HERE we continue the story of star Valerie Brooks – or Mrs Pye, housewife of Swyre, as she’s been for the past 43 years.

Mrs Pye featured in our 50 Years Ago section in July and she got in touch to tell us her story and share her glorious pictures with readers.

We should feel privileged – even her close friends only found out very recently she’d had such a glamorous past as a dancer and comic actress with the Black and White Minstrel Show.

Mrs Pye trained from the age of six in elocution, drama, singing, dancing, ice skating and character work. She was first on the stage aged seven and her debut appearance on the BBC was at the age of 12.

She was enrolled in the Aida Foster School and by the time she was 14 had been picked by to perform with the Northampton Repertory Company.

She said: “You do terrible tours, in awful digs, but you learn your trade.”

While she was still training with the Aida Foster School she was also teaching dance and modelling.

She was 17 when she performed with Folies Bergere at the Hippodrome in London. She was understudy for the leading lady for a year in 1951.

She was on a tour of American bases in Africa as part of The Three Vogues in the winter of 1955 and toured with them in France and Germany in 1956.

While in France she got the call to try out for the dance troupe the Toppers in 1957 – a role she continued for about eight years on the Black and White Minstrel Show.

In 1960 she appeared on television opposite Kenneth Connor in Hi-Summer.

She added: “When we weren’t working on the Minstrel show I did things with Benny Hill, Dickie Henderson, Val Doonican, Ken Dodd, Charlie Drake, George Chisholm, Leslie Crowther, lots of people you’d never know and I’ve forgotten half of them!”

Then she was asked to audition to move up from the dance line to be the show’s first comic actress.

She said: “They wanted to hear my singing and they knew I had a bit of a comedy kick about me to do the side bits of the show.

“They phoned me up the next day and said ‘you’ve got it’.”

The show won the Rose of Montreux in Switzerland in 1961 and she’s still got a tape of that.

Nearly a half a century ago Mrs Pye came down to Dorset to visit her brother Bernard Brooks, who ran the Bridport Arms, and help her sister and husband Joan and Alan Gillett out in their pub the Three Horseshoes in Burton Bradstock.

It was there she met Barry – the man who has been her husband for 43 years. She has been in the Bride Valley ever since they married. They have two children and four grandchildren all living in Bridport.