Gwen Plumb

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Gwen Plumb
Gwendoline Jean Plumb

2 August 1912
Died5 June 2002(2002-06-05) (aged 89)
Occupation(s)Stage, radio and television actress
Years active1930–1994
PartnerThelma Scott

Gwendoline Jean Plumb AM BEM (2 August 1912 – 5 June 2002), was an Australian performer of international appeal, actress and comedian active in literally every form of the art genre, (except circus) including revue, pantomime, vaudeville, interviewing, stage, radio, game shows, live appearances, television soap opera and mini-series and made-for-TV film.

She was considered the Grand Dame of Australian entertainment, best known to local and international audiences in serial The Young Doctors as gossip Ada Simmonds, the ill-fated Richmond Hill as Mum Foote and the pilot of Home and Away as Doris Peters.


Gwen started her career in 1930, with the Gwen Meredith drama club,[1] she had her first well-known role as Emmie[2][3] in the longest-running Australian radio serial Blue Hills, and hosted a radio program on Australia's Macquarie Radio Network from 1945 to 1974. She also had a radio show in Sydney opposite Gordon Chater. She was well known for her celebrity interviews, including travelling to Europe to conduct recordings.[4][5][6]

Plumb had a long career in the theatre, was a cast member of the debut season of the Old Tote Theatre Company, travelled extensively overseas to interview celebrities for her own radio programme, and once quipped that she "played in just about every form of public entertainment except the circus".[7]

She is probably best remembered for the Australian soap opera The Young Doctors as Ada Simmonds for its entire November 1976 – March 1983 run.[8] She released a cook book, What's Cooking with Ada, under her characters name in 1980.[9][10] Other notable roles were in the mini-series The Harp in the South[11] and Poor Man's Orange in the mid-1980s. She acted in Neighbours as Mrs. Forbes in 1985, appearing in scenes opposite Alan Dale, with whom she had starred in The Young Doctors.

She later played the key role of in the serial Richmond Hill as Mum Foote in 1988.[12] Having agreed to act in the planned new series, Plumb was offered, and played in the pilot of another proposed series Home and Away as Doris Peters. When Home and Away also went into production, Plumb opted to honour her earlier agreement to do Richmond Hill. The role of Mum Foote had been specially written with her in mind by show creator, Reg Watson. Richmond Hill had a run of just 12 months, and Plumb stayed with the series for all of that time; Home and Away on the other hand is still running today. In 1995 Plumb returned to Home and Away for a number of episodes, playing a different character.

Plumb also appeared in the mini-series Stark, based on Ben Elton's novel of the same name.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Plumb's lifelong partner was Australian radio, stage and screen actress Thelma Scott, best known for serial Number 96 as pompous socialite Clair Houghton.[14]

Plumb wrote her autobiography, Plumb Crazy which was published by Pan Macmillan in 1994.[15]

British and Australian honours[edit]

Plumb was awarded a British Empire Medal in 1973,[16] and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1993.[17][18] Both awards recognised her community and charity work.[19]

Selected Radio[edit]

Year Title Role
c.1940s Blue Hills (Radio series) Emmie
1945–1974 Macquarie Radio Network Hostess as herself
unknown years Radio 2GB Radio Show With Gordon Chater Hostess/interviewer



Year Title Role Type
1960 The Sundowners (uncredited) Feature film, US/AUSTRALIA
1982 Ginger Meggs Miss Leach Feature film


Year Title Role Type
1958–1963 Women's World Herself – Host TV series
1959 A Tongue of Silver Role unknown Teleplay
1960 Venus Observed Role unknown Teleplay
1961 Corinth House Mrs. Heysham Teleplay
1962 Consider Your Verdict Guest role TV series, 1 episode
1962 Jonah Guest role: Lady Jane Franklin ABC TV series, 1 episode
1965 Write Me a Murder Elizabeth Wooley TV film
1965 Adventure Unlimited Guest role TV series, 1 episode "Crocodile"
1965 The Mavis Bramston Show Herself – Various Characters TV series
1966 Wall to Wall Role unknown ABC Teleplay
1966 Australian Playhouse Guest roles: Mrs. Cooper / Elsie Hopewell ABC TV series, 2 episodes "The Prowler"
Nice 'n Juicy Guest role: Mrs. Withers TV series, 2 episodes
1969 The Don Lane Tonight Show Herself – Guest TV series, 1 episode
1969 Gwennie and Noel Herself – Host TV series
1970 The Rovers Guest role: Gaylene Higgins TV series, 1 episode
1973 Boney Guest role: Miss Packer TV series, 1 episode
1974 Mac and Merle Lead role: Merle McInerney TV pilot
1975 Celebrity Squares Herself TV series, 1 episode
1976 This Is Your Life Herself TV series, 1 episode
1976–1982 The Young Doctors Regular role: Ada Simmons TV series, 1394 episodes
1977 Bobby Dazzler Guest role: Dinner Guest 1 TV series, 1 episode
1980 Telethon '80 Herself TV special
1981 Parkinson in Australia Herself – Guest ABC TV series, 1 episode
1982 The Daryl Somers Show Herself – Guest TV series, 1 episode
1983 The Mike Walsh Show Herself – Guest TV series, 1 episode
1985 Neighbours Recurring Guest role: Mrs. Forbes TV series, 10 episodes
1985 The Man in the Iron Mask Peronne (voice) TV film
1986 A Halo for Athuan Lead role: Mother Paul ABC TV film
1987 The Harp in the South Recurring role: Grandma Kilker TV miniseries, 3 episodes
1987 Poor Man's Orange Recurring role: Grandma Kilker TV miniseries, 2 episodes
1987 I've Come About the Suicide Support role: Miss Clemesha TV film
1987 The Flying Doctors Guest role: Nellie Keene TV series, 1 episode
1988 Richmond Hill Regular role: Mum Foote TV series, 38 episodes
Home and Away Recurring Guest role: Doris Peters TV series, 4 episodes
1992 In Sydney Today Herself – Guest TV series, 1 episode
1992 A Country Practice Guest role: Morna Peacock TV series, 1 episode
1993 The Late Show Herself ABC TV series, 1 episode
1993 Stark Recurring role: Mrs. Tyron ABC TV miniseries, 3 episodes
1994 Under The Skin Role unknown SBS TV film series, 1 episode "The Family Spirit"
1994 At Home Herself – Guest TV series, 1 episode
1994 Today Herself – Guest TV series, 1 episode
1994 TVTV Herself with The Young Doctors cast ABC TV series, 1 episode
1995 Home and Away Recurring Guest role: Elizabeth Clarke TV series, 4 episodes
1999 Funny By George: The George Wallace Story Herself ABC TV special

Selected Role[edit]

Year Title Role
1976–1983 The Young Doctors Ada Simmonds (1,394 Episodes)


  1. ^ "Star of the Air". Pittsworth Sentinel (Qld. : 1919 – 1954). 29 June 1946. p. 1. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Gwen Plumb". Muswellbrook Chronicle (NSW : 1898 – 1955). 21 November 1947. p. 3. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Gwen Plumb in BBG's Twenty Questions". South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW : 1900 – 1954). 11 October 1954. p. 6. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Gwen Plumb to tour with Bea Lillie". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954). 19 October 1954. p. 11. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Women's Interests on the Air Film Star on 2GB". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954). 3 June 1954. p. 5. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Untitled". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954). 17 September 1953. p. 7. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Plumb Crazy all these years". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 June 2002.
  8. ^ Sheldon, Gordon (3 October 1991). "Cheerful amoral piece". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995). p. 15. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Timestyle". The Canberra Times. 20 July 1980. p. 19. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  10. ^ Plumb, Gwen (1980). What's cooking with Ada? by Ada Simmonds. Melbourne : Unicorn Books. ISBN 9780867570113.
  11. ^ "The Harp in the South". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995). 21 December 1992. p. 34. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  12. ^ "TV favourites return". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995). 24 January 1988. p. 20. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  13. ^ Wallace, Mark (9 August 1993). "Stark". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995). p. 25. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  14. ^ Meade, Amanda (30 November 2006). "Not the nine o'clock news". The Australian. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  15. ^ Plumb crazy / Gwen Plumb
  16. ^ "It's an Honour: BEM". Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  17. ^ "It's an Honour: AM". Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  18. ^ "Colleague's bravery honoured in Sydney ceremony". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995). 24 September 1993. p. 6. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Search Australian Honours". It's an honour. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 4 May 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2009.

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