Susan Penhaligon

Last updated on the 11 July 2024 by Maeve

Susan Penhaligon headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 3 July 1949, Manila, Philippines. 

Susan Penhaligon was born in Manila to an engineer father working for Shell Oil, however, a family upheaval at age six saw her return to England, settling in St Ives and Falmouth. It was here, amidst the dramatic Cornish coastline, that Penhaligon’s adventurous spirit blossomed.

Judi Bowker and Susan Penhaligon in Count Dracula
Judi Bowker and Susan Penhaligon in Count Dracula

Education offered an outlet for her creativity. At boarding school in Bristol, her theatrical ambitions were nurtured. This passion led her to the prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. While still a student, Penhaligon landed her first film role in Dylan Thomas’ poetic masterpiece, “Under Milk Wood” (1972). This marked the beginning of a prolific career that would span decades and encompass both the big and small screens.

The mid-to-late 1970s proved to be a breakout period for Penhaligon. She played the complex Prue in the controversial drama series “Bouquet of Barbed Wire” (1976). This role showcased her ability to handle nuanced characters, defying the “pretty face” label often attached to her early career. Her film credits during this time solidified her versatility. She embodied Victorian elegance in “Count Dracula” (1977), chilled audiences in the Australian horror “Patrick” (1978) and ventured into science fiction territory with “Doctor Who” (1973).

The Land That Time Forgot - Doug McClure and Susan Penhaligon
The Land That Time Forgot – Doug McClure and Susan Penhaligon

The 1980s saw Penhaligon’s comedic talents come to the fore. The sitcom “A Fine Romance” (1981-1984) paired her with Judi Dench.

Susan Penhaligon’s career continued to flourish into the 90s and beyond. She made guest appearances in respected crime dramas, A Touch of Frost, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Bergerac, and Wycliffe. She played the long-suffering Jean Hope in the soap opera “Emmerdale” (2006).


Suggested viewing


No Sex Please – We’re British (1973)

No Sex Please - We're British poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 5.4

A newlywed couple’s life takes a turn when a mix-up floods their apartment with pornography. Their attempts to dispose of the ever-growing pile of X-rated magazines and films become increasingly frantic as a strict bank manager, the wife’s disapproving father (who also happens to be the husband’s boss) and the police all threaten to discover their predicament. With the help of a flustered co-worker, the couple scrambles to keep their secret safe and their newfound wedded bliss intact.

Top cast: Ronnie Corbett, Beryl Reid, Arthur Lowe, Ian Ogilvy, Susan Penhaligon, Michael Bates, Cheryl Hall, David Swift, Deryck Guyler, Valerie Leon, Margaret Nolan.


Count Dracula (1977)

Count Dracula (1977) poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.3

A lawyer’s business trip to Transylvania takes a terrifying turn when he becomes ensnared by a charming yet deadly vampire count, forcing him to fight for his life against the seductive allure of immortality and the threat of the undead.

Top cast: Louis Jourdan, Frank Finlay, Susan Penhaligon, Judi Bowker, Jack Shepherd, Mark Burns, Bosco Hogan, Richard Barnes, Ann Queensberry, George Malpas.

More horror

Dracula (1958)


The Land That Time Forgot (1974)

The Land That Time Forgot poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 5.6

Survivors of a World War I encounter, a German U-boat crew and British shipwreck victims, find themselves stranded in a lost land teeming with dinosaurs and primitive humans, forcing them to band together for survival amidst prehistoric dangers.

Top cast: Doug McClure, John McEnery, Susan Penhaligon, Keith Barron, Anthony Ainley, Godfrey James, Bobby Parr, Declan Mulholland, Colin Farrell.


A Fine Romance (1981)

A Fine Romance poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.1

A successful matchmaker sets up her reluctant, bookish sister with a shy landscape gardener. Despite initial awkwardness and clashes in personality, an unexpected spark ignites, leading to a hilariously unconventional romance that challenges their ideas of love and partnership.

Top cast: Judi Dench, Michael Williams, Susan Penhaligon, Richard Warwick.


Bouquet of Barbed Wire (1976)

Bouquet of Barbed Wire poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.1

A pregnant daughter’s manipulative marriage to a struggling actor ignites a web of deceit and desire. Her possessive father, harbouring dark desires of his own, clashes with the son-in-law, and a new office secretary complicates the family dynamic, leading to a shocking climax that unravels their comfortable facade.

Top cast: Frank Finlay, Sheila Allen, Susan Penhaligon, James Aubrey, Deborah Grant, Roland Curram, Eric Carte, Roger Rees, Ann Beach.

Alternative version

Bouquet of Barbed Wire poster


Susan Penhaligon full filmography @ Wikipedia
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