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Mrs Dale's Diary

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

The eighth episode of the third series – ‘Where Does Santa Claus Go In The Summer?’ – was broadcast on 30 December 1952. The Radio Times listing can be found here.

There was a brief cameo by Ellis Powell in this episode, although no recording exists. Powell played Mrs Dale in the long-running radio series Mrs Dale’s Diary, which was lampooned several times by the Goons.

Powell had a quite tragic end to her life. Mrs Dale’s Diary ran throughout the 1960s but Powell was fired by the BBC in 1963. An excerpt from the biography of Jessie Matthews, who succeeded her in the role of Mrs Dale, is quoted on the show’s Wikipedia page:

On 19 February 1963, a plump and embittered fifty-six-year-old character actress called Ellis Powell walked out of Broadcasting House for the last time. She was not a star. In fact, she had earned less than £30 a week. But her voice was as well known in Britain as that of Queen Elizabeth II, for it was heard twice a day by seven million devoted listeners. Miss Powell was Britain's most sacrosanct fictional paragon, Mrs Dale, in the radio serial Mrs Dale’s Diary. And now, after fifteen years in the role she had created, the BBC had summarily fired her partly because of her drinking habits, and partly because it was felt that the role, and also the entire programme, was in need of a facelift. Three months later, at the age of fifty-seven, she died. Her friends believed she never recovered from the shock and distress of her summary dismissal by the BBC. In the last weeks of her life she worked as a demonstrator at the Ideal Home Exhibition and as a cleaner in a hotel.

The drinking problem is much disputed. There is a nice article on her life available on the Films of the Fifties blog.

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