Friday, 14 December 2012

Glyn Houston

Glyn Houston

Glyn Houston: 


Here's one of the old guard, an authentic character actor with his own small place in British entertainment history. Gimlet-eyed Welshman Glyn Houston started his film career in the 'Dixon of Dock Green' prototype, 'The Blue Lamp' in 1950, before hitting a rich vein of rugged stoker and sailor roles in a sequence of warship and shipwreck dramas, including 'Waterfront' (1950), 'The Cruel Sea' (1953), 'The Sea Shall Not Have Them' (1954), 'A Night to Remember' (1958) and 'Sink the Bismarck' (1960).      


Glyn Houston



With the decline of the British film industry starting in the early '60s, he found himself in some demand in television, with appearances in Welsh classic 'How Green Was My Valley' and the newsroom drama series 'Deadline Midnight'. As the decade went on, potboiler movies like motor-racing thriller 'The Green Helmet (1961) and prisoner-of-war pic 'The Secret of Blood Island' (1964), gave way to regular roles in 'Softly Softly' and 'Z-Cars', and the odd 'Danger Man' and 'The Saint'. 

In the early '70s he got a useful leg-up with a casting as Lord Peter Wimsey's valet, Bunter, in the Ian Carmichael-fronted  adaptations of the Dorothy L Sayers whodunnits. He also played Nigel Havers' trusty foreman in 'A Horseman Riding By', before finding a curiously lasting fame as Robert Gillespie's exasperated editor in 'Keep It In The Family'. 

He also appears in this forgotten gem of scenery-rattling TV drama: Beasts     

Glyn Houston - imdb 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Gwen Taylor

Gwen Taylor, 'Duty Free', actress


Gwen Taylor: 

The very versatile Gwen Taylor is still seen often on British TV, most recently (2011-2012) by millions of 'Coronation Street' viewers as the murderous mother of Frank Foster. Before that she was probably best known for the role of Amy in the farce series 'Duty Free' watching incredulously as her husband (played by Keith Barron) pursues fellow long-term holiday-maker Joanna Van Gyseghem. Long before that, she was a regular cast member of the legendary post-Python show 'Rutland Weekend Television', in a fantastic range of roles from sex-kitten to battle-axe. Other appearances include her own sitcom, 'Barbara', a mild-mannered domestic affair with Sherrie Hewson and Sam Kelly, and as Rita Simcock in 'A Bit of a Do' with David Jason. 

She hasn't done much in the movies, but her Eric Idle/RWT connection secured her the roles of Mrs Leggy Mounbatten in 'The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash' (1978) and Mrs Big Nose at the sermon on the mount in 'The Life Of Brian' (1979), which isn't a bad combo.    



Gwen Taylor in 'Land of Green Ginger'

Gwen Taylor

Gwen Taylor - imdb





Friday, 30 November 2012

John Rapley

John Rapley in 'The Onedin Line'

John Rapley: 
† Apr 18 1935 – Apr 18 2016*

A ubiquitous character actor with a hangdog expression and the definitive British comb-over, usually seen representing the stolid middle-aged old-school type. Rarely given a really memorable part or much in the way of dialogue, yet he's been a stalwart of British TV since the '60s.  He pops up in fare as varied as 'Blott on the  Landscape', 'Grange Hill', 'Murder Most English', ''The Avengers', 'Colditz', and in particular, a good bit of period drama, from 'Jeeves and Wooster', 'The Onedin Line', and 'The Duchess of Duke Street' to 'David Copperfield', 'Dombey & Son', and 'The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes'

With a face for comedy, it's also likely that you'll see him in things like 'Black Adder', 'The New Statesman', 'Terry & June', 'Goodnight Sweetheart', as well as the Jim Broadbent flop vehicle 'The Peter Principle', and with Robert Lindsay in 'My Family'.


John Rapley in 'Blott on the Landscape'

Fairly limited work in the cinema includes roles in 'Elephant Man' (1980), Clint Eastwood's 'White Hunter Black Heart' (1990), and the silly silk-undies romp 'Jane and the Lost City' (1987).

*Edit: Mar 31 2017. I was sorry to read recently that John Rapley passed away on his 81st birthday last year.


John Rapley - imdb

Monday, 26 November 2012

Tony Aitken




Tony Aitken:

With its permanently nervous, pinched expression, the face of actor Tony Aitken has been a small pale dot in the television firmament for some 40 years. Appearing in dozens of roles, almost always as a comically unassuming clerk, curate or scoutmaster, he is another of those semi-familiar TV fixtures. Early '70s appearances include: 'Porridge', 'Z-Cars', 'Love Thy Neighbour', and naturally, 'The Sweeney'. He gained a little more visibility by the early '80s, featuring as Norman Straightman in the hit and miss sketch show 'End of Part One' and in the not-classic 1977 TV remake of the classic film 'London Belongs to Me' (1948). He was also Fred the Postman in the TVS Saturday morning titting-about show 'No.73' where he longed in vain for the embraces of Ethel, as played by Sandi Toksvig. He was also seen as a lawyer in 'Coronation Street' during 2011's convoluted Fiz and John Fishwick machinations, and as a real-ale obsessed potential manager for the Queen Vic in 'EastEnders'.  


Tony Aitken as Fred the Postman in 'No.73' 

Despite all that, the thing you probably do know him from is playing the lute while being booted around by Rowan Atkinson in the closing credits of 'Black Adder II'. I always found the minstrel's appearance confusingly similar to Baldrick's, but that's probably just me.
         

Tony Aitken - imdb

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Bob Goody



Bob Goody: 

The extremely lanky frame and gaunt features of actor Bob Goody first came to my attention as a marked comedy contrast to the energetically tubby Mel Smith in their kids show, 'Smith and Goody' back in 1980. The show was knockabout, but educational, trying to counteract the 'weedy kid' image of libraries and getting working class kids interested in reading books.  

His old drama school and Edinburgh Fringe pal Smith had already gained instant fame from the wildly popular 'Not The Nine O'Clock News', while Goody slid slightly into the comparative hinterlands of acting and writing – even though his CV still has some interesting high-points. There was 'Lovejoy', 'Porterhouse Blue', 'The Kenny Everett Show', and the usual soap and drama factory-circuit of the '90s an '00s: 'The Bill', 'Doctors' and a stint as drugs counselor Gavin in 'EastEnders'.                

He also shows up in minor roles in a couple of biggish movies; 'Flash Gordon' (1980), The Cook, the Thief his Wife and her Lover' (1989) 'The Borrowers' (1997).


I gather he has also done a fair bit of workshop theatre and a few interesting independent films.
Including a delightfully seedy turn in this one: 'Curtains' directed by Julian Barratt. It can be found among the extras on the DVD 'The Mighty Boosh on Tour: Journey of the Childmen'.
 
Bob Goody - imdb

Friday, 2 November 2012

Helen Fraser



Helen Fraser in 'Billy Liar'


Helen Fraser:

A much loved actress and a very famous face (though, inexplicably, not a household name) for British audiences, on the strength of her peerlessly frumpy fusspot, Barbara, in 'Billy Liar' (1962), numerous sitcoms, and a semi-regular role in 'The Dick Emery Show' (as the daughter of his gurgling old codger, Lampwick). Other TV roles include 'Rising Damp' (playing the bride in the episode 'The Newlyweds'), and 'The Likely Lads', carrying on into the '80s and '90s in the likes of 'Duty Free' and 'One Foot in the Grave'.      

Her biggest role in later years has been as the tough-as-old-boots prison warder Sylvia Hollamby in nearly a hundred episodes of the semi-gritty behind-bars drama, 'Bad Girls', which ran from 1999-2006. 

A character-actor star, and a suitable subject for Familiar Unknown's 100th blog post.

         

Catherine Deneuve and Helen Fraser in 'Repulsion'


(In Roman Polanski's 1965 classic 'Repulsion', with Catherine Deneuve; and dolled up in the 1968 Harold Pinter misery-fest 'The Birthday Party')

By way of an aside – Ms Fraser met her late husband, Peter Handford, on the set of 'Billy Liar'. He was a film and television sound recordist but had a hobby/sideline in recording the sounds of steam engines. Some of his archive was released on the Argo label in the '50s and '60s in the form of 7''EPs, which I now collect.



         

Helen Fraser -imdb

Monday, 3 September 2012

Ray Brooks




Ray Brooks:
'As if by magic, the shop keeper appeared.'

Possibly the great tragedy of Ray Brooks's career is our impermeable national affection for the kids' TV classic 'Mr Benn', a short 1971 series of five-minute illustrated stories about a nice ordinary man who tries on fancy dress costumes and has surprising adventures. Despite Mr Brooks's good looks and mellifluous voice, he seems to have been excluded from the meatiest dramatic roles by the resonances of Festive Road. 

Perhaps not. He was solid, rather than outstanding, in a decent run of '60s TV cult faves, from 'The Power Game' and 'Emergency Ward 10' to 'Danger Man', 'The Avengers', a nice episode of 'Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)' in which he appeared as a bogus Marty Hopkirk, and as Reg in the groundbreaking Wednesday Play 'Cathy Come Home'. He also played shady young nightclub impressario Norman Phillips in 'Coronation Street' in a couple of 1963/64 beat-boom storylines. He hit the cinema screen in Michael Winner's 'Play It Cool' (1962) with Billy Fury, before graduating to oddball mod lothario Tolen in 'The Knack... And How To Get It' (1965) and Peter Cushing's dynamic assistant in 'Daleks Invasion Earth 2125' (1966).  

"The Knack… and How To Get It' (1965)

For whatever reason, the '70s and '80s seem a bit bare in comparison. He appears in 'Carry On Abroad' (1972), and the Brit schlockers 'The Flesh & Blood Show' and 'The House Of Whipcord' (1974), and on TV in a few shows of the 'Softly Softly' calibre, before lending his voiceover talents to the sub-Mr Benn antics of fairytale half-wit 'King Rollo'. In 1984 came 'Big Deal', and a starring role as seedy gambler Robbie Box, in which he finally threw off the Mr Benn millstone, but largely failed to capture the public's affection. Since then, not much. A long stint in 'EastEnders' as Pauline Fowler's love interest, Joe, ended badly when he caused her death by hitting her with a frying pan. He later fell out of a window after a fatal showdown with Dot Cotton… 

I imagine he kept the frying pan. To help him remember.                          

Ray Brooks - imdb profile




Tuesday, 28 August 2012

David Graham

David Graham in Doctor Who

David Graham: 


Lugubrious, skeletal actor, probably best known for his voiceover work, more specifically for being the voice of both Parker and Brains in Gerry Anderson's 'Thunderbirds', (not to mention Prof Matthew Matic in 'Fireball XL5' and Dr Beaker in 'Supercar'). This alone is obviously enough to guarantee him cult TV legend status, but he was also partly responsible for devising the voices of the Daleks in 'Dr Who' and providing them in more than 30 episodes, as well as appearances in a more dramatic vein such as the scientist Kerensky (pic above) in the Tom Baker-era story 'City Of Death'. His television roles have also included classic '60s/'70s stuff like 'The Avengers', 'The Saint', 'Danger Man', 'Till Death Us Do Part', 'Callan', 'Timeslip' and 'Ace Of Wands'. By the '80s he was still cropping up in 'When The Boat Comes In' and 'Howard's Way' and has been seen in 'The Bill', and  'Doctors'.  

As befits his exalted position as the voice of Brains, he also did a fine job portraying Einstein in the dramatic segments of the 2005 BBC 'Horizon' programme 'Einstein's Unfinished Symphony'.




Parker from 'Thunderbirds'. Voice by David Graham

The admirable Parker in 'Thunderbirds', voiced unforgettably by David Graham ; and in the unsettling short film 'One For Sorrow' (2011)

David Graham - imdb profile 

His own website is here.

Thanks to Richard Sanderson for the nudge.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Peter Vaughan

Peter Vaughan as 'genial' Harry Grout in 'Porridge'

Peter Vaughan:
† Apr 4 1923 – Dec 6 2016


A big man, and something of a giant in the realm of British TV comedy and drama. Emanating an aura of cunning and dead-eyed menace, he is part of the collective consciousness as 'genial' Harry Grout, the Mr Big of Slade Prison in the classic sitcom 'Porridge', forever asking Ronnie Barker's wily, but good-natured Fletcher to run him some little errand. When not in prison blues, he was also Cheryl's dad in 'Citizen Smith' and one of the Fox clan in the tough 1980 drama series 'Fox'.

His acting career stretches back to the mid-'50s and traces a line through most of the cult TV output of the following decades: 'The Saint', 'Adam Adamant Lives!', 'Man In A Suitcase', 'The Avengers', 'The Strange Report', and 'The Protectors'. He also lent his innate gravitas and looming presence to some lavish and heavyweight dramas, such as playing Bill Sikes in an early '60s 'Oliver Twist';  the BBC's 1967 'Great Expectations' (playing Jaggers - the late Ronald Lacey played Orlick); a memorable Long John Silver in 'Treasure Island', and the ruthlessly unprincipled Horace Dorrington in 'The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes'. Coming up to date, he is to be seen in stuff ranging from 'Our Friends in The North' to 'Lark Rise to Candleford' and 'Game of Thrones'.

Peter Vaughan in 'The Avengers'

Sally Thomsett and Peter Vaughan in 'The Gold Robbers'

(pictured above in 'The Avengers' episode 'My Wildest Dream'; and in 'The Gold Robbers' with a teenaged Sally Thomsett)

In the cinema, notable titles include: 'Village of the Damned' (1960), 'Make Mine Mink' (1960), 'The Punch and Judy Man' (1963), 'Fanatic' - aka 'Die, Die My Darling' (1965), the Boulting brothers comedy 'Rotten to the Core' (1965), 'Straw Dogs' (1971), Ken Russell's 'Savage Messiah' (1972), and Terry Gilliam's 'Time Bandits' (1981) and 'Brazil' (1985).

Edit: Sad to hear today that the wonderful Peter Vaughan has died. Tue 6th Dec 2016.


Peter Vaughan - imdb profile

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Brian Murphy


Brian Murphy. Appearing as George Roper in 'George & MIldred'

Brian Murphy: 

Best known even today as George Roper, the neck-scratching ne plus ultra of hen-pecked TV husbands – vainly attempting to stand his ground against the formidable Mildred, played by the late Yootha Joyce – in 'Man About The House' and its spin-off 'George & Mildred'. Like many of the most distinctive actors of the '60s he came from a non-theatrical background via the enabling force of Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in the East End. He appeared in 'Sparrers Can't Sing' (1960) an eccentric, authentic jewel of kitchen sink drama directed by Littlewood, and went on to roles in Ken Russell films 'The Devils' (1971) and 'The Boyfriend' (1971). Between those outings he found a reasonable amount of work in television which was to lead to his eventual place in British culture, these included 'The Avengers',  'Z Cars' and the satirical sketch show 'Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life'. Footnotes include another post G&M series, 'The Incredible Mr Tanner' - with his old pal Roy Kinnear - where Murphy played a hapless escapologist, and 'L For Lester' where he played a driving instructor. 




In recent years he has fallen into the cosy nightmare world of 'Last Of The Summer Wine' as a regular character, Alvin, but his cultural icon credentials have seen a few modern and alternative comedy writers calling on his services. See, for example: 'Benidorm', 'Monkey Trousers', 'The Catherine Tate Show' and the trying-very-hard-to be-a-cult 'This Is Jinsy'. 

And would you be Mr Roper? 

Brian Murphy - imdb profile

Friday, 3 August 2012

Jonathan Lynn


Jonathan Lynn; The Knowledge; Jack Rosenthal
Jonathan Lynn:

A versatile humourist and yet another alumnus of the Cambridge Footlights in the golden days of the early-'60s , he's now better known as a writer and director than as an actor – his satirical 'Yes, Minister' (with co-writer Antony Jay) eclipsing his earlier workaday efforts with 'On The Buses', the Robin Nedwell 'Doctor...' series, and 'Nearest & Dearest'. His directorial talents have been employed at home and in Hollywood, on films including 'Nuns On The Run' (1990), 'The Whole Nine Yards' (2000), 'My Cousin Vinny' (1992) with Joe Pesci, and the ill-starred 'Sgt Bilko' (1996) with Steve Martin in the Phil Silvers role. 

He is also a first cousin of the neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of 'Awakenings' and 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat'.

As an actor, you might remember his cheeky, newborn chick features from TV gems like 'The Knowledge', 'Bar Mitzvah Boy', 'The Liver Birds' and 'Colditz'. Or perhaps as the window cleaner who gets the wrong idea when Barbara suggests 'some other way to pay' in 'The Good Life' (pictured above, considering the possibilities). Or movie bit parts in 'Prudence & The Pill' (1968), 'Breaking Glass' (1980) and 'The House That Dripped Blood' (1971). Or you might not.

Jonathan Lynn - imdb profile

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

John Quentin

John Quentin; It Ain't Half Hot Mum; padre


John Quentin:

Biographical details seem hard to pin down, but surely this lofty, upper crust actor was born to play effete aristocratic roles. One can hardly see him as a horny-handed son of the soil. As a young man he was often cast as the insufferable snob or floppy haired aesthete, while more recent roles have seen him as the eminent or sinister civil servant. Sadly, perhaps, I suspect he would be easiest called to mind by one phrase; 'Sheer nectar, Jeeves'  from the Croft Original sherry ads of the '80s, but in fact his career has been fairly distinguished.

Television titbits include the excellent '70s Dorothy L Sayers adaptation 'The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club', 'Blakes 7', 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum', 'Colditz' and the blue-screen '80s kids show 'The Return of The Antelope'. Movie appearances take in the Karel Reisz/Melvyn Bragg biopic 'Isadora' (1968), 'Man At The Top' (1973), 'Gandhi' (1982), 'A Handful Of Dust' (1988), and the Sean Connery terrorist thriller 'Ransom' (1974).

This is a little gem, though: 'The Waterloo Bridge Handicap' (1978) 

John Quentin - imdb profile

Monday, 30 July 2012

Carmel McSharry

Carmel McSharry:

Of course, Carmel McSharry was born in Ireland, but she has graced a number of classic UK TV shows over the years. With her wary, alert eyes and anxiously disapproving expression, she's made something of a speciality of the busybody business.  She was Carol's 'mam' in the later series of 'The Liver Birds' and played Mrs Hollingbery, the endearingly impervious foil to Alf Garnett's rants in 'In Sickness And In Health' after Dandy Nichols passed away. She was in the '60s Michael Medwin sitcom 'For The Love Of Mike', but her big break from playing servants and nosy parkers came in the early '70s when she starred in 'Beryl's Lot', the popular ITV comedy about a middle-aged housewife who decides to embark on an ambitious course of education and self-improvement. After that she went on to appear in wartime drama 'Wish Me Luck' and the usual 'Ruth Rendell Mysteries', 'Casualty', 




In the cinema you could look out for fleeting appearances in ' The Leather Boys' (1964), Hammer horror 'The Witches' (1966), and the dreadful but fascinating ‘All Coppers Are…’ (1972).          


Carmel McSharry - imdb profile

Friday, 27 July 2012

Norman Eshley


Norman Eshley: 

For some, this tall, uncomfortable-looking actor will always be Jeffrey Fourmile, the priggish, long-suffering neighbour of 'George & Mildred' (although, confusingly, he had already played Robin Tripp's brother in 'Man About The House' before the 'G&M' spin-off), but he also appeared in a number of hard cop roles in 'The Sweeney' and 'The Professionals', as well as having an impressively varied TV career including 'Secret Army', 'I, Claudius', 'Cadfael', 'Minder' (as a vicar), and 'One Foot In The Grave'. He sustained head injuries in a serious car accident in 1993 which apparently wrecked his ability to memorise parts for the stage, and has sadly had only infrequent TV roles since. I wish him well.


Norman Eshley - imdb profile

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Geoffrey Bayldon

Geoffrey Bayldon: 


Although a superstar of children's TV in the '70s thanks to his tour de force portrayal of time-travelling wizard 'Catweazle', and later as the cosily sinister Crowman in 'Worzel Gummidge', he also performed in dozens of classic TV series and a few feature films. With his cadaverous appearance and gimlet stare, he often played officious clerks, dry churchmen and the occasional foreign criminal, in shows like 'The Saint', 'The Avengers', 'Black Beauty', and 'Van Der Valk', and was splendidly sleazy as Mr Ganglion in 'Blott On The Landscape'. 
(In the morgue with Steed and Mrs Peel in 'The Avengers'; and as the vendor of authentic vampire accoutrements in the 1972 film, 'The House That Dripped Blood') 

He's strongly associated with television, but it's a delight when he crops up in the odd feature film. See, for example: various Hammer and Amicus-type horrors like 'Dracula' (1958), 'Camp On Blood Island' (1958), 'Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed' (1969), The House That Dripped Blood' (1971) - with future Worzel Gummidge Jon Pertwee -  and 'Tales From The Crypt' (1972). Other slight surprises include 'King Rat' (1965), 'Suspect' (1960) and 'Tom & Viv' (1994). 

A legend. This is why.

Geoffrey Bayldon - imdb profile

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Robert Gillespie

Robert Gillespie in 'Keep It In The Family'

Robert Gillespie:

Strange, impish character actor with a distinctive 'halting and blinking' delivery. He trained at RADA, which may account for his ability to be memorable and compelling in a lot of fairly slight and minor roles. His star turn in the seemingly bland family sitcom 'Keep It In The Family' was notable for his portrayal of the childlike, manically depressed Dudley Rush - a comic-strip artist with a hinted history of breakdowns and mental issues who lives with his attractive, supportive wife (played by Pauline Yates, echoing her performance in 'Reggie Perrin') and pert grown-up daughters. He only draws when holding the pen with a glove-puppet lion...  


Other TV roles include the unhappy transvestite Mr Mince in the first episode of 'Agony', the fair-minded chairman of the residents association, Mr Carter, in 'The Good Life', and the long suffering police sergeant in 'Man About The House' who was to become a recurring character extending even unto the realms of 'George & Mildred'. His resume stretches back to the '60s, and includes comedy like 'Dad's Army', 'Up Pompeii', 'Porridge', 'Rising Damp' and 'The Liver Birds'. There's a smattering of cult classics too: 'The Avengers', The Sweeney', 'Doomwatch', 'The Survivors', and the rather forgotten kids adventure series 'The Freewheelers'.


On the big screen, watch out for him in 'Otley' (1968), 'Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed' (1969). 'The National Health' (1973), 'Barry MacKenzie Holds His Own' (1974), and of course he played the AA man in my old favourite, 'The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins' (1971).

A scandal of some sort cut his on-screen career short in the '90s, but he is still acting and an innovative and successful director and writer for the stage.

But this is the good stuff, to my way of thinking: from 'Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads?'
Robert Gillespie - imdb profile

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Maggie Steed




Maggie Steed:


Imperious and imposing actress, often playing working-class matriarchs and strong dynamic women, albeit sometimes with a rather harsh, masculine edge. Her resumé is impressive, particularly in TV comedy and comedy-drama, with her role as Rita opposite Kenneth Cranham in 'Shine On Harvey Moon' being especially memorable, but also in 'Lipstick On Your Collar', 'Jam & Jerusalem', 'Sensitive Skin', 'The History Man', 'Born & Bred', 'Pie In The Sky', and period pieces like 'Lark Rise to Candleford' and the highly regarded 1994 TV adaptation of 'Martin Chuzzlewit'. Lots of one-offs too, in old standbys including 'Red Dwarf', 'Minder', 'Foyles War', 'Van der Valk', 'The Young Ones' and 'Brideshead Revisited'.     


Not too much on the big screen, though, preferring perhaps to appear on the serious stage with the RSC rather than slog around in Hollywood circles, but there was 'Simon Magus' (1999) and 'The Painted Veil' (2006). 


Maggie Steed - imdb profile

Monday, 9 July 2012

Johnny Shannon



Johnny Shannon:

The classic chunky London wideboy, whose soft 'r's ('You intu-ested in gu-eyhounds, Mr Seymour?') seem to be one of the fonder inspirations behind Viz comic's 'Cockney Wankah'. He was well cast in the surprisingly gritty 'Slade In Flame' (1975), as well as 'That'll Be The Day' (1973) and of course 'Performance' (1970) where he played the muzak and muscle-loving gang leader Harry Flowers. He also cropped up in 'Absolute Beginners' (1986) and played slumlord Peter Rachman in 'Scandal' (1989).
His TV roles have been a little patchier, but you might have seen him in the likes of 'The Sweeney', 'The Professionals', 'Minder' (as three different characters over the years), 'EastEnders' (naturally), and 'The XYY Man'. Less expected might be 'Secret Army', 'The Morecambe & Wise Show', 'Beryl's Lot', 'The Kenny Everett Television Show' and kids' show 'Super Gran' where he apparently played a character called Derek Morbid. 
Johnny Shannon

He also had a nice little tip for the 3.00 at Exeter for for Basil Fawlty…

Johnny Shannon - imdb

Monday, 25 June 2012

Bernard Holley


Bernard Holley: 
 
Here's another very familiar face - one of the stalwarts of British television - although perhaps he never quite had the spark of charisma or flashy acting chops to get to leading man status, despite his good looks and reassuring voice. His television appearances stretch back to the '60s and include 'Z Cars', 'Doctor Who' ('Tomb Of The Cybermen' and 'Claws Of Axos') 'Birds of a Feather','The Gentle Touch', 'A Touch of Frost', and lots of cops and nurses potboiler stuff like 'Casualty', 'The Bill', 'Doctors' and 'Holby City'. I particularly remember him reading the Johnny Briggs stories on 'Jackanory' and was surprised to find that he wan't a northerner, but hails from Middlesex. (That's what we call acting, dear boy.)



He's got a few clips up on his own YouTube channel, which is here. But I particularly like this one.

Bernard Holley - imdb profile

Monday, 18 June 2012

Roger Sloman

Roger Sloman:

Finger: "Who the bleedin' hell d'you think you are?"

Keith: "I'm a good citizen who's aware of his responsibilities"

Finger: "You're a bloody comedian mate"
(from 'Nuts In May')


Gangling, knotty faced actor, best known for his brilliantly awkward portrayal of the insufferable Keith in Mike Leigh's 1976 Play For Today,  'Nuts In May'. His flat London vowels have leant their moderate force to a number of roles in the petty official and whingeing neighbour line. 



On TV, his appearances include the nasty PE teacher Mr Foster in 'Grange Hill' (twisting Tucker's ear and making Benny do gym in his underpants), and playing John Nettles's uptight boss in 'Bergerac'. You might also see him crop up in detective stuff like 'Hazell', 'The Chinese Detective', 'The Sweeney', 'Cracker', 'Shoestring' and "The Gentle Touch', as well as comedy from 'The Young Ones', 'Blackadder' and 'Ripping Yarns' down to 'Terry and June and (oh dear) 'Grace and Favour'.


Lots of kids TV too - possibly because of his ability to inhabit even the most Beano-ish of teacher parts with a degree of comic skill. 

Roger Sloman - imdb profile

Friday, 15 June 2012

Aimi MacDonald

Aimi MacDonald 'The Avengers'



Aimi MacDonald:

Chirruping, ditzy dolly, the self-parodying Betty Boop of swinging London. At one time she used to crop up all over TV, but is now only rarely seen. After becoming a national catchphrase in the pre-Python 'At Last The 1948 Show' ('Introducing the LOVELY Aimi MacDonald…') she swerved briefly between variety and acting, often appearing as herself in light entertainment shows and panel games, but occasionally playing a role in comedy or drama.

Aimi MacDonald in full-on variety show mode 

She was in some classic series, like 'The Avengers' and 'The Saint', but was more often on our screens dancing or being silly on 'Celebrity Squares', 'Sez Lez', 'Give Us A Clue', '3-2-1' or 'The Kenny Everett Television Programme'.

With Roger Moore in the feature length 'Vendetta for The Saint'
She was also very much associated with the 'pub entertainer' TV fad of the mid '60s appearing with camp comedian Ray Martine in 'Stars & Garters' and 'Down at The Old Bull & Bush'       


Ray Martine album camp comedian gay
Star of camp comedy, Ray Martine. Album cover.


And here she is, being lovely.


Aimi MacDonald - imdb profile