The actress Alexandra Bastedo
who played Sharron Macready in the cult '60s ITV series The Champions
died yesterday of cancer at the age of 67.
Born in Hove, the keen animal-lover's original ambition was to be a vet, but showbusiness beckoned and she made her film debut in 1963 as one of the title characters in 13 Frightened Girls
- aka The Candy Web
More films followed, as did TV, which led to the multi-lingual Bastedo being cast as one of the three eponymous Champions - United Nations agents with perfected human abilities given to them by a secret civilisation following a plane crash in Tibet.
The sci-fi/action/adventure series - which also starred William Gaunt
and Stuart Damon
- was created by Dennis Spooner
and Monty Berman
and ran for 30 episodes between September 1968 and April 1969. In her biography on her website
, Bastedo wrote how being in the show changed her life:
Apart from becoming a household name in England, Scotland and Wales I became an international star, particularly in Spain and South America where they called me "La Bastedo".
Over the course of her acting career, she appeared in many more films and TV series, including Batman Begins
, and Absolutely Fabulous
. Her real dream, though, was to rescue animals, and she founded the Alexandra Bastedo Champions Animal Sanctuary
, which at first was based at Almodington, near Chichester, in West Sussex. She and her husband - the actor, writer, and director Patrick Garland
- then moved to nearby West Chiltington, where the sanctuary was also relocated.
A passionate advocate of animal protection, Bastedo wrote a memoir entitled Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks
plus a number of books on the welfare of cats and dogs. In addition, she was patron to a number of animal welfare organisations, including Compassion in World Farming, the Wildlife Aid Foundation, the National Animal Welfare Trust, Greyhounds in Need, and Naturewatch.
Yesterday, the actor and friend Peter Egan
, who along with Gaunt is a patron of the ABC Animal Sanctuary, tweeted:
Garland died last April, aged 78.