What­ever Hap­pened to...?

Henry Hard­cas­tle

Evergreen - - Contents - HENRY HARD­CAS­TLE

Vic­tor Ben­son from Tut­bury in Stafford­shire, asked about Thora Hird and Christo­pher Beeny from the tele­vi­sion com­edy se­ries In Lov­ing Mem­ory, and Pa­tri­cia Rout­ledge, Derek Ben­field and Do­minic Mon­aghan who ap­peared in Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.

Thora Hird ( 1911- 2003, above) was one of the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar ac­tresses who ap­peared in more than 100 films. Also a big fan of This Eng­land and Ever­green, she be­came a na­tional in­sti­tu­tion.

In Lov­ing Mem­ory was an un­usual York­shire Tele­vi­sion com­edy se­ries which ran from 1979 un­til 1986. It was set in 1929 when Ivy Unsworth ( Thora Hird), was un­ex­pect­edly wi­d­owed and left to run the fam­ily un­der­taker’s busi­ness with her gorm­less nephew Billy, played by Christo­pher Beeny ( born 1941). A for­mer child ac­tor who danced with the Bal­let Ram­bert aged just six, Beeny came to wider pub­lic at­ten­tion dur­ing the mid- Fifties as the mis­chievous son Lenny in the The Grove Fam­ily ( see Ever­green, Win­ter 2002), and later be­came fa­mous as the foot­man, Ed­ward, in the Seven­ties tele­vi­sion se­ries Up­stairs, Down­stairs. He also popped up oc­ca­sion­ally as an in­com­pe­tent golfer and debt col­lec­tor in Last of the Sum­mer Wine ( see Ever­green, Spring 2007).

An­other stal­wart and highly tal­ented ac­tress and singer, Dame Pa­tri­cia Rout­ledge ( born 1929, above), was dis­ap­pointed when a fur­ther se­ries of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, broad­cast from 1996 to 1998, was turned down by the BBC. She has since had hard words to say about the Beeb, be­wail­ing the lack of suit­able mod­ern drama pro­duc­tions.

Some years ago I thought I was see­ing things when a Pa­tri­cia Rout­ledge looka­like and sounda­like spoke to me whilst wait­ing for the ferry to the is­land of Sark from Guernsey. It turned out they were at school to­gether in Birken­head and also had train­ing from the same elo­cu­tion teacher!

Hetty’s ju­nior part­ner in the Wainthropp De­tec­tive Agency was Ge­of­frey, played by Do­minic Mon­aghan ( born 1976, left), who has since ap­peared in sev­eral films and tele­vi­sion pro­grammes, in­clud­ing Wild Things with Do­minic Mon­aghan in which he trav­els to ex­otic places in search of dan­ger­ous and elu­sive crea­tures.

Hetty’s hus­band was played by veteran char­ac­ter ac­tor Derek Ben­field ( 1926- 2009, be­low), who ap­peared as Wal­ter Green­halgh in Corona­tion Street ( see This Eng­land, Win­ter 2010), as Arnold the Clerk in Rumpole of the Bai­ley, and in First of the Sum­mer Wine, the pre­quel to Last of the Sum­mer Wine which ran for two se­ries dur­ing 1988 and 1989.

Christo­pher Beeny and Thora Hird in a scene from In Lov­ing Mem­ory.

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