Barbara Windsor celebrates the life and career of Dorothy Squires, who died on 14 April 1998 at the age of 83.
Born Edna May Squires in 1915, her story began not in a house or a hospital, but a showman's wagon. After jobs in Woolworth's and a tinplate factory, Dorothy headed to London where she soon got established in the night club scene.
When Dorothy heard that bandleader Billy Reid was looking for a singer for his band, she auditioned, got the job and together they toured all over the country. Later Billy and Dorothy went into variety as a duo billed as "The Composer and the Voice".
It was a tempestuous partnership, but both sides lived up to their billing: Dorothy had a dramatic and powerful voice, and Billy was a resourceful composer of both words and music. They lived together for a dozen years, and it was widely assumed that they were husband and wife, but they never married.
It was with actor Roger Moore that romance developed and, after meeting at a party, they married in 1953. When the couple settled in California, Dorothy was an established songwriter who had performed in America with Elvis and Frank Sinatra in the audience. She was offered a number of choice engagements but turned them down, seemingly more pre-occupied with Roger's career and their domestic life.
When the couple parted in 1961, Dorothy was particularly bitter about the break-up and she wouldn't allow Roger a divorce until 1969. By this time, Dorothy had a reputation as a difficult person but she felt that she was being sidelined by the major TV networks. To prove her point, in December 1970, Dorothy staged a comeback concert at the London Palladium, which she booked with her own money. The box office sold out in just one morning.
In 1971 Dorothy was caught up in the "payola" scandal when the News of the World accused her, among others, of offering bribes to a BBC producer, in hopes of getting songs played. After a two year Scotland Yard investigation, Dorothy was acquitted, sued the newspaper and was awarded £30,000 damages.
With little work coming in and large outgoings (including legal expenses, a mansion in Bray and a string of racehorses) Dorothy's fortune evaporated. The battering of Dot's morale came to a climax in 1986, when she was declared bankrupt and categorized by the courts as a "vexatious litigant".
Evicted from her home, Dorothy stayed with friends and in hotels until Esme Coles, a fan from South Wales, heard of her plight and gave Dorothy a house in the Rhondda, where she would end her days.
Contributors include Lionel Blair, Bobby Crush, Sir Roger Moore, Dorothy's niece Emily Squires, and singer Rosemary Squires. The programme features recordings from across her career including Say It with Flowers, Till, The Gypsy, and My Way.