1 9 6 6 – 6 7 (UK)
25 x 55 minute episodes
67-year-old Kathleen Harrison starred as Alice Thursday, a cheerful cockney charlady who inherits £10 million and control of a multinational property empire – the Dunrich Group – from her late employer, tycoon George Dunrich, along with his Mayfair mansion and his Rolls Royce.
Suave, principled Richard Byron Hunter (Hugh Manning) regularly offered her business and financial advice – but she didn’t always take it. Mrs Thursday did not allow the temptation of money and power to corrupt her generous and common-sense nature.
A gentle and heart-warming comedy from ATV, the show was an instant, if somewhat surprising, success, knocking Coronation Street off the top of the ratings in its very first week.
Kathleen Harrison was as shocked as anyone by her sudden success: “With all those sex and violence plays on TV, I didn’t think there would be parts for people like me”.
Harrison took the role to heart, purchasing all the character’s wardrobe herself, in the process horrifying shop assistants by deliberately buying gaudy clothes.
One drawback to her newfound fame was the fan mail. Nearly all were begging letters from people who thought she really had inherited £10 million.
Harrison continued to appear in films until the late 1970s, living to the ripe old age of 103.
Mrs Thursday was created by Dixon of Dock Green creator Ted Willis, who claimed to have sold the idea to ATV boss Lew Grade in a mere 20 seconds.
The series was a great success in continental Europe, especially Norway, where the show topped the TV ratings. The series also attracted viewers in Holland, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand and Nigeria.
Willis was approached by West German television in 1968 and asked to write a 90-minute Mrs Thursday play to star actress Inge Meysel as Alice Thursday.
The telemovie was released in Germany as Weh’ dem, der erbt (“Woe to him who inherits”) in 1969 with Stefan Wigger costarring as Hunter, Walter Buschhoff as Sir Charles Barker and Richard Lauffen as Joe Lever.
Inge Meysel reprised the role of Mrs Thursday in another West German TV movie, Keiner erbt für sich allein (“No one inherits for himself”), in 1970.
Mrs Alice Thursday
Richard B Hunter
Sir Charles Barker