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Dame Thora Hird

This South Bank Show was originally broadcast in the mid-nineties when Thora Hird was in her early 80's.

A native of Morecambe, it captures her on a return visit to the town where she appeared on stage for the first time at the tender age of two months.

That was in 1911 and it sparked a career that spanned over 90 years. She went on to perform in over 100 films, numerous television series and in her later years, inspired thousands through her religious programmes.

Dame Thora talks to Melvyn Bragg about her childhood in Morecambe, her years in the theatre and her childhood dreams of performing at Drury Lane, as well as the many memorable tragic-comic roles she had played over the years.

Hird attributes much of her success to the fact that the majority of parts she played came from real life characters she had seen.

Some of Hird's most significant roles include her collaborations with Alan Bennett such as the first solo he created for her, A Cream Cracker Under The Settee, in the original Talking Heads monologues, which won her the second of three Bafta awards as best television actress in 1989.

But long before her alliance with Bennett, Thora Hird had already become a household name with series such as In Loving Memory, The Last of the Summer Wine and Me! I'm Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

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