A Didsbury home where one of TV’s most famous faces was born is up for sale

The house has an important place in 20th-century television history and modern British art

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 1st October 2021

A house in Didsbury that birthed one of the most famous faces of modern television has gone up for sale in Manchester.

The unassuming semi-detached 5-bedroom house may look ordinary and suburban from the outside, but it has a fascinating place in 20th-century television and modern British art.

Home to the renowned contemporary sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe from 1951 to 1964, this is the place where she created some of her most famous works – as is shown outside on a blue plaque installed in 2018, following petitions by the Modernist Society and the 20th Century Society.

That includes the iconic gold theatrical mask BAFTA statue, which is still given to winners at the TV awards to this day.  

This immediately recognisable sculpture was in fact created in the garage of the home after Mitzi converted it into an artists studio for herself.


However, the New York-born artist also worked with a range of materials include textiles, ceramics, and jewellery.

She also developed her own technique to mass-produce abstract designs in concrete in relief as architectural decoration, applying it to some pieces that can still be seen around Manchester today.

Image: Gascoigne Halman/RightMove

Of her surviving sculptures in the city, only a handful remain – including a stone frieze at the Heaton Park reservoir pumping station and a fiberglass relief at the base of Owens Park Student Tower.

Mitzi initially moved into the house with her husband, history professor Marcus Cunliffe, and lived many happy years there before she died in 1970 aged 88.

The couple also had another house in France.

Image: Gascoigne Halman/RightMove

Writing about Mitzi in 2012, Modernist Society founder Maureen Ward paid tribute to her life and work, saying:

“Mitzi might have been born in New York but her soul belongs firmly in the North West of England and her Didsbury garage.”

 “If we were the sort to award blue plaques or lobby for a Hollywood-style Wall of Fame scheme in our own city, Mitzi would top the bill.

Image: Gascoigne Halman/RightMove

“She epitomises the spirit of an exuberant, utopian partnership between planners, architects, artists and sculptors dedicated to rejuvenating the public realm after the chaos of the blitz; functional yet accessible, experimental yet egalitarian, international yet rooted in everyday surroundings.

The 1920s 5-bedroom house is now on the market for £675,000 with estate agents Gascoigne Halman, who write:


“The property comes with an interesting history having been the residence where famous sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe designed the BAFTA award that is used today.

“The property offers a grand entrance hallway, three reception rooms, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and an additional one bedroom annexe to the rear. Whilst in need of some modernisation the property boasts superb potential to enhance further.”

You can view the full listing for the house here.

Feature image- Gascoigne Halman/RightMove