||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (September 2010)|
|Dame Thora Hird|
Hird in 1974
28 May 1911|
|Died||15 March 2003
Brinsworth House, Twickenham,
Greater London, England
|Notable work(s)||See here and here|
|Television||Last of the Summer Wine, In Loving Memory, Hallelujah!|
|Spouse(s)||James Scott (m. 1937–94)
Dame Thora Hird DBE (28 May 1911 – 15 March 2003) was an English actress.
Early life and career
Hird was born in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe. She first appeared on stage at the age of two months in a play her father was managing. She worked at the local Co-op before joining the Morecambe Repertory Theatre. Her family background was largely theatrical: her mother, Marie Mayor, had been an actress, while her father managed a number of entertainment venues in Morecambe, including the Royalty Theatre where she made her first appearance, and the Central Pier. Thora often described her father, who initially did not want her to be an actress, as her sternest critic and attributed much of her talent as an actress and comedienne to his guidance. Although Hird left Morecambe in the late 1940s, she retained her affection for the town, referring to herself as a "sand grown'un", the colloquial term for anyone born in Morecambe.
Initially she made regular appearances in films, including the wartime propaganda film Went the Day Well? (1942, known as 48 Hours in the USA), in which she is shown wielding a rifle to defend a house from German paratroopers. She worked with the British film comedian Will Hay, and featured in The Entertainer (1960), which starred Laurence Olivier, and in A Kind of Loving (1962), with Alan Bates.
Thora Hird gained her highest profile in television comedy, notably the sitcoms Meet the Wife (1963–66), In Loving Memory (1979–86), Hallelujah! 1983-1984), and for nearly two decades in Last of the Summer Wine (1986–2003). However, she played a variety of roles, including the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, and won BAFTA Best Actress awards for her roles in two of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues. She starred as Captain Emily Ridley in the sitcom Hallelujah! (1981–84) about the Salvation Army, a movement for which she had a soft spot throughout her life. Hird also portrayed Mrs Speck, the housekeeper of the Mayor of Gloucester in The Tailor of Gloucester (1989). She played the screen mother of Deric Longden in Wide Eyed and Legless (aka the Wedding Gift) and Lost for Words which won her a BAFTA for Best Actress.
Hird was a committed Christian, hosting the religious programme Praise Be!, a spin-off from Songs of Praise on the BBC. Her work for charity and on television in spite of old age and ill health made her an institution. Her advertisements for Churchill stairlifts also maintained her in the public eye.
In December 1998, already using a wheelchair, Dame Thora played a brief but energetic cameo role as the mother of Dolly on Dinnerladies, a sarcastic character, who was particularly bitter towards her daughter.
Her last work was for BBC Radio 7: a final monologue written for her by Alan Bennett entitled The Last of the Sun, in which she played a forthright, broad-minded woman, immobile in an old people's home but still able to take a stand against the censorious and politically correct attitudes of her own daughter.
She was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions: in January 1964 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews, and in December 1996, when Michael Aspel surprised her while filming on location for Last of the Summer Wine.
She died on 15 March 2003 aged 91 at Brinsworth House, Twickenham, London, after suffering a stroke. The BBC thought she still had such energy and resilience, that even after it was revealed she had the stroke, they were still hoping that she would recover in order to appear in the next series of Last of the Summer Wine.
|1963 – 1966||Meet the Wife||Thora Blacklock|
|1968 – 1969||The First Lady||Sarah Danby|
|1969 – 1970||Ours Is A Nice House||Thora Parker|
|1979 – 1980||Flesh & Blood||Mabel Brassington|
|1979 – 1986||In Loving Memory||Ivy Unsworth|
|1981 – 1984||Hallelujah!||Captain Emily Ridley|
|1986 – 2003||Last of the Summer Wine||Edie Pegden|
- The Black Sheep of Whitehall (1942)
- Went the Day Well? (1942)
- Two Thousand Women (1944)
- Maytime in Mayfair (1949)
- Madness of the Heart (1949)
- Conspirator (1949)
- Once a Sinner (1950)
- The Magnet (1950)
- The Frightened Man (1952)
- Emergency Call (1952)
- Time Gentlemen, Please! (1952)
- The Long Memory (1952)
- Turn the Key Softly (1953)
- Street Corner (1953)
- Background (1953)
- For Better, for Worse (1954)
- One Good Turn (1955)
- The Love Match (1955)
- Tiger by the Tail (1955)
- The Quatermass Experiment (1955)
- Simon and Laura (1955)
- Lost (1956)
- Women Without Men (1956)
- Sailor Beware! (1956)
- These Dangerous Years (1957)
- Further Up the Creek (1958)
- The Entertainer (1960)
- Over the Odds (1961)
- A Kind of Loving (1962)
- Term of Trial (1962)
- Bitter Harvest (1963)
- Rattle of a Simple Man (1964)
- Some Will, Some Won't (1970)
- Lost for Words (1999)
- Dame Thora Hird's autobiography, Scene And Hird (1976)
- "TV GREATS:DAME THORA HIRD 1911 - 2003", Television Heaven
- Hird, Thora. "Obituary". BBC News. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- Thora Hird at the Internet Movie Database
- Thora Hird at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Thora Hird Britmovie British movie community
- "Actress Dame Thora Hird dies" - BBC News article, last updated 15 March 2003
- "Obituary: Dame Thora Hird" - BBC News obituary, last updated 15 March 2003
- Dame Thora Hird - obituary from The Guardian, by Veronica Horwell, dated 17 March 2003