NORRIE Woodhall formed a living link with Thomas Hardy when she was the special guest at a film premiere in London.

The 102-year-old, who is still treading the boards as an amateur actress, was whisked off by taxi from her Owermoigne home to the screening where she met actor Griff Rhys Jones.

She was hailed as the star of the event by Griff, who is narrator for the film The Heart of Thomas Hardy, and by Harry Hook, director of the hour-long documentary.

Mrs Woodhall, who continues to take part in New Hardy Players productions and special events, said: "It was wonderful. I enjoyed it all."

Devina Symes, who acts with Norrie in the New Hardy Players, accompanied her to the premiere.

She said: "It was great - everyone wanted to talk to Norrie. They couldn't believe that here was someone who knew Thomas Hardy. She was the star of the evening."

"Griff was excellent with Norrie. He had gone to her home when they filmed last summer."

She said Mrs Woodhall enjoyed a drive round some of the tourist sites of London including Trafalgar Square and Knightsbridge - her first visit back to the capital for more than 40 years.

Mrs Woodhall recalled memories of Hardy from her involvement in the Hardy Players, the writer's drama company that he formed in Dorchester. She took her 1924 programme of Tess of the D'Urbervilles in which her elder sister Gertrude played Tess to great acclaim. Norrie understudied the part and also played Tess's younger sister in the production.

Mrs Symes said: "Everyone was delighted to see it."

The film was made for the BBC by Modern TV and includes a scene with Norrie and Griff. The documentary shows Hardy's home at Max Gate in Dorchester as well as other locations that featured in his life, including Cornwall.

The film does not yet have a transmission date.

Mrs Symes said: "The film is beautifully photographed and it shows Hardy in quite a kindly way. Griff puts quite a lot of humour in it. I know people will enjoy it."