Star Archive


Dame Thora Hird (1911 - 2003)

Thora Hird's career is proof-positive that a combination of talent, hard work and luck will beat good looks and loose morals any time. She started out as a reliable bit-player and ended up as a national treasure.

She was born into the theatre. Her father ran the Royalty in Morecambe and she was used in a production while still a babe in arms. She went into rep as soon as she left school, though subsidised her income by working at the Co-op. It was while working in rep that she was spotted by George and Beryl Formby who sent an Ealing casting director over to see her. Despite a fraught screen test she was taken on at 10 a week (ten times her rep wages).

The versatility she had developed in rep was put to use in a variety of bit parts. She could play a wide age range (not always convincingly) and in either comedy or drama but she was most often used as down-trodden working-class mothers of the likes of Dirk Bogarde. Her stage career developed in parallel to her film career, and she still found time to bring up two children. She was greatly helped in this latter task by her husband James Scott who gave up his job to manage her career and run the home after he returned from the war.

In the 50s she moved to Rank to continue the bit parts. Towards the end of the 50s she was in danger of being eclipsed by the success of her daughter Jeanette Scott, but her Northern working-class roots made her a natural for the new wave of kitchen sink dramas.

Those working-class roots made her a natural for television too. Her first big hit was in the sitcom Meet the Wife with Freddie Frinton. This made her a bona fide star. After that it was just one success after another: First Lady, Flesh and Blood, In Loving Memory. She also presented the hymn request show Praise Be! for donkeys years and managed to make a permanent guest appearance in Last of the Summer Wine for seventeen years.

However it was her work in single plays that won her the most acclaim, particularly in works by Alan Bennett. His Talking Heads monologue A Cream Cracker Under the Sofa won her her first BAFTA in 1988. She got another for his next monologue and yet another for Lost for Words which also got her an Emmy.

With all this later success, Hird's film career now seems like apprentice work. But she does show that even the lowliest bit player can rise up through the ranks to achieve greatness. 

Filmography

1941 The Black Sheep of Whitehall
1941 Spellbound
1942 The Big Blockade
1942 Next of Kin
1942 Went the Day Well?
1942 The Foreman Went to France
1944 2000 Women
1947 The Courtneys of Curzon Street
1948 Corridor of Mirrors
1948 My Brother Jonathon
1948 The Weaker Sex
1948 Portrait from Life
1948 Once a Jolly Swagman
1948 The Blind Goddess
1949 Fools Rush In
1949 A Boy, A Girl and a Bike
1949 Madness of the Heart
1949 Maytime in Mayfair
1949 Boys in Brown
1949 Conspirator
1950 The Cure for Love
1950 Once a Sinner
1950 The Magnet
1951 The Galloping Major
1952 The Frightened Man
1952 Emergency Call
1952 Time Gentlemen Please!
1952 The Lost Hours
1953 Personal Affair
1953 The Great Game
1953 Background
1953 Turn the Key Softly
1953 Street Corner
1953 A Day to Remember
1953 The Long Memory
1954 Don't Blame the Stork
1954 The Crowded Day
1954 One Good Turn
1954 For Better, For Worse
1955 The Quatermass Xperiment
1955 The Love Match
1955 Tiger By the Tail
1955 Simon and Laura
1956 Lost
1956 Women Without Men
1956 Sailor Beware
1956 Home and Away
1957 The Good Companions
1957 These Dangerous Years
1958 The Clean Sweep
1958 Further Up the Creek
1960 The Entertainer
1961 Over the Odds
1962 A Kind of Loving
1962 Term of Trial
1963 Bitter Harvest
1964 Rattle of a Simple Man
1970 Some Will, Some Won't
1971 The Nightcomers
1987 Consuming Passions

 Thora Hird at Amazon UK

 Thora Hird at Amazon US