Monday 26 May 2014

Josephine Tewson

Actress Josephine Tewson as Mrs Hawlins in 'Shelley'

Josephine Tewson:

† Feb 26 1931 – Aug 18 2022

A charming perennial of British TV comedy, Josephine Tewson is probably most easily spotted these days in the perpetual repeats of 'Keeping Up Appearances', in which she plays the sensitive and genteel Elizabeth, driven to the edge of neurotic despair by her appalling social-climbing neighbour.

In an episode of  'The Champions'

Her early career led from RADA to Bristol rep in the late '50s, where she met and married Leonard Rossiter in 1959, although they divorced in 1961. The first half of the '60s saw her in a few serials and television plays, but by the end of the decade she had carved a niche playing opposite comedians. Charlie Drake, Dick Emery, Jimmy Tarbuck, satire-period David Frost and, above all, Ronnie Barker, cast her regularly in their TV series, utilising her effortless ability to play everything from glamorous countesses to goggling charladies    

Soon to be bumped off by dashing serial killer Michael Jayston in the
Brian Clemens 'Thriller' episode, 'A Coffin for the Bride'.

The '70s and '80s saw her make her mark in sitcom-land, the better of those being the splendidly cynical 'Shelley' with Hywel Bennett, and old pal Ronnie Barker's curiously understated period piece 'Clarence'. Some of the less splendid include 'Terry & June', 'No Appointment Necessary' (something of a flop, despite starring Roy Kinnear), and the pitiful 'Odd Man Out' with John Inman as the hapless boss of a seaside rock factory. Fortunately, Hyacinth and her endless gaffes were just around the corner. The geriatric japes of 'Last of the Summer Wine' have been a more recent development, with a regular role as Miss Davenport the librarian. 

Not sure what to make of Ronnie Barker's coarse but sincere
removals man in the first episode of 'Clarence'.

There are a couple of small roles in interesting, if not particularly funny, comedy films on her CV too. She's in the now generally forgotten Cleese and Chapman effort 'The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It' (1977), and she plays a nun of the Order of St Beryl, as Pete and Dud milk their old gag in the misfiring Holmes spoof 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' (1978).

Josephine Tewson - imdb

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Denis Lill

Actor Denis Lill

Denis Lill:

New Zealander Denis Lill has worked his trademark combination of 'tache and balding pate into some of the most popular British TV since the early '70s. There are some iconic period dramas, like 'Edward VII', 'Lillie', 'Fall Of Eagles', 'The Gathering Storm' and 'Madame Bovary'. Then there are the popular action series, including 'Z-Cars', 'Softly Softly Task Force', 'Survivors', 'The Professionals' and 'Van Der Valk'.

A rare appearance without the trademark moustache in
the TV sensation of 1976, 'Rock Follies'.
In 'Fall of Eagles' as Prince Frederick III, son-in-law of
Queen Victoria and father of the future Kaiser Wilhelm
He has a talent for comedy too. There have been roles in some of the better class of gentle humour, such as 'Moody & Pegg' (with Judy Cornwell), the rarefied delights of 'Mapp & Lucia', 'Blackadder III', 'Yes, Prime Minister', 'Outside Edge' and Paul Merton's rather pointless revisiting of Galton and Simpson's 'Impasse' sketch from 'The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins' (1971), in which he took the Keith Smith part as the RAC Man.     

As the permanently sozzled Major Benjy Flint in 'Mapp & Lucia'. Seen here with
the great character actor Geoffrey Chater, playing Mr Algernon Wyse.

Unusually, there have been a comparatively few run-of-the-mill soapy dramas and duff comedies, it's mostly inoffensive primetime stuff and the repeat fees must be continually landing on his doormat. See for example, 'The Royal', 'Only Fools and Horses', 'Red Dwarf', 'Casualty' and 'Heartbeat'.   
As senior surgeon Mr Rose in 'The Royal'

Trivia point: he was in 'Batman' (1989), perhaps in the unique instance of a stand-in for a cameo. Original Batman creator Bob Kane was cast as the cartoonist on the Gotham Globe but couldn't make the filming. 

Denis Lill-imdb

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Deddie Davies

Deddie Davies as Akela in the British comedy 'Get Some In'

Deddie Davies:

† Mar 2 1938 – Dec 21 2016

Veteran Welsh character actress, of the type to be cast in the role of the tearful spinster, timid housekeeper, prim postmistress or faithful nurse. She was pretty ubiquitous during the '70s and '80s, but still pops up occasionally, for example in the Ruth Jones comedy, 'Stella'.

Her best known roles were in that perennial family favourite 'The Railway Children' (1970) and the rather less well loved 'The Amazing Mr Blunden' (1972), and since then films have been few and far between. You probably missed the Richard E Grant luvvie-com 'Food Of Love' (1997) - and Martin Freeman in 'Swinging With The Finkels' (2008) - and the star-studded, Michael Palin-scripted misfire 'Consuming Passions' (1988). 

As Mrs Perks in 'The Railway Children' (1970)

In 'The Hosptial', an episode of  'Some Mothers do 'Ave 'Em' 

On television, she was picked up for some prestigious and popular drama series, such as 'Clochemerle', 'The Forsyte Saga', 'The Pickwick Papers', 'Vanity Fair' and 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' - and TV movies like 'The Canterville Ghost'. At the same time, her nervy and birdlike characters were much in demand for prosaic comedies like 'The Rag Trade', 'My Husband and I', 'My Old Man', 'Some Mothers...' etc. Better things were in store with a post-'80s spurt that included 'Jeeves & Wooster', 'Waiting For God' and a sprinkling of cosy crime favourites via Agatha Christie to Midsomer. Not forgetting some bravura sniffling as Brenda Blethyn's mother in 'Chance In A Million'.  

Following on from the good vibes of 'The Railway Children', she has been a stalwart of kids' TV for many years. Keep an eye out for her among the eye-ache inducing video effects of 'The Phoenix and the Carpet', plus 'Just William', 'Grange Hill' and more recently 'Woof!' and 'Bernard's Watch'. 

Edit, Jan 2017: Sorry to report that Deddie Davies passed away on Dec 21 last year. 

Deddie Davies-imdb