Wednesday 24 April 2013

Judy Cornwell

Judy Cornwell: 

Okay, so here's someone who is perhaps not so very unknown. Yes, it's Hyacinth's sister Daisy: possessive snuggler of Geoffrey Hughes' s Onslow in 'Keeping Up Appearances', and as it transpires, a very accomplished and respected figure in the acting profession. You've seen her in TV dramas like 'Mill on the Floss', 'Persuasion', 'David Copperfield' and 'The Good Companions'. And she's had a regular role in 'EastEnders' as Queenie Trott, the horrid mother of jokey storyline (and eventually murder) victim Heather Trott.

Originally a dancer, she's swished dynamically from dolly-birds and parlour maids to matrons and matriarchs with some style. I can't remember (even though the theme tune was one of my favourite bits of library music) the comedy series 'Moody & Pegg' in which she starred with the late Derek Waring, but her name has been no stranger to the Radio Times and TV Times. See, for example: 'Doctor Who', 'Bergerac', 'Rumpole of the Bailey', 'Boon', and no less than three guest spots in 'Doctors'.

On the big screen there was Marty Feldman's anarchic advertising satire 'Every Home Should Have One' (1970), she played Filligree Fondle in the psychedelic Anthony Newley and Joan Collins sex-comedy 'Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?' (1969), and was in the rather more thoughtful 'Two for the Road' (1967) with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

More recently, there's been 'Mad Cows' (1999), and she was a charming Mrs Claus in the 'Santa Claus: The Movie' (1985) with Dudley Moore.

Judy Cornwell - imdb

Thursday 11 April 2013

Robert Longden

Robert Longden: 

The distinctively camp, adenoidal tones of actor Robert Longden have been heard in some minor classics of British TV. His whimsical annunciation (somewhere between Georgina Hale and Julian Clary) and strangely boyish manner means he tends to appear in eccentric pieces, notably Alan Plater's Beiderbecke trilogy, in which he played Mr Pitt, the quietly subversive planning officer. 

Other TV roles date from the early '70s to the '00s, and include: 'The Fenn Street Gang', Sapper Copping in 'Danger UXB' (pictured above), 'Peter Cook & Co', 'Wood & Walters', 'Boon', 'The Gentle Touch', a string of TV movie whodunits and the unavoidable 'Casualty' and 'Doctors'. His showreel would suggest that he's keeping fairly busy, but I don't think he quite hooked as many primetime shows as he deserved. 

He was in a few feature films, mostly mildly embarrassing, such as 'Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall' (1974), 'Confessions of a Window Cleaner' (1974) and 'Escort Girls' (1975).   

He's still acting on the stage, it seems, and not just pantomime dames. He also found time to write the cult Melville-meets-St Trinian's play, 'Moby Dick: The Musical'. 

Robert Longden - imdb

Monday 8 April 2013

Stanley Lebor

Stanley Lebor: 

Sep 24, 1934 - Nov 23, 2014

Look at that face. The prominent nose and chin, the Balkan 'tache, the unwavering cynical gaze. It's a bit strange, then, that we're probably most familiar with Stanley Lebor from his rather uncharacteristic role as deadpan deadly dull Howard in 'Ever Decreasing Circles', because he's actually more often seen in villainous and sinister parts. His severe countenance has made him popular with casting directors looking for evil henchmen, Cold War assassins, gypsy chieftans and taciturn farmhands.  


His better TV work includes: 'Department S', 'Jason King', 'Doomwatch', 'The Protectors', 'The Tomorrow People', 'Hammer House of Horror', 'The Naked Civil Servant', 'The Borrowers', 'Reilly, Ace of Spies' and as a commendable Inspector Lestrade in the '80s Holmes series, 'The Baker Street Boys'. He played Leon the sinister butler in the Scottish kids adventure serial 'Huntingtower', and a memorable rival bodyguard in the 'Minder' episode 'The Bengal Tiger'. The one with the arranged-marriage scam run by Arthur's newsagent Mr Muckerjee that ends with a messy punch-up in an Indian restaurant.     

He's been in a few big-screen films. The long-lost Donald Pleasance comedy 'Arthur! Arthur!' (1969) is one I'd like to see, but there was also 'Up the Front' (1972), 'Nothing But The Night' (1973), 'Flash Gordon' (1980), 'Tarka the Otter' (1979), and 'Gandhi' (1982).   

Stanley Lebor - imdb

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Conrad Phillips

Conrad Phillips: 

† 13 April 1925 – 13 January 2016

With his thick black hair and dramatic eyebrows, here's a handsomely serious face from the past –  yet happily Mr Phillips is still with us. An almost-leading-man, who briefly attained star status in the late '50s in the swashbuckling adventure series 'William Tell', he was sometimes given top billing in a series of minor British movies up to the early '60s, before settling into a long and productive character career.

Some of those feature films were minor cult classics, like the grand guignol melodrama 'Circus of Horrors' (1961), and the feline psychological horror 'The Shadow of the Cat' (1961), but most fit firmly into the police pot-boiler category. Take your pick from 'Three Steps to the Gallows' (1953), 'The White Trap' (1959), 'Witness In The Dark' (1960), 'The Fourth Square' (1962) and quite a few others.   

Conrad Phillips in the opening credits of 'William Tell"
About to take aim at that apple in 'William Tell'

Fortunately, TV was in need of accomplished actors with handsomely serious faces, and offered parts in the likes of 'The Saint', 'The Avengers', 'The Prisoner', 'Callan' and even 'UFO' (playing a sea captain whose ship is sunk by a flying saucer).

By this time a little grey was showing and he found a stream of steady work through the latter '70s and into the '80s, in comedies such as 'Fawlty Towers', 'The Gaffer', 'Never the Twain', and 'Sorry!', and in dramas ranging from 'Crown Court' and 'Emmerdale Farm' to 'Hannay' and 'Robin of Sherwood'. 

Now retired from acting (internet sources differ on his birth year between 1925 and 1930) he lives in Wiltshire and enjoys the odd pint of real ale. Solid performance all round.                    

As a doctor in 'The Prisoner', (Episode: 'The General')  

Another dissatisfied guest at 'Fawlty Towers', (Episode: 'The Wedding Party')

Update Jan 13, 2016: Sad to hear that Conrad Phillips has died aged 90.

Conrad Phillips - imdb