Wednesday 18 December 2019

Maureen Sweeney

Actress Maureen Sweeney in the LWT comedy, 'Romany Jones' episode 'The Washing'

Maureen Sweeney:

Getting her first camera appearance in 'Holiday On The Buses' (1973) as another of those easy-going dollybirds unfathomably drawn to brilliantined bus driver Stan, Maureen Sweeney went on to establish a solid career lasting well into the 2000s.  

'Holiday On The Buses' (1973)

A string of tough, sassy roles followed, mostly playing villains' wives, barmaids, and blue collar mums in various London-set dramas and comedies. She had a regular stint in the caravan comedy 'Romany Jones' with Arthur Mullard and the irreplaceable Queenie Watts, and later appeared in women's prison melodrama 'Within These Walls' and matronly mobster series 'She's Out'.      

In an episode of 'Dempsey & Makepeace' from 1985 

Perhaps surprisingly, she only pops up once in 'The Sweeney', but can be spotted in programmes as varied as 'The Dick Emery Show', 'Crossroads', 'The Duchess Of Duke Street', 'Only Fools And Horses', Rik Mayall's short-lived comedy 'Believe Nothing', and the teen TV drama 'Running Scared'.   

In the 1986 kids' TV drama 'Running Scared' 
And the Clive Owen mini series 'The Echo' from the BBC in 1998 

Later appearances see her move into the familiar TV territory of 'The Bill' and 'Casualty' with her last role to date seemingly being in 2006. 

Maureen Sweeney-imdb

Monday 2 September 2019

Alan Ford

Alan Ford:

You know him. Intense, real-deal, London-born actor who has virtually created his own sub-type of the gimlet-eyed cockney villain: hard, trim, mod-stylish, a ruthless but rational enforcer or fixer. A slightly different proposition from the affable yet psychopath mob boss (typified by Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Johnny Shannon, etc), you can watch him in action in some tough East End crime movies beginning with 'The Squeeze' (1977) and encompassing the classic 'The Long Good Friday' (1980) and the latter-day set of 'Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels' (1998) and 'Snatch' (2000) – running through to 'Jack Falls' (2011) and the less than satisfactory reboot of 'The Sweeney' (2012).


Rare image from the 1975 schools TV series 'Viewpoint',
radical and sophisticated media studies for the time.   

In the interesting London-set Stacey Keach vehicle
'The Squeeze (1977).  

On TV, as you might expect, there's a lot of London hardcase actioners and cop shows, sometimes on the side of law and order but more often than not as a villain of some sort. He's in 'Minder' ('90s variety) and 'Strangers', as well as a selection of lesser fare: 'Bergerac', 'Chinese Detective' etc,  - and he's racked up an impressive eight different characters in episodes of 'The Bill' stretching from 1985 to 2006...     

With DI Bulman (Don Henderson) in the excellent
ITV cop series 'Strangers' 
Less expected are the roles in a range of comedies. He was in the later series of 'Romany Jones' after the death of James Beck, playing (fell-off-the-back-of-a) lorry driver, Ken. He also appeared in 'Birds Of A Feather', 'Keep It In The Family' and 'The New Statesman', before a memorable turn as a boxing promoter in 'Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge' led to 'The Armando Iannucci Shows' and Matt Berry projects 'Snuff Box' and 'Toast Of London'.   

Despite the robes, delivering the full-on Alan Ford London
geezer treatment. A regular in Matt Berry's 'Snuff Box'.
All good stuff, and I notice he's also providing voice performances alongside the remarkable David Graham as one of Parker's dodgy mates, Light-fingered Fred, in the latest version of 'Thunderbirds Are Go'.  

Alan Ford-imdb 

Saturday 20 April 2019

Nicola Pagett

Nicola Pagett as Anna in the historical WWII adventure movie 'Operation Daybreak' (1975)

Nicola Pagett:

† June 15 1945 – March 3 2021

A very successful actress and a lasting English beauty, combining home counties pertness with the feline eyes of Sophia Loren, Nicola Pagett is possibly still best known for her role as Elizabeth Bellamy in 'Upstairs, Downstairs' the British primetime TV giant of the mid '70s. This came after a series of television appearances in memorable mod-era actioners such as 'Danger Man', 'Mr Rose', 'The Avengers', 'Man In A Suitcase' and 'The Persuaders'. These were interspersed with some serious television plays and historical dramas including a portrayal of the ultimate classical femme fatale, Messalina, in 'The Caesars'.        

In 'Danger Man', acting cute for Patrick McGoohan

With Christopher Matthews in 'Some Like It Sexy' (1969)

The 1977 TV adaptation of 'Anna Karenina'

The '80s and '90s saw her translate her sex siren persona into a series of sassy and sexy older women characters with her turn as Liz in David Nobbs' 'A Bit Of A Do' and two slightly similar Northern sitcoms: 'Ain't Misbehavin', written by 'Last Of The Summer Wine' creator Roy Clarke, and 'Up Rising' with Anton Rodgers. Neither seem to have been great successes.        

As Mary Queen of Scots in 'Anne Of A Thousand Days' (1969)

In the '90s adultery sitcom 'Ain't Misbehavin' with Peter Davison

Movie credits include 'The Viking Queen' (1967), 'Anne Of A Thousand Days' (1969), the Peter Sellers comedy 'There's A Girl In My Soup' (1970), 'Operation Daybreak' (1975), 'Privates On Parade' (1983) and 'An Awfully Big Adventure' (1995).    
Nicola Pagett-imdb

Sunday 7 April 2019

Granville Saxton

Actor Granville Saxton in a TV sketch show with comedian Jimmy Cricket

Granville Saxton: 

Gaunt and hawk-like character actor Granville Saxton has turned his hand successfully to comedy and drama since the mid-70s. He appeared in several of the ensuing decades' most popular series, though never really grabbing a solidly memorable role in any. You might possibly recognise him from the not-much-loved 1979 BBC version of 'The Old Curiosity Shop' in which he plays Dick Swiveller, or from the kids TV drama 'The Feathered Serpent', a wordy, studio-bound tale of Mesoamerican temple intrigue that sent kids running outside to play in 1978.                

His 1975 TV debut in the Brian Clemens 'Thriller' episode 'Kill Two Birds' 
As Xipec in the exhausting kids drama series 'The Feathered Serpent'
He pops up in a modest way in some quality series during the '80s and '90s, including 'Poirot', 'Charters & Caldicott, 'Our Friends In The North', and 'Shine On Harvey Moon'. Also, there's some variable comedy fare, ranging from 'The Comic Strip Presents' and the mildly diverting 'If You See God, Tell Him' to playing sketch characters in Jimmy Cricket's 'And There's More'.  One intriguing role was as the sinister Mr Fowl in the grimly satirical school comedy 'Hardwicke House' which seemed to aim for the triangular midpoint between 'Grange Hill', The Young Ones' and 'Britannia Hospital' (1982), but fell somewhat short, resulting in a sort of hyperactive, traumatised version of 'Please Sir'. Even a cast including the late great Roy Kinnear and Familiar Unknown favourites Tony Haygarth and Roger Sloman could save it from being axed after only two episodes.      

As Mr Fowl, brushing up on his classroom technique in 'Hardwicke House' 
The cast of 'Hardwicke House', Granville Saxton to rear,
behind the great Roy Kinnear. 
He's also a Harry Dean Stanton-esque Death Eater in parts I and II of 'Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows' (2010/2011), which I suppose is where more people have seen him than in any other role. Here's to many more like it.
Suited for the wizarding world. 
 Granville Saxton-imdb