Monday 25 June 2012

Bernard Holley

Bernard Holley: 
† Aug 9 1940 – Nov 22 2021

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' and 'Doctor Who' ('Tomb Of The Cybermen' and 'Claws Of Axos'). He was also in 'Please Sir!' after John Alderton left in 1972, as well as 'The Tripods', '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'.

In a late episode of 'Please Sir!'

His readings of the 'Johnny Briggs' stories on 
'Jackanory' helped sell many copies of the books  

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.)

In 'Elizabeth R', the acclaimed BBC historical
dram starring Glenda Jackson 

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 lent 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

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Peter Cleall

Peter Cleall:

Very recognisable face from the late '60s and early '70s when he had a run of roles as either surly or gruffly amenable Londoners, mostly in comedy. His most famous part was as the genial class bovver-boy, Eric Duffy, in 'Please Sir!' and its spin-off, 'The Fenn Street Gang', but he also crops up in smallish parts in a string of popular TV shows over the following years: 'Sykes', 'Are You Being Served', 'Spooner's Patch', 'Dempsey & Makepeace', 'Minder' ('90s variety), 'Silent Witness', and 'The Brittas Empire'. For some reason, though, his star waned (as evidenced by a handful of forgettable bit-parts in 'The Bill' over the years), and he doesn't seem to be doing much now. Which is a pity. If not quite another Bob Hoskins, I think he deserves his name to be better known. I bet most people think Duffy rather than Cleall when he appears.

In 'Confessions of a Pop Performer' (1976)

Still, here are a couple of gems for you:        

'Do The Clapham' From 'Confessions of A Pop Performer' (1976)

A second class return to Dottingham

Peter Cleall - imdb profile

Friday 8 June 2012

Peter Tilbury

Actor Peter Tilbury in 'It Takes a Worried Man'
As Philip Roath in 'It Takes a Worried Man'
Peter Tilbury: 

Distinctive saturnine character actor and something of a mystery man as far as his internet profile is concerned. He was the writer of 'It Takes A Worried Man' - in which he also starred as the put-upon Philip Roath - and also creator of the similar mildly-neurotic, middle-age sitcoms 'Shelley', and 'Sorry I'm A Stranger Here Myself'. His dialogue is quite distinctive, with a self-deprecating acidity that was in touch with the times - presumably how he came to write scripts for shows as wide-ranging as 'Birds Of A Feather', the Lenny Henry sitcom 'Chef' and an episode of 'Not Going Out'.  

Actor Peter Tilbury in 'It Takes a Worried Man'

As an actor, roles have been rather minor and well spread out. He was seen on TV in 'Dixon of Dock Green', 'C.A.T.S. Eyes', 'Miss Marple', and Stephen Fry's 'This Is David Lander', while his only film role seems to have been as a copper in the grim Hazel O'Connor vehicle 'Breaking Glass' (1980).  

Peter Tilbury - imdb profile

Thursday 7 June 2012

Frank Windsor

Actor Frank Windsor

Frank Windsor:

† July 12 1927 – Sep 30 2020

I suppose I can hardly count such a famous actor as unknown, but the reassuringly wholesome rumpled features of Frank Windsor have been seen more widely than just in the venerable cop dramas 'Z-Cars' and 'Softly Softly; Taskforce' or adverts for pension plans and stairlifts. Starting as an actor in the late '50s, he never played the dashing leading man, but more often the trusty retainer or honest yeoman. 

Frank Windsor (second from left), between co-stars
James Ellis and Stratford Johns with the cast of 'Z-Cars'

TV jobs include the sci-fi serial 'A for Andromeda', 'The Avengers', 'Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased', the title role in the series 'Headmaster', and the not very memorable limo-hire drama 'Flying Lady'. More recent appearances cover the usual suspects 'Boon', 'Casualty', 'Chancer', 'Midsomer Murders', 'Judge John Deeds' and so on. 

On the big screen he is far less ubiquitous, but pops up in favourites like 'This Sporting Life' (1963), 'Spring and Port Wine ' (1971) and 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' (1971), as well as duffers such as 'Barry McKenzie Holds His Own' (1974), and heist romp 'The Omega Connection/The London Connection' (1979), often in a pastiche version of his familiar copper persona. 

Dependable rather than riveting. Hence the insurance adverts.                 

Frank Windsor - imdb profile

Friday 1 June 2012

Diane Keen

Diane Keen

Diane Keen: 

Lovely lovely Diane Keen. During the '70s she was a regular presence on television screens, playing attractive women in roles that ranged from the demure to the dubious. Making her debut in the long-lost sci-fi mod pic 'Popdown' (1967) and the ever-present 'Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush', but she soon graduated out of the miniskirt moppet casting pool and into some more serious productions, including Fay Weldon's Wednesday Play 'Fall Of The Goat', and quality output like 'Budgie', 'Fall of Eagles', and the 1975 series of 'The Legend of Robin Hood (with 'Blake's Seven's Avon, Paul Darrow, as the Sheriff of Nottingham). She was also in the rather exhausting kids' drama 'The Feathered Serpent' as an Aztec queen. She went on to star in wholesome sitcoms like 'Rings On Their Fingers', 'The Cuckoo Waltz' and 'You Must Be The Husband'. As the '70s became the '80s she matured prettily into roles in 'The Shillingbury Tales', 'Ruth Rendell Mysteries', 'Oxbridge Blues' and 'Foxy Lady' before finding a nice regular slot in the long-running 'Doctors'.

In the meantime there were a couple of cinema parts, in the movie of 'Sweeney!' (1977) and 'Silver Dream Racer' (1980), but nothing big. 

One minor hiccup was caused by the generally harmless (it's got Christopher Biggins in it) British soft-core movie 'The Sex Thief' (1974). Never too shy about doing topless scenes, she did a stirling job in this limp effort, which duly slipped into obscurity. Unfortunately, the film was later 'beefed up' by a foreign producer with hard-core scenes spliced in, making Ms Keen's role appear decidedly spicier. It probably only cemented her place as '70s ITV sex-symbol.                         

Diane Keen - imdb profile