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She was born in Brierfield, Lancashire, the daughter of Margaret, a stage actress and director, and Jack Cropper, a dentist. She was married to Coronation Street actor William Roache from 1961 to 1974. They had two children, including the actor Linus Roache.
Cropper studied acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She made her television debut as Chrysalis in "The Insect Play" in 1960, based on the 1921 play by Czechs Josef and Karel Capek. She appeared in Emergency Ward 10 and three times on Coronation Street three times in 1962. She came to prominence playing a young schizophrenic in the 1967 television play In Two Minds by David Mercer, which aired as part of the BBC's The Wednesday Play series, and won the Writers' Guild Award for the Best Television Play. In 1975 she starred in the television production of The Exorcism and took over the lead role on stage when actress Mary Ure died of overdose following the play's opening night. Other television credits include the BBC adaptation of the Dennis Potter play, Schmoedipus, part of the Play for Today series and The Jewel in the Crown. She appeared in a 1999 episode of Midsomer Murders, entitled Death's Shadow.
She died in 2007 at the age of 68, in Tangmere, West Sussex.