Tuesday 2 April 2024

Diane Fletcher


British actor Diane Fletcher in Poirot

Diane Fletcher:

Diane Fletcher's first feature film was Roman Polanski's 'Macbeth' (1970), in which she appears in the brief but pivotal role of Lady Macduff. And by that time she had already been in an episode of 'Boy Meets Girl' (great theme tune), and perhaps more importantly, played Lady Blakeney in 'The Elusive Pimpernel', and Queen Isabella in the BBC's production of 'Edward II' with a young Ian McKellen. Which all suggests that she came out of RADA in '66 with much of the imperious manner that became something of a hallmark of later roles.     

Fairly Secret Army

She was fantastic as Nancy in 'Fairly Secret Army' as the surprising love interest of Geoffrey Palmer's hapless reactionary, as well as being seen in 'Inspector Morse', 'Agatha Christie's Poirot', 'Within These Walls', 'Midsomer Murders' and appearing in 'Coronation Street' as Derek's first wife, much to the consternation of Mavis. To these we might add 'The Irish RM', 'The Borgias' and the Robert Hardy-starring 'Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years'

With Jonathan Pryce in 'Roger Doesn't Live Here Anymore'
a quality, but rather laugh-free, effort by John Fortune 

One of her other defining roles was as the wife of cunning Tory politician Francis Urquhart in Michael Dobbs 'House of Cards' and its two sequels 'To Play the King' and 'The Final Cut'. 

In the Poirot episode 'Death On The Links'

In the BBC televised theatrical performance of
'The Tragedy of  Macbeth' screened in 2023 

And in a rather nice bit of synchronicity harking back to Polanski's movie, she also features in the refreshingly staged 2023 BBC production of 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' as one of the wyrd sisters.    

Diane Fletcher- imdb

Thursday 29 February 2024

Brian Capron

Brian Capron in 'Grange Hill'

Brian Capron: 

A very familiar face: perhaps it's that of 'Hoppy' Hopgood from 'Grange Hill', or of Gail's murderous husband Richard Hillman from 'Coronation Street', as those are possibly the most memorable of his TV appearances.      

Brian Capron in 'Blakes 7'
In an episode of 'Blake's 7'

Brian Capron has also been seen in many of the nation's favourites, starting with 'Z-Cars' in 1973 and including other cop and crime dramas such as 'Dixon of Dock Green', 'The Sweeney', 'The Gentle Touch', 'Shoestring' and 'Bergerac'.

Brian Capron in 'Crown Court'
A 1977 episode of  'Crown Court' entitled
'A Place to Stay' 

The handsome and amiable seeming actor is also a mainstay of comedy through the 70s-90s, heading the cast of the house-sharing sitcom 'Full House', and showing up on 'Beryl's Lot',  'Doctor On The Go', 'Kelly Monteith', 'Minder', 'Birds of a Feather', 'Take My Wife' (with the curious coupling of Duggie Brown and Elisabeth Sladen), 'Mixed Blessings', and Dawn French's 'Murder Most Horrid'.  

'Full House' in which he starred with Christopher Strauli (right),
seen here in the first episode with the great Milton Johns. 
Since the 2000s, he's clocked up a solid reckoning of daytime dramas from 'Doctors', 'Judge John Deed' and 'New Tricks' to 'Midsomer Murders' and 'Where the Heart Is'. 

On the big screen, he can be spotted in the Gwyneth Paltrow 'Emma' (1996), '101 Dalmations' (1996), and in bigger roles in the lesser-known British productions, 'Ambleton Delight' (2009) and 'The National Union of Space People' (2016).      

Brian Capron-imdb

Saturday 24 February 2024

Gabrielle Glaister


Gabrielle Glaister:

"Well now, young ... Bob."

A running joke across the 'Blackadder' series was Edmund's perplexing attraction to strapping young lad Bob, played by the transparently female Gabrielle Glaister. A nod to the gender politics of the various eras in which it's set - and a nod to Shakespearean theatre and cross-dress plotting. Writer Ben Elton returns to this theme in 'Upstart Crow' when a judge, also played by Glaister, turns up as "Judge Robert". 

Before these meta comedy japes, Gabrielle Glaister would probably have been best known to British TV audiences as Patricia Farnham in the long running Liverpool-set soap, 'Brookside', a role she played for seven years. She was also a long-running character in 'Coronation Street', and appeared in 'Emmerdale' and the less well-remembered soap 'Family Affairs'.

A photo-opp for Channel 4's 'Brookside'
(Gabrielle Glaister, second left) 

Beyond 'Blackadder' her comedy roles have included 'All at Number 20', 'Get Well Soon', the aforementioned 'Upstart Crow' and Ben Elton's sketch vehicle, 'The Man from Auntie'. 
But it's in more straight drama programming that you're more likely to run across her, for example all the daytime TV staples: 'The Bill', 'London's Burning', 'Casualty', 'Doctors' and 'Peak Practice'.   

As Debs Brownlow in 'Coronation Street'

Gabrielle Glaister-imdb

Friday 12 January 2024

Nicholas Woodeson

 British actor Nicholas Woodeson in 'The Blackheath Poisonings'

Nicholas Woodeson:

A classic character actor, always believable and technically accomplished without being at all obtrusive. In fact you will have seen Nicholas Woodeson quite often if you have watched British television much since the '80s.     

Or if you've seen some of the bigger feature films of the period, because he appears in 'Heaven's Gate' (1980), 'The Russia House' (1990), 'The Pelican Brief' (1993), Bill Murray's 'The Man Who Knew Too Little' (1997), 'The Avengers' (1998), 'Mad Cows' (1999), 'Topsy-Turvy' (1999), 'John Carter' (2012), and 'Hannah Arendt' (2012), 'Skyfall' (2012), 'The Limehouse Golem' (2016) and 'Paddington 2' (2019). And he's the conductor dragged out of bed at the beginning of 'The Death of Stalin' (2017). 

Appearing in the film version of 'The Avengers' (1999)
On television, Nicholas Woodeson, can be spotted in quite a cavalcade of quality viewing, encompassing 'Poirot', 'Red Riding', the BBC's 1999 'Great Expectations' as Wemmick to Charlotte Rampling's Miss Havisham, 'The Blackheath Poisonings', 'Mapp & Lucia', 'Blackeyes' and 'Rome'.

And plenty of more everyday stuff: 'Doc Martin', 'Midsomer Murders', 'Touch of Frost', and the unavoidable 'Holby City'.

In the concert scene from 'The Death of Stalin' (2017) 

It's notable that he's played a very wide range of characters, from doctors and detectives to scientists and spies. Interestingly, he has also appeared several times as a rabbi - 'Friday Night Dinner', 'Disobedience (2017), 'My Father's Secrets' (voice, 2022), although he isn't Jewish and is a fairly outspoken critic of US interference in the Middle East, where he was born - his father being a British diplomat.    

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Brian Gwaspari

Brian Gwaspari: 

Wiry, resolute sort of character actor, swerving equally expertly through some of the better action thrillers and comedies of the '70s and '80s, Londoner Brian Gwaspari is a more familiar face than he is a name. Getting an initial TV break in the bedsit 1974 drama serial 'Rooms', he soon started to crop up in popular shows such as 'The Sweeney', 'Van der Valk', 'The Professionals', 'Hazell' and 'The Gentle Touch'. He hit the big screen, in a comparatively small way, in 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (1977) and 'A Bridge Too Far' (1977) and was in a European-set episode of the American TV series 'Remington Steele' with Pierce Brosnan.     

After all that burning rubber and gunplay, the '80s saw a bit more comedy and light-hearted material. He had a stint as a copper investigating Roy's car-lot fire on 'EastEnders', and can be spotted in 'Ever Decreasing Circles', 'Help!', 'Roll Over Beethoven', 'No Frills' (a short lived sitcom with Kathy Staff reprising a sort of Nora Batty role in yuppy London), 'Hi De Hi', 'Yes, Prime Minister', and 'Joint Account', surely one of the beige-est sitcoms ever, about a female bank manager - whatever next?    

'Sweeney 2' (1978)

And an episode of The Professionals

Into the '90s and '00s and we've got a dusting of cosy crime sneaking into the mix: 'Wycliffe' and 'Poirot' for example, and a few more sitcoms, such as the Gwen Taylor vehicle, 'Screaming', 'The Brittas Empire' and 'Waiting for God'. On the cop show front, we can see him in 'The Chief' with Tim Piggot-Smith, and the oddball, largely-misfiring 'Virtual Murder' a character-actor-studded 1992 effort that might have attained some cult status if not let down by its dreary low budget feel.    

The Brittas Empire

More recently, there's the short 'Raspberry Ripple' (2007), followed by a single episode of 'Doctors' and a 'Midsomer Murders' in 2010. He's about 75 at time of writing, so hopefully he may pop up again somewhere unless he's got out of the business. In any case, a great supporting actor.          

Brian Gwaspari - imdb