Whatever Happened to...?
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.