Played by Joan Norton
Dr. Ellingham's widowed Aunt Joan is the only resident of Portwenn who knows him on a more intimate level. She is often the voice of reason and support when Dr. Ellingham's behavior causes disquiet amongst the townspeople.
Stephanie Cole, OBE is an English stage, television, radio and film actress, best known for playing characters a great deal older than her actual age.
Born in Solihull, Warwickshire. She trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School 1958–1960 and went on to consolidate her acting skills in repertory theatres around the United Kingdom. She made her stage debut at the age of seventeen playing the 45 - 65 year-old Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. At the age of 63 she returned to the same role when the play was revived at the West End's Savoy Theatre in 2004.
One of her most recognized and popular roles was of Dr. Beatrice Mason in the 1980s television series Tenko, a drama which chronicled the lives of British women in Singapore after the Japanese invasion and their consequent confinement in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The series was explicit in its portrayal of the horrific conditions and brutality faced by the women during their imprisonment, and dealt with issues such as rape, stillbirth, homosexuality, suicide, abortion and euthanasia. Cole played the role of the stern, officious, yet kindly doctor over three series and a one-off special between 1981 and 1985.
During this same period, and by now in her very early forties, she also played the elderly, paranoid and morose customer Mrs. Delphine Featherstone (nicknamed "The Black Widow") in the BBC comedy Open All Hours. Mrs. Featherstone was the only rival to Nurse Gladys Emmanuel for the affections of shopkeeper Arkwright, played by Ronnie Barker, although she was attracted to him only because she liked his stingy ways. Arkwright was scared of her advances and often hid when he saw her approaching the shop.
In 1987 Cole joined actors including Thora Hird, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters and Patricia Routledge in the award-winning first series of Talking Heads, a series of dramatic monologues written for BBC television by British playwright Alan Bennett. Cole performed the role of Muriel to great acclaim during the half-hour monologue "Soldiering On". In later years Cole would repeat her performance of this now famous monologue on both the London stage and for BBC Radio.
Another of Cole's famous roles was of the bad-tempered ex-photojournalist Diana Trent in the sitcom Waiting for God, which ran from 1990 to 1994. The role of Diana Trent was of a woman in her sixties or seventies, although Cole was actually 48 years old when she started the first series of the show. She was also two decades younger than her leading man, Graham Crowden. Cole received the 1992 Best TV Comedy Actress award at the British Comedy Awards for the role.
From 2004 Cole starred alongside Martin Clunes and Caroline Catz in the ITV comedy-drama, Doc Martin, playing Joan Norton, aunt of Clunes's character Dr. Martin Ellingham. This was one of her few recent roles where she played a character who was actually close to her real age; her character was killed off by a heart attack at age 71 (Cole's actual age at the time: 69) in the first episode series 5 in 2011, although this happened off-screen. In 2006, Cole starred alongside Victoria Wood in the BAFTA award winning World War II drama Housewife, 49 as Mrs Waite, the local head of the WRVS. Cole also had a small role in the 2008 romantic comedy Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, as Miss Pettigrew's grumpy boss, Miss Holt.
In April 2011, Cole joined the cast of Coronation Street, playing Sylvia Goodwin the mother of regular character Roy Cropper.
Stephanie Cole's IMDb page