Sheffield actress was a shining light - and went on to break screen taboo

Older Sheffield theatregoers have been saddened to learn of the death of Myra Frances, a shining light of the permanent company at Sheffield Playhouse in Townhead Street, which was the forerunner of The Crucible.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 1:47 pm
Three members of the Sheffield Playhouse, Townhead Street, are leaving Sheffield at the end of the current season... our picture shows the three relaxing on the City Hall steps, left to right, Christopher Wilkinson, Myra Frances, and Barrie Smith, June 12, 1968

Myra may have achieved a certain notoriety in 1974 when she and Alison Steadman had the first lesbian kiss on British television – the play was Girl by Yorkshire-based James Robson and the moment broke a British screen taboo – but in Sheffield she was loved for performances in an early production of The Stirrings in Sheffield on Saturday Night and another musical play about local history, the Eyam plague story, Ring O’ Roses.Both of those productions were scripted by Alan Cullen.

She was recruited for the Playhouse company by artistic director Colin George who had previously directed her in an open-air production at Ludlow Castle.

The Playhouse closed in 1969 and Frances moved on, mostly into television although she also directed plays in the theatre.In 1972 she appeared in the series The Organisation whose star was Peter Egan. They married in 1976.

Myra was also known nationally for her role in the drama series Survivors and in Doctor.

But like a lot of actors from that period she took something of Sheffield

with her: the song To Be a Sheffield Grinder from “Stirrings” – she sang

it to her daughter Rebecca Egan, also an actor, who is rumoured to sing

it at auditions.

Myra and Peter Egan became heavily involved in animal charities after a labrador collapsed in the street in front of her in 1988.But Egan continued to act and was seen in the final episode of Unforgotten as the father, his mind failing, of Nicola Walker’s Cassie. In his final scene he is listening over and over to Cassie’s last message on his mobile telephone, knowing that she is now dead.

Unforgotten was of course pre-recorded but a few hours after it was broadcast it was his real-life wife who had died, aged 78, from cancer.

Myra was also remembered with an obituary in The Guardian .

Tributes paid to Sheffield tree campaigner Roy Millington after his death – see page 22.