Born Margaret Baker in Plymouth, Devon, in 1946, Maggie Steed studied drama with the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, graduating in the late 1960s. However, her first professional engagements were as an assistant stage manager, working behind the scenes in a somewhat lowly capacity, because, she says, she was not considered conventionally pretty enough to be an actress. She does, however, recall that the eccentric English puppeteer Harry Corbett praised her for assisting him with his creation Sooty the Bear. Maggie left theatrical life after only a few months and for several years worked as a secretary. An interest in Theatre in Education lured her back to the stage, this time as an actress, with Sue Johnston and Clive Russell at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Since then she has worked on stage with both the Royal Shakespeare and National Theatre Companies, and in 2002 was a commanding Lady Bracknell in a revival of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. A lady of political awareness, she was a founder member of the Campaign Against Racism in the Media, and in the early 1980s visited Nicaragua with actor Andy de la Tour to view the plight of its citizens, and in 1983, helped stage the televised Concert for Nigaragua. She is, however, best remembered for her television roles, chiefly comical ones, beginning in the early 1980s with ‘Shine On Harvey Moon’, through ‘A Bit of a Do’ and ‘Pie In the Sky’ as the wife of cop-turned-chef Richard Griffiths to, in the mid-2000s. ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ as the dim but well-meaning Women’s Institute leader, a sitcom filmed in her native Devon and reuniting her with her early stage co-star Sue Johnston.
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