(1912-2003) Stage actress Dame Wendy Hiller was born Wendy Margaret Hiller on 15th August 1912 in Bramhall, (then in Cheshire, now part of Stockport Metropolitan Borough), the daughter of Frank Watkin Hiller, a prominent local cotton manufacturer, and Marie Stone. She was soon sent to Winceby House School in Bexhill, Kent, to lose her northern accent. She made her professional debut in 1930 as a stage struck actress in the Manchester Repertory Theatre (Britain’s first Rep) where she attracted the attention of George Bernard Shaw in the stage production of “Love on the Dole” , and he subsequently cast her in several of his plays, including “Saint Joan”, “Major Barbara” and “Pygmalion” , the film version of the latter gained her an Oscar nomination in 1938. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1958 for the film “Separate Tables”, and was nominated again in 1966 for her part in Robert Boult’s “A Man for All Seasons” . Her distinctively earthy voice, and ability to express transparent honesty, made her natural style. She toured for most of 1934 in Ronald Gow’s adaptation of “Love on the Dole” where a Lancashire accent came easily to her, and gained more or less instant fame later in 1936 when the play moved to London and also in New York in 1936. Later she was to marry Gow. Over the following years she also acted on an international stage in leading roles in plays by Shakespeare, lbsen, Synge, Wilde, O’Neill, Henry James, Somerset Maughan, Robert Bolt, plays. Her stage work included (amongst many others):
“The First Gentleman” (New Theatre in 1945)
“The Heiress” (New York in 1947 and London in 1950)
“Waters Of The Moon” (Haymarket in 1951)
“Julius Caesar” (Old Vic in 1955)
“Winters Tale” (Old Vic in 1956)
“When We Dead Awaken” (Edinburgh Festival in 1968)
“Ghosts” (Cambridge, 1972)
“The Aspern Papers” (New York, 1962)
“Crown Matrimonial ” (Haymarket in 1972)
“The Importance Of Being Earnest” (Watford, in 1981)
“Driving Miss Daisy” (Apollo in 1988).
Her film appearances, many in leading roles, have included “Pygmalion”, “Major Barbara” (1941), “I Know Where I’m Going” (1945), “Separate Tables” (1958), “Sons And Lovers” (1960), “A Man For All Seasons” (1966) and “Murder On The Orient Express” (1974). In 1971 she was awarded an OBE and went on to be created a dame in 1975. Her husband died in 1993. They had two children – a son and a daughter. Dame Wendy Hiller died, aged 90, on 14th May 2003.
Judith Chalmers OBE
(Born 1936) Born Judith Lynette Chalmers in Manchester, Judith Chalmers is the British television presenter who is probably best-known for the ITV holiday programme “Wish You Were Here…?” during its heyday in the 1970s and 80s, and later in the several other travel programmes which it spawned. Earlier she had presented the much-loved and very popular BBC television ballroom dancing competition programme “Come Dancing” . Recently her television appearances have been limited to short guest appearances on programmes like “This Morning” and “Graham Norton” chat shows. In October 2003 she received the highest honour at the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Awards when she was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition for thirty years of worldwide travel coverage on television. She was made an OBE in 1994.
(Born 1959) Born in Rochdale in 1959, Andy Kershaw is a celebrated local broadcaster, popular music critic and DJ. While studying politics and journalism at Leeds University, he was the Entertainment Secretary and organised concerts by The Clash, Elvis Costello and Black Uhuru. His entertainments schedule seem to have somewhat overshadowed his student life as he subsequently failed his degree course. In 1984 he started a professional career in the music industry as a roadie, driver and tour manager for Billy Bragg, among others. His broadcasting career began in September 1984 with a report for the cult BBC 2 Television show “Whistle Test” , which he continued to work on until 1987. In 1985, he was offered his own radio show by BBC Radio 1, which he presented for 15 years until May 2000 when his show was replaced by a dance music programme. He was also a presenter of Channel 4’s “Travelog” programme. Since 2001 he has been a presenter on Radio 3. In his spare time Andy enjoys racing motorcycles, and frequently writes as a foreign correspondent for BBC radio news and occasional travel documentaries for Channel 4. He reported for the BBC from Rwanda during the horrific genocide of 1994. Andy lived for a while in Crouch End and the Isle of Man with his partne r, Juliette Banner, and two children, Sonny and Dolly. Currently the couple are estranged and separated.
(Born 1944) Born on the 17th December 1944 in Manchester, Bernard Hill is probably best remembered as Pauline Collins’ husband in the “Shirley Valentine” film, as Yosser Hughes in Alan Bleasdale’s 1980 television production of “Boys from the Black Stuff” . More recently he appeared as Théoden, King of the Rohan in Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings ” blockbuster film trilogy. Bernard studied at the then Manchester Polytechnic (now the Metropolitan University of Manchester) and gained a Diploma in Theatre in 1970. Many mistakenly suppose him to be a native of Liverpool, thanks largely to his BAFTA Award nominated Yosser Hughes role, where his scowse catchphrase “gizza job” entered into popular parlance and largely established his public notoriety. He also received the Press Guild Award for Achievement of the Decade for this role. However, his pedigree has been enhanced by many other prestigious film and stage appearances, including “The Ghost and the Darkness” with Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas, “Madagascar Skin,” “Mountains of the Moon,” “The Bounty” and Sir Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning “Gandhi” . He recently starred in the BBC’s “Skallagrig”, which went on to receive the BAFTA Award for Best TV Play. On the London stage, Hill’s leading roles include “A View from the Bridge,” “The Cherry Orchard” and “Macbeth”. He also portrayed the unfortunate Captain Smith in the award-winning blockbuster film “Titanic” . Bernard Hill now lives in Suffolk. He is married with one son, Gabriel. His voice is regularly heard in voice-overs of television commercials.
(Born 1959) Now known to viewers across the North West for her regular TV presenter and journalist spot on “Granada Reports” , (later relaunched as “Granada Tonight” , along with John Huntley and Bob Greaves), Lucy Meacock had first appeared presenting “London Plus” , along with John Stapleton. Born in South Wales, Lucy was educated at the Ursuline Convent in Chester and then at the Morongo Girls College in Geelong, Australia. Later she attended Upper Chine School in Shanklin in the Isle of Wight. She began her career as a journalist on the Chester Chronicle, and worked on the Evening Leader. Later, she moved to BBC Radio in Newcastle, before working for Tyne Tees television, in the same city. Then she moved to BBC Television at Lime Grove in London, before moving on to Anglia Television. She has received two Royal Television Society Awards, for the “Manchester Bomb Programme” and for the “Organ Retention Scandal Debate” in 2001. She also chaired the Granada TV late night television discussion programme “The Late Debate” for a time. She also co-presented “Granada Upfront” , a live regional debate programme with Anthony Wilson. Lucy enjoys football, golf and classical music and is also Patron of the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Chester.
(Born 1943) Television newscaster, broadcaster and presenter Anna Ford was brought up in Cumbria with her four brothers and attended White House Grammar School in Brampton. She went to Manchester University where she read Social Anthropology before taking a postgraduate diploma in Adult Education. Anna then worked from 1970-1972 as a lecturer in Christies Fine Art Department in Belfast, after which she worked at the Open University (from 1972-1974) as a staff tutor in Social Science for the Northern Ireland region. In 1974 she joined Granada Television in Manchester as a researcher and worked on numerous local and educational programmes. In 1976 she joined the BBC’s “Man Alive” team and then moved on to “Tomorrow’s World” for a short period. In February 1978, she joined Independent Television News (ITN) where she remained until 1981 when she moved to TV-AM, by then at a late stage as one of the original so-called ‘Famous Five’, after Esther Rantzen had dropped out due to her pregnancy. But, her stay was to be a short one as, in a matter of two months, she was dismissed for alleged “breech of contract” over the much publicised departure of Peter Jay. Subsequently, in 1989, she joined the BBC1 Six O’ Clock News and has regularly presented the “Today” programme and “Woman’s Hour” on Radio 4, as well as standing in for Jimmy Young on BBC Radio 2. Since 1999 she has been sole presenter of the BBC lunchtime news. Recent guest appearances have included “Have I Got News For You” and a singing role in BBC Television’s “Stars Sing The Beatles”. Anna was elected Chancellor of the University of Manchester in 2001. She was married to Mark Boxer, who unfortunately died in 1988. The couple had two daughters.