THE son of Lye-born movie star Sir Cedric Hardwicke says his famous father would have been “thrilled to bits” to be the inspiration behind the renaming of a Black Country theatre.
Sir Cedric’s actor son Edward Hardwicke, best-known for playing Dr Watson alongside Jeremy Brett in the 80s and 90s TV series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was guest of honour at the opening of the Hardwicke Theatre at Thorns Community College last Thursday (November 4).
Staff at the college decided to rebrand the old Thorns Theatre to honour the late Sir Cedric, Lye’s most famous son, and to help transform the venue into a new community performance space.
Mr Hardwicke, who recently appeared in Channel 4’s Shameless, said on opening night: “As an actor I can’t possibly think of a greater honour than to have a theatre named after you. I know my father would be absolutely thrilled to bits. It’s the most wonderful thing. I hope the theatre proves to be a great success.”
The 78-year-old, who grew up in Kinver - and who last visited the area in November 2005 for the unveiling of a sculpture at Lye Cross in memory of his father, said he was delighted to be part of the relaunch celebrations - which included performances by Thorns dance and drama students, comedienne Barbara Nice and Fizzog Theatre Company.
Chris Clarke, performance faculty director at Thorns, said: “Edward’s such a wonderful character and the support he’s given us has been amazing.”
He said the decision was taken to rename the 150-seat theatre to give students living just a stone’s throw from Sir Cedric’s birthplace something to aspire to.
He added: “Sir Cedric is a really good example of someone born locally who achieved great things.”
Son of a Lye doctor - Sir Cedric rejected his father’s hopes that he too would pursue a medical career and went off to study at RADA.
He later joined the Birmingham Repertory Company and carved out a successful stage career appearing in many of George Bernard Shaw’s plays before heading to Hollywood where he starred in many major movies of the 30s, 40s and 50s including Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Ghost of Frankenstein and The Ten Commandments.
And at the age of 41 he became the youngest actor to receive a knighthood.
The theatre named in his honour, based off Stockwell Avenue, Quarry Bank, has already been earmarked for rehearsals and performances by Fizzog Theatre Company and the National Youth Theatre.
But other theatre groups interested in using the venue can contact Chris Clarke on 01384 812776 or email firstname.lastname@example.org