Watch out - St Trinian's heading to town

It's the school from hell.The head teacher is steadily getting more and more drunk and the children have gained control.While it may not be a familiar sight amongst today's education establishments, it is one retired actress Lorna Henderson knows well.

It's the school from hell.

The head teacher is steadily getting more and more drunk and the children have gained control.

While it may not be a familiar sight amongst today's education establishments, it is one retired actress Lorna Henderson knows well.

She played Princess Fatima, a sheik's daughter sent to an English boarding school, in the 1954 Belles of St Trinian's Film starring Alastair Sim and Joyce Grenfell.


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She had to be blacked up for the role, which saw her at the centre of a film classic that created the blueprint for all future naughty school girls.

More than 50 years on, the former Belle watched Dereham's Busybodies Stage School recreating the fictional caper ready for their stage version of the film in December.

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At the time, aged 12, she was also performing in South Pacific in the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane as Ngana, a young Polynesian girl.

“They wanted someone Indian so I went to their Hyde Park offices and did an audition and they said yes straight away,” said Mrs Henderson, who lives in North Elmham, near Dereham.

She wanted to join the circus and work with elephants but her father sent her to theatrical school and she has never looked back.

She's worked with Judy Garland and starred on television in the Jack in the Box series, Peter Butterworth Time, Dixon of Dock Green and was involved in Billy Fury's 1961 hit A Thousand Stars.

But it is working with Alastair Sim, Joyce Grenfell, George Cole, Diana Day, Joan Sims and on the Belles of St Trinian's that she remembers still with laughter.

“At times Alastair got me in to trouble making me laugh, I still laugh now when I think of it.

“Alastair Sim was very good, they were all lovely people and there was no drink or drugs or nastiness. It was great fun to make, Joyce Grenfell more than anyone enjoyed it.

“St Trinian's lasted so long because it was proper unadulterated comedy from beginning to end.”

Some of the children didn't need to act much to be naughty, she said. They were East End kids from an East End school.

They were separated from the other performers when a scene was not being shot, which did mean the young Lorna didn't get into too much mischief.

A young Diana Day was thrown amongst them, however, so she could learn how to be a bit bad, she said.

The new production by Busybodies Stage School has been sparked by the recent remake of St Trinian's - which is not a patch on the 1954 film according to Mrs Henderson.

School leader Nicki Hood says their production is the spirit of the original film, with a story line about a school needing to win government funding to be saved.

The choir has to win a competition. But with the head teacher getting more and more drunk on an alcoholic mix created by the science department it's a recipe for some classic St Trinian's fun.

Rhiannon Orriss, 13, who plays one of the girls, said sadly her school, Neatherd High in Dereham, was nothing like the school in the play.

“You probably would learn stuff if it was like that but just in different ways,” she said.

Busybodies Stage School's St Trinian's is being staged by the group's Theatre Active company on Sunday, December 7 at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Tickets are £3 by calling 07770 581404 or emailing nickie.west37@ntlworld.com.

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