It took Shirley a while to get up to full steam on the screen. Have a look at her performances in ’50s fare like Horrors of the Black Museum and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Then came a small but perfectly-formed part in peeping Tom, which did as well for her as it didn’t for the director. Prestigious roles like The Entertainer and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning alternated, as was the style at the time, with lunacy such as Beat Girl and whimsical comedies like Kenneth More astronautical palaver Man in the Moon. The ups and downs continue to this day: for every My Beautiful Laundrette there’s a Shag, for every Hear My Song a Roy Chubby Brown’s UFO. But such is the lot of the actor, and Shirley’s hit rate is far higher than most.
FINEST HOUR: Of course Saturday Night…! Harrison’s Hairnets and illegal abortions behind an old Crazy Gang poster – you can’t go wrong.