Early life and education
Thomas was born in Feltham, Middlesex into a working-class family, the daughter of Edmund R Ready, a clarinetist in a military band. Her mother, born Ethel E. Crapnell, worked as a seamstress for 'Frederick Gorringe Limited', a large department store on Buckingham Palace Road.
Music and broadcasting
In 1946 Thomas embarked on a career as a musician and singer when she joined the chorus at Covent Garden and took small roles as a light mezzo-soprano. She branched out into session singing, joined the George Mitchell Minstrels and became the familiar voice of many radio and television advertising jingles in the 1950s.
In 1959 while recovering from cancer surgery she applied to join Mensa: her IQ was rated at 160.
In 1961 she entered and won radio's Brain of Britain contest. This heralded a forty-year period as a mainstay of radio panel game quiz programmes. In 1967, after much lobbying of the producers, she joined the panel on Round Britain Quiz, regarded as the most erudite of the BBC's quiz shows, and rapidly became its most celebrated panellist.
Her autobiography, The Bandsman's Daughter, was published in 1979.
She was a columnist for Woman & Home magazine for many years.
Her first marriage, in 1940, was to John Wesley Baldry, but they divorced in 1949.