Dickon Thorndike died peacefully in the early hours of December 15th. He had been bedridden for many months and finally slipped peacefully away.
He was a founder member of the Chiltern Shakespeare Company (CSC) and
took part in almost every show until the last couple of years. He and his devoted wife Sue were joint Presidents
for the past decade.
Dickon was the son of Dr Syn author Russell Thorndike, and younger brother of actor Daniel Thorndike who died earlier this year. His sister Rhona also died in
February this year.
Ian R. Wallace writes:
I was first introduced to the Thorndike family by Aviva Wiseman when we were in the process of
setting up YT at Beaconsfield in 1970, and it was through the auspices of Dickon that Dame Sybil Thorndike(his great-aunt) became patron of YT.
He and his wife Sue have been active supporters of YT ever since, with Sue having regularly helped out on the costuming of productions, and having acted with the group on
more than one occasion,
notably as Gerda’s Grand-mama in The Snow Queen (1987).
When their daughter Mandy played Fiona Thompson, the Assistant Youth Club leader, in
Here We Go (1983), Dickon made a non-speaking and uncredited appearance as a member of “the audience” on one of the evenings!!
I had the pleasure of acting with him in PhotoFinish (1972) with Beaconsfield Theatre Group (BTG) (playing Sam at 60 to his Sam at 80)
and I directed him in Twelfth Night (1999) for CSC when he played the Priest.
He was a fine actor—in his family’s great tradition—a wonderful man to act with, and someone it was a joy to direct simply because I didn’t have to do
anything except confirm when and
where he came on and went off!
He adored the theatre, especially Shakespearean theatre, and was a lovely, gentle man, who was a real pleasure to know and who’ll be very sadly missed.
Our love and sympathies are with Sue at this sad time.
Felicity Norrie writes:
Dickon’s mastery of the actor’s craft, and in particular his wonderfully resonant voice, will be fondly remembered not only by CSC members but by our audience members over
nearly thirty years.
What came across on stage was a reflection of his real life persona: an unfailing gentle kindness and twinkling sense of humour, which he retained until his last days.
Dickon and Sue were close friends of my family for many decades; we all took part in BTG, CSC and other shows together, went on theatre outings and attended each others’ family events.
His passing will leave a huge gap in my life, as well as in the lives of so many others who valued his friendship.
Mark Oldknow wrote (on facebook): Today I said goodbye to “the old man”. I hadn’t, until driving back to work from the funeral service, appreciated his loss. I did not know Dickon Thorndike well, and realise that I had only ever acted with him three times. The first was some 40 odd years ago in The Winslow Boy - me as Ronnie, he as my father. I remember very little of the show (except being soaked in the wings by Jenny Duffy with a sponge and a tea-cup) but do remember the company’s kindness and generosity to a precocious 12 year old boy. They gave me a hardback copy of the works of Rattigan signed by them all Marjorie Greasely, Duncan MacDougall, Margot Tringham, Andrew Rogers, Ron Severn, Glenys Rhys-Williams, Barbara Knaggs and Dickon. A couple of years later I was cast as Freddie in Pygmalion where Dickon played Alfred D. I think it was during that adventure I began to appreciate how versatile an actor he was. Particularly his comic timing. That was the last time I shared a scene on stage with Dickon - I think I was 16/17. I was in the same play on three further occasions - Lark Rise (I in the band - he “werting” it up with the company), MacBeth (I as Malcolm, he as the Porter) - both whilst I was still at school - and finally when I stood in for Mercutio in Aylesbury for CSC, he as Laurence.
It was during that production, which I had the great fortune to direct both him and his daughter Mandy, that I began to marvel at his ability to speak Shakespeare. The poetry flowed out of him with breathtaking beauty - not only because of his rich (and I assume after the eulogy) gaulloise soaked voice; but the quiet, unassuming emotion and truth. As an actor he always brought a quiet humility to his work, never fussed, always listened attentively to the ramblings of a young director finding his feet, and never had an unkind word to say of anyone. You knew you were in for treat during rehearsal as his tongue made its way across his lower lip, he gently stroked his white goatee and that devilish twinkle in his eye as he moved across the rehearsal space to act. His ability to deliver Shakespeare was, in my opinion, better than most of his generation. He combined the mellifluous song of Gielgud with the the vulnerability of Guiness and the panache of Olivier. I have no doubt he was as good if not better than any of them. And it is no small thing to say, we will not see his like again.
So Dickon, I will miss you. And I am saddened that I did not get the chance to work with you more often. But I will remember those rehearsals. I will remember those performances I sat as audience for with both CSC and Wycombe Theatre Company. I will remember the absolute affection between you and Sue - especially when she was admonishing you for putting cut lines back in (always blaming a failing memory; but I suspect more to do with an uneven cut - and for that I will always be in your debt).
So goodbye, old man. Your 95 years were evidently filled with love and kindness.
Tune in to Quay FM
Ian has just heard from Debbie Lewis. Now living on Alderney and working to protect us from Asteroids and as the Sales Director
of an Estate Agent, she has recently found time to volunteer as a deejay on her local charity radio station Quay FM (107.1 FM in the Channel Islands and also online linked here).
Her show is on Sundays 1100-1300 or 'right now' as I write this … … … Oh, hello Nazareth … Neil Young … Stranglers … (11 December)
Kit Lambert has been busy writing new episodes for series two of The Coroner. His episodes in Season Two are: The Beast of Lighthaven, The Captain's Pipe and The Foxby Affair
Have you been waiting for Waiting for Waiting for Godot?
Congratulations to Leona Graham (aka Smith) for winning the radiotimes.com poll as the best woman's voice on UK radio.
You can hear her every day on Absolute Radio or see and hear her interview with Brian Johnson of AC/DC
Ex-Member Spotted at Cleveland Half Marathon
We've heard from Martin Wiseman and this running thing seems to be spreading … to the USA!
Martin is pictured at end of the Cleveland Half Marathon in 2014. See his update in the memories section.
Ex-Members Spotted at Brighton Marathon
At least two XYT-ites were involved with the Brighton
Marathon. Zoë Ball started it and Helen Chaldecott (nee Wallace)ran it in six hours three minutes.
* Please note that stories are edited manually and may or may not appear in a few hours’ or days’ time.
How YOU can help with this Archive!
If you have any information about past Young Theatre productions, or information about any Young Theatre activities, then do please get in touch; and if you know any other ex-members of YT, please tell them about this site - we would very much like to hear from them too.