The actress Alexandra Bastedo, sci-fi champion who turned champion of the animal world, has lost her battle against cancer.
Theatre director Roger Redfarn, a close friend to both Alexandra and to her husband, former Chichester Festival Theatre artistic director, the late Patrick Garland, confirmed she passed away on Sunday.
For many years the couple lived just south of Chichester at Almodington before moving to West Chiltington. Mr Garland’s death last April was followed by a star-studded memorial service in Chichester Cathedral last September, organised by friends including Simon Callow.
Alexandra Bastedo, who was 67, enjoyed huge success on screen and on stage and also as a vital support to husband Patrick during his years at the CFT.
But showbusiness was never her first choice of career, as she liked to recall.
As a child, Bastedo was desperate to become a vet and spent all her spare time at the local veterinary surgery, helping to clean out. And then the movies called.
“I was discovered by Columbia Pictures at the age of 16 and sent to Hollywood to make a horror film called The Candy Web.”
On returning to this country, she continued to act, refusing to go to university and landing a part instead in the cult sci-fi TV series The Champions which ran for 30 episodes, broadcast on ITV in the UK from 1968–1969.
Starring Hove-born Alexandra as Sharron Macready alongside Stuart Damon as Craig Stirling and William Gaunt as Richard Barrett, it told of three agents for a United Nations law enforcement organisation who gain super powers after a plane crash.
Alexandra recalled that it totally 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.”
Back in England she married Patrick Garland, artistic director at the CFT from 1981-1984 before returning for a second stint (1991-1994).
The couple bought a 16th-century farmhouse at Almodington with a Sussex barn and three acres: “And it was there that I was able to fulfil my dream of rescuing animals,” she recalled.
Alexandra wrote a successful volume of autobiography, Beware Dobermans, Donkeys and Ducks, recalling some of the outrageous and endearing adventures she enjoyed with her expanding menagerie.
In more recent years, the couple moved to West Chiltington where the animal sanctuary continues as the Alexandra Bastedo Champions Animal Sanctuary, with the aim “to rescue abandoned animals and animals in distress and provide them with care and protection”. As recently as early December, she was tweeting on animal protection issues.
After many years of ill-health, Mr Garland died in Worthing hospital last April at the age of 78. Alexandra was also ill at the time, but last autumn friends were confident that she had rallied and that her health was improving.
Among those to pay tribute on her passing was actress Liza Goddard who tweeted: “My dear friend Alexandra Bastedo died today. A beautiful person who will be greatly missed.”
Fellow actor Peter Egan also tweeted: “Deeply sad. Our dear friend Alexandra Bastedo lost her battle with cancer at 4pm today. A beautiful woman and Animal Champion.”