Born: September 15, 1932;

Died: January 31, 2020.

ANDRÉE Melly, who has died aged 87, was an actress who made a memorable vampire in the Hammer horror film The Brides of Dracula, shared the first interracial kiss on both stage and TV in Britain, and played Tony Hancock’s girlfriend on radio.

Like her brother, the jazz musician George Melly, she enjoyed a high media profile. This was exemplified by her six years (1968-74) as a panellist on the weekly radio show Just a Minute, chaired by Nicholas Parsons. She was first heard in the fifth episode, in January 1968, just a month after the programme began, and was one of only a handful of regular female panellists, who also included Sheila Hancock and Aimi MacDonald, during the show’s early years.

The BBC saw them as foils for the otherwise male guests, such as Kenneth Williams, Derek Nimmo and Clement Freud, but Melly had the chance to keep them in order when she took over from Parsons as host for one edition in 1972. “Our contribution to the women’s liberation movement,” she described it as at the time.

As a screen actress, she was at her most dramatic in The Brides of Dracula (1960), alongside Peter Cushing’s vampire-vanquishing Dr Van Helsing. She played Gina, a student teacher in Transylvania who turns into a vampire after David Peel’s aristocrat, Baron Meinster, plunges his fangs into her neck.

This followed Melly’s run in the second and third series (1955-56) of Hancock’s Half-Hour on radio. Her character, like the others, took her real name and was introduced as Hancock’s French girlfriend, first in London, then smuggled back to 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, from Paris by Hancock and co-star Bill Kerr.

However, before the third series, writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson decided the gimmick of being French wasn’t working and, from then on, Andrée spoke with a cut-glass English accent.

Shortly afterwards, she made waves on the West End stage in Ted Willis’s play Hot Summer Night (New Theatre, 1958), playing a union leader’s daughter falling in love with a Jamaican man (Lloyd Reckord). As well as being the first interracial kiss on a British stage, it became the first on TV when the play was made for ITV’s Armchair Theatre slot the following year. (A 1964 episode of Emergency – Ward 10 was previously thought to feature TV’s first interracial kiss, but in 2015 this was found to have been predated by Hot Summer Night and a 1962 play, You in Your Small Corner.)

Andrée Melly was born in Liverpool in 1932 to Edith (nee Isaac) and Francis Melly, who worked in the wool trade. She made her stage début aged nine at the Little Theatre, Southport.

On leaving Belvedere High School, she attended Mon Fertile, a Swiss finishing school, then acted in repertory theatre. She spent a season (1952-53) with the Old Vic company and appeared in more than half a dozen West End productions, as well as children’s TV dramas.

Her other film roles included a schoolgirl in The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954) and a wife trying to keep her criminal past from her husband in The Secret Tent (1956).

In the 1970s, she left acting behind to concentrate on family life with her husband, actor Oscar Quitak, whom she married in 1964, and their children, Natasha and Mark.

Together, they ran a health food shop in Cranleigh, Surrey, and, after her brief return to the screen in episodes of the T-Bag children’s TV series (1988 and 1990), moved to Ibiza. Her husband and children survive her.