Stairlift to heaven

Dame Thora Hird dies at 91

Veteran comedy actress Dame Thora Hird has died at the age of 91.

The Last Of The Summer Wine star had suffered a stroke a week ago at her nursing home in Twickenham, South West London.

In recent years she was known as much for her stairlift adverts and religious programmes as she was for her acting, but she was a stalwart of British comedy throughout her life.

She first took to the stage in 1911, when she was just at eight weeks old, and was doing song-and-dance routines before her third birthday.

Her break came when she was spotted on stage by George Formby, who recommended a talent scout from Ealing studios check her out.

She went on to appear in almost 100 films, starting from the Will Hay comedy The Black Sheep of Whitehall in 1942.

But it was on TV that she made her name, starring in the Sixities sitcom, Meet the Wife, and Hallelujah! And In Loving Memory in the Seventies and Eighties. In 1985, she joined Last Of The Summer Wine, which she performed in until late in her life.

Morecambe-born Dame Thora's most acclaimed roles were in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues, which won her a Bafta in 1989.

She was also given a lifetime's achievement award at the 1998 British Comedy Awards.

Sophe Clarke-Jervoise, the BBC's head of comedy, said: "Dame Thora will be sadly missed, over the last 40 years she has become one of the nation's best-loved comedy actresses."

Dame Thora was made an OBE 1983 in and a dame in 1993. She is survived by her daughter, Janette Scott, who was also an actress.

To buy her diaries from

Published: 15 Mar 2003

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