Lesley Fitz-Simons: Scottish actress known for her role in Take the High Road

 

The actress Lesley Fitz-Simons literally sailed into the Scottish soap opera Take the High Road in 1983. She was first seen stepping on to land in the fictional village of Glendarroch from the ferry boat that took her character, Sheila Lamont (later Ramsay), to and from school across the water in Auchtarn. The bright teenager soon brought scandal to the tightly knit community, becoming pregnant by Eddie Ramsay, a petty criminal, during her final year at school. With her father furious, mother distressed and chances of going to university dashed, she left for Glasgow, had the baby and gave it up for adoption – not even knowing whether it was a boy or a girl.

On her return to Glendarroch, Sheila and Eddie (Robin Cameron) were reunited and married in 1985. They split up after she had an affair, then other romances followed, including a broken engagement. The couple were brought together once more after Eddie discovered the identity of their child, a girl, on being approached by her adoptive father when she needed a bone-marrow transplant. This led to the couple's remarriage in 1994.

Experiencing difficulties in having more children, they later fostered several, but parted again when Eddie had an affair with a prostitute. Sheila had to go through the indignity of taking an Aids test and, at rock bottom, became pregnant after sleeping with Davie Sneddon (Derek Lord) when he offered her a shoulder to cry on. She gave birth to a son, Robbie, and relished life as an independent single mother – at the same time as her career was thriving.

Having previously worked as a shop assistant, a local newspaper reporter and a secretary, Sheila was eventually given management responsibilities at the Glendarroch estate office, fulfilling the promise of her teenage years.

Take the High Road, which began in 1980, was dropped by the ITV network in 1993, but producer Scottish Television continued to make the soap and many other regional companies showed it. The programme was retitled High Road in 1994 and Fitz-Simons stayed on until it was finally axed in 2003, making her one of its longest-serving cast members.

She was born in Glasgow and brought up in the village of Milton of Campsie, in East Dunbartonshire. Ignoring the advice of her careers teachers at Kilsyth academy, she decided to go into acting, something her father had done as an amateur.

Fitz-Simons was just 16 when, in 1978, she was cast as a schoolgirl in the first episode of Scottish Television's adaptation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She also took voice and movement lessons at the Jeanne Gourlay Studio Theatre of Dramatic Art in Glasgow.

In 1979, she had the regular role of Emily Cameron in The Camerons, a BBC Scotland drama about life in a late-19th-century Scottish mining community. This was followed by small parts in Square Mile of Murder, Mendelssohn in Scotland (both 1980) and The Walls of Jericho (1981).

Fitz-Simons' big break came in 1981, when she was cast as a bright-eyed girl assaulted on her way home from school in the Alma Cullen play Credits and Distinctions (in The House on the Hill anthology series), in which Annette Crosbie played her mother.

Her 20-year run in Take the High Road followed. Over her time in the serial, Fitz-Simons' hair colour changed from brunette to blonde. With the serial not screened all year round in the early days, she was able to take other screen and stage work. She starred with John Gordon Sinclair in the television film The Spaver Connection (1984), and the same year acted in The Kitchen with the Perth Repertory Company.

Fitz-Simons, who supported Unicef and animal charities, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2000. She fought back to continue her career and, following the axing of High Road, regularly appeared in plays and pantomimes at the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow. She said she had no ambitions to move to London, where there were more acting opportunities, and continued to live in the Milton of Campsie house in which she grew up.

In 2009, Fitz-Simons was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. The cancer later spread and she died just days after being admitted to hospital.

The actress's marriage to Peter McIntyre, a building company sales director, ended in divorce, but she subsequently gave birth to a daughter with her partner, Calum Thomson, a sales rep. That relationship eventually ended and she is survived by her daughter, Marnie, and the actor Paddy Bonner, her partner of six and a half years.

Anthony Hayward

Lesley Fitz-Simons, actress: born Glasgow 23 September 1961; married 1989 Peter McIntyre (marriage dissolved); one daughter; died Glasgow 26 January 2013.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week