Beryl Reid was the daughter of Scottish parents and grew up in industrial Manchester, England. She left home at the age of 16 to go and work in a shop. She lasted 6 weeks. She applied for and was accepted in a revue in the Summer season in Bridlington. She had no formal training but joined the National Theater in London as a comedy actress. Her first big success came in the BBC radio show "Educating Archie" (a ventriloquist - on the radio). She played the naughty schoolgirl, Monica, and later, the Brummie Marlene. Her film roles were few and far between, but always well received. She transferred her Tony award winning performance of the lesbian radio star to the screen in The Killing of Sister George (1966). But she was best known and loved for her (slightly tipsy) older ladies such as in "The Beiderbecke Tapes" (1987) and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" (1979).