Angela Thorne obituary


The actor Angela Thorne, who has died aged 84, excelled in comedy and had a commanding presence on each display and stage, whether or not supporting Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles within the ratings-topping BBC sitcom To the Manor Born or starring as Margaret Thatcher within the scathing West Finish farce Anybody for Denis?

She introduced an imperious, chillingly actual high quality to the function of the Iron Girl on the Whitehall theatre alongside John Wells because the henpecked Denis Thatcher in 1981. The Every day Mirror’s critic famous: “Angela Thorne is Mrs Thatcher to a T. The hair type, the accent, the marginally pained look, are captured to an astonishing diploma by the actress.” Wells tailored the play from Non-public Eye’s satirical Expensive Invoice letters, with the prime minister hijacking Denis’s boozy weekend together with his associates by turning up unexpectedly at Chequers.

Thorne took to the stage for Anybody for Denis? in the course of To the Manor Born’s three-year run (1979-81). Peter Spence’s comedy creation solid her within the seemingly extra passive function of Marjory Frobisher, the loyal good friend of Keith’s snooty, domineering widow, Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, who has been compelled via dying duties to maneuver into the lodge on her property after promoting her manor home to the self-made millionaire Richard DeVere, performed by Bowles.

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Angela Thorne, left, as Marjory Frobisher, the loyal good friend of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, performed by Penelope Keith, on the set of To the Manor Born in 1980. {Photograph}: Mirrorpix/Alamy

However, mousey Marjory – an “absolute brick”, in accordance with Audrey – provides Thorne the chance to deliver the supreme snob right down to earth with a chopping comment in each episode.

To the Manor Born was revived for a 1997 BBC radio sequence with Thorne and Keith of their authentic roles, whereas Keith Barron took over from Bowles – though the unique trio had been reunited for a 2007 tv particular. It was Thorne’s flip to play the snob when she was solid as Daphne Trenchard in one other TV sitcom, Three Up, Two Down (1985-89), which paired her with Michael Elphick – performing the cockney oik – within the roles of widowed in-laws compelled to share a flat beneath their married kids.

Born in Karachi, in pre-partition India (now in Pakistan), Angela was the daughter of Sylvia (nee Leslie), a trainer, and William Thorne, a health care provider who went on to serve with the Indian Military Medical Corps through the second world battle. He was made an OBE for commanding a subject ambulance on the Battle of Monte Cassino through the allies’ Italian marketing campaign in 1944. The Thorne household had hyperlinks with India going again a number of generations.

On the age of 5, Angela went as a boarder to Farlington college, in Horsham, West Sussex. Eager for a stage profession however uncertain the best way to pursue it, she then took a secretarial course and labored for a 12 months on the Indonesian embassy in London.

Speaking to a drama pupil at a celebration gave Thorne the prospect to satisfy a professor on the Guildhall Faculty of Music and Drama. She took his recommendation to enrol for evening programs, then gained a scholarship to coach at Guildhall, however she left after a 12 months and located performing work with the producer Caryl Jenner’s Cell Theatre firm, taking performs to kids.

Turning into an assistant stage supervisor in Paignton, Devon, in 1961 gave her additional performing expertise earlier than seasons with the York Residents’ theatre (1962-63) and on the Sheffield Playhouse (1964-65). On the Theatre Royal, Windsor, in 1965, Thorne made an impression as Olivia Grayne in Emlyn Williams’s psychological thriller Night time Should Fall.

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Angela Thorne as Margaret Thatcher with John Wells as Denis Thatcher in Anybody for Denis? on the Whitehall Theatre, London, in 1981. {Photograph}: Donald Cooper

The West Finish and Ralph Richardson’s firm beckoned for a revival of the George Bernard Shaw play You By no means Can Inform (1966). “Angela Thorne makes a notable London debut as Gloria, wanting stunning, and being compelling and inventive in a first-rate characterisation,” wrote the Stage’s critic. Throughout the play’s run, the tv producer Ned Sherrin auditioned her for Take a Sapphire (1966), a “chronicle with music” he had written with Caryl Brahms, and he or she performed a princess.

Though Thorne had briefly been seen as a receptionist in a 1962 episode of The Avengers and did sketches with John Fowl and Roy Hudd in Sherrin’s satirical sequence That Was the Week That Was a 12 months later, Take a Sapphire – and recognition for her performances on stage – kicked off her display profession.

She appeared ever-present on TV over the subsequent 40 years. Sherrin produced her once more when she performed the “hyperlink lady” Nancy Chuff in BBC Two’s satirical sequence World in Ferment (1969), parodying present affairs programmes.

Extra conventionally, she acted Mrs Charmond in The Woodlanders (1970); Lettice Knollys in Elizabeth R (1971); Charlotte Verney, niece of the property proprietor George in Emmerdale Farm, finding out his monetary affairs along with her husband following his dying (1978); and Val Kirby, spouse of the eccentric vet of the title performed by Anton Rodgers, in Noah’s Ark (1997-98).

Thorne additionally starred within the comedy sequence Farrington of the FO (1986-87). As Harriet Farrington, she performs the British consul normal in an obscure South American banana republic dealing with revolutions and a dyed-in-the-wool main colleague undermining her.

Within the cinema, she was seen as Betty Smith within the musical satire Oh! What a Beautiful Battle (1969) and heard because the voice of the Queen of England within the 1989 animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

Amongst half a dozen primarily dramatic roles within the West Finish, Thorne shone as Io in Prometheus Certain (Mermaid theatre, 1971). Once more, she introduced nice presence to the half, this time with unhappiness etched in her face and a exceptional calmness as she provides a powerfully emotional speech about her character’s seduction by Zeus.

Anybody for Denis? later introduced her an Olivier award nomination for finest comedy efficiency. Thorne’s final West Finish function got here in 2013 on the Vaudeville theatre because the eccentric widow Mrs Wilberforce renting rooms to criminals in The Ladykillers, primarily based on the Ealing Studios movie comedy.

In 1967, she married the actor Peter Penry-Jones; he died in 2009. She is survived by their actor sons Rupert and Laurence.


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