Sunday 31 May 2020

David Cann

David Cann: 

Distinctive actor, with a combination of tough-guy and strangely elfin looks - thanks perhaps to his expressively pointy eyebrows - yet equally adaptable to everyday everyman roles. He first caught my attention from cropping up in a lot of modern comedy of the oddball sort, (being one of Chris Morris's development team for the radio show 'Blue Jam' and his later TV output), and also popular with the likes of Kevin Eldon and Reece Shearsmith. 

A typical role in a 'Brass Eye' interview sequence 

Trained at RADA in the mid 70s, his early television jobs saw him tackling some extra and bit-parts in low budget sci-fi faves, such as 'Tomorrow People', 'Sapphire & Steel' and 'Blakes 7', though seemingly never 'Doctor Who'.     

I think this is our chap... An early role as the 'chaircreature'
of a galactic committee in 'The Tomorrow People', played
in a rather jolly Python-esque falsetto.  

Uncredited role in 'Blakes 7' (on right).  

He proved extremely versatile, with small roles gradually giving way to better things in an ever-widening range of genres. He was in 'Shine On Harvey Moon', had a prolonged stint on a later series of 'Grange Hill' as Mr Bentley, and appeared as several characters on both sides of the law in 'The Bill'. He was also in 'EastEnders', 'Bad Girls', 'Silent Witness' and 'Doctors', as well as an episode of 'Killing Eve'.

In the 1981 TV reboot of 'Callan'

Vintage menace in an episode of 'Campion'

But it's in comedy that he's been most visible and memorable, with appearances in Chris Morris's 'Brass Eye' and 'Jam', 'Black Books', 'Saxondale', 'It's Kevin', 'Psychoville', 'Benidorm' and most recently, 'Sex Education'.

More 'Brass Eye'. This time as an astronaut. 

Films have been a mixture of comedies: 'Dog Eat Dog' (2001), 'Run Fatboy Run' (2007), 'Attack The Block' (2011), and more serious fare '1984' (1984), Chromophobia (2005), Les Miserables (2012) and 'Dead Eyes' (2007).

Mostly pretty interesting stuff. One of those actors that it's almost reassuring to see appear, giving the impression of being in good hands. I salute you.      

Saturday 16 May 2020

Jeannette Charles

British actress Jeannette Charles portraying the Queen in the German sex film 'Leos Leiden'

Jeannette Charles: 
† October 15 1927 – June 2 2024

The ultimate type-cast actress may be Jeannette Charles, who for several decades has been film and TV's default lookalike for the Queen. Does she really look like her? I'm not too sure, there might be something of the Princess Annes about her long upper lip, but to me she's nothing much like the real item. Her own face has become so familiar, though, that she is virtually a national institution herself - the official stunt queen. 


'Q6' with Spike Milligan

Though not really an actress as such - she's rarely given any lines - apparently she was involved in theatre as a young woman, but rarely cast because of her 'uncanny likeness' to the royal princess, and later the young queen, in an age of greater deference. The similarity was again remarked by her local paper in Essex in the early '70s, and with the coming of the irreverent era of post-Python comedy, she's been constantly in demand, usually as a simple sight-gag, and has been seen in a number of productions of wildly variable quality. 

With German comedy legend Loriot, aka Vicco von Bulows in 1974

Spike Milligan's establishment-baiting silliness made great use of her in series including 'Q6', 'Q7' and 'There's A lot Of It About', and she's seen in contemporary comedies such as 'Rutland Weekend Television', 'The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash', and later 'Not The Nine O'Clock News' and 'Never The Twain'. In an episode of 'Mind Your Language' with a little twist, she plays a woman who is mistaken for the queen. Kids 'TV was also a regular earner, with appearances on 'The Sooty Show', 'On Safari', 'Ratman' and the like.       

I wonder whose idea this was? Queen looking less than thrilled. 

On the cinema screen, after a few low-budget '70s porn/sex comedies (non-sexy roles obviously, but the Germans, it seems, love a throwaway royal joke), including 'Leos Leiden, aka 'Born Erect' (1976), 'Secrets Of A Superstud' (1976), and 'Queen Kong' (1977), she pops up in 'National Lampoon's European Vacation' (1985), 'The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad' (1988),  'Austin Powers In Goldmember' (2002). I have no idea what part she plays in the bizarre sounding Israeli topless prank comedy 'Nipagesh Bachof' (1987) but it's there on her CV. 

With Leslie Neilsen in the 'The Naked Gun' (1988) 

Born in 1927 (a year later than the real deal), she is now in her nineties and in retirement in her native Essex. Hopefully she will receive her telegram at the appropriate juncture - I wonder if any additional comment will follow the centennial good wishes?  

Edit: June 2024 - Sadly, Jeannette Charles did not quite make it to 100, but did a good job of matching Her Majesty, who also died aged 96.

Jeannette Charles-imdb