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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Third and Final Answers to Jolly Old BritCon Quiz

Okay, here is the reveal of the remaining 11 actors, those on the top of the original post.

All those in the quiz appeared in the BritComs, "Keeping Up Appearances" and "Are You Being Served?"

here we go:

Harold Bennett began his show business career touring as circus clown through America. After serving as a courier in World War One he became an actor and later worked as a stage manager in London’s Tower Theatre (no longer existing). He left show business to become an architect, but after retirement he returned to the boards so to speak. From 1969 through 1977 he was in the BritCom “Dad’s Army.  He joined “Are You being Served?” at its inception in 1972 and played the doddering cheapskate owner of Grace brother, the Young Mr. Grace. He left the shoe in 1981 due to ill health and died shortly thereafter on September 15, two days before turning 82 on September 17. He had been born in 1899. His last appearance in “Are You Being Served?” was the Christmas episode in December 1981, aired three months after his death. He died of a heart attack – must have been a pretty girl in a low-cut blouse passed by.

Arthur Leslie Norman English replaced Larry Martyn as the maintenance man in the 1976 season and remained until the end of that show’s run in 1985.  He had gained earlier fame playing a stereotypical English character type called a “spiv”, a kind of slick, black market dealing petty criminal. I guess it would be something like the characters trying to sell you a phony Rolex watch on street corners in America. English had a distinct Aldershot accent and he would tell shaggy dog stories in an ever more rapid manner. You can see some of these characteristics in his portrayal of Mr. Beverley Harry Harmon. Born in 1919, he died from emphysema in 1995 at age 75.

Charmian May only appeared a couple of times in “Keeping Up Appearances”, but she was very memorable as Mrs. Councillor  Nugent. She had a thirty year career and played varied roles in a number of shows, including “The Good Life” (“Good Neighbors” in America), “You’re Only Young Twice” and as Mrs. Darcy in “Bridget Jones’s Diary”.  Despite seeming to be quite an old lady as  Mrs. Councillor Nugent, she was only in her mid-fifties. She was born in 1937 and died in 2002 aged 65.

Like Michael the Milkman, the Bucket’s Milkman always dreaded deliveries and tried to sneak up to the doorstep unobserved. He usually failed and then had to deal with the unreasonable demands of Hyacinth. The character was played by Robert Rawles.  I have been unable to find much about this actor, including his age.

Marion Barron appeared as a model in cheesecake photos. She appeared over the course of “Keeping Up Appearances” as the sometimes-jealous wife of The Vicar. She also was in another series called “Screen Two”. She is married with two children and doesn’t seem to have continued her acting career after the 1990s. I found she was born in Nigeria and grew up in Scotland, but was not able to find her birth year.

David Griffin was born in July 1943 and appeared in a number of popular series including “Dixon of Dock Green”, “’Allo, ‘Allo”, “Doctor Who” and “Ripping Yarns”. He came to fame playing Squadron Leader Clive Dempster in “Hi-de-Hi!” (1984-1988) and the skitterish next door neighbor of Hyacinth Bucket, Emmett Hawksworth, in “Keeping Up Appearances. After the end of “Keeping Up Appearances” he toured the world in a stage play, “The Good Sex Guide”. Over the course of playing Emmett Hawksworth, David seemed to grow thinner and gaunter each season, to the point we though he was seriously ill. However, this must not have been the case because he is still actively acting at age 69.

In “Keeping Up Appearances”, Hyacinth Bucket’s semi-senile “daddy” was played byGeorge Webb. Webb was born in 1911, but I haven’t found much about his life or acting career beyond “Keeping Up Appearances”. He did play the role of a Headmaster in one of the “Mr. Bean” episodes. He died of natural causes in 1998 at the age of 87.

Geoffrey Hughes played the very likable, if lazy oaf Onslow, husband to Hyacinth’s sister Daisy. He began acting in 1966 and continued until prostate cancer forced his retirement in 2010. He had a long and successful career, having originally gained fame playing another likable chap, Eddie Yates, a binman (trash man) on the British soaper “Coronation Street” from 1974 through 1983, then again in 1987. Three years after that he became Onslow on “Keeping Up Appearances”. After “Keeping Up Appearances” finished in 1995 he went on to another popular role as Twiggy in “The Royal Family” from 1998-2000. From 2001 through 2005 he played a lovable conman and rogue in “Heartbeat”, a police drama (2001-2005). He was diagnosed with prostate cancer while playing Onslow and thought it had been cured, but in 2010 he experienced extreme back pains during a charity program, so severe her couldn’t even stand up and found the prostate cancer had returned. He died two years later in July 2012 at the age of 68.

Mary Millar (born Mary Wetton) replaced Shirley Shelfox as Rose, Hyacinth Bucket’s man hungry and sexy-if-aging sister on “Keeping Up Appearances”. Rose was constantly latching on the the Vicar, to the chagrin of the Vicar’s wife or Emmett, the divorced next door neighbor of the Buckets. Born in 1936, her first role was in “Lock Up Your Daughters” in 1962 when she was 26. She played the title role in a musical called “Ann Veronica” in 1969. Her greatest fame came with “keeping Up Appearances” and she became very popular as Rose. She was in the original cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “the Phantom of the Opera” as Madame Giry and she was the original Mrs. Potts in the London cast of “The Beauty and the Beast”. In 1998 she died of ovarian cancer. She was 68.

Anna Dawson was born in 1937 and as an actress-singer appeared in a number of West End musicals. She co-starred in episodes of “Dixon of Dock Green” in the 1960s  and then on“The Benny Hill Show” during the 1980s. She appeared four times in “Keeping Up Appearances” as Hyacinth Bucket’s sister Violet, “the one with the Mercedes, sauna and room for a pony.” She retired from acting in 1995, when “Keeping Up Appearances” ended and remains living with her husband, John Boulter, in Bolton, Lancashire, England. She is 75 years old. (She is seen on the left with Benny Hill.)

Patricia Routledge was born in February 1929 as Katherine Patricia Routledge. She has had a long and distinguished career as an comedy character actress, winning a number of prestigious honors, including the Lawrence Olivier Award in 1988. Despite the running gag about her awful voice in “Keeping Up Appearance, she is actually a fine singer who has appeared in a number of musicals. She starred in “Keeping Up Appearances” as the over-bearing, never-listening, social climbing Hyacinth Bucket. Miss Routledge never married and has no children. She continues to perform at age 83.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Second Set of Answers to Jolly Old BritComs

We will continue on identifying those actors from two of my favorite BritComs, "Are You being Served" and "Keeping Up Appearances".

Pictured on the left this time is the cast of "Keeping Up Appearances", obviously from one of the Christmas episodes as Richard is dressed as Father Christmas and there are Cards, tastefully arranged, of course, about the room.

Here are the identities of the middle eleven of that first pop quiz post.

Wendy Richard was born Wendy Emerton. Richard was her stage name. She was married four times, but none of her husbands had the last name Richard. Her parents ran the Corporation Hotel in Middlesbrough where she was born in 1943. Wendy was a successful actress and was well known by at least three of the characters she played, Joyce Harker in The Newcomers, a soap opera in the 1960s. She gained much more fame playing Miss Shirley Brahms on “Are You being Served?” of course, but she was probably just as well known for her subsequent role as Pauline Fowler in the soap opera “EastEnders. She began her Fowler portrayal with the very first episode of the show in 1985 until they had her character die at Christmas 2006. After 22 years, she had requested to leave the show earlier that year. Wendy died of breast cancer in 2009 at the age of 65.

Although he appeared in several TV series, Trevor Gordon Bannister mainly did theater plays. He first got his taste for teater at the age of 15 when his future co-star on “Are You Being Served?”, Arthur Brough, took him into Brough’s Folkestone Repertory Company (1950). In 1969-70 he appeared as “Heavy-Breathing” in the British sitcom “The Dustbinmen”, which let to him being recruited to star in the pilot of “Are You Being Served?” on Comedy Playhouse as Young Mr. Lucas. He continued in that part in the series. Originally the show was to revolve around Young Mr. Dick James Lucas, but it evolved into an ensembly program with John Inman’s Mr. Humphries eventually becoming more the featured player.   Trevor left the sitcom in 1979 to concentrate of his stage career. Bannister later had a continuing role as The Golf Captain, Toby-Mulbery Smith in “Last of the Summer Wine”, a series in which both Frank Thornton and Josephine Tewson appeared. On January 14, 2011, Bannister attended Frank Thornton’s 90th birthday party. Three months later Trevor died of a heart attack. Born in 1934, he was 76 when he died.

Milo Sperber was born in Poland in 1911.  He became a leading actor in Germany during the 1930s. In 1939 he came to England fleeing the Nazis. There he joined the Oxford Pilgrim Players where he directed the company’s touring play, “Case 27 VC”.  He produced anti-Nazi propaganda for the BBC during World War II. He taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and had a long career in cabaret, film and TV. He appeared as the shoe salesman Mr. Grossman, promoted to senior in the men’s department of Grace Brothers. He only appeared in four episodes of “Are You being Served?” in this role. Milo died in December 1992 in London age 81.

Mike Berry was born Michael Hubert Bourne in 1942. In 1981 he replaced Trevor Bannister on “Are You Being Served?” as the junior clerk Mr. Spooner and remained until 1985. In one episode it was discovered Mr. Spooner could sing, this of courae took advantage that Mike Berry had been a pop singer with several hit records in Britain. In fact his first hit song, “Tribute to Buddy Holly” had been banned in Britain as too morbid.  He had a hit record in the UK called “The Sunshine of Your Smile” in 1980. His last film work was in 1999 in “Julie and the Cadillacs”.

Throughout most of “Are You being Served?, Young Mr. Grace would pop in on his employees to remind them, “you are all doing very well”. Young Mr Grace was of course portrayed as a very elderly man. The line was, “that’s YOUNG Mr. Grace?” ‘Yes, Old Mr. Grace doesn’t get around much.” But Harold Bennett, who played Young Mr. Grace had to leave the show for health reason and died shortly thereafter. He was replaced on the show by Kenneth Waller. Waller appeared as Old Mr. Grace, although in reality Kennett Waller was 28 years younger than Harold Bennett. Waller died in London on January 28, 2000 at the age of 72. This means he was only in his mid-fifties when he was Old Mr. Grace.

Frederick John Inman was born in June 1935, one day later than my own birthday.) Of course six years earlier.) Inman gained fame as Mr. Wilburforce Claybourne Humphries on “Are You Being Served?” He was before that an actor and singer and also well-known as a pantomime dame, a specially field of men in drag. He sometimes displayed this aspect on the TV show, appearing in elaborate female garb on occasions (See left below). One trademark of Mr. Humphries was a person never knew in what outlandish costume he might show up wearing (Right below with Frank Thornton).  It was never quite made clear what Mr. Humphries sexual preferences were on the show, but most speculated he was gay, as was John Inman in real life. He was born to a woman who ran a boarding house and his father was a hairdresser. John made his stage debut at age 13 in a melodrama called “Freda”. He suffered ill health in his last few years and died of hepatitis A in December 2004 at age 71. He left his estate of 2.8 million pounds to his civil partner of 35 years, Ron Lynch. In the photo on the right above John Inman is tangling with Rita Webb in "Odd Man Out".

Michael the Postman, a man always in dismay when delivering to the Bucket residence on “Keeping Up Appearances” was played by David Janson (Born Jackson in 1950). A child actor, he made his debut as age 12 in “Oliver!”. He then joined the Royal Shakespearean Company. In the Beatles’ film, “A Hard Day’s Night”, he appeared as a young boy during a walk by Ringo. He had a continuing role in the soap opera “The Newcomers” and also played Adolph Hitler’s double in the sitcom, “’Allo, ‘Allo”. He continues to act at age 62. (Michael the Postman was portrayed in some episodes by actor Leo Dolan on bottom right.)

Jeremy Gittins is a British character actor who has appeared in various TV shows, including “Doctor Who”, “EastEnders” and “Footballers’ Wives”. He gained his most fame playing the Vicar who lived in fear of “That Bucket woman” on “Keeping Up Appearances. He was born in 1956 and continues to act.

John Evitts was one of four actors (I believe) to play the character of Bruce, Hyacinth’s sister Violet’s husband, on “Keeping Up Appearances". He seems to have portrayed the bizarre husband the most times, appearing in “The Pageant”, “A Barbecue at Violet’s” and “Skies”, all in 1995. Bruce was generally seen but briefly in most cases. Although he was a well-to-do and owned a Mercedes, swimming pool and room for a pony, Violet and he had a stormy relationship. 

Clive Swift was the co-star of “Keeping Up Appearances”, the always frustrated, but obedient husband of Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bu-kay), Richard Bucket. Clive was born in 1936 and became an English Character Actor and songwriter. Clive was also once a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a songwriter he did the music and lyrics included in two one-man shows he performed about Britain, “Richard Bucket Overflows: An Audience with Clive Swift” and “Clive Swift Entertains”. He is best known for his role in “Keeping Up Appearances” and the part of Roy in the later series, “The Old Guys”, co-starring with Roger Lloyd-Pack. I guess he is an old guy, he will be 77 in 2013.

Shirley Stelfox, another graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, played the first Rose on “Keeping Up Appearances”. Rose is Hyacinth Bucket’s man-hungry younger sister, known for her too short skirts. Shirley is better known for her present role as Edna Birch in the British soap opera “Emmerdale". She has been in several other TV shows including “EastEnders” as well as several films. In 1984 she played the $2.00 Prostitute in the film Nineteen Eighty-Four, an adaption of George Orwell’s novel. She apparently left “Keeping Up Appearances” after the first season to continue in the drama “Making Out”. Shirley was born in 1941 and is 71.