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Virginia Stride (born Virginia Thomas in Yokohama, Japanmarker) is a British actress of stage and screen who first came to public attention on television in the 1960s. She was the first wife of the actor John Stride (born 1936), whom she met when they were studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and in 1964 introduced the first programme to be seen on the BBC 2 channel.

Early years

Virginia Stride was, in her own words, a “fat little girl” and, although she became slimmer in her teens, her self-consciousness about this in childhood had apparently made her sceptical of an acting career . In the event, she went to RADA, rather than read English at university, and took her husband’s name for professional purposes because of pressure from agents who felt that Virginia Thomas “didn’t sound quite right” .

Television in the 1960s

Virginia Stride played the recurring role of BD Girl Katy Hoskins in Z Cars (1962-64), the long-running BBC television series about the police in an area of Liverpoolmarker. In 1964 she appeared in an episode of The Avengers as Alice Brisket, secretary to Quilpie (played by Ronald Radd), who was the controller of John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman) .

Play School

With Gordon Rollings, Stride was the first presenter, on 21 April 1964, of Play School, BBC 2's daily programme for young children. Due to a power failure that coincided with the channel's scheduled opening the previous evening , Play School was the first programme to be transmitted on BBC 2. Stride's greeting, "Hello. I'm Virginia", immediately struck a note of informality that contrasted with the aunt-like way that children had tended to be addressed in programmes of the 1950s and early 60s.

On the Margin

In 1966 Stride appeared in the BBC comedy series On the Margin, a collection of sketches and songs, written by Alan Bennett, who, together with John Sergeant (later the BBC’s political correspondent), also starred in the show. The six episodes of On the Margin were twice repeated in 1967 but were among many programmes "wiped" by the BBC in the 1970s . A compact disc of surviving audio extracts was released by the BBC in 2009.

Champion House

Stride's best known role was probably as the "seductive" Liz Champion in Champion House, the BBC’s weekly drama series, created by Hazel Adair and Peter Ling , which concerned a family-run textile business in Yorkshiremarker. Liz Champion was a member of the company's board. She was the daughter of Jack Champion, whose father, Joe (played by Edward Chapman), had made the company over to him, only to see it pass, after Jack’s early death, to Liz’s eldest brother Stephen (James Kerry), who had his own less compliant ideas of the firm’s direction.

The first episode of Champion House was shown on 28 May 1967 and there was a second series in 1968. Its initial profile was assisted by live coverage on 28 May of the return of Sir Francis Chichester from his solo circumnavigation of the world.

Other roles

Stride appeared in episodes of a number of other television series, including Out of the World (1962), Public Eye (1966), The Baron (1966, as an hotelier who has an implied "one-night-stand" with John Mannering, the "Baron", played by Steve Forrest ), Callan (1972), The Expert (1976), Target (1978) and A Touch of Spice (1989). Her films included I Want What I Want (1972), based on Geoff Brown’s novel of 1966 about transsexualism.

In the early 21st century Stride played with the Agatha Christie Theatre Company: for example, on tour in The Unexpected Guest (with, among others, Simon MacCorkindale and former singer Mark Wynter) in 2006 .

Personal

She has two daughters by her first husband, actor John Stride and one daughter by a subsequent relationship with producer and football chairman Bill Kenwright. She has 4 grandchildren

Notes

  1. Radio Times, 29 June-5 July 1967
  2. Episode, The Outside-In Man
  3. Burton Graham (1974) A Do You Remember Book: Television
  4. See Mark Lewisohn at
  5. Adair and Ling created the long-running daily "soap opera", Crossroads, in 1964.
  6. Radio Times, 27 May-2 June 1967
  7. Episode, The Persuaders, 16 November 1966
  8. New Theatre, Cardiff | What's On


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