|Died||15 March 2003 (aged 91)|
Twickenham, London, England
|Resting place||Chichester Crematorium and Garden of Remembrance, Chichester, West Sussex, England|
|Television||Last of the Summer Wine|
In Loving Memory
(m. 1937; died 1994)
Dame Thora Hird(28 May 1911 – 15 March 2003) was an English actress and comedian, presenter and writer. In a career spanning over 70 years, she appeared in more than 100 film and television roles, becoming a household name and a British institution.
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).
Hird was born on 28 May 1911 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 Hird made her first appearance, and the West End Pier. Thora first appeared on stage at the age of two months in a play her father was managing, carried on stage in her mother's arms. 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, Hird 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). Hird 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.
Hird 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 December 1998, using a wheelchair, Hird played a brief but energetic cameo role as the mother of Dolly on Dinnerladies, a sarcastic character who was particularly bitter towards her daughter.
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.
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.
Hird underwent a heart bypass operation in 1992. She suffered from severe arthritis and used a wheelchair in her later life. She died on 15 March 2003 aged 91.
A memorial service was held on 15 September 2003 at Westminster Abbey attended by more than 2000 people, including Alan Bennett, Sir David Frost, Melvyn Bragg and Victoria Wood.
On 7 July 2019 a commemorative blue plaque was installed to Thora Hird by The Theatre and Film Guild of Great Britain and America, at the Bayswater home where she lived for over 60 years.
Hird married musician James Scott in 1937. They had a daughter, actress Janette Scott, in 1938. Hird was mother-in-law to jazz singer Mel Tormé for eleven years. 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|
|1942||The Next of Kin||ATS Driver|
|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|
|1950||The Magnet (film)||Nanny's Friend|
|1951||The Galloping Major (film)||Tea Stall Proprietress||with daughter, Janette Scott|
|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|
|1954||The Crowded Day||Eunice's mother|
|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|