Friday 16 December 2016

Jane Freeman

Jane Freeman:

† Jun 12 1935 – Mar 9 2017

Jane Freeman's acting career has been pretty much defined by one role, that of Ivy, the permanently disgruntled proprietress of the cafe in 'Last Of The Summer Wine'. She appears, fully formed, in 'Of Funerals and Fish', the play which became the pilot for Roy Clarke's interminable series of geriatric misadventures, and then went on to repeat much the same lines in another 273 of the programme's 295 episodes. Only Peter Sallis has been in more - all of them, in fact.     

'Last Of The Summer Wine publicity shot,
with screen hubby Sid (the late John Comer) 
Beyond her epic 1973-2010 stint in Holmfirth, there have been a few interesting interludes: several outings of 'Play For Today' (including 'The Fishing Party' in 1972, which also featured her LOTSW co-star John Comer), and roles in 'Within these Walls', 'Silas Marner' (the 1975 BBC adaptation starring Ben Kingsley), 'Prince Regent' and 'The Black Adder'. It seems her sole cinematic outing was in the tough girl drama 'Scrubbers' (1982).
As the guest house tyrant Audrey in 'The Fishing Party'
In some ways it seems a shame that she didn't get to play a few more varied parts over all those years, she would have been good as a jolly farmer's wife, a crooked clairvoyant or a merry widow. But I'm sure many actors would (and did) jump at the chance of decades of such regular work and she's certainly become, if not a household name, a very familiar face.  

Jane Freeman

Monday 12 December 2016

Ken Bones

Ken Bones:

A great name for this vaguely familiar skull-headed actor with a mix of doomy gravitas and steely intensity, Ken Bones has appeared in many TV favourites, from 'Doctor Who' and 'Doctors' to portentous religious epics like 'Bible' and 'AD: The Bible Continues'. 

In Jack The Ripper (1988)
Ken Bones in 'Spooks'
Other TV credits include cosy stuff like 'New Tricks', The Inspector Lynley Mysteries', 'Bergerac', 'The Hour', 'Heartbeat' and six different roles in six episodes of 'The Bill'. These are nicely balanced by medium-heavy historicals ranging from 'The Virgin Queen', 'Henry VIII: Mind Of A Tyrant' (in which he plays the theologian Erasmus), and 'Medici: Masters Of Florence' to the Nazi dissenter Otto Strasser in 'Inside The Mind Of Adolf Hitler'. 

In the 50th anniversary episode of 'Doctor Who'
On the big screen, his major appearances were in 'Troy' (2004) and 'Exodus: Gods And Kings' 2014', but he also shows up in 'Bellman And True' (1987), 'Split Second' (1992) and as the 13th landlord in 'The World's End'.  

He seems like a natural for a JK Rowling franchise, but in fact you'll only see him if you visit a thrill ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Florida where he appears as Salazar Slitherin in the short 'Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey'.    

Ken Bones-imdb

Thursday 8 December 2016

Peter Jonfield

Actor Peter Jonfield in the 1973 Play For Today 'Blooming Youth'

Peter Jonfield:

With a memorable debut in the 1979 Sherlock Holmes movie 'Murder By Decree', Peter Jonfield's acting career swung into action. The film, starring Christopher Plummer and James Mason, is rather dated, apart from its fashionably '70s conspiracy theme, and it's surprising to find it was shot simultaneously with the groundbreaking 'Alien' at Elstree.    

Shutting the gate behind Natasha Richardson and Joss Ackland in the
1985 'Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' episode, 'The Copper Beeches'

Peter Jonfield's television career includes a lot of crime series, for instance: 'Bulman', 'Wycliffe', 'Widows 2', 'Bergerac', 'Spender' and a good few episodes of 'The Bill', in which he plays tough coppers, concerned citizens and shifty villains with equal aplomb. 

He also appears in TV comedy such as 'Smith & Jones' and 'Mornin Sarge', and period drama from 'Age Of Treason', 'Foyles War' and 'Bramwell' to 'The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes' and 'Sharpe's Regiment'.       

Throttled to death at the docks, attempting to
escape justice in 'Murder By Decree' (1979) 
His film CV includes roles in 'Clockwise' (1986), 'Pink Floyd: The Wall' (1982), 'McVicar' (1980), 'Time Bandits' (1981), 'A Fish Called Wanda' (1988), and in a slightly different mature role as Mr Andrews in 'Pierrpoint: The Last Hangman' (2004).

In 'Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman' (2004)

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Avril Elgar

Avril Elgar

April 1 1932 - Sept 17 2021

A splendidly severe-looking actress, yet impressively versatile, sympathetic and  compelling. Her long career encompasses roles as varied as society ladies and exhausted servants, via a slew of nouveau riche harridans, cruel nurses, shy spinsters and nosy neighbours.     

In 'Ladies Who Do' (1963)
Although Imdb suggests that she is best known for three feature films, 'Room At The Top (1959), 'Betrayal' (1983) and 'Wilde' (1997), her contribution to these is worthy but minimally memorable. Better perhaps to remember her turn in 'Spring And Port Wine' (1969) as Mrs Duckworth next door, or even the slightly strained comedy 'Ladies Who Do' (1963) in which, with fellow City office cleaning ladies Peggy Mount, Miriam Carlin and Dandy Nicholls, she indulges in some lucrative insider dealing. She's also briefly in 'The Medusa Touch' (1978) with a cursed Richard Burton.

The Ken Russell-directed silent movie version of 'Diary Of A Nobody' made for the BBC's 'Monitor' arts programme in 1964, which saw her play Mrs Pooter in a great cast that also included Bryan Pringle, Murray Melvin, Jonathan Cecil and Brian Murphy. It also has a harmonium score by Ivor Cutler.    

As Lou Evans in the Nina Bawden adaptation 'Carrie's War'
a major BBC family drama success of 1974.
Publicity shot for 'The Three Sisters' with George Cole.
She's a highly respected stage actress with previous at the National Theatre, and a successful and widely publicised 1967 run of Chekhov's 'Three Sisters' at the Royal Court Theatre with Glenda Jackson and Marianne Faithfull. But it's probably in television that she's most familiar. Sitcom fans will immediately spot her as Yootha Joyce's social-climbing sister Ethel in the popular 'Man about The House' spin-off, 'George & Mildred'. She had a slightly similar role in one of Roy Clarke's gentle Northern comedies, 'Rosie', as the young copper's monstrously overbearing mother.  

In George & Mildred' as the social climbing Ethel with wealthy hubby
Humphrey, played by king of the sitcom bosses, the late Reginald Marsh.

Other television includes 'Campion', 'Agatha Christie: Poirot', 'Midsomer Murders', 'A Taste For Death', 'Shoestring', two episodes of 'Tales Of The Unexpected', 'Minder', 'New Tricks' and a good few more. Quite revealing as to her range is the fact that she has appeared in three episodes of 'Doctors' as three very different characters between 2004 and 2011. Sterling work.  

Trivia note: After 20 years, Avril Elgar appeared in 'The Moles', an episode of 'Tales Of The Unexpected', alongside Harry H Corbett, her co-star in the film 'Ladies Who Do'. It was to be his last role and was screened a month after his death in 1982.    

Avril Elgar-imdb

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Godfrey James

Godfrey James:

You've probably seen Godfrey James's face many times in films and television without realising it, as aside from his distinctive dimpled chin (often hidden by a beard), there's nothing particularly memorable about his broad, even-featured countenance. Quite possibly we fail to do justice to this ubiquitous actor for that very reason, despite his appearance in some of our most beloved cult favourites, from 'Department S', and 'The Strange Report' to 'UFO', 'Space: 1999' and 'Doctor Who'.    

A fleeting appeareance as the chauffeur in
'Séance On A Wet Afternoon' (1964)

Starting in the early '60s, he has had a varied acting career, kicking off with an interesting role in the first season of 'The Avengers'. He's in 'The Frighteners', the only episode to survive intact from that run. His powerful frame saw him grab a series of parts as intimidating heavies and brusque coppers, interspersed with prosperous businessmen, yeoman farmers and faithful retainers. His '60s and '70s TV work includes 'Z Cars', 'Softly Softly', 'Dixon Of Dock Green', The Forsyte Saga', 'Black Beauty', and 'The Onedin Line'.      

In 'Witchfinder General' (1968) 

In the cinema, he makes appearances in some classic Brit horror, including 'Witchfinder General' (1968), 'The Oblong Box' (1969), 'Cry Of A Banshee' (1970) and 'Blood On Satan's Claw' (1971). He's also in the '70s family adventures 'At The Earth's Core' (1976) and 'The Land That Time Forgot' (1975).

As the father of Angel Blake in 'Blood On Satan's Claw' (1971)
As the '70s rolled into the '80s, he proved popular with casting directors of primetime TV, leading to parts in 'The Sweeney', 'Minder', 'Bergerac', 'Dempsey & Makepeace' and 'Bulman'. He's also in the episode of 'Tales Of The Unexpected' in which John Gielgud's sneaky antique dealing vicar gets his comeuppance when he discovers a rare Chippendale sideboard.    

As Mr Bumble the beadle in the 1985 BBC adaptation of
Oliver Twist. With June Brown as Mrs Mann.
In slightly more recent times, you might have spotted him in anything from 'Agatha Christie: Poirot' or ''The Darling Buds Of May' to 'The Tripods' and 'The Return Of The Antelope'.  

Very sound stuff in general, but here he is in full silly alien splendour in 'Space: 1999'. They don't make 'em like that any more.

The 'Space: 1999' episode 'The Rules Of Luton'. Yes, really.

Godfrey James-imdb

Friday 22 January 2016

Rosemarie Dunham

Two men armed with guns, and a woman in a dressing gown, by the yard gate of a Newcastle terraced house.

Rosemarie Dunham

† Dec 13 1924 – Dec 5 2016*

Probably best known for her portrayal of Edna, the sensual, if slightly careworn, landlady in 'Get Carter' (1971), acclaimed stage actress Rosemarie Dunham had previously appeared in a smattering of TV dramas, such as 'The Avengers', 'Z-Cars', 'No Hiding Place' and 'Gideon's Way', as well as a less-expected 'Benny Hill Show'. Born Rosemarie Tomlinson, daughter of a squadron leader stationed on the RAF base at Leuchars in Fife, she later took as her stage name the middle name of her first husband, noted television presenter and documentarist Michael Ingrams.           

Rosemarie Dunham (left) with Mary Kenton in a 1964
episode of the Victorian detective series 'Sergeant Cork'    

Vamping it up with Benny Hill in 1965

As a no-nonsense waitress in the first episode of  'Budgie'
After 'Get Carter' there were a few more feature films, such as 'The Divine Sarah' (1976) and 'Croupier' (1999), but more often straight-to-video stuff like 'Tai-Pan' (1986) and 'Lady Oscar' (1979).

Getting a little frisky with Jack Regan (John Thaw), deep
undercover as a hard-of-hearing shop assistant, in 'The Sweeney'

In an episode of the Kenneth More TV series of 'Father Brown'

Her later TV roles were a mixed bag too. From 'The Sweeney', 'The Return Of The Saint', 'Father Brown', 'Shoestring' and 'Bergerac', to soaps and daytime serials like 'Coronation Street', 'Crown Court', and 'The Cedar Tree'. Mostly she seems to have played tough, confident types, but in an impressive sweep from dowds to duchesses, including an impressively realist 'Play For Today' performance in 1973's 'Kisses At Fifty' with Bill Maynard.    

As boutique owner Sylvia in 'Coronation Street', dealing with
nightmare customer Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) in 1976
*Edit: Having heard of Rosemarie Dunham's death from her son, I've adjusted her dates to match the information he provided, including date of birth which must have been earlier than usually quoted.    

Rosemarie Dunham - imdb

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Peter Martin

Peter Martin:
† Dec 1941 - April 19 2023

Distinctive, spud-nosed actor. Played the gaffer looking for building supplies in those 'They've got the Jewson lot!' TV ads from the '90s. Born in Accrington, he has cornered a small part of the market for playing Northerners of various sorts, from canny barmen and no-nonsense farmers to daft ha'porths and confused customers.

In fact, a run through his CV takes you on a whistle-stop tour of Northern comedy and drama since the late '70s. 

He's got a list.
Take for instance: 'The Liver Birds', 'A Bit Of A Do', 'The Gaffer', 'First/Last Of The Summer Wine', 'Dinnerladies' and various other Victoria Wood shows, plus 'The Royle Family', 'Rosie', 'In Loving Memory' and the 'Beiderbecke' trilogy.

Enjoying Christmas with 'The Royle Family'

To this, add a smattering of soaps and light dramas, to whit: 'Emmerdale', 'Coronation Street', 'Bergerac', Dalziel & Pascoe', 'Strangers', and so on...  

Peter Martin-imdb

Monday 4 January 2016

Rosalind Ayres

Rosalind Ayres:

She probably doesn't relish being referred to as Mrs Martin Jarvis, but Rosalind Ayres, despite being in some of Britain's best loved drama series and a few interesting comedies is less of a household name than her husband, who is something of a fixture on TV and especially BBC Radio 4.   

In the quirky 'Little Malcolm & His Battle Against The Eunochs' (1974) with
John Hurt and David Warner. An Apple film, financed by George Harrison

As the innocent Clarissa, daughter of Dick Emery's vicar
For one thing, she appears in the famous Dick Emery sketch with Emery as the vicar who has made up his own words for 'crumpet' ("the word, in this house, is dibble"), 'tart' and 'boob'. The '80s and '90s saw roles in 'Agony', 'The Bounder', 'Juliet Bravo' and 'Casualty'.     

In 'That'll Be The Day' (1973) with David Essex 
Film appearances include 'That'll Be The Day' (1973) and 'Stardust' (1974) as the slightly wan poppet, Jeanette. There's the star-studded curiosity, 'Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunochs' (1974), the portmanteau horror 'From Beyond The Grave (1974), then rather a long quiet period until Hollywood beckoned for 'Titanic' (1997) and 'Gods & Monsters' (1998). This also led to some US TV work, in 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch' and 'Chicago Hope'.

As Gran in 'Outnumbered'
More recent TV has seen her appear in the Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner family improv-sitcom, 'Outnumbered', and the Adult Swim doctor-comedy 'Childrens Hospital'.

Rosalind Ayres - imdb

Sunday 3 January 2016

David Calder

David Calder:

Super-familiar, classically-trained, all-purpose character actor, perhaps bearing a resemblance to the late Iain Cuthbertson. You might have seen him - in fact it would have been hard to avoid him - in a raft of popular light-middleweight cop and spy dramas over the last four decades. Consider the likes of 'Bergerac', 'Midsomer Murders', 'Dalziel & Pascoe', 'Spooks', 'Heartbeat', 'Boon', 'Widows', 'Widows 2', 'New Tricks', etc, and perhaps better stuff such as 'Cracker', 'Waking The Dead', the oddball sci-fi drama 'Utopia', and the 1981 precursor to the Alan Plater's Beiderbecke trilogy, 'Get Lost', with Alun Armstrong.      

He also had the lead role in the late-'80s sci-fi serial 'Star Cops' which has become a minor cult phenomenon in some corners of the internet, although it failed to catch on with a wider audience. He's never done a 'Doctor Who' though, something of a rarity for these pages.

On the cover of the Radio Times in the guise of Nathan Spring
from the 1987 sci fi series 'Star Cops'  
Other fertile areas include period drama, with appearances in 'Bramwell', 'Mr Selfridge', 'Houdini' (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), 'The Mayor Of Casterbridge', 'Beethoven', 'Miss Marple', the recent 'Father Brown Mysteries' and commanding the ill fated liner in the 2012 TV mini-series 'Titanic'.   

In 'Hitler: The Rise Of Evil (2003)
As a TV comedy fan, you might have spotted him in the supermarket-set 'Trollied' or in the Greg Davies vehicle 'Cuckoo', or perhaps 'The New Statesman' or 'The Wrong Mans', but that seems like a minor section of his CV.

In 'Waking The Dead: Cold Fusion II'
On the big screen he has some mildly impressive credits, such as 'The World Is Not Enough' (1999), 'Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer' (2006), 'The Lady In The Van' (2015), and the Chinese addition to the Mummy franchise, 'The Mummy: Tomb Of The Emperor' (2008). He's also in the Hunt-Lauda F1 movie 'Rush' (2013). But, despite what imdb seems to claim, I'm pretty sure it's not him in the little-known US gay exploitation flick 'The Meat Rack' (1970)... 
A typical role, tweeded up in 'Midsomer Murders'

By way of consolation, here he is brazenly impersonating a Crime Prevention Officer in a Public Information Film, using an intermittent all-purpose reassuring Northern accent.

David Calder-imdb