Updated 1st October 2003

Edna Birch

Shirley Stelfox
Born: 11th April 1941


IMDB entry: Shirley Stelfox

Appeared: 25 May 2000 -

Extracts taken from Profile from the former official site

Edna is the hard-faced, plain-speaking type. She is in her seventies, very religious and easily outraged. She would never dream of drawing attention to herself with powder or paint and her femininity is not something that she would ever dream of flaunting. Her top button is always done up and she would never touch a mascara brush.

Edna is somebody who, speaks her mind and doesn't care what the consequences are. Her age and experience somehow lend her an air of (spurious) authority and she knows it. She is a fast talker (snappy and strident in equal measure) and is forever commenting on the behaviour of others in the Woolpack.

Gloria and Edna arrive in the village. Edna is horrified to learn that the vicar is seeing a scarlet woman such as Bernice. She ‘sets too’ by informing the Bishop of the relationship and attempts to put a stop to it. The Bishop then suggests that Ashley move away from the village and live in Leeds. But Ashley decides to stay in Emmerdale and he and Bernice get married.

Edna tries to take her dog (Batley) to France to visit her son.
Edna takes a disliking to the Daggerts when they arrive in the village. She starts working in Pollards factory. She thinks that Len fancies her is disgusted by the fact. She is involved in a cake competition with Betty at the fun run. Is disgusted when the youngsters next door are sunbathing in their back garden with their clothes off. When her granddaughter Eve comes to stay she thinks she is a sweet and innocent girl, but when Eve is caught up in the hit and run Edna starts to realise there is another side to the young girl she thought she knew.

Thank You! The Following has been Written & provided by Eithne
© 2002, 2003

Character: Edna Birch

Appeared: 25th May 2000 –

Family: Peter, son; Eve, granddaughter

Age: in her 60's

Played by: Shirley Stelfox

Edna Birch appeared in May 2000 as one of the "silent majority" of parishioners opposed to Ashley marrying Bernice. As we continued to learn more about this woman, we found out that she was widowed - left with a son called Peter. Edna had a strong friendship with Gloria Weaver, also a widow, and a woman devoted to the church.

In August 2001 Edna's granddaughter turned up in the village, as she wasn't getting on well with her new step mother. Edna thought that Eve was innocent and sweet, while she was actually cold and manipulating with her grandmother wrapped around her little finger.

In the hit and run Eve's true colours were revealed. Edna was very upset to learn that Eve had kicked her dog Batley, and sent her away to live in York, with her aunt.

Edna has a good relationship with Len Reynolds, and also had a very unusual friendship with Jason Kirk. Edna is strong willed and stubborn, but loves and cares for her pets very well. Her first pet was Batley, who died after being put down in 2002. The other animal in Edna's life is Tootsie, a stray dog whom she took in, after being persuaded by Paddy and Emily.

In late 2002 Edna started a petition to remove wheelie bins from the village and soon ended up in a war of words over the bins with new arrival Jarvis Skelton, who was the latest village bin man. Later in the year Edna was less than impressed by the news that he was also her new neighbour.

In January 2003 Edna and Len Reynolds entered a dancing competition. After several taunts from Viv Hope Edna decided to go against her beliefs and bet £10 on she and Len beating Viv and Bob. But things didn’t go to plan and Len (who was secretly being taught how to dance by Jarvis) ended up with a sprained ankle after falling while practicing with Edna. But in the end Edna ended up dancing with Jarvis, and winning the competition. Edna got to keep the cup they won.

Later she and Jarvis went to a hotel to compete in the finals. But he met up with his former dancing partner Freda. As their stay continued Edna revealed more about herself to Jarvis, including things about her stern father. In the end Edna and Jarvis decided not to compete, after Freda turned him down.

In April Edna took in Jerry “Mack” MacKinley, who had nowhere else to go, after being kicked out by Syd and rejected everywhere else. At first Mack and Edna got on well. She took pity on him,
and helped him. Soon Edna was put in charge of hiring the person to repair the village hall’s roof. incident with Mack, Edna hid herself from village life for a while.

She persuaded Mack to put in a quote and in the end decided to help him by going for his quote, even though it wasn’t the best one overall. Mack was delighted about the news, though Edna felt guilty. She made sure he was working. But when the cheque for materials, worth eight thousand pounds, entered Mack’s account, he fled the village, leaving poor Edna devastated.

She felt very guilty, especially since she’d cheated and picked his quote, but decided to make amends by paying back what she could from her savings. After the incident with Mack, Edna hid herself from village life for a while.

Soon she was back though, after help from Ashley. Recently Edna and Len Reynolds have been growing closer. He even gave her a kiss, but got a slap for his trouble. Edna has also taken a disliking to Pearl Ladderbanks, a newcomer to the village.

Edna Fact: Looking back over the Emmerdale recaps, it seems that Edna has only been without her red hat on three occasions. These being when her granddaughter Eve was staying with her and twice when she was dancing with Jarvis in a competition in 2003.

About Shirley Stelfox: Shirley was born on April 11th, 1941 in Cheshire. She has had a long career spanning four decades, from the sixties through to the present day. She has appeared in Brookside, in the mid eighties, Eastenders, an episode in 1999, Coronation Street, in six episodes as Shirley Henderson and also in Heartbeat, Inspector Morse and Casualty.

Her earliest role was in 1967. Shirley also appeared in Keeping up Appearances, the BBC comedy starring Patricia Rouldtage.

In 2002, Shirley escorted her former Emmerdale co star, Bracken, on stage to receive her British Soap Award for Best Exit.


Len In Love

Thursday | 04.09.03

Edna watches as Len gives a peck to Pearl a while back

Emmerdale grandad Len Reynolds makes a passionate declaration of love.

The amorous oldie has long been an admirer of cranky pensioner Edna Birch but has yet to reveal his feelings to her.

Over the past year the pair have been getting closer. Edna was a tower of strength for Len when his daughter-in-law Angie died in tragic circumstances and, in return, Len helped Edna cope with the death of her beloved dog.

But every attempt Len has made to move their relationship towards romance has failed and he decides that actions speak louder than words and kisses the unsuspecting Edna on the lips.

Shirley Stelfox, who plays elderly Edna, explains, "She's totally shocked. She has no idea that Len feels this way, it's never occurred to Edna that this is what he has been trying to tell her all this time. She reacts very badly - there's no permission asked and no permission granted.

"She gives him a good hard slap around the face. Filming it wasn't a problem for me at all, but we had to shoot it from lots of different angles , so I had to wallop poor Peter Martin, who plays Len, quite a few times."


A Huge Big Thank you to Paul Berridge who has made various profiles and photos availabe to me. They were previously on his Beckindale site (that is no more). The following is one of those profiles written around 2001 -

Shirley Stelfox who plays Edna Birch, played Rose, the short skirted sister of Hyacinth in early episodes of keeping up appearances.


Shirley Stelfox was born in Dukinfield, Cheshire, on April 11th 1941.
Shirley Says, "I knew I wanted to act by the age of 3 and at every opportunity I did amateur plays. As for encouragement, I had the love of my mother and my sister, who thought I could do no wrong. But it's not a theatrical family."
She says one the funniest thing that's happened to her during the making of Emmerdale, was wearing that red hat for the first time and watching Bernice's face viewing it. "How dare she suggest I was like Tommy Cooper!!"
Shirley's first part in a film was David Lean's Hobson's Choice when she was 12 years old.
She appeared in the very first episode of Coronation Street, as well as Brookside, Family Affairs, EastEnders, and the old Crossroads.

"Edna is such a marvellous part," says Shirley, who was married to Bulman star Don Henderson until his tragic early death. "People on Emmerdale are such a team and I felt it was time I settle into something."

Her television appearences include, Making Out, and the short skirted Rose in early episodes of Keeping Up Appearances

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