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Anne Valery; Actress who turned to scriptwriting and enjoyed success with Tenko, a punchy series about Allied women interned by the Japanese
The Times (London, England). (May 13, 2013): News: p48. From Academic OneFile.
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Anne Valery was an actress and television presenter who found her metier as a scriptwriter. With her co-writer, Jill Hyem, she produced most of the scripts for the BBC's hit drama Tenko, which ran to three series and drew audiences of up to 15 million viewers. She and Hyem took over the script writing after the second episode, and transformed the series, originally created by Lavinia Warner, into a compelling drama about the sufferings of civilian women interned in harsh conditions by the Japanese during the war.

To the consternation of male colleagues, Valery and Hyem's characters did not mince their words about their situation. "For the audience, the women of Tenko stopped being women and became people," Valery told The Sun-Herald in 1984.

"And as people, not just as women, we had them face up to the major moral and ethical issues which confront humankind -- euthanasia, abortion, suicide (and the Catholic Church's position on them) and homosexuality."

The final episode of Tenko aired in 1984, and the following year Valery helped Hyem to write a feature-length episode, Tenko Reunion, for which Valery wrote the accompanying novel.

Valery and Hyem carried out meticulous research for Tenko, meeting survivors of the camps, poring over diaries and scouring archives.

Valery was also influenced by her own wartime experiences. Just before her 18th birthday she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and she went on to serve with the US Army as a secretary, later joining British army intelligence.

Her experience of living and working in a women's military unit fuelled her determination to achieve recognition of the reality women faced and the contributions they made.

"They served on the ack-ack sites, they drove, they did night duties -- everything except bloody fight ... and they would have done that if allowed," she told an interviewer in 1979.

In that same year she brought her perception of the ATS to stage in The Passing Out Parade. The play's only female characters and explored the reality of drawing together women from a multitude of backgrounds, revealing that friendships were formed less on a basis of class than on selfidentity as a victim or survivor. It was a theme to which she returned when writing episodes of Tenko.

Anne Firth was born in 1926 in Hampstead, London, to Colin and Dorothy Firth. She was introduced to the world of stage and screen at an early age through her mother who, under the stage name Doriel Paget, was an actress and singer. Anne attended several schools, including Badminton in Bristol and a finishing school, but showed little enthusiasm for rules.

During periods of leave in wartime London she gravitated towards the Fitzrovia literary bohemia and found herself rubbing shoulders with such luminaries as Dylan Thomas, Laurie Lee, Cecil Beaton, Beryl Bainbridge (who became a close friend) and the poet Tambimuttu, whom she claimed had once proposed to her. She also met Nanos Valaoritis, a Greek poet, and they married soon after. They rented a flat in Chelsea -- W. H. Auden lived in the same house briefly -- and Anne adopted the surname Valery.

After the war she worked in advertising and at the BBC as a producer's secretary, but decided to try acting. She won a part in Cardboard Cavalier (1949) and went on to star in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), where she played the mistress of Alec Guinness's young Ascoyne D'Ascoyne. In the film the two are found canoodling in a punt by the scheming Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) and are sent to a watery grave.

Valery went to the Rank "charm school" and appeared in small parts in several further films, including What the Butler Saw (1950) and King of the Underworld (1952). She moved to Associated Rediffusion and appeared in several programmes including Girl with a Date and The Monday Club which she co-hosted. She also worked as a model for Vogue, Marie France and Mademoiselle, appeared as a cabaret artist and presented afternoon programmes for the BBC.

By the end of the 1960s she was running a shop in the Portobello Road selling second-hand clothes and brica-brac. She wrote a few articles for the Observer in the mid-1960s, and in the 1970s, encouraged by her partner, Robin Jacques, the illustrator and brother of the actress Hattie Jacques, she published several volumes of autobiography.

Baron von Kodak, Shirley Temple and Me (1976) focused on her childhood while The Edge of a Smile (1977) lifted the lid on Fitzrovia. She also wrote Talking about the War, a compilation of memories, and contributed to The Stately Homo -- a biography of her friend Quentin Crisp whom she had met at the end of the war while working in advertising.

Valery was a prolific writer throughout the 1970s and 1980s, working on several TV series and plays including episodes of Crossroads and Emmerdale as well as The Passing Out Parade and Nanny Knows Best which starred Beryl Reid and drew on her own childhood experiences. It was through her work on Angels, a BBC drama about a group of student nurses, that Valery met Jill Hyem. She went on to write for Ladies in Charge, a 1986 series that focused on a women's employment agency.

An ardent feminist, Valery was firm in her political beliefs and became involved in opposition to military junta in Greece. She was vehemently opposed to the death penalty, once refusing to disembark from a cruise ship in Los Angeles in protest at Californian laws. She became a vocal member of the Writers' Guild, where she served on the council, unafraid to challenge traditional views and censorship.

Valery and Nanos Valaoritis had a son who died in 1953, aged 5. Their marriage was later dissolved.

Anne Valery, actress, scriptwriter and author, was born on February 24, 1926. She died on April 29, 2013, aged 87


Valery, left, with her fellow BBC afternoon TV "hostesses" Pauline Tooth, Vera McKechnie and Cherry Hunter in 1955

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)
"Anne Valery; Actress who turned to scriptwriting and enjoyed success with Tenko, a punchy series about Allied women interned by the Japanese." Times [London, England], 13 May 2013, p. 48. Academic OneFile, Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A329573154