Friday 15 October 2021

Judy Matheson


Judy Matheson in 'Twins Of Evil'

Judy Matheson: 

One of the classic beauties of the golden era of Hammer horror films, Judy Matheson's most celebrated roles are in the saucy 1971 double-bill of 'Twins Of Evil' and 'Lust For A Vampire'. Other cult favourites of the era include 'Crucible Of Terror' (1971) and 'The Flesh & Blood Show' (1972), non-Hammer and more in the contemporary shocker mould than the gothic excesses of the former.

'The Emergence of Anthony Purdy, Esq, Farmer's
Labourer' a curious 1970 short film made by HTV  

After drama school and some early stage successes she found herself cast, 
alongside Euro superstar Capucine, in a Spanish giallo-style psychodrama, 'The Exquisite Cadaver', AKA 'Las Crueles' (1969). Although obscure at the time in the UK, it now seems to be partially eclipsing the traditional horrors as her stand-out performance. It's certainly a stylish piece, with the expected giallo tropes of lurid colours, modish fashion-house photography, mild nudity and outlandishly playful shocks. Matheson is very watchable in it, a screen presence not overshadowed by her more senior co-stars.      


'The Exquisite Cadaver' 1969

With the always brilliantly loathsome Ronald Lacey
in the lacklustre 'Crucible Of Terror' (1971) 

She made another little-known gem in 'The Emergence of Anthony Purdy, Esq, Farmer's
Labourer' with the great Freddie Jones, a 1970 exercise in rural conjugal awkwardness in grainy black and white. The same year she appeared on television in a documentary about the RSC featuring her friend, a talented young actress called Helen Mirren. Shortly before this,  she was shortlisted for a lead role in the TV sensation of 1969, 'Take Three Girls'. 

An iconic shot with the late great Peter Cushing
from the opening sequence of 'Twins Of Evil' (1971) 

That didn't happen though, and instead the early '70s saw a string of less-than-stellar film and TV offers. She's in a couple of typical Brit sex comedies, 'Confessions Of A Window Cleaner' (1974) and 'Percy's Progress' (1974), and adds some glamour to episodes of 'The Adventurer',  'The Sweeney' and 'The Professionals' before landing a longish stint on the teatime soap 'Crossroads' and a tiny role in a weird costume in 'Blakes 7'. 

A 'mutoid' apparently. 'Blakes 7'

From this point she seems to have moved focus to voiceover and continuity announcement work. She was a regular face on my local ITV region, TVS, in the '80s. In fact, she was out of the TV and film loop for 37 years, between 1980 and 2017, with the exception of personal appearances at Hammer fan conventions.

TVS continuity announcer in 1984

Roll on 2017 however, and it seems she's been lured back into the limelight by David Barry, better known as mummy's little soldier Frankie Abbott from 'Please Sir!'. Initially, he created a Fenn Street-meets-Vampires concoction called 'Frankula', followed in 2021 by 'The Lives Of Frankie Abbott'. There's also 'The Haunting of Margam Castle' which, like 'Frankula', features fellow cult horror star Caroline Munro, and 'What Did You Do In The War Mama?' with the similarly celebrated Madeline Smith. An intriguing development that seems likely to get the attention of the Hammer fanbase.

So, a salute then, but watch this space for updates.         

Judy Matheson-imdb

Monday 11 October 2021

Michael Deeks


Michael Deeks:   

An angelic jack-the-lad type of the '70s variety, Michael Deeks got a taste of the big time playing Swiftnick in the well-crafted and very popular teatime series 'Dick Turpin', an excellent comic foil and sidekick to Richard O'Sullivan in the lead role. Prior to that he had been seen in a few small roles in the early and mid-'70s, including 'The Tomorrow People', 'Within These Walls' and the original BBC version of the Borstal drama 'Scum', although not the film remake.  

Young highwayman Swiftnick meets his hero Dick Turpin
for the first time, under rather trying circumstances
With his mixture of wide-eyed innocence and puckish delinquency, Michael Deeks was cast in a variety of contemporary and period dramas, one of the more substantial of these was the intricate six-part Armchair Thriller story, 'The Circe Complex'. He plays prisoner Cat Devlin, persuaded to extract information from a fellow inmate, a canny jewel thief. He was also in a TV 'Hammer House Of Horror' and in the quite atmospheric TV play 'Tarry Dan Tarry Dan Spooky Old Man', which survives as a blurry YouTube video here.         

With an avuncular Arthur Daley (George Cole) in 'Minder' 

Perhaps inevitably, with the passing of these twinkly teenage years, he found himself as just one of many young male actors competing for jobs, and the plum roles dried up. A definite prune was the annoyingly silly (even for an '80s  kids' show) 'Galloping Galaxies' in which he appears as a dim robot amid the usual slapstick and feeble jokes. Rather better were roles in 'Juliet Bravo' and that episode of 'Minder' where Mel Smith plays an unscrupulous pop manager faking his star's death.   

Slightly channelling Dudley Sutton's Tinker Dill 
in the kids' show 'Bad Boyes' from the late '80s  

He's in one of those star-studded corporate training videos made by John Cleese's Video Arts Ltd, but sadly it's rather hard to see these unless you're a corporation. And an amusing episode of the always decent 'Strangers', dealing with modern day highwaymen. But, after a single episode of 'The Bill', it seems that he retired from acting and became landlord of a pub in the home counties for a time.

In any case, a salute is due. Cheers and your very good health.             

Michael Deeks-imdb