Valerie Kathleen Lehman (née Willis) (born 15 March 1943), known as Val Lehman, is an Australian actress and director, best known for her role as the protagonist "Top Dog" Bea Smith in the Australian TV series Prisoner (known internationally as Prisoner: Cell Block H).
Lehman played protagonist Bea Smith in the Australian TV series Prisoner from 1979 to 1983. She received three Logie Awards for her performance; Best Lead Actress in a Series, Most Popular Actress in 1982 and Best Lead Actress in a Series in 1983. She was twice nominated for the Gold Logie. Lehman decided to leave the series towards the end of season five after becoming tired with playing the character, and she recorded her final scenes on 13 May 1983, making her final appearance in episode 400. The final episode for the 1983 season was episode 416.
Her real life daughter, Cassandra Lehman portrayed Bea Smith's drug-addicted daughter, Debbie. Her other daughter, Joanne also briefly appeared in Prisoner, during the first year of the series. Lehman lived in Ipswich, Suffolk, England for much of the 1990s after being initially invited to the UK for personal appearances by the Prisoner: Cell Block H fan club.
Lehman has appeared in many other Australian television productions, mostly in guest roles. Prior to Prisoner she acted in the television series Bellbird and Tandarra. After Prisoner she appeared in The Flying Doctors, Army Wives, Something in the Air, Blue Heelers, All Saints and City Homicide.
In 2016, Lehman was a contestant on the Australian version of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. On 6 March 2016 she was evicted from the jungle.
|Bellbird||1967||Guest role; unknown episodes|
|Homicide||1972||Nurse||Episode "There Are More Things in Heaven and Earth"|
|Tandarra||1976||Dinner Guest||Season 1, episode 1 "Pilot"|
|Power Without Glory||Unknown episodes|
|Outbreak of Love||1981||Mrs. Montaubyn||ABC mini-series|
|Prisoner||1979–83||Bea Smith||Main role; seasons 1–5; 376 episodes|
Logie Award for Most Popular Actress (1982)
Logie Award for Best Lead Actress in a Series (1982)
Logie Award for Best Lead Actress in a Series (1983)
Also appeared in Prisoner in Concert (1981 performer & writer)
Appeared in Prisoner behind-the-scenes special The Great Escape (1990 video special)
Internationally re-titled as Prisoner: Cell Block H and "Caged Woman"
|A Fortunate Life||1985||Bert's Mother||Nine Network mini-series|
Episode 3 "Journey (1980-1914)"
|The Flying Doctors||1986||Val Bates||Season 1, episode 21 "Fearless Frank"|
|Law of the Land||1994||Fran Weber||Season 3, episode 12 "Line of Duty"|
|Good Guys, Bad Guys||1998||Rose Kinsella||Season 2, episode 9 "100% Proof"|
|Blue Heelers||Bonnie Crossing||Season 5, episode 15 "A Bit of a Biff"|
|Pizza||2000||Bea Smith||Season 1, episode 9 "Gambling Pizza"|
|Blue Heelers||2001||Ivy Henderson||Season 8, episode 7 "The Fine Print"|
|Something in the Air||2000–02||Joyce Cassidy||Season 1, episode 91 "Extenuating Circumstances"|
Season 1, episode 92 "Lust & Consequence"
Season 3, episode 37 "Every Baby Needs a Da-Da-Daddy"
Season 3, episode 38 "Playing the Game"
Season 3, episode 40 "Take Your Pride and Swallow"
|MDA||2002||Rita O'Reilly||Season 1, episode 10 "Quid Pro Quo"|
|All Saints||2009||Maggie Brooks||Season 12, episode 17 "Bodies in Motion"|
|City Homicide||2010||Dorothy Denzel||Season 4, episode 2 "Good Cop/Bad Cop"|
|The Strange Calls"||2012||Elaine||Season 1, episode 4 "Napoleon"|
|Secrets & Lies||2014||Patricia||Season 1, episode 4|
|I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!||2016||Celebrity||Season 2, episode 1-27|
|Kitty and the Bagman||1983||Big Lil||Prisoner cast members Colette Mann, Gerard Maguire and Kylie Foster also appear|
|Charlie & Boots||2009||Bowls Lady||With Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson|
|The Dolebludgers||1979||Mrs. Price||ABC television film|
|I Live with Me Dad||1985||Marge||Nine Network television film|
|Army Wives||1987||Jill's Mother||Network Ten television film|
|Secret Bridesmaids' Business||2002||Colleen||ABC television film|
|The Idyll||1977||10 minutes|
|Holt||2017||Vyner Gillespie||15 minutes|