A sister to assist her in career


Introducing Dinah Lee and Jane Taylor, playing sisters in ABC new serial ‘My Sister and I’ in 1956

PRODUCER Alick Hayes had a problem on his hands: where could he find two sisters with talent and charm plus good looks—and preferably with a theatrical family tradition? “Easy? Not on your life,” he told me.

From the TVTimes for 20-26 May 1956

So those preconceived ideas of a producer in a hurry were scrapped. He had to veer off course, forget the insistence on family relationship.

“I reckoned,” he told me., “that I could find one theatrical family with two talented daughters available for a TV series. When I failed to trace them I had to act fast — a new serial was in line ready for our Northern opening and I had NO sisters to play the leads.”

The girls he had in mind would look alike and think alike — and, of course, they had to be pretty. Just look at the pictures of Dinah Lee and Jane Taylor, the two real charmers Alick Hayes found at the end of his search.

Now they are My Sister and I, ABC Television’s new Saturday serial on Channel 8 and the North’s Channel 9. For these two girls sistership has become a good thing. Life suddenly took an exciting and promising twist. Alone, and little known, and then — “sisters” seen by millions of viewers.

The two lassies have become great friends. They travel to the studios for rehearsal together, eat together, go out together and have even begun to call each other “Sis.”

For, they say: “If we’re sisters onscreen, then we’re sisters off-screen. That’s how it should be.”

Dinah Lee and Jane Taylor

Dinah Lee hails from Withington, Manchester. Jane, who is 19, is a Scarborough girl.

And this is what they told me in between dashing on and off the set during last week’s show, their first: “It’s terribly exciting,” said Jane breathlessly… back she went… into the dressing room… Then Dinah… “It sure is,” and she breathed out again. Later, I cornered them and found Jane does come from a theatrical family. “But I’m the only one of the new generation keeping up with tradition. My brother’s an architect,” she said.

“Like Dinah,” she went on, “my first stage appearance was at 12. But at 17 I had a change of heart and switched from ballet to popular dancing. I toured with Zip Goes a Million in which Charlie Chester was starring. Later I appeared in the Benny Hill Show.

“This year I had my biggest break when Mr. Hayes our producer asked me to test for this part. And here I am.”

Then Dinah told me about herself. She is very talented and has appeared many times on the BBC’s Children’s Hour and Wednesday Matinee as a pianist. And because she speaks fluent German she acted as the link in a recent song exchange between Hamburg and Manchester!

“When I was 12,” she told me, “I played Alice in a Theatre Workshop production. Later I played the same role in a Trevor Hill production. It was great fun working with such people as Jeanne de Casalis, Wilfred Pickles and Jimmy Edwards. They’re a great help to young people.”

  • Alick Hayes (1908-1983) was a writer, producer and actor. His biggest role was probably as Dr Jacobs in Emmerdale Farm in the late 1970s.
  • The IMDb appears to have mashed two actresses named Dinah Lee into one, making it very difficult to find anything out about her.
  • Jane Taylor‘s later career was sporadic, with a number of minor roles on television.

About the author

Brian Tetley wrote for the TVTimes

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