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:

† Aug 18 1926 – Mar 18 2018

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: 

† Jan 7 1924 – May 10 2017

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