Helen Lederer was born in Carmarthen to an English mother and Czech-Jewish father. Her father was born in 1926 in Teplice, Czechoslovakia, and many of her relatives did not survive the Holocaust. Lederer's paternal grandfather, Arnost, worked as a clandestine listener to German prisoners of war at Trent Park in North London during World War II. She was raised in Eltham, south east London and was educated at Blackheath High School (then a direct grant grammar school) and the Central School of Speech and Drama. She also studied at University of Hertfordshire.
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