Feisty, foul-mouthed and quite fantastic was how Oldham actress Siobhan Finneran described her character Janice Garvey in the hit sitcom Benidorm.
It summed up the popular appeal of the Garvey family matriarch – an appeal which made Finneran one of the most familiar faces on TV.
Roles in Downtown Abbey, The Unforgiven and Happy Valley also helped establish her fame, as well as appearing in Granada TV’s Coronation Street and Clocking Off.
Born in Oldham in April 1966, Finneran was drawn to acting as a child. She was a huge fan of the comedian Eric Morecambe.
She won her first major role as Rita in the 1987 film Rita, Sue and Bob Too and appeared as factory worker Josie Phillips in Coronation Street from August 1989 to March 1990. Josie endured a fiery relationship with factory owner Mike Baldwin.
Finneran made a number of further TV appearances, including episodes of Heartbeat, Peak Practice, Where the Heart Is and Hetty Wainthrop Investigates.
Her comedy work included Cannon and Ball’s Playhouse and Josie with Josie Lawrence in 1991. She was also a regular on the The Russ Abbot Show from 1995 to 1996.
From 2000 to 2002, Finneran played Julie O’Neill in the BBC1 drama Clocking Off, which followed the lives of workers in a Manchester textile factory. She also appeared in Bob & Rose and the two-part thriller Passer By with James Nesbitt.
Finneran was back in her home city in April 2005 to play the lead role of Alice Holmes in the original stage production of On the Shore of the Wide World at Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre.
The play, by Simon Stephens, depicted the dreams and struggles of three generations of the Holmes family from Stockport. The title came from a John Keats’ poem.
Finneran’s performance in the new play earned her the M.E.N. Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
In 2006, Finneran portrayed lawyer Beverley Clarke in the BBC TV series The Amazing Mrs Pritchard.
She first played Janice Garvey in the ITV comedy series Benidorm in February 2007. Janice was a central character in the posse of holidaymakers staying at the fictional Solana hotel on the Costa del Sol in Spain.
Her main aim was to keep her unruly family, including Steve Pemberton as husband Mick and Sheila Reid as perma-tanned mother Madge, in line.
Finneran made seven series of Benidorm, all shot on location in Spain. She said it was a real wrench to leave the sitcom and described her final scenes as ‘heart-breaking’.
In 2010, Finneran played embittered lady’s maid Sarah O’Brien in ITV’s Downton Abbey – her first role in a costume drama. Her performance helped the show win the Screen
Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a Drama Series in 2012.
Finneran left Downton Abbey in 2013. A year later she played recovering heroin addict Clare in the powerful BBC TV drama Happy Valley. Her co-star was former Coronation Street regular and friend Sarah Lancashire.
Happy Valley was named as Best Drama Series in the British Academy Television Awards in 2015 and 2017. Finneran was also nominated as Best Supporting Actress in 2017.