WELL-KNOWN film and TV actress Dame Thora Hird, who died recently at the age of 91, began her working life as a shop assistant at her local Co-op store in Morecambe, Lancs, and worked there for ten years until 1939.
In an obituary published in the Guardian, writer Veronica Horwell recalled that Dame Thora developed the mannerisms of many of her 700-plus roles as a result of studying characteristics of Co-op shoppers in the 30's.
Her talent for acting was spotted by the legendary George Formby, who gave her a film contract at Ealing Studios just as the Second World War was breaking out .
Over the years she appeared on both stage and screen in many productions some of which earned her three BAFTAs. She was made an OBE in 1983 and became a Dame Commader of the British Empire in 1993.