English Heritage defends Thora Hird blue plaque decision

Dame Thora Hird as she appeared in Last of the Summer Wine Dame Thora Hird played Edie Pegden in the BBC's Last of the Summer Wine

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English Heritage has defended its decision not to grant actress Dame Thora Hird a commemorative blue plaque.

The proposal was rejected because the organisation felt it was "too soon" to properly assess how she would be viewed "in 10, 50 or even 100 years time".

The decision was criticised by figures including actress Maureen Lipman, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Dame Thora was born in Morecambe and died at her London nursing home in March 2003 at the age of 91.

In 2006 a blue plaque was unveiled at the London home by another organisation, the Heritage Foundation, which specifically honours figures from the world of entertainment.

Minutes from English Heritage's Blue Plaques Panel meetings are normally not made public until some months have elapsed.

At the 19 October meeting, Dame Thora's plaque proposal was rejected as it was "too soon to make an accurate assessment of her lasting contribution to her field".

English Heritage only considers putting blue plaques on buildings where eminent individuals have lived once they have been dead for 20 years or once the centenary of their birth has passed.

"The panel was very aware of just how much love and admiration there is for one of the best-known British actresses of recent times," its spokesperson said.

"As Dame Thora had been proposed under the centenary rule, it was felt that it was too soon after her death to know how she will be regarded by future generations."

The much-loved actress was known to millions for such sitcoms as Meet the Wife, In Loving Memory and Last of the Summer Wine.

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