Friday 28 February 2014

Robin Driscoll

Robin Driscoll in 'The Tall Guy'

Robin Driscoll:

One of the eminences grises of the British comedy establishment, Robin Driscoll is a key part of the 'Mr Bean' franchise, which he co-writes, but he also turns up on-screen once in a while. He's occasionally seen in 'Bean' episodes, often uncredited, as a  'man in queue', 'patient in waiting room' or 'ticket collector', fulfilling the need for an expert foil for Atkinson's rubbery star turn.

A fare-dodging Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) attempts
the nonchalant approach on Robin Driscoll  
You might also remember him as one of 'The Fat Sweaty Coppers' - the piss-take of 'The Bill' on 'The Fast Show', which neatly recalled his rare starring role in the '80s police sitcom 'Mornin' Sarge' in which he played Ted, a fat sweaty copper of the old school. An earlier comedy series with many of the same cast members was the 1984 sci-fi spoof, 'They Came From Somewhere Else'. It's dated now, but behind the student politics, hair gel and clonky 'Comic Strip' satire, there's a lot that points the way towards the comedy of Simon Pegg and Co that was to follow. (You can watch it in all its murky VHS glory here.)      

In 'They Came From Somewhere Else'
In a 'Mornin Sarge' episode from 1989
His TV comedy connections have seen him pop up in a few small roles over the years, such as 'Alas Smith and Jones', 'Colin's Sandwich', 'Murder Most Horrid', 'The Smell of Reeves & Mortimer', and 'Chef', which seems to suggest that he's a fun bloke to have on set as well as a comedic craftsman.     

Robin Driscoll-imdb

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Elissa Derwent

actress Elissa Derwent

Elissa Derwent

What became of Elissa Derwent? An attractive bit-part actress of the early '70s, who turns up in a few BBC comedies like 'Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads', 'The Liver Birds', 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em' and 'Open All Hours' (pictured above, looking a bit like Jenny Agutter and making Granville fall off his bike), her last documented TV appearance was in a small role in 'Forgive Our Foolish Ways' a 1980 BBC drama about a girl who falls for a German POW in at the end of the war.

Mistaking Colin (Brian Grellis) for Terry in the 'Birthday Boy'
episode of 'Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads'
Another misunderstanding. As the librarian dealing with
apparent sex-pest Frank Spencer in 'Some Mothers...'.
Further researches draw a bit of a blank, but I wonder if she's the same Elissa Derwent who wrote this book on spiritualism:

'For Whom the Cup Has Flowed: Received from the Spiritual and Angelic Realms Through the Mind of Elissa Derwent'. (Currently out of stock at Amazon).

Heaven knows. 

Elissa Derwent-imdb

Friday 14 February 2014

Roger Ashton-Griffiths

British actor Robert Ashton-Griffiths

Roger Ashton-Griffiths:

The name might mean nothing to you, but pale and jowly Roger Ashton-Griffiths has appeared in a number of high-profile films, including Terry Gilliam's 'The Brothers Grimm' and 'Brazil', Martin Scorsese's 'Gangs of New York' (playing Phineas T Barnum), Roman Polanski's 'Pirates', Peter Greenaway's 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover' and Woody Allen's 'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger'.

Originally trained as a singer, he was a member of the ENO before making his TV debut as a red-painted demon in an episode of 'The Young Ones' alongside the late David Rappaport. This seems to have led directly into a steady stream of work from the mid-'80s onwards.  

As Orgo the Demon in 'The Young Ones'
As well as the big cinema names listed above, he was seen in a roll-call of some of the most popular, if not always primetime, television of the last three decades: ' Young Indiana Jones Chronicles', 'Cadfael', 'The Darling Buds of May', 'C.A.T.S. Eyes', 'Lovejoy', 'Grange Hill' and inevitably, 'The Bill'. Recent interesting parts have included 'Torchwood' and that great salvation for the British character actor,  'Game of Thrones' in which he plays high lord something-or-other Mace Tyrell.

In the Matthew Holness short 'A Gun for George' (2011)

As Dr Johnson in 'Samuel Johnson: The Dictionary Man'

 Other appearances include the very dark comedy short (by 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace' maverick Matthew Holness) 'A Gun For George'. He is also cast as Alfred Hitchcock in Olivier Dahan's forthcoming 'Grace of Monaco' (2014), which sounds interesting, not least for having Robert Lindsay playing Aristotle Onassis.

Roger Ashton-Griffiths-imdb

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Gay Soper

Actress Gay Soper in Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence

Gay Soper:

Multi-talented actress and singer Gay Soper is a doyenne of the musical theatre, but has a few interesting points of contact with British TV and film. Her stage career includes the original London production of 'Godspell' with David Essex, Julie Covington, Marti Webb and Jeremy Irons, and playing Mme Thenardier in 'Les Miserables' on the West End.

As Janice, the short-sighted barmaid in 'Bless This House'
Eee, it's 'The Flumps'. Oh Pootle, you are silly.
On TV, she can be seen in the later series of 'Romany Jones', when the writers brought in a posh neighbour couple in place of the late James Beck. Played by Gay Soper and Jonathan Cecil, they provided the comic contrast to rough-and-ready Arthur Mullard and Queenie Watts, with city clerk Cecil bringing in a measly £22 a week and Mullard on five times as much as a manual labourer with a few scams on the side.

Jonathan Cecil seems less keen on leaving his mother's house
for the romantic caravan lifestyle, in 'Romany Jones'.
She also appears in several sitcoms: 'Bless This House', 'Never The Twain', and she co-starred in 'Rude Health' as the wife of put-upon GP John Wells. But perhaps her most lasting claim to television fame came with her narration and singing for the tiny tot series 'The Flumps', about a family of fuzzy Yorkshire gonks living in a desolate moorland cottage.

With John Wells in Channel 4's 'Rude Health'
Movie-wise, there's not too much to report, although she does get to do a striptease for Dickie Attenborough and get spanked by Bob Todd in 'The Ups and Downs of a Handyman' (1976) which starred her then-husband, Barry Stokes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, neither it, nor the X-rated 'Love is a Splendid Illusion' (1970), gets a mention on her website.  

Gay Soper-imdb

Saturday 1 February 2014

Duggie Brown

Duggie Brown, The Comedians, Granada TV

Duggie Brown:

Aug 7 1940 – Aug 16 2022

A popular turn on the club circuit in the late '60s and early '70s, chubby-faced comic Duggie Brown made an unusual transition to cinema and TV in serious and comedy roles after his brief appearance in Ken Loach's 'Kes'. He went on to feature in some of the typically gritty TV plays of the early '70s including 'Another Sunday and Sweet FA', 'Rank and File', Play for Today 'The Price of Coal', and 'The Hard Word'. All the while, he was also appearing on Granada Television's 'The Comedians' performing the presumably less blue parts of his club act for teatime TV audiences.

He had the title role in kitchen-sink doyenne Shelagh Delaney's six-part BBC series 'The House That Jack Built', which appears to be a victim of the corporation's disastrous tape-wiping stinginess. Shame if it hasn't survived, sounds like something of a lost gem.    

In the 1977 Play for Today, 'The Price of Coal'

I first recall him in the rather downbeat modelling-agency sitcom, 'The Glamour Girls', written by Reggie Perrin creator David Nobbs. It also featured our old friend James Warrior, not to mention Brigit Forsyth as a slightly neurotic model constantly at odds with her bubbly blonde colleague played by Sally Watts.  

In a recent TV interview.
Less chubby of face these days, he has also had parts in  'The Bill', 'All Creatures Great and Small', 'Minder', 'Ellington' 'Heartbeat', 'Common as Muck' and is one of the few actors to have appeared in 'Coronation Street', 'Brookside' and 'EastEnders'.

Trivia: He helmed the ITV Saturday morning kids' show 'The Mersey Pirate' - a desolate relation of Tiswas -  filmed on board a cold and draughty boat on Liverpool Docks.

More trivia: His sister, the late Lynne Perrie, was famous as Ivy Tilsley on 'Coronation Street'. The family resemblance is quite marked.   

Duggie Brown-imdb