Wednesday 26 December 2018

Leslie Randall

Actor Leslie Randall, in character as Danny Boon in the film 'Billy Liar (1963) delivers his catchphrase: It's all happening

Leslie Randall:

† Oct 19 1924 – Aug 2 2020

I don't think I'd ever really mentally registered the name of Leslie Randall, despite his brief but memorable appearance as TV comedian Danny "It's All Happening" Boon in 'Billy Liar' (1963), one of my favourite films. At the time of shooting for John Schlesinger's classic version, Randall would probably be familiar as the co-star of ITV's first sitcom, 'Joan & Leslie' with his real-life wife Joan Reynolds, which ran to 71 episodes between 1956 and 1958 (although no footage survives). His portrayal of Boon, a ruthless professional behind a vapidly cheerful TV persona, sees him crush Billy's one and only daydream with any chance of coming true.              

In an episode of 'The Monkees' from 1967
A stalwart of the last years of music hall, he was regularly seen on panel games and variety shows during the '50s, but his pre-'Billy Liar' film and TV career is rather slight, he's in the war movie 'Mystery Submarine' (1963) and also stars in the light comedy 'Just Joe' (1960) again with his wife, and a cast including Anna Mae Wong and Jon Pertwee.

Perhaps finding opportunities a little slim in the UK, he headed for the states, where he pops up slightly unexpectedly in episodes of 'I Dream Of Jeannie' and 'The Monkees', before heading for Australia to revive the 'Joan & Leslie' concept, as newly-arrived British immigrants in Melbourne.           

In the Australian reboot of 'Joan & Leslie' from the late '60s
Later appearances are quite a hotchpotch, ranging from the lowly soap 'Emmerdale Farm' to Derek Jarman's painfully arty 'The Garden' (1990) via a corporate short for Abbey National with Patsy Rowlands. 

A one of the regular Vox Pops in 'According To Bex'
After numerous long gaps, he seems to have found a new lease of life in comedy, with regular small roles in 'My Family'  and Jessica (Hynes) Stevenson's 'According To Bex', before presumably settling into retirement around 2008. Born in 1924, he's now well into his '90s, so it's well deserved.      

With Emma Thompson in the Dustin Hoffman
movie 'Last Chance Harvey' (2008) 
Leslie Randall-imdb

Monday 3 December 2018

Moira Foot

Moira Foot: 

Very tall and slender, with a charmingly toothy smile and an eye-catching embonpoint, Moira Foot is one of the troupe of dollybird actresses who populated the fantasy landscape of the '70s: either the glory days of light entertainment or the nadir of casual universal sexism, depending on your viewpoint. A quick glance at her credits (that will do, Mr Lucas) immediately conjures another age and another set of comedy values from a problematic canon: 'The Benny Hill Show', 'The Dick Emery Show', the movie of 'On The Buses' (1972), 'Are You Being Served?', and 'Doctor At Large'.     

Benny Hill, as 'World Of Sport's Dickie Davies, delivers a line
that almost certainly has something to do with Bristol City.   

Getting the benefit of George Layton's best bedside
manner in 'Doctor At Large'. 
Her father, Alistair Foot, was a comedy writer and one of the authors of the great touchstone of British theatrical farce, 'No Sex Please, We're British', so perhaps it's not surprising that the attractive young actress should find her way into this particular stream of light entertainment. Her first appearances were in the comedies of Ronnie Barker, well-known for his obsession with saucy postcard humour - a genre from which the cartoonishly glamorous Miss Foot seems to have miraculously stepped. She appears as Effie the maid in 'Hark At Barker' and the follow-up 'His Lordship Entertains', in which she is the frequent cause of Lord Rustless's popped monocle.   

Effie the maid has been making (surprise surprise) some dumplings,
in which Ronnie Barker naturally takes a keen interest    
In addition to the comedy shows and skits, there were a few brief, decorative appearances in dramas, such as 'Quiller' and 'The New Avengers', and other oddments, like the sleuth panel game 'Whodunnit' and a made-for-America musical evening with Jackie Gleason and Julie Andrews. 

As Denise of the Resistance in the later episodes of 'Allo Allo'

Her most recent role was in the fifth series of 'Allo Allo' where she turns up as RenĂ©'s childhood sweetheart, now a member of the Resistance. The show was still very popular, even if it had long since exhausted it's original premise, and she gives an enthusiastic performance at what must have been rather a flat point in the programme's long history. 

Ready to impress the driving examiner - if it were anyone
but Dick Emery's Hello Honky Tonks that is... 
Benny Hill sight gag No. 235. Short bald Jackie Wright is the man
forgetting bus queue etiquette next to the statuesque Moira Foot    
That was 1988, seemingly her last TV appearances for the time being, but she'll certainly be seared into the memories of many for her iconic comedy show legacy. She was understandably sought after by those elder statesmen of British vaudeville and nudge-nudge humour, and whether it was humiliating Benny Hill on a disco dance floor or helping young Mr Grace with his tablets, she played the gag. It was another time. 

Moira Foot-imdb