Joyce Jackson remembers the first time she saw actor John Thaw, years before he starred as Inspector Morse in the much-loved series. He was just 14, and had come to the drama and music school she ran in her hometown of Manchester, England. He desperately wanted to be an actor. Barely out of her teens herself, Joyce asked him to recite something.
“He went over and stood in the corner of the room and he started to recite Henry IV, Part I,” says Joyce. ”I nearly passed out! My goodness, he was absolutely riveting. I’ve never forgotten it.” Joyce, whose own drama career began on the BBC Children’s Hour when she was 12 (she also played piano on it at age 7), used her connections to help Thaw find placement at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. “He never looked back,” she says.
Not surprising, the Inspector Morse series, which ran for many years on Knowledge Network, is a favourite of Joyce and her husband, Stewart. The longtime Knowledge Partners are also fans of travel and music programs, and pretty much all the British dramas, especially the ones set in the North, like Heartbeat. It reminds them of home. “That’s our part of the country, you see. We can completely empathize with these people,” says Joyce.
While home was once England, now it’s North Vancouver. They moved here in 1974 when Stewart was offered a position at the BC Cancer Institute, as it was then known. He worked there for close to three decades, helping to advance cancer care and research in the province. Stewart was BC’s head of Radiation Oncology for many years, and established the highly successful radiation oncology training program. Stewart’s work also brought him in contact with Knowledge in the late 1970s, when he worked on booklets about cancer for children, which were distributed by the network. In his retirement, Stewart has written three books on the history of radiation and cancer research in the province.
These days, Stewart and Joyce split their time between their house in North Van and their cottage on Jervis Inlet. They don’t have a TV there, but they make sure to set their home PVR so they don’t miss any interesting shows on Knowledge.
The Jacksons recently became part of Knowledge Network’s Legacy Circle by making a bequest in their will. “Knowledge Network is so valuable because it’s independent. It’s not under the control or pressure of any commercial organizations,” says Stewart. “We’ve donated over the years, but we thought we ought to do something a bit more substantial, something lasting. We knew that through the Endowment, Knowledge Network would do their best with our gift.”