at Shepperton Studios in 1952

"The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" (1953): Roma Dumville dancing the Cachucha in "The Gondoliers" scene

"The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" (1953)
Roma dancing the Cachucha in "The Gondoliers" scene

"The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" (1953): Roma Dumville dancing the Cachucha in "The Gondoliers" scene

"The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" (1953)
"Dance the Cachucha, Fandango, Bolero" from "The Gondoliers."
Enthroned in the background are those joint kings, Marco and Giuseppe.
Sydney Gilliat directs the lavish production,
of which nearly half is opera. [Woman's Day and Home — June 15, 1953]
Roma is in the centre foreground.

In November 1952, Roma was initially given a part in the film "Hell Below Zero" (1954), starring Alan Ladd and based on the novel "The White South" by Hammond Innes. Roma's agent, Miss Joan Rees, telephoned Roma to say there was a chance of a job in Alaska. At her interview the next day, Roma learnt that the job was not in Alaska but in Antarctica. She was keen to go.

The following day she saw Miss Rees and was told that she had been given the job. She was very excited. Over the next few days she obtained a copy of her birth certificate at Somerset House and a passport, had vaccinations for yellow fever and smallpox, and took the train home to Bradford to sort some woollies out!

Ten days after her interview, excitement turned to despondency when Roma heard rumours that no girls were going to Antarctica after all, and sadly two days later this was confirmed. To cap the disappointment, Roma was still feeling unwell from her smallpox vaccination.

From an October 1953 newspaper cutting:

Royalty. — The repertory company this week are presenting "The Food of Love." Peter Thorpe, John Dawson, Ivor Earle and Roma Dumville all give noteworthy performances, which, with strong backing from the remainder of the cast, make attractive entertainment. The play is produced by Leonard James, with decor by Barry Vaughan.

From a November 1953 newspaper cutting:



On November 5, at the Royalty, the Morecambe Repertory Theatre, Ltd., presented a new play by Mabel and Denis Constanduros.

Desiree Dunsfold ... Shirley Dane
Lavinia Dunsfold ... Priscilla Harrison
Gavin Dunsfold ... Ivor Earle
Irene ... Maureen Murphy
Len ... Peter Thorpe
Mrs. Cooke ... Velvey Attwood
Colin Cooke ... John Brittany
Diana Bobinski ... Jill Johnson
Vladimir Bobinski ... William Leach
Barney Crawford ... John Dawson
Annabel Crawford ... Roma Dumville
Directed by Leonard James

This is a domestic comedy which provides an enjoyable evening of family entertainment. The story concerns the fortunes of a family who have just moved into a new country house and have a cottage to let in their grounds. The various subterfuges employed by numerous applicants to secure tenure of this cottage provide the framework for some amusing situations.

Ivor Earle and Priscilla Harrison, as the Dunsfolds, the couple who own the cottage, gave excellent performances. John Dawson, as a "charmer," Roma Dumville, as his wife, and Shirley Dane, as the Dunsfolds' daughter, were very well cast, and there was more than adequate support.

From a November 1953 newspaper cutting:

Royalty. — The Repertory Company present "The Prodigal Uncle." The production of this riotous Lancashire comedy is by Leonard James, and Roma Dumville, John Dawson and Peter Wyatt are outstanding in the chief roles.

Morecambe Royalty Theatre Repertory Company 1953/1954

"The 'gang' at Morecambe"
Roma is on the front row, fourth from the left.
Can anyone put the names to any of the other faces?

From a December 1953 newspaper cutting:


This year's special production at the Royalty is Charles Marlowe's "When Knights Were Bold," which Morecambe Repertory Theatre is performing in arrangement with Emile Littler. This is a fast-moving and colourful production by Leonard James, who has taken full advantage of the many humorous situations provided by the script. The two amusing settings, one in pantomime-style and the other embodying the essence of Victoriana, were painted by Barry Vaughan. Heading the cast of 18 are Peter Wyatt as Sir Guy de Vere and Roma Dumville as Lady Rowena Edgington, both of whom render highly spirited performances. John Dawson plays Sir Brian Ballymote, the villain of the piece, with full melodramatic gusto, and is ably supported by Peter Thorpe, who gives a clever character-study as Isaac Isaacson.

Particularly effective is George Fenner as the Hon. Charles Widdicombe, who in the Dream Sequence becomes a medieval Court Fool and renders the play's main musical number. Strong support comes from Velvey Attwood, John Brittany, Alayne Farris, Maureen Murphy, Thelma Sandeman, James Butler, Barry Vaughan, Juel Morrell, Audrey Gay, Heather Gregory, June Bailey, Anthony Payne, and Michael Foster.

[Note: "When Knights Were Bold," by Charles Marlowe, was performed by the Royalty Theatre Repertory Company at the Royalty Theatre, Morecambe in the week commencing Monday 28th December 1953. The theatre programme described it as "Christmas merriment for the whole family."]

From a newspaper cutting:

Stars judge talent contest

Mr. Peter Thorpe and Miss Roma Dumville, two members of the Morecambe Theatre Royal Repertory Company, assisted in the judging of the Fleetwood Corporation £100 Hidden Talent competition finals at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood, on Sunday.

Other judges were Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Tyzack, of Lancaster Road, Morecambe, the Reid Twins from the South Pier, Blackpool, and Mr. and Mrs. Laurie Watson, also from the South Pier.

From the programme of its World Premiere at the London Pavilion, W.1, Thursday 21st April 1955:

"The Constant Husband"

An Englishman of good appearance and education (REX HARRISON) finds himself in an unfamiliar hotel bedroom in a 'foreign' fishing village with no recollection of his identity, his past or even the time of the year.

At the local hospital he is examined by a brain specialist (CECIL PARKER) who tells him there is nothing wrong with his brain except amnesia brought on by some great mental shock.

Following the clue of a hired car the two men set out to unearth the patient's past. To begin with all goes well. He is identified as Charles Hathaway, a senior 'boffin' at the Ministry of Munitions with a charming and successful photographer wife, Monica (KAY KENDALL), and a spacious house in London. As he renews his acquaintance with his lovely and loving wife she tells him that it was one of his 'hush-hush' missions for the Ministry that must have taken him out of town.

On reporting back to the pompous research executive (RAYMOND HUNTLEY), who, he has gathered, is his chief at the Ministry, Hathaway discovers to his growing apprehension that his past is by no means as commendable and normal as he had at first supposed. He has in fact been using the Ministry as a 'blind' for some other secret occupation, of which his wife had no suspicion, which takes him away from home for days — and even weeks — at a time. But what?

He next drops in at his London club where he is so unanimously cold-shouldered by men who have obviously known him well that he begins to suspect he has been guilty of some heinous social crime.

On leaving the club he is kidnapped by a couple of Italians, the most vituperative of whom, Luigi (GEORGE COLE), has some connection with his loss of face at the club. Taken by force to a Soho restaurant owned by their father, Papa Sopranelli (ERIC POHLMANN), he discovers to his horror that the lovely daughter of the house, Lola (NICOLE MAUREY), a veritable 'ball of fire' (quite apart from her professional capacity as human cannon-ball in a circus act) claims to be a deserted 'bride'.

Further evidence proves that his past is strewn with the wreckage of his amorous exploits, in spite of his almost 'dedicated' attitude towards matrimony.

Finally, he develops such an overwhelming distaste for the sort of cad he was — and feels that he no longer is — that he actively aids and abets his arrest and sensational trial at the Old Bailey for a series of breaches of the laws of matrimony of which he has no recollection.

Once again he is unable to escape from the predominantly feminine influence on his life, for his Counsel, Miss Chesterman (MARGARET LEIGHTON) is a glamorous woman barrister whose brilliantly delivered case in his defence has obviously been inspired by her warm personal feelings towards the prisoner. As he listens with increasing alarm to her impassioned plea for his release and tries to avoid the adoring glances of his six beautiful victims in the witness gallery, 'the constant husband' longs for the peaceful sanctuary of four prison walls — and hopes with all his heart that the bewildered Judge (MICHAEL HORDERN) will be on his side.

"The Constant Husband" (1955): Jill Adams, Valerie French, Kay Kendall, Rex Harrison, Nicole Maurey, Roma Dumville, Ursula Howells

"The Constant Husband" (1955)
Jill Adams, Valerie French, Kay Kendall, Rex Harrison, Nicole Maurey, Roma Dumville, Ursula Howells
Filmed at Shepperton Studios in 1954

From a newspaper cutting:

Bradford Actress in New Comedy Film

Bradford-born Roma Dumville is one of six wives acquired by film star Rex Harrison — but only for the purposes of the latest Launder and Gilliat comedy, "The Constant Husband," now in production at Shepperton Studios, Middlesex.

Miss Dumville (second from the right in the photograph), whose home is at 14 Briarwood Grove, Wibsey, was trained at Bradford Civic Playhouse Theatre School and was a member of Keighley, Barrow and Morecambe repertory companies. She has appeared in another film, "The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan."

The other film "wives" are Jill Adams, Valerie French, Kay Kendall, Nicole Maurey and Ursula Howells.

"The Constant Husband" (1955): Valerie French, Ursula Howells, Jill Adams, Roma Dumville, Kay Kendall, Nicole Maurey, George Cole

"The Constant Husband" (1955)
Valerie French, Ursula Howells, Jill Adams, Roma Dumville,
Kay Kendall, Nicole Maurey, George Cole (as Luigi Sopranelli)

"The Constant Husband" (1955): Rex Harrison is in the dock, Roma is in the second row, third from the left

"The Constant Husband" (1955)
Rex Harrison is in the dock
Margaret Leighton (counsel for defence) is immediately in front of Rex Harrison
Second row: Kay Kendall, Roma Dumville, Jill Adams, Valerie French, Ursula Howells, Nicole Maurey

From typewritten notes on the back of a publicity photograph of Roma:

Roma Dumville, comely and versatile actress from Yorkshire, contributes her talent and personality to the wealth of feminine attractions in the life of "The Constant Husband", the new Launder-Gilliat comedy in which Rex Harrison returns to the British screen in the title role as a victim of amnesia who has lost all recollection of the seven attractive women who have accompanied him to the altar.

Born in Bradford where she trained at the Civic Theatre School, Roma underwent an extensive dramatic training repertory in Leicester, Keighley and Barrow, before going on tour in "The Toy Princess". She made her screen debut in "The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan" and then returned to repertory in Morecambe where she played many exacting female leads in a wide variety of plays, including "The Deep Blue Sea", "The Happy Marriage", "Caroline" and "The Waters of the Moon".

"The Constant Husband" is a Launder-Gilliat production for London Films based on an original story by Val Valentine and Sidney Gilliat, starring Rex Harrison, Margaret Leighton and Kay Kendall, with Cecil Parker, Nicole Maurey, George Cole, Raymond Huntley, Eric Pohlmann and Michael Hordern. Directed by Sidney Gilliat at the Shepperton Studios and photographed in Eastman Colour.


From a 1955 newspaper cutting:


After a short period away from legitimate theatre — to play the part of one of Rex Harrison's six screen wives in a new British comedy film, Bradford-born Roma Dumville is to tour leading provincial cities with Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge in their latest play.

The play — "Joy of Living" — opens on 14 March at Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, and Roma's many friends in Yorkshire will have an opportunity of seeing it during the week beginning 6 June at the Grand Theatre, Leeds.

So far in her theatrical career, Roma has appeared under her own name, but sooner or later, in that mysterious profession, some one, agent, producer or executive, seems to think some other name would look more interesting on the programmes. So, for the forthcoming tour — which may precede a West End production if successful — Roma makes the short change of two letters from Dumville to "Denville".

Roma, whose home is at 14, Briarwood Grove, Wibsey, was trained at Bradford Civic Playhouse Theatre School and was in repertory at Keighley, Barrow, Leicester and Morecambe. Her first film was the Launder and Gilliat production "The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan," her second and latest, "The Constant Husband."

Roma is a granddaughter of Mr. Joseph Dumville, the nonagenarian Bradford textile consultant.

Published in the Eastbourne Gazette, 10 August 1955:



Cicely Courtneidge, Jack Hulbert, "Joy of Living" Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert

It is marvellous weather, you feel 20 years younger and you want to take life as easily as it will let you. Then W.P. Lipscomb's new comedy "Joy of Living," will teach you just how to do it.

I saw "Joy of Living" at Devonshire Park Theatre on Monday and revelled in its light-as-thistledown humour. There is never a dull moment, as you can imagine with those two great artistes, Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge on stage most of the time.

As in real life, Jack and Cicely as George and Marion are married and the curtain rises on the wedding reception of their daughter Vicky [Roma Dumville] who, with her bashful bridegroom Basil, is on her way to their honeymoon hotel.

With their family responsibilities slipping away from them, George and Marion decide on the six months' cruise they have secretly dreamed about all their lives. But Fate decrees that a dream it shall remain, for their son John gets into a spot of trouble in a deal with a two-timing Mr Barnes that costs father his last penny.

Agnes, another daughter, falls for the crook, and Vicky and Basil return dejectedly, bothered and bewildered about the finer points of honeymooning.


You would think that quite enough trouble to be going on with, but it is only the beginning. The persuasive tongue of Mr Barnes soon has George agreeing with the crook's philosophy that there's more to be had making money — by hook or by crook, especially crook — and spending and enjoying it than there is in being scrupulously honest and scraping all one's life for a mere existence of respectability.

With £4,000 a year tax free dangled in front of him, father falls and all this has happened by the end of the first act.

In the second act we see George as a cigar-smoking, fast-talking "wise guy" with a new language and a hat that stays on his head. And, more important than anything, with money to burn.

Then mother launches out unexpectedly on a career of her own, pseudo romances creep into the new lives of George and Marion and the situation is chaotic all round. After some surprising twists it all works out to a pleasant end that leaves the audience in a happy and contented frame of mind.

Although "Joy of Living" borders on farce, the dialogue sparkles all the time and there is so much light and shade that occasionally there are spasms of sentimental seriousness that bring a hush to the crowd that a moment before was roaring with laughter.

Of course, it is not just the dialogue that does it. It is the perfection of Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge and a grand supporting cast.

Hulbert's transformation from the staid business man to the get-rich-quick character is a gem and both he and Cicely have some delightful business together and with several of the others. Cicely overdoing the brandy in a scene with the delightful Diana Bester as the designing female is an entertainment in itself.

John Trevor is perfect as the slick Mr Barnes, and Jocelyne Rhodes, the infatuated daughter is natural and convincing. Roma Denville and Richard Butler, the honeymooning couple, get every ounce out of their own particular situations, and George Lee, the wayward son, flits in and out of trouble with complete reality. Cicely Walper is excellent as the all-understanding, tolerant maid.

It is a long time since I have seen members of a theatre audience so happy, so thoroughly enjoying themselves, in fact so thoroughly revelling in the joy of laughing.



According to a list written by Roma, some theatre programmes and some newspaper cuttings, "Joy of Living" was performed (in chronological order) in Aberdeen (His Majesty's Theatre, week commencing Monday 14th March 1955, First Night), Blackpool (Grand Theatre, week commencing Monday 28th March 1955), Birmingham (Theatre Royal, week commencing Monday 4th April 1955), Nottingham (Theatre Royal, week commencing Monday 11th April 1955), Southsea (Kings Theatre, week commencing Monday 18th April 1955), Oxford (New Theatre, week commencing Monday 9th May 1955), Manchester (Opera House, week commencing Monday 16th May 1955), Leeds (Grand Theatre, week commencing Monday 6th June 1955), Coventry (The Coventry Theatre, week commencing Monday 1st August 1955), Eastbourne (Devonshire Park Theatre, week commencing Monday 8th August 1955), Hanley (Staffordshire, Theatre Royal, week commencing Monday 15th August 1955), Dublin (Olympia Theatre, week commencing Monday 5th September 1955), and (in alphabetical order) in Bradford (Alhambra Theatre), Bristol, Edinburgh, Folkestone (two weeks), Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle (Theatre Royal) and Norwich.

The play was written by W.P. Liscomb and directed by Jevan Brandon-Thomas. Decor was by Geoffrey Ghin. Its cast, in order of appearance, were Cicely Walper (Bessie), Cicely Courtneidge (Marion), Jocelyne Rhodes (Agnes), Jack Hulbert (George), George Lee (John), Roma Denville (Vicky), Richard Butler (Basil), John Trevor (Mr. Barnes), Diane Bester (Shirley Winter) and Ann Stutfield (Miss Ponder).

The contracts between Roma and James P. Sherwood Productions Ltd., of 63 Jermyn Street, London SW1, stated that Roma was to be paid £12 per week for "Joy of Living".

From a newspaper cutting:

A Bradford actress for ITV ‘family’

By Doreen Turney-Dann

Bradford-born actress Roma Denville is to have a major rôle in the commercial TV serial "One Family."

The Armstrongs, who have family connections in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, will first be seen when the mid-week programmes open in Birmingham in February.

Miss Denville will play the eldest daughter, Barbara, who is an assistant in a dress shop with ambitions to become a model.

In repertory for a time after training at the theatre school in Bradford, she has had rôles in two films and has recently been on tour with Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge in a new stage show "The Joy of Living."

Twenty episodes of "One Family" have already been pre-filmed.

Other members of the cast are Gordon Harker, Joyce Heron, Patrick Holt and Anthony Doonan.

The Armstrongs of "One Family" (ITV, 1955–1956): Dinah Ann Rogers, Anthony Doonan, Roma Denville, Joyce Heron, Gordon Harker, Patrick Holt, David Coote

The Armstrongs of "One Family" (ITV, 1955–1956)
Standing: Dinah Ann Rogers, Anthony Doonan, Fred the Kangaroo, Roma Denville
Sitting: Joyce Heron, Gordon Harker, Patrick Holt. In front: David Coote

Published in the TV Times:

Tuesday May 1 [1956]
4.45 One Family

A day-to-day serial in the lives of the Armstrongs from a story by R.F. Delderfield
Script by George Kerr
An ATV Network Production

There will be a strong Commonwealth flavour. The family consists of the mother, played by Joyce Heron; a Canadian, Patrick Holt, as the father and Gordon Harker as Grandfather. There are two beautiful daughters, Barbara and Mary (Roma Denville and Dinah Ann Rogers), and two sons, Ronnie and Maxie (played by Anthony Doonan and David Coote). Their adventures will take them out of England and there are promises that they will visit Australia and Canada. Here, then, may be the first International Family.

John Cresswell, Roma Cresswell née Dumville, 19th May 1956

19th May 1956

From a newspaper cutting:



The wedding will take place at St. John's Church, Churt, on Whit Sunday, May 19th, of Miss Roma Denville, who is perhaps better known as Barbara Armstrong in the independent television serial, "One Family." The bridegroom is Mr. John Cresswell, son of Mr. and Mrs. N. Cresswell, of Oak Ridge, Churt.

Before her television engagement Miss Denville appeared with Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge in "Joy of Living," and she has appeared in several films, the latest being "The Constant Husband" in which she plays one of the wives of Rex Harrison.

She was born in Bradford, and comes of a scholastic family. She has lived in the South of England for some considerable time.

Mr. Cresswell was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, and Sedbergh School, Yorkshire. He is a sales promotion executive with George Newnes, Ltd., the London publishers.

The wedding service will be conducted by the Rev. C.L. Cresswell, Chaplain of the Queen's Chapel, Savoy.

The couple are planning to postpone their honeymoon, for the bride has to take part in rehearsals at the television studies on the Monday following the wedding.

[Note: The Reverend Cyril Cresswell, KCVO, MA, who conducted the service, was John Cresswell's uncle. Roma was given away by John's sister's husband Bill Perry, and John's niece Angela, aged 4, was the chief bridesmaid.]

"Jim's Inn" (ITV, 1957–1963): Jack Edwardes, Jimmy Hanley, Maggie Hanley, Victor Platt, John Sherlock, Ken Haward, Roma Cresswell

"Jim's Inn" (ITV, 1957–1963)
Jack Edwardes, Jimmy Hanley, Maggie Hanley, Victor Platt,
John Sherlock, Ken Haward, Roma Cresswell

quot;Jim's Inn" (ITV, 1957–1963): Maggie Hanley, Roma Cresswell

"Jim's Inn" (ITV, 1957–1963)
Maggie Hanley née Avery, Roma Cresswell née Dumville

Published in the TV Times, 8 July 1960:

Good Cheer at Jim's Inn

Opening time in Jimmy Hanley's pub in Wembleham! A moment enjoyed as much by the "regulars" who make up the cast of Jim's Inn as by the viewers — in a nonstop run of more than three years.

This weekly advertising magazine, put out by Associated Rediffusion, recently passed its 160th edition. What is the clue to its success?

"Work," said Jimmy Hanley, with a grin. "I really mean that. We spend nearly three days scripting the 15-minute show. And teamwork. And sincerity. We're a friendly crowd who do enjoy ourselves."

What makes the show's personalities so real? Says scriptwriter Bob Kellett, who "builds in" the advertisements with Jimmy's ideas on incidents and gags: "They are real. Time's too short to develop character — so the actors must be themselves.

"Another thing, sounds paradoxical, but without the advertisements it would lose a lot of reality. People do talk in a village pub about things like household or gardening gadgets, and how much they paid for them."

Jimmy should know because he used to run a pub at Effingham, Surrey. Jim's Inn is modelled on it.

At rehearsal the atmosphere is just as cheerfully natural as it is when Jim's Inn takes the air.

There is burly pipe-smoking Jack Edwardes looking every inch (strictly 6ft 4½in) the farmer he has played almost from the start. "Mine Host" Hanley, as his genial self, swops a story with him at the bar.

John Sherlock, as "Ron," appeared in the first programme and has rarely missed one since. Absent-minded Ron, who manages the village hardware and electrical store, is the father of twins — but his "wife Mary" is not seen.

"Dennis," a commuter with a job in the City, is played by Dennis Bowen with the Army-type moustache. He joined the team last February, just before curly-haired Dianne Watts, who is Peggy his "wife" in the show.

Two older-stagers are Maggie, acting herself as Mrs Jimmy Hanley, and Roma (Roma Denville) who runs the local beauty salon. They are firm friends in real life, too.

Said Roma, who holds the record by never missing a programme since the start: "I've known Maggie for 12 years. We're both Yorkshire girls. We met at a theatre school in Bradford, took a chance together by coming to London together in 1952. We shared a bed-sitter in Earls Court for a year, did film work and then went into repertory. When I was asked to be Maggie's friend in this show it seemed the natural thing to do."

Hazel-eyed, 30-year-old Roma Denville is married to a TV-advertising executive who is her "main interest" apart from music. How close is her own character to the Roma she plays?

"Well I'm not so different, I suppose. I'm not really gossipy, but I am rather excitable. I'm also terribly practical, more so than Roma in the show. I love making lists and planning ahead."

Maggie, as herself, is a calmer type who deals with things as they happen — "You have to with two young children!" The Hanley daughters, three-year-old Jane, and Sarah, aged nine months, have appeared in about nine programmes.

Jack Edwardes is not a farmer, but he might well have been. "To a certain extent," he said, "I am the part I play. Anything in the open air suits me, I like beer and the country. I'm always out by 6.30am anyway. Couldn't stand desk work.

He did RAF (pilot and instructor) and civilian flying before taking to the stage. He lives in Broadstairs where he grows his own vegetables in a "hefty-sized" garden, and is quite a handyman.

Is Ron as dumb as he can appear in the show? "That's a matter of opinion," said 31-year-old John Sherlock.

"I think Ron is very like me. He forces himself to go into the pub, but is basically shy. I am, too. He is a home lover, so am I. And I am vague."

In fact John Sherlock, whose interest is zoology, is mentally very bright. There is nothing he cannot do in home decoration. He has transformed his old Victorian house in Ealing, painting, wallpapering, laying carpets and lino, even making curtains.

His wife, an ITV production assistant, is out all day. So John acts as nursemaid to their baby girl — he was an RAF nursing orderly for two years. "Do I pick her up if she cries? Of course I do, at once!"

Dennis Bowe, who is married to an actress, claims several things in common with the Dennis he plays. He is also a handyman and is very fond of pubs, beer and darts — at which he usually wins.

He used to box and wrestle and, at 17, broke several public school records for swimming. He has sung in opera and musicals. It was in pantomime at Golders Green last Christmas that he met Jimmy Hanley, taking over from Hughie Green who had jaundice, and was invited to join the Inn's regulars.

Dark, deep-voiced Diane Watts, aged 29, feels she is very like her show character Peggy — "though not so newlywed."

Married nearly eight years to actor Victor Platt, she has a six-year-old son, lives in St John's Wood. "But we do hanker after just such a country home as my Rose Cottage in Jim's Inn."

Here is a coincidence. Three months ago scriptwriter Bob Kellett became the father of twins. "Remarkable, for there haven't ever been any in our families in either side," he said.

"After writing and talking so much about Ron's twins in the show, I can only put it down to wishful thinking."

Esmé Scott

Roma Cresswell, Anadin advertisement

After having taken Anadin!

John Cresswell Associates: Dave Kelly, Avril Rogers, Philip Milner-Jones, John Cresswell, Roma Cresswell, Alan Saunders, Sue Warner, Raymond Head

John Cresswell Associates, Queens House, Leicester Square, 1970
Dave Kelly (Photographer), Avril Rogers (Art Director), Philip Milner-Jones (Art Director),
John, Roma, Alan Saunders (Art Director), Sue Warner (Copywriter), Raymond Head (Art Director)

From a newspaper cutting:

The Cresswells — "three dimensional" couple

John Cresswell is tall, dark and handsome; his wife Roma is slim, blonde and ravishingly pretty.

Together they look so striking that they almost put one in mind of those young couples in advertisements enthusing over a new refrigerator or examining the latest thing in luxury car models.

In a way this is quite appropriate, for John is a highly successful advertising executive, and you'll certainly remember Roma, who under her own name, appears in television commercials.

But in another way this is not a fair comparison. The Cresswells are very much three-dimensional people with full, busy lives. And, though fortune may smile on them now, they've had to take many hard bumps on the way up.

Go back 16 years and you'll find John, fresh from two and a half years in REME [Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers], down from his native Newcastle determined to crash his way into film production.

For life

Roma came into his life when he had the idea of working up a cabaret act, and wanted a partner. "I know just the girl for you," said his friend … and didn't know how right he was. The introduction was duly made, and though the cabaret act came to nothing, John and Roma had formed another kind of partnership — for life.

When they met, Roma — her stage name was Denville — too had come from her home, which was in Bradford, to seek fame in the London theatre.

Soon after she and John were married Roma was booked for a television programme with Jimmy Hanley … "For six weeks, and it went on for more than six years," she says.

She still misses the programme, which for her had a special attraction: Maggie Hanley is her best friend, and has been since they trained for the stage together in Bradford.

In fact, in an indirect way, Roma introduced her to Jimmy Hanley.

"When I was at Morecambe Rep., Jimmy came as visiting star in 'The Deep Blue Sea,' in which he had scored a hit on Broadway. I took the woman's role opposite him" (incidentally she was then in her early 20s, and Jimmy in his late 30s, whereas the characters in the play are the other way around … but, then, many a Hamlet looks older than his mother).

The next week he went on to Huddersfield where young Miss Margaret Avery (it was Jimmy who dubbed her Maggie) was playing the humble role of the char.

Cupid scored

Margaret, on whom Cupid had instantly scored a bull's eye, seized thankfully on her one talking point: "I believe you've met my friend Roma," she stammered.

"And the next weekend he drove her to Morecambe to see me," recalls Roma.

The Cresswells still live in the pretty Swiss Cottage flat they came to after their marriage. But for Roma there is one drawback: She is now so much associated with TV commercials that she is never offered a straight acting job.

Apart from her TV commitments she has taken up oil painting. She has sent her best painting, a flower study, as a birthday present to her mother, Mrs. Mabel Dumville in Bradford.

Roma Cresswell Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, 1985/1986 brochure, Roma Cresswell
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, 1985/1986 brochure, Roma Cresswell The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
"with Citalia, the best of Italy"
1985/1986 brochure

Roma is in front of the carriage above and in the centre of the photograph on the left.
Penarth Lifeboat Station D-class Lifeboat, Roma Cresswell, John Cresswell, 16 August 1989

Roma and John Cresswell at the launch of the Penarth Lifeboat Station D-class lifeboat
"John Cresswell", Roma's sixtieth birthday present to John, on 16th August 1989.
Penarth is about four miles west of Cardiff.

Tribute to John Cresswell by Sir Jeremy Hanley, KCMG, MP 1983–1997
St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, 13th January 1993

I have been asked to undertake a few difficult tasks in my life but none compared to that given to me today. I stand surrounded by people who knew a most remarkable man; people who marvelled at his huge friendliness and were bowled over at his complete presence; people who can still feel the glow from his warmth like standing in front of a roaring log fire on a day such as this; people who will have a salty tear in their eye at his memory but who will fail to fight back a grin at their own picture of the sheer joy of the man. Indeed, John would have hated this to be a solemn occasion and I can feel him here amongst us with his beaming smile and his rich bass booming 1augh. But who was this special man?

He was born John Norris Leonard Cresswell on May Day 1928, in Newcastle, and he joined his sister Beryl. John used to say he was named Norris after his father, and Leonard after his Uncle Cyril. (I never understood that one either!) After an education at Sedbergh, where even strong men get tougher, he joined the Army at the age of 18. Craftsman Cresswell always claimed that he had a perfect war record in that he joined REME a year after the war ended, but few knew of his early military exploits. Even on the troopship bound out of Liverpool for Singapore he made his mark. One can see the beginnings of a life-time's love of gastronomy and his fiercely independent streak. John was so horrified at the filthy conditions in the ship's galley, infested with cockroaches or worse, that he demanded to sleep on the deck. He was promptly charged with mutiny. Sentenced, not to a keel-hauling or to be strung up from the mizzen, a more enlightened command ordered him to the ship's library, where our hero happily gained an appreciation for books and words.

When, still Craftsman, Cresswell left the Army at the age of 20, he immediately entered publishing, at George Newnes, where he worked on publications that allowed him to pursue his deep interests – Country Life and Women's Own! But John always had a leaning towards advertising, and who now can be surprised? Indeed he was one of the most charmingly persuasive men I've ever met – one word from John and it was hard, if not impossible, to resist. So a certain lady found when John heard from a friend of a beautiful young actress who might just fit the bill for a cabaret turn he was planning. It became one of the most perfect, loving and permanent blind dates of all time. After all, put yourself in the shoes of this lovely creature as she opened the door of 300 Earls Court Road to be confronted by a dashing Adonis, complete with cigarette in a bamboo holder. Roma Dumville was smitten, and so was John. Both admitted later that day that they had met the person they were to marry, and thank God, for so was born a partnership that none of us could ever have believed had not been forged at birth. But like swans they mated for life, and we have all felt the benefit of that. John might have achieved miracles in time but he knew that with Roma beside him, miracles were possible.

It was about that time, when they were married on 19th May, 1956, that I first met them, when Roma was appearing in my father's Television Advertising Magazine "Jim's Inn". Jimmy and Maggie Hanley instantly became the firmest of friends to John and Roma, so strong that Roma and Maggie were together when Jim died, exactly 23 years ago this very day, and again, when John lost his battle in the first few minutes of Monday, 23rd November last.

That friendship has for my family been a rock around which any chaos could be allowed to reign, as we could always be allowed to return to the strength, love and wisdom of "Auntie John and Unc1e Roma" – a slip of the tongue that lasted the length of our friendship – and a slip that John revelled in as he always had special names for people. Roma was always "Bird" or "cherubim"; Maggie with her northern roots was "us Mag", and I wouldn't mind betting there are people here who will always prefer the name he christened them with. But anyone who always knew the self-confident, rock solid, totally competent J.C. should have seen him when he made his single television appearance in Jim's Inn. Weeks of rehearsal, sleepless nights, a nervous wreck as he prepared himself for the one famous line as he walked on at the end of an episode with the never to be forgotten words, "a point of Watney's Export Light, please Jim"!

Perhaps the most important step in his business life was on 14th January, 1967 – 26 years ago tomorrow, when he, Roma and Philip Milner Jones, the artistic genius, founded John Cresswell Associates. Many of you here were instantly taken by the man you met, taken with his style, his elegance, his panache, his sheer being. He made work a pleasure and many of you spent far more than you should – "and every penny was worth it to be with John", said one of his clients. It is wonderful that Philip's daughter Philippa will be playing for us and John a little later, as John loved music – and the musicals. He and Roma saw Chorus Line 11 times; 42nd Street 14; Phantom 8.5 (he wasn't very well) and Cats 9 times, and the casts came to know and love him too.

He loved France, where John and Roma returned as often as possible, near Vence, and he always intended to spend more and more time in that atmosphere that seemed to suit John so well. God, he looked so good with a tan – like an Arab Sheik! He also revelled in the present that Roma gave him on his 69th Birthday – an inshore lifeboat. The crew wrote "Every time the John Cresswell Lifeboat goes out on a service call – John's spirit will be there with us".

John was warmth, John was fun. He brought to the sheer professionalism that he always showed, a personality that was infectious and unforgettable. John was and still is our special friend.

As Canon Henry Holland has put it:

"Death is nothing at all … I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone; wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me – pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, without the ghost of a shadow on it.
Life means all it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am just waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner … All is well …"

We will never forget John [or Roma].