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Dame Thora Hird,  she appeared in more than 100 film and television roles, becoming a household name and a British institution.(28 May 1911 – 15 March 2003) was an English actress and comedian of stage and screen, presenter and writer. In a career spanning over 70 years,
Hird in 1974
|Died||15 March 2003 (aged 91)|
|Television||Last of the Summer Wine|
In Loving Memory
(m. 1937; died 1994)
A three-time winner of the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress, she won for Talking Heads: A Cream Cracker Under the Settee (1988), Talking Heads: Waiting for the Telegram (1998) and Lost for Words (1999). Her film credits included The Love Match (1955), The Entertainer (1960), A Kind of Loving (1962) and The Nightcomers (1971).
Early life and careerEdit
Hird was born in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe to James Henry Hird and Jane Mary (née Mayor). Her family background was largely theatrical: her mother 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 first appeared on stage at the age of two months in a play her father was managing. She worked at the local Co-operative store before joining the Morecambe Repertory Theatre.
Hird 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 comedian to his guidance. In 1944 she made her West End debut in the Esther McCracken play No Medals.
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, as well as A Kind of Loving (1962) with Alan Bates and June Ritchie.
Hird gained her highest profile in television comedy, notably the sitcoms Meet the Wife (1963–66), In Loving Memory (1979–86), Hallelujah! (1983–84), and for nearly two decades as Edie Pegden 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! (1983–84) 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).
In 1993 she played Annie Longden, mother of Deric Longden in Wide-Eyed and Legless (known as The Wedding Gift outside the UK) and reprised her role in the 1999 TV film 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 kept her in the public eye.
She was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1983 Birthday Honours and raised to Dame Commander (DBE) in the 1993 Birthday Honours. She received an honorary D.Litt. from Lancaster University in 1989.
In mid-December 1999, Hird recorded four Alfie story books written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes for a double-sided audio cassette release, creating memorable voices for every character as well as Alfie himself.
Her final acting work was for BBC Radio 7, which was recorded and broadcast in 2002: a 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.
This Is Your LifeEdit
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.
Personal life, death and memorialEdit
Hird had a heart bypass operation in 1992. She suffered severe arthritis and used a wheelchair in her later life. She died on 15 March 2003 aged 91.
Hird married musician James Scott in 1937. They had a daughter, actress Janette Scott, in 1938. Hird was for a time mother-in-law to jazz icon Mel Tormé. Hird was widowed in 1994, having been married for 57 years.
|1942||Black Sheep of Whitehall||Joyce|
|1942||Went the Day Well?||Ivy Dawking|
|1942||Go to Blazes||Elsie||Short|
|1944||Two Thousand Women||Mrs. Burtshaw|
|1947||The Courtneys of Curzon Street||Maud|
|1948||Corridor of Mirrors||Visitor in Madame Tussauds|
|1948||My Brother Jonathan||Ada|
|1948||The Weaker Sex||Mrs. Gaye|
|1949||Once a Jolly Swagman||Ma Fox|
|1949||Lost Daughter||Mrs. Skinner|
|1949||Fools Rush In||Mrs. Coot|
|1949||A Boy, a Girl, and a Bike||Mrs. Bates|
|1949||Madness of the Heart||Rosa|
|1949||Maytime in Mayfair||Janet|
|1949||The Cure for Love||Mrs. Dorbell|
|1949||Boys in Brown||Mrs. Knowles|
|1950||Once a Sinner||Mrs. James|
|1952||The Frightened Man||Vera|
|1952||The Hundred Hour Hunt||Mrs. Cornelius|
|1952||Time, Gentlemen, Please!||Alice Crouch|
|1953||The Long Memory||Mrs. Pewsey|
|1953||The Great Game||Miss Rawlings|
|1953||Street Corner||Mrs. Perkins|
|1953||Turn the Key Softly||Mrs. Rowan|
|1953||Personal Affair||Mrs. Usher|
|1953||A Day to Remember||Mrs. Trott|
|1953||The Love Match||Sal Brown|
|1954||Don't Blame the Stork||Agnes O'Connor|
|1954||Cocktails in the Kitchen||Mrs. Doyle|
|1954||Tiger by the Tail||Mary|
|1955||The Love Match||Sal Brown|
|1955||The Quatermass Xperiment||Rosemary 'Rosie' Elizabeth Wrigley|
|1955||Simon and Laura||Jessie|
|1955||One Good Turn||Cook|
|1956||Women Without Men||Granny Rafferty|
|1956||Sailor Beware!||Mrs. Lack|
|1956||Home and Away||Margie|
|1957||The Good Companions||Mrs. Oakroyd|
|1957||These Dangerous Years||Mrs. Larkin|
|1958||Further Up the Creek||Mrs. Galloway|
|1958||A Clean Sweep||Vera Watson||Short|
|1960||The Entertainer||Ada Lapford|
|1961||Over the Odds||Mrs. Carter|
|1962||A Kind of Loving||Mrs. Rothwell|
|1962||Term of Trial||Mrs. Taylor|
|1963||Bitter Harvest||Mrs. Jessup|
|1964||Rattle of a Simple Man||Mrs. Winthram|
|1970||Some Will, Some Won't||Agnes Russell|
|1971||The Nightcomers||Mrs. Grose|
|1988||Consuming Passions||Mrs. Gordon|
|1999||Julie and the Cadillacs||Julie's grandmother|
|1947||Mary Rose||Mrs. Otery||TV film|
|1949||The Winslow Boy||Violet||TV film|
|1951||Sunday Night Theatre||Anna Priashkina||Episode: "The Bachelor"|
|1951||What Happens to Love||Mrs. Rowbotham||TV film|
|1955||The Queen Came By||Emmie Slee||TV film|
|1955||The Adventures of Robin Hood||Ada||Episode: "A Husband for Marian"|
|1956||Armchair Theatre||Momma Brodsky||Episode: "The Same Sky"|
|1958||Saturday Playhouse||Aggie Thompson||Episode: "So Many Children"|
|1959||Blackpool Show Parade||Mrs. McTaggart||Episode: "Happy Days"|
|1960||Bootsie and Snudge||Emily||Episode: "Johnson's Retirement"|
|1961||ITV Playhouse||Helen Curvis||Episode: "Hi Diddle Diddle"|
|1963||Z-Cars||Mrs. Edwards||Episode: "Nothing Serious"|
|1963||Drama 61-67||Mrs. Hope||Episode: "Drama '63: Albert Hope"|
|1963||Comedy Playhouse||Thora Blacklock||Episode: "The Bed"|
|1963–1966||Meet the Wife||Thora Blacklock||Main role|
|1964||First Night||Queenie||Episode: "All Things Bright and Beautiful"|
|1964||Festival||Mrs. Baines||Episode: "Say Nothing"|
|1965||My Perfect Husband||Thora||TV film|
|1966||The Wednesday Play||Blanche Hoskins||Episode: "Who's a Good Boy Then?"|
|1966||Dixon of Dock Green||Alice Leggett||Episode: "Face at the Window"|
|1968–69||The First Lady||Sarah Danby||Main role|
|1969||ITV Sunday Night Theatre||Mrs. Ogden||Episode: "It Calls for a Great Deal of Love"|
|1969–70||Ours Is a Nice House||Thora Parker||TV series|
|1971||Seasons of the Year||Widow Butley||Episode: "The Three Graces"|
|1971||Stage 2||Mrs. Hardcastle||Episode: "She Stoops to Conquer"|
|1971–72, 1977, 1982||Play for Today||Gwen, Doris, Olive Major, Aunty Kitty||Episodes: "The Fox Trot", "The Villa Maroc", "The Mayor's Charity", "Intensive Care"|
|1974||Billy Liar||Miss Duggins||Episode: "Billy and the Bed-Sit"|
|1975||Softly, Softly: Taskforce||Mary Meegan||Episode: "Dorothy's Birthday"|
|1975||Play of the Month||Clare Soppitt||Episode: "When We Are Married"|
|1977||The Boys and Mrs B||Mrs. Battley||TV short|
|1977||Young at Heart||Ethel Collyer||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1978||Me! I'm Afraid of Virginia Woolf||Mrs. Hopkins||TV film|
|1979||Thomas & Sarah||Mrs. Entwistle||Episode: "Made in Heaven"|
|1979–1986||In Loving Memory||Ivy Unsworth||Main role|
|1980–1982||Flesh and the Blood||Mabel Brassington||TV series|
|1983||Objects of Affection||Elizabeth Mary Rhodes||Episode: "Say Something Happened"|
|1983–84||Hallelujah!||Capt. Emily Ridley||Main role|
|1986–87, 1988–2003||Last of the Summer Wine||Edith 'Edie' Pegden||Regular role|
|1988, 1998||Talking Heads||Doris, Violet||Episodes: "A Cream Cracker Under the Settee", "Waiting for the Telegram"|
|1989||The Tailor of Gloucester||Mrs. Speck||TV film|
|1989–90||All Creatures Great and Small||Mrs. Clarke||Episodes: "The Best Time", "Promises to Keep"|
|1990||The Tale of Little Pig Robinson||Old Betsy||TV film|
|1991||Perfect Scoundrels||Martha||Episode: "Grandmother's Footsteps"|
|1992||The Good Guys||Edna Wood||Episode: "Her Finest Hour"|
|1992||Screen Two||Jean Taylor||Episode: "Memento Mori"|
|1993||Wide-Eyed and Legless (known as The Wedding Gift outside of the UK)||Annie Longden|
|1993||Goggle Eyes||Mrs. Harrington||Episode: "1.1"|
|1994||Pat and Margaret||Jim's mother|
|1994||Under the Hammer||Nanny Tucker||Episode: "The Spectre at the Feast"|
|1994||Heartbeat||Hannah Stockdale||Episode: "Lost and Found"|
|1995, 1999||The Queen's Nose||Postmistress||Episodes: "1.1", "1.4", "Harmony's Return"|
|1999||The Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything||Ida||Episode: "Philosophy of a Hairdresser"|
|1999||Hilltop Hospital||Gracey Greyshell||Episode: "Gracey Greyshell's Last Day"|
|1999||Lost for Words||Annie Longden||TV film|
- ""TV GREATS:DAME THORA HIRD 1911 – 2003", Television Heaven". Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "Dame Thora Hird Obituary". The Thelegraph. 17 March 2003. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- "Obituary: Dame Thora Hird". The Guardian. 17 March 2003. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- "Dame Thora Hird". The Telegraph. 17 March 2003. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- Hird, Thora. "Obituary". BBC News. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- "Thora Hird". Bigredbook.info. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
- "Stars celebrate Dame Thora's life". BBC News. 15 September 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- "Dame Thora Hird is Commemorated", the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America, accessed 7 July 2019
- "Obituary: Dame Thora Hird". The Daily Telegraph. 17 March 2003. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- Thora Hird on IMDb
- Thora Hird at the BFI's Screenonline
- "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
- Thora Hird's appearances on This Is Your Life