Obituary: Denise Bryer

We are extremely sad to report that Denise Bryer, best known to Anderson fans as the voice of Zelda in Terrahawks, has died at the age of 93.

Denise performing Ma Jones during a Four Feather Falls press call.

Born in 1928, Denise gained an interest in voice acting at a young age, making her film debut at nine before training at RADA. A regular voice on British radio from the mid-1940s onwards, Denise was particularly skilled at voicing old ladies and little boys, with one of her earliest television successes seeing her voice the title character in 1955’s The Adventures of Noddy. The popularity of the character (portrayed in puppet form) led to Denise providing his voice again for a Kellogg’s Ricicles commercial produced by the fledgling production company Pentagon Films – shortly before Gerry Anderson and Arthur Provis left Pentagon to form their own production company A.P. Films.

Having been commissioned by author Roberta Leigh to produce a series of 52 episodes of 1957’s children’s puppet series The Adventures of Twizzle, Anderson and Provis cast Denise as the voice of one of the lead characters, Footso the Cat. Footso (so named for his big paws) would remain one of Denise’s favourite characters, although unfortunately only a single episode of the series survives today.

Blue Cars – Martians (1960)

Denise would be invited back to A.P. Films for Four Feather Falls a few years later, in which she voiced Ma Jones, Little Jake, and Makooya. The star of this puppet Western was her then-husband actor and presenter Nicholas Parsons, and the couple would work with Gerry Anderson again when they starred in a series of commercials he directed for the travel agency Blue Cars in 1960.

Always more comfortable in front of a microphone than a camera Denise’s career would often find her working on radio productions, and dozens of children’s storybook LPs. On television she could however be heard in various commercials and voiceover roles, and in 1966 she provided the voice of Kiki the frog in the English language version of La Maison de Toutou – or Hector’s House.

Zelda from Terrahawks.

In 1983 she returned to the Gerry Anderson universe to voice the evil Queen Zelda of Guk in Terrahawks, in which she also voiced Captain Mary Falconer and the female persona of It-Star. Around the same time young viewers could also enjoy her as the villainous Commander Makara, in the Japanese sci-fi puppet series X-Bomber (known to Western audiences as Star Fleet). On the big screen during the 1980s she could be heard as the voices of the junk lady in Labyrinth, Billina the hen in Return to Oz, and Circe in Hercules.

Denise working with Terrahawks co-stars Jeremy Hitchen, Robbie Stevens and Anne Ridler in 2003.

By the late 1980s Denise had largely retired from acting, but in 2003 was reunited with her Terrahawks castmates for the DVD documentary Revisiting the Future. In 2014 she returned to the roles of Zelda and Mary Falconer for Big Finish’s audio revival of Terrahawks, which ran for three seasons up to 2017, during which she was also reunited with fellow Four Feather Falls voice artists Nicholas Parsons and David Graham. She also reminisced about her time on Twizzle and Four Feather Falls in the 2015 documentary film Filmed in Supermarionation, alongside Nicholas Parsons and Liz Morgan.

Denise with her Terrahawks audio co-stars Beth Chalmers, Jeremy Hitchen and Robbie Stevens.

From 1957’s Twizzle to her work on the audio adventures of Terrahawks in 2017 Denise was the longest serving Anderson voice artist, and although her career encompassed many non-Anderson productions she remained forever proud of the work she did on those shows; particularly Zelda, who allowed this sweetest of ladies the chance to be the most evil woman in the universe.

Denise re-united with her Four Feather Falls co-star David Graham for two episodes of Terrahawks in 2017.

Denise Pauline Rosalie Bryer passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday October 16th 2021 at the age of 93. She was loved and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.

Written by
Chris Dale

Writer, editor & voice actor on Big Finish's Doctor Who, Terrahawks, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet audio ranges. Host of the Randomiser on the Gerry Anderson Podcast.

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