'Four Weddings and a Funeral' star Charlotte Coleman endured a tragic life, says report

Fans of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" are brimming with excitement at the short "sequel" airing as part of Comic Relief next week – 25 years after the original.

But the comedy short – starring Hugh Grant, Andie McDowell and Kristen Scott Thomas – will be tinged with a note of sadness at the absence of one central and unforgettable figure in the cast reunion.

Charlotte Coleman – who played Hugh Grant’s quirky flatmate Scarlett – died suddenly in 2001 at the age of 33.

The actress was found dead in her London flat hours after leaving her parents’ house complaining she was feeling unwell. She had suffered a massive asthma attack.

It was a tragic end to a short but rebellious life which saw her smoking at 12, lose her virginity early and being expelled at 14.

Tragically she also had to cope with the death of her boyfriend aged just 19, which sent her into a spiral of eating disorders and depression.


Born into a theatrical family — her mom was "Fresh Fields" actress Ann Beach and dad was TV producer Francis Coleman — Charlotte landed the role of Sue in the long-running TV series "Worzel Gummidge," aged eight.

But it was the character of teenage rebel Marmalade Atkins that won her the hearts of a generation of kids in the 1980s.

The "worst girl in the world" caused havoc at school and horrified her parents with her outrageous antics in "Educating Marmalade" and "Marmalade at Work," between 1982 and 1984.

It was a character that her real parents and teachers, at the Camden School For Girls, recognized all too well.

"I was probably the most irritating child,” Charlotte once said.  “I was very destructive, undisciplined, smashing things up, and I was wild in my teens.

English actress Charlotte Coleman (1968-2001), who plays the character of Scarlett in the film "Four Weddings and a Funeral," pictured in London on 23rd August 1994. (Photo by Larry Ellis Collection/Getty Images)

English actress Charlotte Coleman (1968-2001), who plays the character of Scarlett in the film "Four Weddings and a Funeral," pictured in London on 23rd August 1994. (Photo by Larry Ellis Collection/Getty Images)

“I caused my parents absolute hell. I graffitied the house.


“I was smoking at 12, had boyfriends at 13, lost my virginity at an early age, had my nose pierced at 14, shaved my head completely and then had a bluebird tattooed on my bottom when I was 15."

At 14, she was expelled from the school for smoking and drinking.

At the same time, she decided to move out of the family home and shack up with friends.

Then aged 16, Charlotte attempted to complete her education by enrolling in the progressive Dartington Hall school in Devon – blowing her entire TV fortune.

She later admitted: “We didn't have to go to any lessons, so I didn't. I spent 15 grand, all my money, and it was just stupid really."

But shortly after, tragedy struck.

In 1987, when she was just 19, her 23-year-old boyfriend Jonathan Laycock was killed in a cycling accident and she later said she "just fell apart."


Her overwhelming grief led to long bouts of depression and, reportedly, a battle with bulimia and anorexia.

“It was very grim because Jon was the great love of my life,” she said 10 years after.

“After his death, it was two years before I could go out with someone else and I've still got pictures of Jon up in my flat.”

Her acting career continued and at 21 she played a coming of age role in the groundbreaking  TV drama "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit."

As the lesbian daughter of an ultra-strict religious fanatic, she rebelled once again with explicit love scenes on screen.

At 25, Charlotte was cast as the eccentric Scarlett in "Four Weddings," landing herself a BAFTA nomination and the most memorable role of her career but her battle with depression continued.


Friend Rod Gilchrist, producer of Charlotte’s last major television series, "How Do You Want Me?" said: “Charlotte seemed very frail. She was about 5 ft. 5 ins. and very thin, and she was one of those people you always worried about.

“But then, like all great actresses, as soon as she got in front of the camera she was absolutely mesmeric."

On November 14, 2001, Charlotte spent the evening watching films with her mom and dad but left early. The following morning her concerned mom tried at call but got no answer.

She was found in her Islington flat shortly afterward and taken to Whittington Hospital in north London, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Dad Francis said Charlotte, who had always suffered from asthma but never experienced a major attack, was in “great spirits” earlier that day.

He said: "When she left she said she was feeling a little ill and I told her to stay with us but she wanted to go home.


"The family is devastated. We loved her and she was a rare creature who the camera loved.”

Charlotte’s sister, Casualty actress Lisa Coleman, said the star had died of a massive asthma attack and her inhaler had been found in an upstairs room.

She said: “She will be very sadly missed and we love her to be bits — my mother is very, very devastated.”

Rod Gilchrist added:  “She was a brilliant comic actress. I think she would have gone on to become a British version of Shirley MacLaine.”

This article originally appeared in The Sun.