After a lifetime of bit parts, Brenda Cowling, who has died of a stroke aged 85, found herself in front of up to 12 million television viewers when she played the cook, Mrs Lipton, in You Rang, M'Lord? The "upstairs, downstairs" sitcom, from the Dad's Army creators Jimmy Perry and David Croft, was inspired by the experiences of Perry's grandparents, who had been the butler and cook in a household in Berkeley Square, London.
The writers had frequently used Cowling for character roles in their previous series and immediately recognised her as an ideal fit. "Brenda was a very warm woman, looked like a cook, spoke like a cook and walked like a cook," said Perry.
For good measure, the widowed Lipton had a relationship with the butler, Alf Stokes (played by Paul Shane), in the 1988 pilot and four series (1990-93). The sitcom ended