Francesca Gonshaw (born c. 1960) is an English former actress who appeared in television, theatre and cinema productions in the 1980s. From 1982 to 1987, she appeared as Maria Recamier in the BBC's 'Allo 'Allo! television situation comedy series set in occupied France during World War II.
After early roles in the BBC's Shades and Gesualdo the Prince, Gonshaw featured as Arsinoe in The Cleopatras in 1983. After leaving 'Allo 'Allo! for the role of Amanda Palmer in the drama Howard's Way, Gonshaw appeared in other productions including as Lisa Walters in the Central soap-opera Crossroads (1984–85), as Maria in the movie Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986) and in the Grammy-winning music video for Peter Gabriel's "Digging in the Dirt" (1992). On stage, she played Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Ophelia in Hamlet. After her acting career, she went on to work for Miramax Books, and then became curator of an art gallery.
Francesca Gonshaw's father came to England as a child with his parents as Russian White emigres fleeing from the Bolshevik Revolution. She was born c. 1960, and attended St Paul's Girls' School. The family relocated from London to Marbella, Spain in 1976. At the age of 17, she returned to England to study for her A Levels in Cambridge, and then Modern Languages at the University of London. She also studied acting, but did not complete the course, and was a model in a photo story for My Guy magazine.
In 1982, Gonshaw appeared in a BBC television play entitled Shades. The following year, she was in Gesualdo the Prince, based on the true story of Carlo Gesualdo who murdered his wife and her lover after discovering them in bed together.
She played Arsinoe in the 1983 BBC television classical Roman history drama series The Cleopatras. That same year, she had a role in a film version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. From 1984 to 1985, she was the character Lisa Walters in the Central soap opera Crossroads. In February 1984, Hilary Kingsley of the Daily Mirror criticised Gonshaw's performance in Crossroads, saying that she "[spoke] her lines as though reading them from an optician's chart."
From 1982 to 1987, she featured as waitress Maria Recamier in the BBC's 'Allo 'Allo! television situation comedy series set in occupied France during World War II. The producers had wanted to cast Mary Stävin, but the Department of Employment refused permission, saying that they believed a British actress could be found for the role. Gonshaw was a subscriber to Production Casting Report, which published details of planned television projects, and had sent a letter and photograph seeking a role in the series, and was invited to attend an audition for the pilot, for which she travelled to London from Spain. Gonshaw had met and become an acquaintance of series co-creator Jeremy Lloyd in Marbella, and has said that she was surprised to meet him again at the audition. She was given the part. The show satirised dramas such as Secret Army, and like other UK situation comedies of the time, contained double entendres, catchphrases, and running gags. It ran for 85 episodes from 1982 to 1992, attracting as many as 17 million viewers per episode in the UK, and was sold to overseas markets including France and Germany. Gonshaw was in 21 of the episodes, in the first three series. She complained in a 1986 interview that "I wanted to be a serious actress. Now I seem to be known only as a bawdy waitress wearing stockings and suspenders." Gonshaw declined the opportunity to appear in the popular stage version of 'Allo 'Allo!, and after three months out of work, embarked on a piano bar tour on the Costa del Sol, intending to perform three songs that she had written as part of the performances. She left the cast of 'Allo 'Allo after its third series to take up the role of Amanda Parker in the third series of the BBC television drama series Howards' Way in 1987. She also started attending the Byam Shaw School of Art, studying painting.
Gonshaw portrayed Maria, the girlfriend of Biggles in the historical/science fiction cinema film Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986), and played the character of Senorita Rodriguez in the television film dramatization of the Barbara Cartland novel A Ghost in Monte Carlo (1990). She made guest appearances on Blankety Blank, and in The Russ Abbot Show.
In 1982, Gonshaw played Kate in You Should See Us Now, by Peter Tinniswood, at the Greenwich Theatre; the cast also included Simon Cadell, Christopher Cazenove and Pauline Yates. In the mid-1980s, she joined the New Shakespeare Company's tour of thirteen countries in the Middle East, portraying Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream, then in 1988 she starred in a regional tour of The Cat and the Canary. Two years later, Gonshaw played Ophelia in Hamlet at three venues – the Brixton Assembly Rooms, the Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead, and the Shaw Theatre. The proceeds of this production went towards AIDS charities. Her performances in both The Cat and the Canary and Hamlet received negative reviews in The Stage.
After studying art for a year, Gonshaw joined Miramax Books & Films and took up the post of Senior Vice-President of Acquisitions. She was the orial director for a book of Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter, and compiled Love: ten poems of Pablo Neruda. In 2001 she was a casting agent for the film The Goose Creek Story. According to Gonshaw's own LinkedIn profile, she has been an artist since 2009. She was also the curator of the 'She has a Space' gallery in London. She exhibited at the 7–8 October 2009 Art for Youth event at the Mall Galleries. Since 2011 she has occasionally appeared at memorabilia collectors conventions with the former cast of Allo Allo.
|1982||The British Are Coming||Maria||Pilot episode for 'Allo 'Allo!|||
|1982||Gesualdo the Prince||cast member|||
|1983||The Cleopatras Part 6 51 BC||Arsinoe||Mini-series|||
|1983||The Cleopatras Part 8 35 BC||Arsinoe||Mini-series|||
|1984||Cold Warrior||Amanda||Episode: "Hook, Line and Sinker"|||
|1984–1987||'Allo 'Allo!||Maria Recamier||21 episodes|||
|1986||Farrington of the F.O.||Lolita Fernandez|||
|1987||Howard's Way||Amanda Howard||Recurring|||
|1990||She-Wolf of London||Judith||Episode "Nice Girls Don't"[a]|||
|1988||The Hound of the Baskervilles||Young girl in mire||television film[b]|||
|1990||A Ghost in Monte Carlo||television film|||
|1983||You Should See Us Now||Kate||Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough; tour|||
|1983||Sailors' Dream||Prince of Wales, London SW6|||
|1985||Dear Janet Rosenberg, Dear Mr Kooning||King's Head, Islington|||
|1985||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Hermia||New Shakespeare Company's tour of 13 countries in the Middle East|||
|1988||The Cat and the Canary||Annabelle West||regional tour|||
|1990||Hamlet||Ophelia||Brixton Assembly Rooms; Pentameters, Hampstead; Shaw Theatre|||
|1991||The Judgment||Director (non-acting)||London Ecology Centre|||
|1994||Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter||Script by Robert Altman, Barbara Shulgasser, and Brian D. Leitch; introductions and interviews by Brian D. Leitch; art direction: Fabian Baron; design: Malin Ericson; orial director: Francesca Gonshaw||Hyperion||ISBN 9780786881031|||
|1995||Love: ten poems of Pablo Neruda||translated by Stephen Tapscott and others; compiled by Francesca Gonshaw||Miramax Books||ISBN 9780786881482|||
"Film has become the major art form, and everyone's more aware of how the process works," says Francesca Gonshaw, vice president of acquisitions for the newly launched Miramax Books, a division of the art film distributor.
'Christmas Wish' curated by Francesca Gonshaw – She has a Space, London
Judith: Franchesca Gonshaw" is in the closing crs for the episode "Nice Girls Don't