Joan Sydney: Tributes for Neighbours and A Country Practice star after death aged 86

Joan Sydney (centre) was well known known for her role in Neighbours. Credit: @neighbours/ Twitter

Tributes have poured in for Neighbours and A Country Practice star Joan Sydney after news of her death aged 86.

The British-Australian actress died in a care home in Victoria, Australia, on December 29 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Her eldest son Tony Braxton-Smith confirmed the news to the PA news agency.

“I think she will be fondly remembered as a great entertainer with a wicked wit and a warm heart,” he said.

Sydney, who was the older sister of actress Maggie King, became a household name after starring in A Country Practice as no-nonsense character Matron Margaret Sloane.

She went on to star in more than 400 episodes of the hit drama about the residents of the small country town of Wandin Valley in New South Wales.

Sydney would later go on to appear in Neighbours playing fan-favourite character Valda Sheergold before becoming a permanent cast member in 2007.

The official Neighbours account paid tribute to the late star, expressing their thoughts with her friends and family.

The actress’ other TV credits include playing Ruth Dooley in Something In the Air, appearing as Merle MacDonald in Mother And Son and starring in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, where she played Mother Aloysius.

Long-time friend and Miss Fisher co-star Sally-Anne Upton said Sydney had “a beautiful soul”.

Speaking about the actress and her sister, she said: “They were very English, they were very distinguished, they were very naughty.

“She had a beautiful soul, Joan, they both did, and a sense of benevolence. They understood to look after the underdogs.

“They also had a great sense of pride about their heritage and were incredibly family orientated. “(Sydney) was an absolute corker of a character.”

Other fellow artists also paid tribute to the late actor on social media.

Shane Withington, who also starred in A Country Practice, tweeted "Comedy is never as easy as it looks and this lady made it look effortless. I adored her."

Sydney grew up in Wales and trained as a classic actor at Oldham Repertory Theatre.

She emigrated to Australia in 1965 and played in theatre, musicals and theatre restaurants in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne before her television career.

Another of her defining roles was playing Mary Patchett in Australian soap opera E Street, where she became known for her bright nature, comedic timing and cheerful singing voice.

She is survived by her daughter and two sons and will be laid to rest near her sister at a private ceremony.

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