Saturday 29 September 2018

Richard Ridings

Richard Ridings:

The recent death of Liz Fraser led me to revisit a few of her later roles, one of which was her gleeful portrayal of Doris Entwhistle in 'Fairly Secret Army'. She charms as the cheerfully racist other half of Sergeant Major Throttle (the marvellous Michael Robbins) in David Nobbs' prescient '80s satire of the politely seething fascism of the little Englander. Geoffrey Palmer enlarges on his ex-army suburban agitator character from 'Reggie Perrin', railing against: "Communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, neo-Trotskyists, crypto-Trotskyists, 
union leaders, Communist union leaders, atheists, agnostics, long-haired weirdos, short-haired weirdos, vandals, hooligans, football supporters, namby-pamby probation officers, rapists, papists, papist rapists, foreign surgeons, headshrinkers – who ought to be locked up, Wedgwood Benn, keg bitter, punk rockers, glue-sniffers, 'Play For Today', squatters, ...etc". Anyway, also spotted in the great cast was a suited and booted Ray Winstone with thug in-tow: Ron Boat, played by Richard Ridings.

In 'Fairly Secret Army' with the great Geoffrey Palmer.
(Note our old friend John Owens in the background)   
He was in the role of the sine qua non '80s yobbo, slack gumby jawed, comically quizzical, bulky in stature and light on wits. His face was immediately familiar from a host of similar small parts in shows including the Comic Strip episode 'The Yob', and a mixture of hardcases and tough coppers in 'Boon', 'Minder', 'The Bill', and 'Heartbeat' and as Mad Mick in 'The Ritz'.

As the not-so-dumb Warren in the '90s reboot of 'Minder'
As time progressed, there followed a new vein of casting and some interesting roles: he's in the unlikely comedy vehicle for the not-very-comical Edward Woodward, 'Common As Muck', but also in the fabulously star-studded 1997 BBC adaptation of 'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling' as Reverend Thwackum, which must have led in part to his recent memorable role as the Beadle in 2016's underrated gaslight noir novelty 'Dickensian'.

In 'Dickensian', as the devoted and frustrated Beadle, seen here with 
his ambitious and manipulative wife played by Caroline Quentin 
         His feature-film career contains appearances in a few big productions: Polanski's 'The Pianist' (2002), 'The Fourth Protocol' (1987), 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' (1988), 'Erik The Viking' (1989) Fierce Creatures' (1997), and he plays Buck in 'Rise Of The Planet Of the Apes' (2011).
As Henry VIII in 'Six Wives with Lucy Worsley'.
Alice Patten plays Catherine Parr. 
His voice features in a lot of video game soundtracks, usually of the battle axe and dragon variety, but he's also done a fair bit of kids' TV, such as providing the voice of Daddy Pig in the ever-popular 'Peppa Pig'. 

Richard Ridings-imdb 

Saturday 15 September 2018

Robin Parkinson

Actor Robin Parkinson in the BBC show 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?'

Robin Parkinson: 
† Oct 25 1929 – May 7 2022

One of the great skills of the character actor is to invest a peripheral role with enough personality to convince as a real individual in a real situation, without interfering with the main action. In British film and television there exists the recurring figure of the dignified but inconsequential little Englander, a small man who may display any blend of timidity, doggedness, thwarted genius, cheerful dullness, determined helpfulness and ennui. Robin Parkinson is something of a master of these roles.

Desmond pledges to help Miss Jones (Frances De La Tour) with her
drink problem, after a 'word-to-the wise' from a jealous Mr Rigsby

It was recalling his appearance as Desmond, the ardent and poetic librarian suitor of Miss Jones in 'Rising Damp' that got me researching Robin Parkinson, whose name I could not have told you before, and which uncovered a long CV of interesting work stretching back to the '50s.        

In the odd espionage caper 'Catch Me A Spy' (1971) 

On the big screen, you might have spotted him as the jeweller in the ring fiasco of 'Billy Liar' (1963), or in 'The Family Way' (1966), the Clements/La Frenais spy spoof 'Catch Me A Spy' (1971), 'Alfie Darling' (1975), or in the movie spin-off of 'George & Mildred' (1980), but it's probably unlikely.

Assisting Terry (James Bolam) with his suit for Bob's wedding
in 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?'

It's almost certain, though, that you've seen him in television comedy. Apart from the aforementioned 'Rising Damp', he has been in a panoply of vintage sitcoms, ranging from 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?', 'Dad's Army', 'Shelley', 'Moody & Pegg' and 'The Young Ones', to 'The Liver Birds', 'Love Thy Neighbour', 'The Brittas Empire', 'Bless This House', 
'It Ain't Half Hot Mum', 'Beryl's Lot' and 'Terry & June'. There are lots more, including taking over the role of Monsieur (It is I...) Le Clerc in the later series of 'Allo Allo', although this was after it had gone from feeble to desperate.

As a chatty cabbie in 'The Professionals'

He also turns up in a lot of sketch comedy and light entertainment. You'll see him in the shows of the Two Ronnies, Dick Emery, Kenny Everett, Kelly Monteith, Harry Worth, and Peter Serafinovicz. Light dramas, middle-brow classics, cop shows and cosy crime favourites are also his stock in trade. See for instance, 'Clochemerle', 'The Pickwick Papers', 'The Good Companions', Whodunnit', 'All Creatures Great & Small', 'Van Der Valk', 'Softly Softly', 'The Professionals', 'Rosemary & Thyme', to name but a few.

Presenting the face of respectability to be subjected to the cynical
mordant wit of 'Shelley', as played by the late Hywel Bennet  

Then there's children's television, with 'Danger: Marmalade at Work', 'The Tommorow People', and a long-running stint as the soothingly-voiced narrator of the spoon-puppet show for tinies, 'Button Moon'.

Robin Parkinson narrated all the episodes of 'Button Moon'

The 'little man with spectacles' is, or at least was, a mainstay of British entertainment culture, and Robin Parkinson is a maestro at portraying the many nuances of the type. He's also the man forever perplexed by a bunged-up Peter Cleal in the timeless and iconic Tunes commercial

Robin Parkinson-imdb