Interview by David Munro
KNOWN to thousands of viewers as Glenda, wife of Barry of the
Building Society and the downtrodden daughter of the steely Dame
Thora Hird in Last Of The Summer Wine, Sarah Thomas epitomises
the repressed, if loyal housewife.
When you meet her, as I did to discuss her forthcoming appearance
in Dear Mr Kennedy…. at the Hen
and Chickens Theatre, you realise that real Sarah Thomas
is the antithesis of Glenda.
She is attractive, vivacious with a spontaneous warmth which
dispels any whiff of 'Luvvydom' which so often hangs round successful
While she was happy to discuss her television roles (apart from
Summer Wine, she has made guest appearances in Heartbeat, The
Bill and Rumpole of the Bailey, etc) she made it clear from the
outset that she is a stage actress and although she enjoys her
character of Glenda and all that goes with her, her real love
is the live theatre.
Summer Wine being a filmed series allows her the time to indulge
herself between series 'on the boards'.
When asked how long she had played Glenda she was not exactly
sure, but we worked out it must have been for at least 18 years
- she being specially selected for the role of Dame Thora Hird’s
daughter when Dame Thora joined the series.
She particularly cherishes her time in the annual Pantomime which
she tries to do as often as she can. She has just finished a successful
season at Grimsby, a place which, as she hastens to tell you,
is far nicer than its reputation and has great audiences.
Her stage career has been varied between Shakespearean dramas
– she has played Ophelia in Hamlet - and Drawing
Room Comedy (Cecily in The Importance Of Being Earnest).
She is anticipating with pleasure her forthcoming role in Dear
Mr. Kennedy.. which the authoress, Mary Rensten, wrote especially
She has been involved in the various
developments of the play and its plot, which she refuses to divulge
other than that she plays a character who adopts a new persona
for purposes of plot; a role which she finds challenging and rewarding
Her director, Martin Cort, is a friend from the time they both
appeared in Rotherham in The Glass Menagerie –
he, as the Gentleman Caller, she as the Crippled Girl - and she
feels confident he will do justice to the play and her performance.
I asked her, apart from Summer Wine, which part she had most
enjoyed playing on television and she replied without hesitation
Enid Simmons in Worzel Gummidge with Jon Pertwee and Una Stubbs;
adding that must date her!
While that particular piece was a few years ago, Sarah is one
of those people you do not connect with the passage of time.
She wears her years gracefully and at time looks young enough
to be Glenda’s daughter. She clearly has a great Joi de
Vivre, being lively and animated and clearly full of gratitude
and love for her profession.
While one must hope, as obviously she does, that one day she
may star in a series of her own, for now she is one of those actresses
whose appearance enhances whatever piece she may be in and by
her presence gives it a certain stature.
I feel sure, therefore, that whatever the future of Dear
Mr.. Kennedy … may be, she will not fail her author,
director and, most important, of all her audience.
Dear Mr. Kennedy … by Mary Rensten opens at the
Hen And Chickens Theatre, St Paul's Road, Highbury Corner, Islington
on April 5, 2005. Directed by Martin Cort with daily performances
at 8pm Tuesday to Saturday ;- Sunday 4pm (No performance Monday)
The plot involves a secret identity, an illicit love affair and
a correspondence between Janet Owen and an elusive politician,
(The authoress is at pains to emphasise that this character is
purely fictitious and is not based on any person, alive or dead,
and is not to be taken to depict any character in the forthcoming
Apart from Sarah Thomas in the leading character of Janet Owen
, the cast includes Charles Neville, Wendy Windle, Richard Myrad
and Kenny Reid.
The telephone number of The Hen And Chickens box office is 020