Maureen Lipman CBE is a British actress, columnist, and comedienne. International audiences will probably know her best as a Jewish mother in Roman Polanski's award-winning 2002 film The Pianist.
Lipman was born in Kingston upon Hull, where her father Maurice was a tailor: he used to have a shop between the Ferens Art Gallery and Monument Bridge.
She was encouraged into an acting career by her mother Zelma, who used to take her to the pantomime and push her onto the stage.
She trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and married dramatist Jack Rosenthal in 1974 who died in 2004, and has had a number of roles in his works.
She has two children, writers Amy and Adam Rosenthal.
Lipman is a Zionist and a Labour Party supporter.
Lipman worked extensively in the theatre before gaining prominence on television in the 1979 situation comedy Agony, in which she played an agony aunt with a troubled private life.
She played the lead role in the television series All at No 20 and took on a range of diverse characters in the series About Face.
She is well-known for playing Joyce Grenfell in her biographical show Re:Joyce and as "Beattie", a Jewish grandmother in a series of television commercials for British Telecom (she named the character from the initials BT).
She has continued to work in the theatre for over 30 years, playing, amongst other roles, Aunt Eller in the National Theatre's Oklahoma! with Hugh Jackman.
In 2002, she played a snooty landlady, Lillian, in Coronation Street, and a Jewish mother in Roman Polanski's award-winning film The Pianist.
More recently, she has narrated two television series on the subject of design, one for UKTV about Art Deco and one about 20th century design for ITV/Sky Travel.
In 2003 she appeared in Jonathan Creek, in the episode "The Tailor's Dummy".
She also wrote a monthly column for Good Housekeeping magazine for over 10 years and penned a weekly column in The Guardian in the newspaper's G2 section.
She performed as a villain in the 2006 series of Doctor Who in the episode entitled The Idiot's Lantern as The Wire.
Lipman as 'The Wire' in Doctor Who
Until April 29, 2006 she played Florence Foster Jenkins in the Olivier Award nominated show Glorious! at the Duchess Theatre in London's West End.
After her playwright husband's death in May 2004 she completed his autobiography By Jack Rosenthal, and played herself in her daughter's four-part adaptation of the book, Jack Rosenthal's Last Act on BBC Radio Four in July 2006.
She has created several volumes of autobiography from her Good Housekeeping columns and recently published The Gibbon's In Decline But The Horse Is Stable, a book of animal poems which is illustrated by established cartoonists including Posy Simmonds and Gerald Scarfe, to raise money for the International Myeloma Foundation, to combat the cancer to which she lost her husband.
She has also appeared a few times on Just a Minute, The News Quiz, That Reminds Me, This Week and Have I Got News For You.
In 2007, Lipman appeared as a celebrity contestant on Comic Relief Does The Apprentice to raise money for Comic Relief. The show saw her helping to run a fun fair.
Lipman supported Israel during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. On July 13, 2006, in a debate on the BBC's This Week, she argued that "human life is not cheap to the Israelis, and human life on the other side is quite cheap actually, because they strap bombs to people and send them to blow themselves up."
These comments were condemned by Muslim political columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who said "Brutally straight, she sees no equivalence between the lives of the two tribes" and left-wing journalist John Pilger, who in the New Statesman criticised the BBC for allowing Lipman - whom he described as "a Jew and promoter of selective good causes" - to present her allegedly insensitive remarks without, in his view, any "serious challenge."
Lipman responded to Alibhai-Brown's accusation of racism by arguing that the columnist had deliberately misrepresented Lipman's comments as generalisations about Muslims rather than specific comments about terrorists.