Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Set of Answers to :"Jolly Old BritCom Fun.

I have loved British Comedy series for a long time, going back to first seeing "Is There a Doctor in the House", Monty Python's Flying Circus" and "Good Neighbors".

Ah, "Good Neighbors" as it was know here and
The Good Life (1975-1978) in Britain, remains one of my favorites. I could identify with Tom Good (Richard Briers) and his wife as they attempted to live a self-sufficient life in the middle of the suburbs. Tom's neighbor and best friend, Jeremy "Jerry" Leadbetter was played by Paul Eddington. Jerry's prissy wife, Margo Sturgess Leadbetter was played by the then Queen of British Sitcoms, Penelope Keith, who starred in "To the Manor Born" as well as others. I had a crush (don't tell my wife, actually my wife knows this) on the Barbara Good character, played by the lovely Felicity Kendal (pictured right). Can you blame me? I'm only human.

Anyway, on to the matter at hand. I introduced my family to "Are You being Served?" (1972-1985) many years ago now and then we got hooked on "Keeping Up Appearances" (1990-1995)  in the last decade or so. We continue to watch the episodes of these two shows over and over again. Both were pretty successful on American TV, especially "Are You Being Served", which even spawned an America Clone in 1979 on CBS called "Beane's of Boston. The clone only lasted that one season. The British original was followed with a sequel in 1992 that featured most of the surviving original cast called "Grace & Favour" ("Are You being Served Again?" in America). The cast of "Grace & Favour" is the picture at the top of this post. (Oh, the photo on the left is Felicity Kendal again. I told you I had a crush on here.)

So the other day I thought it would be fun to put up the faces of most of the cast members of these two shows before they were in those shows and let people guess who was who. (Boy, was that ever a long sentence!)

Today I am giving the identities of 11 of those 33 actors I showed. These are the last 11 in that post. I will identify 11 more tomorrow and then the top 11 the day after that, assuming I keep my schedule. Here are the bottom (just in how they appeared, not necessarily in importance) 11:

Vivienne Johnson (born 1959) who played Old Mr. Grace's nurse in many episodes of "Are You being Served?". I don't know if the nurse ever had a name. I think in Miss Sexy Voice she might have, which is where the still of her speaking in the microphone came from.

Nicholas Smith who played the middle manager of the department, Mr. Cuthbert Rumbolt. His character was often referred to as "Old Jug Ears", for obvious reasons, a characteristic that made finding a photo not so easily identifiable difficult. I also couldn't seem to find a picture of Nicholas Smith as a young man. The one I used was more recent as he appeared for charity somewhere. Nicholas was also in "Grace & favour" and is still alive. He was born in 1934, so is somewhere around 79 years old this year.

The great Mollie Sugden who portrayed the snippy Mrs. Betty Slocombe in "Are You Being Served?" She was often the butt of  Mr. Lucas' quips as well as much slapstick. You never knew what color her hair would be from episode to episode. Mrs. Slocombes full name was Mary Elizabeth Jennifer Rachel Abergavenny Slocumbe nee Yiddell. Mollie Sugden was born in 1922 and died in 2009 at age 86, just short of her 87 birthday.

Larry (Lawrence) Martyn, played the maintenance man, Mr. Mash during the first three seasons of "Are You being Served?" he left the series because he was committed to another show, "Spring and Autumn". He appeared in a number of TV Shows, including "Dad's Army" and "On the Buses". He had small parts in two of the "Carry On" films as well.  Born in 1934, he died in 1994 at age 60. He left behind a wife and two daughters. I was unable to find the cause of death.

James Heyter was born in India and died in Spain at age 75 (1907-1983).  His best known film roles were as Friar Tuck in the “Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men” and as “Samuel Pickwick in “The Pickwick Papers”, both in 1952.  His film career stretched from 1938 through 1972.  He starred in what is considered the first British Sitcom, “Pinwright’s Progress” (1946) he played one of the several Senior Salesmen in Men’s Ware after the death of Arthur Brough, who played Mr. Grainer. Heyter’s character was Percival Tebbs. He only appeared in six episodes before leaving to honor his contract to Mr. Kipling snack food ads. The snack food company felt "Are You Being Served?" was not a suitable image for their products.

 Another of the featured players in "Are You being Served?" was Frank Thornton, who portrayed the snobbish and vain Captain Stephen Peacock, floorwalker extraordinaire. He continued this role in "Grace & Favour". After this he starred in "Last of the Summer Wine", a show that featured many of the veteran British sitcom stars in their elder years. Thornton had a long and distinguished career as an actor. Born in 1921, he apparently retired from acting in 2010. He has been married to Beryl Jane Margaret Evans since June 1945, over 67 years.

 I wondered if due to the ears people might mistake this actor as Nicholas Smith. Actually it is another "Are You being Served?" original cast members, Arthur Brough, the grumpy Mr. Ernest Grainger, who resented the Ladies Department sharing the floor. Arthur Brough (birth name Frederick Arthur Baker) was born in 1905. As a young man he wished to be a teacher, but couldn't get a job, so joined a Solicitor's  (Lawyer's) office. This was too boring for him so he went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and later joined a Shakespearean Troop. Eventually, he formed his own acting group, The Arthur Brough Players. He was in the Royal Navy during World War II and was involved with the evacuation at Dunkerk (1940). At the end of the fifth season of "Are You Being Served?" his wife of 50 years, Elizabeth died (1978). Arthur died two months later at the age of 73.

 Alfie Bass (real name Abraham Basalinsky) was born in London to Jewish parents that had fled persecution in their homeland of Russia. After dropping out of school at 14 he worked as a ttailor’s apprentice, messenger boy and shop-window display fitter. Two of those early jobs probably gave him some background for his role as Harry Goldberg, the new Senior of the Men’s Department at Grace Brothers on “Are You Being Served?” Alfie first entered acting in the 1930s at the Unity Theatre in London. I remember him well from one of my favorite films, “The Lavender Hill Gang, with Alex Guinness. He was born in 1916 and died in 1987 of a heart attack at age 71. (I hate when these people die around my own age.)

"Ah, the delightful Mrs. Bucket," was his declaration. For some reason The Major, played by Peter Cellier couldn't keep his hands off of Hyacinth Bucket in "Keeping Up Appearances, but then he also liked the Governor's wife, who "was built to last."

Cellier’s best known role was probably the character Sir Frank Gordon in the BritComs “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” He had a long career on stage, films and in TV.  He had a continuing role throughout the “Keeping Up Appearances” series as the very pompous Major, much admired by Mrs. Bucket, despite his constant attempts to seduce her. He was born into a family of actors in 1928. He still continues to appear in TV productions.

Josephine Tewson was born in 1939. Like Arthur Brough, she also attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She became a comedy performer appearing on various radio and TV shows. I first recall seeing her in some TV ads several years ago. Josephine was a cousin of the “Are You Being Served?” actor John Inman and she starred with him in a brief sitcom called, “Odd man Out”. She is best known for playing the long-suffering neighbor, Elizabeth Warden, of Hyacinth Bucket on “Keeping Up Appearances”, where she is forced into very uncomfortable, and usually disastrous and hilarious, coffee breaks with Hyacinth. She also is known for her role of Miss Davenport in another very nice BritCom called “Last of the Summer Wine”, a show you will remember stared Frank Thornton. I always found Josephine attractive, which may seem strange to some. I think it was the eyes and smile and the warmth of the character she played. She is still actively acting at age 73.

Judy Cornwell was born in 1940 and moved to Australia after growing up in Britain. She returned to Britain as a professional dancer and comedienne in her teens. She has had a long career on Tv and in films. She appeared as Mrs. Claus in “Santa Claus, the Movie” and has had her own TV comedy series, “Moody and Pegg”. She also spend several seasons with the Royal Shakespearean Company. Her most famous role was playing Daisy, the puppy-like wife of Onslow on “Keeping Up Appearances.”
Beside her acting career, she is a writer. She has published several novels, Cow and Cow Parsley, Fishcakes at the Ritz, The Seventh Sunrise, Fear and Favour and her autobiography, Adventures of a Jelly Baby. I’ve tried to spot if one of her books is among those she is often shown reading in bed on “Keeping Up Apperances”.

No comments: