A Leeds-born veteran actress and comedienne is staging a comeback - at the age of 92.
Thelma Ruby has returned to her roots after being tempted out of retirement to reprise her one-woman show, That’s Entertainment, and is also due to appear alongside comedian Jack Dee in his new ITV sitcom, Bad Move.
The sitcom is set in Yorkshire and Thelma appears in three of the episodes as Alice, a neighbour whose presence only adds to the discomfort of Jack Dee and his on-screen wife, played by Kerry Godliman, as they struggle with a move from the city to the country.
Ahead of the new series, Thelma brought her biographical collection of songs, sketches and extracts from her career in showbusiness to the city this week when she performed at The Grammar School at Leeds.
As a former pupil of Leeds Girls’ High School, leaving in 1939 to train as an actress in New York, she was delighted to return with her heart-warming show, tracing her 70-year career in the spotlight which included runs in the West End and on Broadway, as well TV and film roles.
The one-woman show, which received rave reviews, features anecdotes from her days treading the boards with the likes of Orson Welles, Topol and Dame Judi Dench. Her television appearances include Coronation Street, Z Cars, Dempsey and Makepeace, Minder and Doctors. She said: “I’m so lucky to have a job at my age – and one that I absolutely love. And, of course it has been lovely being back in Yorkshire where I first dreamed of being an actress.”
When she was approached last year to return to the King’s Head, a fringe theatre in London, with her acclaimed one-woman show, she was initially concerned that she wouldn’t have the stamina.
She said: “I have to be on stage with a pianist for about an hour and 20 minutes with no break. I didn’t know if I could still do it, but I couldn’t resist the challenge.”