Valerie Kathleen Lehman (née Willis) (born 15 March 1943) [2] [2] [1] [4] ​, 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 ).

Career

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.

Lehman will have a guest role on Neighbours in December 2017 as Joanne Schwartz , which reunites her with her former Prisoner co-star Colette Mann . [5]

Filmography

Television

Title Year Role Notes
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"
Wilderness 1996 Vet Mini-series
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

Film

Title Year Role Notes
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

Television film

Title Year Role Notes
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

Short film

Title Year Role Duration
The Idyll 1977 10 minutes
Smitten 2008 Violet 7 minutes
Lapse Rose 11 minutes
Holt 2017 Vyner Gillespie 15 minutes