Rita Tushingham was born on 14 March 1942 in Liverpool where her father was a grocer with three shops.
She wanted to be an actress from an early age and, after leaving school at 16, trained at the Shelagh Elliott-Clarke School, before working as an assistant stage manager at the Liverpool Playhouse.
Her screen debut was in A Taste of Honey (1961) – for which she won the British Academy Award for Most Promising Newcomer – and over the next decade she starred in a series of superb films, including The Girl with Green Eyes (1964), The Leather Boys (1964), The Knack . . . and How to Get It (1965), Doctor Zhivago (1965), Smashing Time (1967) and The Bed Sitting Room (1969).