[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 March, 2003, 20:27 GMT
Obituary: Dame Thora Hird

Dame Thora Hird
Dame Thora Hird: Vintage northern lass
In a career lasting almost a century, Dame Thora Hird's solid screen presence and distinctive northern tones made her an enduring favourite with British audiences.

Thora Hird made her stage debut in 1911 at the age of two months.

She was carried on stage at the Royalty Theatre in her native Morecambe in a play directed by her father, who was also the stage manager.

But her father did not want her to be an actress and she worked at the local Co-op before joining Morecambe Repertory Theatre. Her first London appearance was in 1940.

Bafta award

For years she played cleaning ladies or housekeepers, with her father proving a dominant influence throughout the early years.

With Freddie Frinton in Meet the Wife
She starred with Freddie Frinton in Meet the Wife...
The actress could play Shakespeare, too, notably as the nurse in BBC TV's 1967 production of Romeo and Juliet.

And in the early 1970s she received good notices for her performance in a revival of No, No, Nanette.

But it was through her TV career in long-running sitcoms such as Meet the Wife, in which she was married to Freddie Frinton, and In Loving Memory, which ran for four series, that she became a household name.

In The First Lady, she played a local councillor who got things done, and hundreds of people wrote to her seeking help.

She was known to millions as Edie in Last of the Summer Wine, a woman hardly more tolerant of cheeky character Compo than his neighbour, Nora Batty.

She enjoyed appearing in work written by playwright Alan Bennett, and won a Bafta Award for best TV actress in 1989 for A Cream Cracker Under the Settee, one of his Talking Heads series.

As Edie in Last of the Summer Wine
...And as Edie in Last of the Summer Wine
She also starred in the final episode of All Creatures Great and Small.

Dame Thora also appeared in more than 100 films, including The Entertainer with Laurence Olivier.

A deeply religious woman, she was a natural choice to present such Sunday television programmes as Praise Be.

Her talent as a writer was revealed with the publication of her autobiography in 1976, and she went on to write several other successful books.

She was made a Dame in 1993 and, with the death of her husband of 58 years, Jimmy Scott, and with health problems of her own, she might have decided it was time to rest on her laurels.

Liked being "ordinary"

Instead, she went on to win a second Bafta best actress prize, again for one of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues.

Thora in Talking Heads
Dame Thora won two Baftas for Talking Heads
In Waiting for the Telegram, she became a resident of a nursing home anticipating the Queen's congratulations on reaching 100 years old.

Dame Thora retained her sense of working-class values to the end.

She could be blunt, but for every less than charitable remark, there was a kind word for somebody else.

Dame Thora said she liked being "ordinary" and having people come up and chat to her.

But her ability to get under the skin of her characters was an extraordinary one.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific