Monday 27 May 2013

Rosalyn Landor

Rosalyn Landor:

An English beauty, in a rather elongated and lugubrious manner, this haughty Hampstead-born actress has had numerous brushes with top billing, yet somehow always remained just a twinkle short of star status. Ms Landor began her career as a ten-year-old in 'The Devil Rides Out' (1968), an auspicious start which led to a few more bonnet-and-bloomers roles in the early '70s, such as the BBC series 'The Edwardians', and the film 'The Amazing Mr Blunden' (1972) which failed to become the children's classic its makers were hoping for. 

After a break for finishing school she began to appear in young woman roles requiring received pronunciation and maximum aloofness such as the bright young thing Polly in 'Love In A Cold Climate' and the classical drama 'The King of Argos'.       

In 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'
When the '80s came along she found herself much in demand to portray a bit of upper class glamour. Her slightly stern appearance saved her from the worst excesses of the period's posh-totty syndrome, instead appearing in middle-brow quality like 'Oxbridge Blues' and Rumpole of the Bailey' and the nonsensical 'C.A.T.S. Eyes' with Jill Gascoyne and Leslie Ash. She was also in the star-studded, yet truly abysmal, 'Arthur the King' (1980), which is so bad, you will need to see it to believe it.  

As Fiona Allways in 'Rumpole of the Bailey'

In her full '80s pomp in 'C.A.T.S. Eyes'

And of course, there was her part in Renault's lasting contribution to the horrible mental landscape of Thatcher's Britain:
'You're not being a bit... hasty about this, are you?' 

After all this she moved to the US, specialising in voiceover work in animation and latterly computer games, and narrating audio books. She put in a creditable outer-space Irish accent performance in a segment of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' before the Rob Lowe movie 'Bad Influence' (1990) sent her back to the voice booth for the next couple of decades.

Rosalyn Landor - imdb

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Derren Nesbitt

Derren Nesbitt:

'Oooh, he's a bad devil', as my late grandmother would say. The broad, leering, insinuating face of Derren Nesbitt was once an invariable cipher for cunning and villainy on the screen. He's had a long, if patchy career in the movies, with his most famous role being the strangely stylised Nazi Major von Hapen in 'Where Eagles Dare' (1968). Part of that patchiness is down to a notorious real-life attack on his wife in 1972. The papers widely reported the details of the assault which included a vicious thrashing with a leather strap.

Not surprisingly, film work dropped off after that. Pre-'72 highlights include 'A Night To Remember' (1958), a fight scene in 'Room At The Top' (1959), the tense, heist-gone-wrong, B-movie 'The Man In The Back Seat' (1961), 'The Blue Max' (1966), the Sinatra spy-thriller 'The Naked Runner' (1967), 'Monte Carlo Or Bust' (1969) and 'Burke & Hare (1972). After the court case, he spent some time in Australia, but also appeared in a string of smutty low-budget movies, including Dick Emery's 'Ooh You Are Awful' (1972), and his self-penned confessions-style effort 'The Amorous Milkman' (1975), possibly one of the dreariest sex comedies ever made, which is saying something. He was later partly rehabilitated by the alternative Comic Strip crowd, and appears in 'Eat The Rich' (1987), while maverick of mediocrity Michael Winner had him in 'Bullseye!' (1990) with Michael Caine and Roger Moore.        
'Burke & Hare' (1972)

On TV, it was a similar story, with appearances in old favourites like 'Danger Man', 'Doctor Who', 'The Saint', Man In A Suitcase', 'The Prisoner' and 'UFO' followed by a long period in the wilderness. By the early '80s there was a bit more on offer for him, including 'The Comic Strip Presents' and villain roles in a few detective series.  

As Number Two in 'The Prisoner'
As a SHADO astronaut in 'UFO'

He's still around, in Sussex it seems, catch up with his story here.

Derren Nesbitt - imdb  

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Ray Burdis

Ray Burdis: 

Affable Cockney bovver boy type who started out as a teen actor in the '70s, matured into a regular in TV comedy and drama in the '80s, and has since gone on to make a name for himself as a director of Brit hardcase and gangster movies. Early appearances include 'Four Idle Hands' (a sort of prototype 'Tucker's Luck' with a pre-'Quadrophenia' Phil Daniels), 'Graham's Gang', 'The Tomorrow People' and the Pauline Quirke/Flintlock kid's comedy vehicle 'You Must Be Joking'. He was also the lead in the bizarre 25-minute flashback Public Information Film 'Twenty Times More Likely' with a teenage Gillian Taylforth, as a doomed reckless biker.

In one of several biker-themed Public Information Films

A tense moment from 'The Professionals'
The big turning point seems to be Alan Clarke's hard hitting Borstal drama, 'Scum' (1979, and original TV version 1977) in which he plays opposite Ray Winstone. Other, less harrowing adult acting roles have included being Michael Elphick's son Nick in 'Three Up, Two Down', as well as 'Operation Good Guys' and the mid-life crisis sitcom 'Manchild'.

In 'Manchild'

These days he fits in a little bit of acting around his career as a writer, director and producer. He helmed the claustrophobic 'The Final Cut' in 1998 and 'Love Honour and Obey' in 2000, both with Ray Winstone, and there's some more in the pipeline for 2013. The boy done good.

Ray Burdis - imdb

Monday 20 May 2013

John Bluthal

Actor John Bluthal in the ITC series 'Man In A Suitcase'

John Bluthal: 

† Aug 4 1929 – Nov 15 2018

It's pretty likely that much loved actor John Bluthal is mostly recognised by the recent generation of TV viewers for his portrayal of Frank, the sensitive, elderly, gay parishioner of 'The Vicar of Dibley'. To older viewers he is unmistakable as one of Spike Milligan's mischievous cronies from his 'Q' series (see also: Keith Smith; Sheila Steafel) or possibly as Manny Cohen, the archetypal Jewish tailor from the long-running sitcom 'Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width'. 
As Frank in 'The Vicar of Dibley'
In fact, the tailor schtick was to prove a bit of a recurring theme (see: Solly Salmon in 'Minder', and similar turns in 'Allo Allo' and 'Super Gran', not to mention 'Carry On Don't Lose your Head'). Of Polish Jewish heritage, he has been called upon to portray an extensive range of ethnicities, particularly during the pre-correctness years of British TV: Pakistani, Italian, Greek, Irish, American, Indian, Russian, and many more. It's helped him rack up a phenomenal list of classic TV credits: Comedies from 'Hancock', 'Sykes' and 'The Goodies' to 'Not Only But Also' and 'One Foot In The Grave'; dramas like 'The Saint', 'The Avengers', 'The Baron' and 'Man In A Suitcase' from the cult TV era, through to the post-'80s plod of 'Morse', 'Bergerac', 'Casualty' and 'The Life and Loves of a She-Devil'.

Bluthal was the voice of Commander Zero in Gerry Anderson's 'Fireball XL-5' and also the voice of HBX Belgrade in the Hancock episode 'The Radio Ham'. 

In 'Doctor Down Under'

With Spike Milligan in Q7

In the cinema, his talents were on show in 'The Mouse in the Moon' (1963), the kitchen-sink classic 'This Is My Street' (1964), 'Help!' (1965), 'The Knack' (1965), 'Casino Royale' (1967), 'Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River' (1968), 'The Bliss of Mrs Blossom' (1969), The Return of the Pink Panther' (1975), and 'The Fifth Element' (1997). 

With Leo McKern in 'Help!' (1965)

"A licence for my… minkey?" 'The Return of the Pink Panther' (1975)

John Bluthal - imdb

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Tom Chadbon

Tom Chadbon: 

As familiar as your front-room furniture, the perpetually disconcerted Mr Chadbon has spent a lot of time occupying screenspace, yet remains stubbornly anonymous. His fleshy, yet handsomely even, features might ring bells from his leading role in 1995's 'Crown Prosecutor'. No? Me neither. He also enjoyed substantial recurring roles in 'Chancer', 'The Liver Birds','Where the Heart Is', and the Robson Green psych-cop nonsense 'Wire in the Blood'. He's also good as Inspector Hawkins (pictured above) in the Jeremy Brett 'Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes'.
In The Alf Garnett Saga' (1972) enjoying some spliff
purchased from Derek Griffiths down the dole office.

Guest appearances and smaller parts have covered a lot of the best British television shows, including: 'Out of the Unknown', 'Softly, Softly', 'Tales of the Unexpected', 'The New Statesman''Foyle's War''Between the Lines', 'Rebecca', and 'Taggart, as well as 'Peak Practice', 'Casualty', 'Hetty Wainthropp Investigates', 'Silent Witness', 'The Bill', 'Holby City', 'Heartbeat' and of course, 'Midsomer Murders'. He joins that elite club of actors who have appeared in two 'Doctor Who' stories: 'City of Death' in 1979 (Tom Baker), and in the 1986 (Colin Baker) story, 'The Trial of a Time Lord', opposite Michael Jayston, a particularly booming Brian Blessed and Linda Bellingham in a big hat. 

'City of Death'
'Trial of a Time Lord'
As well as the 'Doctor Who' connections, he has a few claims to fame in the world of cult TV: 'The Protectors', 'Bulman' and 'Arthur of the Britons', but perhaps the best are as Avon's old enemy, Del Grant, in 'Blake's 7'...

As Del Grant in the 'Blakes 7' episode 'Countdown'

...and Nigel Kneale's 1972 Christmas Day sci-fi/ghost tale, 'The Stone Tape', in which he gets to deliver the big pay-off line.

As Hargrave in 'The Stone Tape'

Tom Chadbon - imdb