It is with great regret that we have to report that Joyce Gibbs, one of our favourite actresses at Big Finish, sadly passed away this morning, at the age of 87, after being ill for some time.
Among other roles, Joyce (mother of Doctor Who Radiophonic Workshop composer Jonathan Gibbs) played the part of what appeared to be the 'narrator' of the first series of Dalek Empire. It was later revealed that she was the Seer of Yaldos.
Nick Briggs: 'Joyce was a real joy to work with, bringing a very special quality to her work. She was such fun and so bright and friendly.'
Big Finish stalwart actor Ian Brooker was a close friend of Joyce's and here expresses his heartfelt feelings for her...
I knew Joyce for twenty five years. We first met up on a couple of Radio 5 dramas in the early 1990s. She had been a regular in the radio drama department for BBC Birmingham for many years – playing parts in The Archers and individual plays as long ago as the 1950s before taking a break from the profession to raise her family. Back in business in the 80s and 90s she continued her prolific radio career with producers Philip Martin, Sue Wilson and Peter Wild. We worked a lot together for a period of seven years at Pebble Mill and what fun we had! She was, of course, a splendid radio actress and that is why she was always in demand.
In 2001 I recommended her to Nick Briggs for his upcoming series Dalek Empire in which he cast her as the Seer of Yaldos. Joyce loved working for Nick and many years later recalled with great affection her time on the series and her other Big Finish plays: the Bernice Summerfield adventure, The Masquerade of Death (with John Ainsworth) and the Tomorrow People story, The Curse of Kaaven (with Nigel Fairs).
Joyce and I developed a close friendship and outside of the studio we would often catch up either over the phone or on visits to each other’s houses. She loved classical music – as do I – and when possible I would take a selection of recordings to her house where Joyce, her husband Georgie and I would listen together. After Georgie died we continued these sessions and some of my happiest memories of Joyce are of her listening to Sibelius or some other favourite composer. In 2007 I moved away and regular meetings became more difficult.
In recent years she enjoyed playing the part of Heather Pritchard – Ruth’s Geordie mother – in The Archers – the part for which she is best known. Unfortunately increased ill health obliged Joyce to relinquish this favourite role a couple of years ago. I last saw her in May of this year at a special Archers themed event to open the new wing at the home where she resided. She enjoyed herself very much.
Joyce was a very special person, very kind, affectionate and loyal. She was the greatest friend you could ever wish for – she always put you first. She was a dear and wonderful friend to me. I shall miss her.