Thursday 30 January 2020

Spencer Banks

Spencer Banks:  

Very much in demand in his youth during the '70s, when he took the role of Simon in the mind-expanding young-person's drama 'Timeslip', Spencer Banks also appeared in the folk-horror 'Penda's Fen', a 'Play For Today' from 1974 which now rubs shoulders with 'The Wicker Man' (1973) and 'Children Of The Stones' as a classic of the genre. With his shock of red hair and expressive, sometimes awkward, features and manner, he was a natural for the role of the loner or outsider. 

In the witness box in an episode of 'Crown Court' 

With Spud, played by Mike Grady, in 'Tightrope'
Beyond these, he can also be seen in good quality fare from throughout that decade including 'Tightrope', 'Lord Peter Wimsey' with Ian Carmichael, 'Village Hall', 'Churchill's People', Dennis Potter's 'Pennies from Heaven', 'The Georgian House' and 'Minder'. In addition, he had a short spell in the popular (with older ladies) teatime soap opera 'Crossroads' which was probably a biggish deal at the time. 
In yet another children's time-travel mystery
serial, this time HTV's 'The Georgian House'
By the early '80s and beyond, pickings seem to have got a little slimmer, though he pops up as a copper in 'Shine On Harvey Moon'. There are a few decade-apart roles including 'Doctors' on TV and the straight to DVD 'Amityville Playhouse' (2015). Whether he was just too much a face of the '70s, or his moment simply passed, it seems he retired from seriously pursuing an acting career. Nowadays he is a much sought-after guest at cult TV conventions, but I can't help but hope that some interesting part is still in his future timeline.

Bonus content:
For a full-on '70s time capsule, I point you to this splendidly mundane oddity:
'Living At Thamesmead' (1974)

Spencer Banks-imdb

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Nickolas Grace

Nickolas Grace as Matthew in 'Survivors'

Nickolas Grace

Dark haired (now distinguished grey) and rheumy-eyed, with a hint of sophisticated malfeasance and 'mwah-ha-ha', Nickolas Grace has played wonderful mixture of mainly villainous and disreputable characters over the years. He's possibly most familiar for his masterful turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham in 'Robin of Sherwood' or as the impossibly louche Anthony Blanche in 'Brideshead Revisited'. 
'Brideshead Revisited'
As the Sheriff of Nottingham in 'Robin of Sherwood'
There has been a strong thread of comedy shows down the years. These range from the rather mundane to the quite strange, eg: 'The Fenn Street Gang', 'Birds Of A Feather', 'Alas Smith & Jones', the peculiar medical-themed sketch revue 'The Pink Medicine Show', the wilfully bizarre 'Inside Victor Lewis Smith' and the successful sitcoms 'My Family' and 'Absolutely Fabulous'.       

In the comedy short 'The Hardest Part' (2010) with Jeremy Child
But drama has always been to the fore, with roles in quality costume stuff such as the Pre-Raphaelite shenanigans of 'The Love School', 'Napoleon & Josephine' (as Nelson), 'Morte D'Arthur', 'Decline and Fall', 'The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes', 'Casanova', 'Merlin' and a bravura title turn in 'Lorca, Death Of A Poet' which he acted in English with a Spanish cast and production company and was later re-dubbed.

In the exceptional BBC drama 'Killing Eve'
Crime, political intrigue and action shows have included 'The Survivors', 'The Final Cut', 'The Chief', 'The Professionals', a smattering of 'Marple', 'Alleyn', 'Midsomer Murders'-type mid-evening mysteries, and light dramas of the 'Lovejoy', 'Minder' and 'Bergerac' ilk. He also pops up in the cult Gerry Anderson flop 'Space Precinct' and the critically acclaimed 'Killing Eve'. He's a respected stage actor and director, but what seems to come over on the screen is an almost irresistible sense of enjoyment and relish for every role, however meaty or slight. A craftsman.