Sarah was a RADA-trained actress. She was best known as a Play School presenter. She made her debut appearance on the programme on 6th September 1971. Producers John Lane, Peter Ridsdale-Scott and pianist Jonathan Cohen all agreed that Sarah wasn’t a good singer. However, she was a lovely actress and was given another chance, and worked well on screen. Their judgement proved right, as she stayed on the presenting team for a further 15 years. The earliest surviving footage within the BBC archives of Sarah on Play School is Friday 10th September 1971 and archivist and author Paul R. Jackson viewed the programme. It was a little odd that when Sarah showed items to be used in the Pop Goes the Weasel song, that she couldn’t make a brown paper bag burst – but this was kept in the final recording.
Sarah met fellow actor Peter Baldwin in 1961, when they appeared together in a production of Romeo and Juliet which toured Europe and America. The couple married in 1965. He was best-known for playing long-running character Derek Wilton in Coronation Street (Granada TV, 1976 – 1977, 1979, 1984, 1986 – 1989 and 1991 – 1997). Their daughter Julia later worked as an assistant floor manager on Playdays.
Sarah died far too young, aged 49, from cancer.
Sarah’s other television credits include: BBC Sunday-Night Theatre – A Nest of Robins (1959); No Hiding Place (1960); Francis Storm Investigates (1960); Emergency Ward 10 (1963); Jackanory Playhouse – Ivan the Ninny (1982). She was a co-host on Mr and Mrs (TWW, 1964) and appeared in the film Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972).
Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Peter in July 2009: “In the 1970s when she was regularly on the programme, I was very busy working on BBC Radio – twice as a member of the Drama Repertory Company and started to work on ‘The Street’. I remember she worked very hard on preparation for five programmes before spending a week in studio. Our children were quite young and when their friends came back for tea, they usually watched Play School and couldn’t begin to understand how Sarah was on screen and standing behind them pouring them orange juice and making sandwiches. I think she was upset when she was fazed out and as far as I remember she had no official letter confirming it or indeed thanking her for the splendid work she had done for the programme. When people talk to me about those times, they always remember her with affection and nearly always remember her singing. She struggled with singing but did have regular lessons with an excellent teacher. I think she was introduced to the programme through Jonathan Cohen who was a cousin.”
Paul asked Peter about her co-presenters and his one-off Christmas appearance on the programme in 1978: “I think she enjoyed working with all the chaps, but maybe she was most compatible with Derek Griffiths. My own appearance was fleeting and I remember little of it. Sarah was presenting but wasn’t involved with my item. Jonathan played piano and organ for the memorial service we held for her at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, early in 1988. For the preparation of that service, Valerie Solti (another former Play School presenter) who had been a friend of Sarah’s at RADA, helped me hugely and in the service a number of presenters contributed readings – Chloe Ashcroft, Johnny Ball, Carol Chell, Stuart Bradley and Stuart McGugan, as well as Judi Dench who we had been in the Old Vic company together with in the early 1960s.”
Peter died after a short battle with cancer, on 21st October 2015.
Video Clips on the Internet
Here we present a selection of video clips featuring Sarah which we found on social media sites or have made available from our own archive. The clips are presented here for additional reference. Inclusion of a video does not constitute an endorsement of the hosting site/channel/user. If you find any broken links below or are aware of an additional clip(s) which you believe may be a useful addition to this profile, please get in touch with us via our Contact page.
PICTURED: Sarah Long. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: BBC.