Date of Birth: 27 November 1945, Pughsville, Virginia, US
Birth Name: James LaRue Avery
Nicknames: James Avery
James Avery, the bulky character actor who laid down the law as Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has died.
Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told the Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday in Glendale, California, following complications from open heart surgery. He was 68.
Avery, who stood more than 6ft 5in tall, played Philip Banks, patriarch and wealthy lawyer (then judge), on the popular TV comedy that launched the acting career of Will Smith as his trouble-making nephew.
The sitcom, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, was set in the Banks’ mansion, to which Smith’s character was sent from Philadelphia when things got tough in his own neighborhood.
Avery liked to say that the way to be an actor was to act, and he had a busy and diverse career before, during and after Fresh Prince. His TV credits included Grey’s Anatomy, NYPD Blue and Dallas, and among his many films were Fletch, Nightflyers and 8 Million Ways to Die. His voice alone brought him many jobs, notably as Shredder in the animated TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
According to Snyder, he will be seen in the film Wish I Was Here, directed by Zach Braff and scheduled to premiere later this month at the Sundance festival.
Avery grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and served in the US navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After returning to the US, he settled in California and studied drama and literature at the University of California at San Diego.
Date of Birth: 26 April 1926, Alderley Edge, Sheshire, UK
Birth Name: David Robert Coleman
Nicknames: David Coleman
The death of David Coleman at the age of 87 signs off an already distant era when television broadcasts of Britain's national sporting events the so-called "crown jewels" were almost the sole and exclusive preserve of the BBC. Coleman was the very embodiment of that pre-eminence. As the corporation's champion sports presenter through much of the second half of the 20th century, he had an enthusiastic, knowing, taut professional style and a crisp, classless delivery that seemed all-pervading. In addition, he was the pathfinding master of ceremonies for such long-running regulars as Grandstand, Sportsnight and A Question of Sport.
In all, Coleman led the BBC's coverage at 16 Olympic games (summer and winter), five World Cup football tournaments and many FA Cup finals and Grand National steeplechases. He realised that the knack of successful television commentary required both passion and brevity, as well as, for the most important passages, bestowing a significantly precise top and tail to frame the occasion for posterity as in: "This then, the start of the 200 metres of the 1976 Olympic games…" to "Oh, what a run, what a run, truly magnificent!"
Following his final Olympiad at Sydney in 2000, and only months from his 75th birthday, at a ceremony at the International Olympic Committee's base in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, pinned to Coleman's lapel the rare Olympic Order medal. The television man was touchingly moved. He was the first broadcaster or journalist ever to be so honoured, joining such lustrous performers on the plinth as Jesse Owens, Fanny Blankers-Koen and Emil Zatopek.
Throughout his broadcasting career, he saw himself as the hard-nosed, everyman-journalist. He was no celebrity presenter, and could be scathingly dismissive about more starry, chummy screen performers chosen more for winsome looks and winning smiles.
Rivals were never comfortable with Coleman. In the mid-1960s when ITV hired the popular, amiable Eamonn Andrews to launch its Saturday afternoon World of Sport magazine programme to take on the BBC's Grandstand, Coleman dismissively told Andrews: "I'll blow you out of the water!" To all intents, that was, mercilessly, what he did.
Similarly, at the end of that decade, when ITV attempted to challenge BBC's football monopoly, Coleman would refuse, before cup finals at Wembley, even to shake the hand when proffered with a "good luck for a good commentary" from the commercial channel's comradely Brian Moore. The two remained distanced rivals for almost 30 years. Moore recalled: "All round the world, David offered no real friendship. He was so spiky. If he even said 'hello', it was more with a sneer than a smile. But while his temper was short, his standards were immensely high. His hard edge made him as formidable a journalist as he was an opponent. He knew he was the best and professionally, all said and done, we knew he had set the standard and there was simply nothing we could do but admire and respect his talent."
When the fledgling BBC television service resumed after the second world war, it was still very much the corporation's junior service, available only in parts of the south-east, with its performers recruited occasionally from radio, though more usually, it seemed, from the officers' mess or the old boy network. Certainly, up in Cheshire, young Coleman had never seen television as a boy. His route was to be journalism's traditional one.
He was born in Alderley Edge, into a family that hailed from County Cork, and he went to a local grammar school. An introduction as a trainee on his local Stockport Express gave him an entree, followed by call-up for two years of national service in 1946, into the army's newspaper unit, where he had postings in West Germany and east Africa.
On demobilisation, he joined Kemsley newspapers in Manchester before becoming a youthful editor of the weekly Cheshire County Press. He was a gifted amateur runner and in 1949 won the annual Manchester Mile, at the time, he would insist, the only non-international ever to have done so. After injuries prevented him from entering trials for the 1952 British Olympic team, he wrote to the BBC.
By 1953, Coleman was putting in regular scriptwriting shifts in the BBC northern region's Manchester newsroom, and the following year joined its staff in Birmingham, concentrating on sport in the Midlands. At once came the opportunity of which ambitious juniors dream.
On 6 May 1954 Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. While the BBC's sports department in London, led by Peter Dimmock, was scouring the metropolis desperately for the shy hero (who was lying low in Clement Freud's restaurant at the Royal Court theatre in Sloane Square), they filled in time with an interview by a fresh-faced newcomer from the Midlands of the popular Argentinian golfer Roberto de Vicenzo.
Thus, Coleman was up and running and soon, as BBC Midlands' new sports editor, he was being accepted by London as the likeliest of bright lads. In 1958 Dimmock launched Grandstand on the national network. He introduced the inaugural programmes himself and then handed over to Coleman, "who's 20 times better at it than me". Coleman's marathon had begun.
A professional perfectionist, he could be a hard man to work with. Coleman could reduce insecure minions to tears, and often did. He liked cold-eyed, no-nonsense journalists around him, not television's regular vaudevilleans. He had always – and with good reason a fine conceit of his own value.
A contract wrangle kept him off the screen for almost 12 months in the mid-1970s. It was less about money and more about editorial control and the number of events he would cover.
In the studio or on location, Coleman's unflappability at taking a producer's direction, in spite of the din either all around him or through his earpiece, was legendary and, however many top-dog stars have since tried, his legend has never been outshone. Masterly, too, was his breathless and awesome command of the live teatime-scores teleprinter "Queen of the South one, Airdrie one, means Airdrie move up three places on goal difference, but Queen of the South slip a place because Brechin won today."
His race-reading of successive Olympic 100 metres finals, from Rome in 1960 to Sydney in 2000, was even more an epic and genius party-piece of splendour spot-on identification of eight men tearing headlong at him in a less than 10-second blur. But his most resplendent journalistic hour or rather hours came with his prolonged and distressingly sombre vigil, working from just one, distant, fixed camera, throughout the dreadful day of the murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic village in 1972.
"Colemanballs" in Private Eye a fortnightly log of commentators' gaffes and tautologies irritated him to the point of anger, and Coleman denied just about all the entries attributed to him. But the national treasure had mellowed by the time Spitting Image came along in the 1980s, and he could engagingly chortle at himself as a crazed, check-capped puppet, finger in earpeiece, squealing: "Er, reallyquiteremarkable and, er, I'vegonetooearlyand Ithinkit'simpossdibletokeep upthislevelofexcitement withoutmyheadexploding…"
Coleman, who was appointed OBE in 1992, resented retirement in 2000 as a slight, but he had set the standards. When, for all those decades, BBC television ruled the waves, for most of the time he was master-commander and buccaneering captain on the quarterdeck.
After he had fronted Grandstand for a decade, he moved to a midweek slot with Sportsnight (1968-73), though later returned to the Saturday programme. From the early 1970s he was the BBC's senior football commentator, and from the early 80s concentrated on athletics. He brought a businesslike geniality to chairing A Question of Sport (1979-97); the programme's only other two presenters have been David Vine from its start in 1970, and Sue Barker till the present. He was also a co-host of the BBC Sports Review of the Year (1961-83).
Date of Birth: 2 August 1932, Connemara, Ireland
Birth Name: Seamus Peter O’Toole
Nicknames: Peter O’Toole
Peter O'Toole, the Irish-born actor was one of the most charismatic, unpredictable, eccentric and individualistic players of his generation.
Hailed both as a classicist and as an exponent of post-war realism in the new British drama, he seemed destined for greatness on the stage until David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) turned him into a film star.
It was one of the most spectacular screen breakthroughs of the post-war years. Though his screen debut was in Kidnapped (1960), he had till Lawrence made little impression. Although Lawrence was presented as an heroic figure, Robert Bolt’s screenplay did not avoid the more debatable aspects of his life, including his sexuality. There is a revealing moment when he first dons Arab clothes and performs a little dance almost as if he were a woman in disguise. Moviegoers twigged instantly that this would be no ordinary portrayal.
Tall, lean, blue-eyed, watchful, whimsical and by middle age, so emaciated that his friends feared for his health O’Toole seemed regularly to veer close to self destruction. A self-confessed lover of sleaze, he once said: “I can’t stand light; I hate weather; my idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another.”
When Laurence Olivier chose him in 1973 to inaugurate the National Theatre at the Old Vic in the title role of Hamlet, it was because O’Toole seemed like Britain’s next great actor. But the status of an Olivier, a Redgrave or a Gielgud always eluded him or perhaps he it.
Though he became a greatly popular player, he did not stay with Olivier’s new National Theatre Company and went on to divide his career between stage and screen. The success of Lawrence of Arabia led to a flood of screen offers in meaty parts that contemporary actors envied. These included two aspects of King Henry II, first in Becket (1964), based on Jean Anouilh’s account of his troubled relations with Thomas à Becket, and secondly in The Lion in Winter (1968), James Goldman’s play about the ageing king’s dispute with his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Though Katharine Hepburn won an Oscar as Eleanor, the conflict was even-handed and the two performers were equally riveting.
His acting ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. It could be subtle, reserved, sensitive and deeply affecting. It could also be loud, self-regarding, mannered and imitative of the worst of the 19th-century barnstormers.
Among the more ridiculous was the Macbeth he played at the Old Vic in 1980. It was an attempt to restore the fortunes of that playhouse after the National Theatre had left it in 1976. Contradicting the advice he had given as Hamlet to the players at the same theatre under Olivier’s direction 17 years earlier, he sawed the air with his hands, tore passions to tatters, and ranted until the audience laughed in his face.
Undismayed, he joined in, especially when he heard one night, as he descended the staircase after dispatching Duncan, the siren of an ambulance passing the theatre. “I was dripping with blood. The ambulance howled as it went up the Waterloo Road. I got the giggles. So did the audience. It was bloody marvellous.”
Nonetheless, the production, disowned by fellow members of the Old Vic board, broke records in London and in the provinces. “I just wanted a crack at Macbeth on the principle of getting the worst over first. In the history of the British theatre, only three actors have pulled it off: Macready, Garrick, and Wolfit and now me. I enjoyed every second.”
Among his more sublime performances was that of the dazed and lonely protagonist journalist in Keith Waterhouse’s Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell (Apollo, 1989; revived 1999), reminiscing, ruminating, urinating, swaying, and stranded overnight in a London pub with a plastic carrier bag of liquor.O’Toole, himself an experienced alcoholic, long since reformed, brought so much authenticity, poise and painful sincerity to the performance that many play-goers could not believe he was acting.
He loved the excitement and uncertainty of the theatre. “If I hadn’t become an actor I probably would have become a criminal,” he said once. “I’m a very physical actor. I use everything toes, teeth, ears, everything. I don’t simply mean physical in the sense of movement and vigour. I find myself remembering the shape of a scene by how I’m standing, what I’m doing.”
Having achieved immediate recognition as TE Lawrence, the desert adventurer opposite Omar Sharif, he observed: “Stardom is insidious. It creeps up through the toes. You don’t realise what’s happening until it reaches your nut. That’s when it becomes dangerous.”
His scores of screen roles at this time included Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1965), an angel in John Huston’s The Bible (1966), and a musical remake of Goodbye, Mr Chips (1969) opposite Petula Clark. Though he was Oscar-nominated for that role, the film as a whole was an embarrassment, and he should have taken note that Rex Harrison and Richard Burton had turned it down before him.
In 1972 he appeared in another musical, Man of La Mancha, opposite Sophia Loren, in which he played Don Quixote. These two films were temporary diversions he was wise not to repeat. Fortunately, in the same year (1972) he gave one of his best performances in the lead role in Peter Medak’s The Ruling Class, as a berserk British baronet who imagines himself to be Jesus Christ one minute and Jack the Ripper the next.
The son of an Irish bookmaker, Seamus Peter O’Toole was born at Connemara, Co Galway, on August 2 1932. The family moved to England when O’Toole was a boy. The young Peter left school at 14, and moved with his parents to Yorkshire.
He worked variously as a copy boy and reporter on the Yorkshire Evening News, as a jazz band drummer, and as a vacuum cleaner salesman. He first acted professionally at the Civic Theatre, Leeds, in 1949.
After National Service as a signalman in the Royal Navy, he saw Michael Redgrave’s King Lear at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1953; it was this that resolved him to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He hitch-hiked to London and won an audition and a scholarship.
He joined the Bristol Old Vic, where between 1955 and 1958 he acted 73 parts, notably Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger (1957), John Tanner in Man and Superman, the title part in Hamlet and Peter Shirley in Shaw’s Major Barbara, in which he made his first London appearance (Old Vic, 1956).
His first West End part came in another Bristol transfer, this time as Uncle Gustave in the Swiss musical comedy Oh, My Papa! (Garrick, 1957).
It was, however, as the cynical Cockney Pete Bamforth, who befriended a Japanese captive in Willis Hall’s wartime jungle drama The Long and the Short and the Tall (Royal Court, 1959, and New, now Albery), that O’Toole first won wide critical acclaim.
Of that performance Kenneth Tynan wrote: “To convey violence beneath banter, and a soured embarrassed goodness beneath both, is not the simplest task for a young player, yet Mr O’Toole achieved it without sweating a drop.”
At Stratford-upon-Avon in The Merchant of Venice his dashing young Shylock, a nouveau riche mercantile adventurer with social pretensions, was much admired, as were his playful Petruchio (opposite the 52-year-old Peggy Ashcroft) in The Taming of the Shrew and his powerful and thrilling Thersites in Troilus and Cressida.
Back in the West End in the title part of Brecht’s Baal (Phoenix, 1963) his acting soared above the play so impressively that one of Brecht’s biographers, Martin Esslin, dubbed O’Toole “the greatest potential force among all English-speaking actors”.
After the disappointment of his acceptable but uninspiring Hamlet at the launch of the National Theatre Company, he played one of his favourite types of character, the self-destructive hero, in David Mercer’s Ride a Cock Horse (Piccadilly, 1965), agonising over relationships with three women.
The following year, back in Ireland, he played Capt Boyle in O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, and three years after that he was back in Dublin again as John Tanner in Shaw’s Man and Superman, one of his favourite parts which he had played at Bristol 11 years earlier and which he played yet again in the West End (Haymarket, 1982).
At Dublin’s Abbey in 1969 his scarecrow Vladimir in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot came in what The Daily Telegraph at the time called “the Chaplin tradition: baggy trousers, battered bowler, clownish, absentmindedly surveying the audience as if it were infinity”. He later acted the part at Nottingham Playhouse.
Returning to his training ground, the Bristol Old Vic, in 1973, he took the title role in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, “shuffling, weary, pale and unprofiteering… one of the best things O’Toole ever did”, according to one critic. He also played King Magnus “indolent, elegant, condescending” in Shaw’s The Apple Cart, a role which he repeated in the West End (Haymarket, 1986).
When he led, in 1978, a tour of North America as Uncle Vanya, he also added Coward’s Present Laughter to his repertoire. As the flamboyant matinée idol, Garry Essendine, O’Toole used his own mannered and sometimes irritating self-indulgence with authority.
Following the fiasco of his Macbeth for Prospect Productions at the ailing Old Vic two years later, his mercurial Professor Higgins in Shaw’s Pygmalion (Shaftesbury, 1984) was warmly approved for its zest, rhythm, tonal variety, and tender eccentricity. It was seen on Broadway three years later.
In 1991 his ideas about the older Jimmy Porter in Osborne’s new play Déjà Vu clashed with the author’s at rehearsal and the Liverpool production was cancelled.
One of his better screen performances in the 1970s came in Clive Donner’s thriller for television Rogue Male (1976). O’Toole was engaging and, when it mattered, moving, as the resourceful but desperate hero, a British sportsman and would-be assassin of Hitler who, ruthlessly hunted down by Nazis, is forced to live like an animal.
The following year he acted in the dubious Roman epic Caligula, described by Variety magazine as “an anthology of sexual aberrations in which incest is the only face-saving relationship”.
In the uncommercial but intriguing film The Stuntman (1980), he was entirely at home as an impatient and overbearing director on a crazed film project which seemed to make sense only to him. O’Toole, who was again Oscar-nominated, later admitted that he had based his performance on the martinet David Lean, who had directed him in Lawrence of Arabia.
Less impressive were his outings in such schlock as Powerplay (1978), Strumpet City (1980), Supergirl (1984) and Buried Alive (1984).
His performance in Neil Jordan’s big budget Hollywood comedy High Spirits (1988), about a family who move into a haunted house, was nothing if not ebullient; he extracted more humour than the rest of the cast from a weak script in what became one of the turkeys of the year.
It is fitting that his swansong was on the West End stage, which he loved and dominated like no other. Keith Waterhouse’s Our Song provided him with another Bernard-like character or at least that was how he played the hard-drinking advertising man infatuated with a younger woman.
Even those critics who professed to a sense of déjà vu were not inclined to complain about it, but rather revelled in another chance to see O’Toole running the entire gamut of his physical and vocal range. “The exhilarating theatrical swagger of his performance is matched by a real depth of emotion,” said the Telegraph. The play was a sell-out success.
The year 1992 also saw the publication of the first volume of his autobiography, Loitering With Intent. Besides committing to record his own account of a life rich in myth and hyperbole, O’Toole revealed a genuine writing talent whose promise is sadly cut short.
Having been denied as best actor Oscar many times, in 2003 O’Toole received a special honorary award, effectively for his lifetime’s work. He joked about this when, in 2006, he received yet another best-actor nomination, playing a 70-year-old roué in Venus, who romances his best friend’s grand-niece. The lifetime’s recognition, he quipped, had been premature because there was life in the old dog yet.
Date of Birth: 9 April 1922, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Birth Name: Rae Woodland
Rae Woodland, was a much-loved opera and concert singer with a radiant tone and warm personality. At the age of 16 she had undergone an operation to treat a cleft lip, performed by pioneers in reconstructive surgery, and she went on to develop a career notably with Sadler's Wells theatre, north London, Glyndebourne and the English Opera Group. After her retirement from the opera stage in 1984 she taught singing at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies and the Royal Academy of Music.
It was in part because of her congenital condition that she was sent away to a convent primary school in Southam, Warwickshire, for children with disabilities though her parents, who were in the hotel business, were always on the move. The surgeons to whose clinic her mother took her for treatment were Sir Harold Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe, who asked her what sort of mouth she would like. She replied that she wanted to be a singer: by the time the scars had healed, it was evident that a transformation had been achieved.
Her first vocal successes were in local festivals and in a hotel in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, run by her parents. Sent to study in London with Roy Henderson, whose pupils had included Kathleen Ferrier, she was dismayed to be advised to visit Bond Street to observe how ladies walked, dressed and did their hair; "I think you're a little bit provincial," Henderson told her.
It was not until the mid-1950s, by which time Woodland was in her early 30s, that her career began to take off. First she understudied at Glyndebourne in 1956 and then sang for Lotte Lehmann in a masterclass at the Wigmore Hall. She then joined the National Opera School, and it was while there that she was invited to sing the Queen of Night in Mozart's Magic Flute at Sadler's Wells (1957). She had in fact gone to Henderson as a mezzo, but he extended her range, and indeed the Queen of Night, with its taxingly high tessitura, became one of her signature roles. A recording of her performance at the BBC Proms in 1966, which she once described as "the highlight of my career", demonstrates that she had the ideal voice for the part, using it, moreover, not simply as a vehicle for virtuosity but in a thrilling invocation of the powers of hell to wreak vengeance.
In an archive interview as part of the Oral History of Glyndebourne, made in 1994, she spoke of her happy years with two leading British opera companies: "Sadler's Wells made me; Glyndebourne was the icing on the cake." The family atmosphere, ample rehearsals and high artistic standards at the latter were particularly valued. The roles in which she excelled included Electra in Idomeneo, the Gentlewoman in Verdi's Macbeth and Mistress Ford in Falstaff, but she also essayed such roles as Venus in Tannhäuser and Mimi in La Bohème, and presented a formidable Lady Billows in Albert Herring.
The creation of the role of Lady Eugenie Jowler in Nicholas Maw's comic opera The Rising of the Moon (1970) was another landmark in her Glyndebourne career, but she also maintained a close relationship with the English Opera Group, touring Russia with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears and singing frequently at the Aldeburgh Festival. A memorable performance of Idomeneo, in which she was again Electra, took place at the latter festival in 1969, a few days after the catastrophic fire in the Maltings the performance was relocated to Blythburgh church.
Woodland was also known at home and abroad on the concert platform, appearing in Mahler's Second Symphony (1963), Bach's St John Passion (1967) and a Gilbert and Sullivan programme (1968) at the BBC Proms. In the latter part of her career she developed this lighter side of the repertoire and appeared regularly on BBC Radio 2's Friday Night is Music Night.
Date of Birth: 18 July 1918, Mvezo, Cape Province, South Africa
Birth Name: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Nicknames: Nelson Mandela
As his former cellmate and long time friend, Ahmed Kathrada, said recently: "He was born into a royal house and there was always that sense about him of someone who knew the meaning of leadership."
The Mandela who led the African National Congress into government displayed a conspicuous sense of his own dignity and a self-belief that nothing in 27 years of imprisonment had been capable of destroying.
Although Mr Mandela frequently described himself as simply part of the ANC's leadership, there was never any doubt that he was the most potent political figure of his generation in South Africa.
To the wider world he represented many things, not least an icon of freedom but also the most vivid example in modern times of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. Back in the early 1990s, I remember then President, FW De Klerk, telling me he how he found Mandela's lack of bitterness "astonishing".
His fundamental creed was best expressed in his address to the sabotage trial in 1964. "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination," he said.
"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Born in 1918, Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela was raised in the village of Qunu in the Transkei in the Eastern Cape. He was one of 13 children from a family with close links to the royal house of the Thembu people.
Mr Mandela often recalled his boyhood in the green hills of the Transkei with fondness. This was a remote landscape of beehive-shaped huts and livestock grazing on poor land.
He was only nine when his father died of tuberculosis. Always closer emotionally to his mother, Mr Mandela described his father as a stern disciplinarian. But he credited his father with instilling the instincts that would help carry him to greatness.
Years later Mr Mandela would write that "my father possessed a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness…" His death changed the course of the boy's life.
The young Mandela was sent from his home village to live as a ward of the Thembu royal house, where he would be groomed for a leadership role.
This meant he must have a proper education. He was sent to a Methodist school, where he was given the name Nelson. He was a diligent student and in 1939 went to Fort Hare University, then a burgeoning centre of African nationalism.
Mandela Through The Years
1918 Born in the Eastern Cape
1943 Joined African National Congress
1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped after a four-year trial
1962 Arrested, convicted of incitement and leaving country without a passport, sentenced to five years in prison
1964 Charged with sabotage, sentenced to life
1990 Freed from prison
1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1994 Elected first black president
1999 Steps down as leader
2001 Diagnosed with prostate cancer
2004 Retires from public life
2005 Announces his son has died of an HIV/Aids-related illness
It was at Fort Hare that Mr Mandela met the future ANC leader, Oliver Tambo, with whom he would establish the first black law practice in South Africa. Both were expelled from the university in 1940 for political activism.
First as a lawyer, then an activist and ultimately as a guerrilla leader, Mr Mandela moved towards the collision with state power that would change his own and his country's fate.
The late 1950s and early 1960s were a period of growing tumult in South Africa, as African nationalists allied with the South African Communist Party challenged the apartheid state.
When protest was met with brute force, the ANC launched an armed struggle with Mr Mandela at its head.
He was arrested and charged with treason in 1956. After a trial lasting five years, Mr Mandela was acquitted. But by now the ANC had been banned and his comrade Oliver Tambo had gone into exile.
Nelson Mandela went underground and embarked on a secret trip to seek help from other African nations emerging from colonial rule. He also visited London to meet Tambo.
But soon after his return he was arrested and sentenced to five years in jail. Further charges, of sabotage, led to a life sentence that would see him spend 27 years behind bars.
He worked in the lime quarry on Robben Island, the prison in Cape Town harbour where the glaring sun on the white stone caused permanent damage to his eyes; he contracted tuberculosis in Pollsmoor Prison outside Cape Town, and he held the first talks with government ministers while he was incarcerated at the Victor Verster prison farm.
In conversation, he would often say prison had given him time to think. It had also formed his habits in sometimes poignant ways.
Prison had taken away the prime of his life. It had taken away his family life. Relations with some of his children were strained. His marriage to Winnie Mandela would end in divorce.
But as I followed him over the next three years, through embattled townships, tense negotiations, moments of despair and elation, I would understand that prison had never robbed his humanity.
I remember listening to him in a dusty township after a surge of violence which threatened to derail negotiations. Fighting between ANC supporters and the predominantly Zulu Inkatha movement had claimed thousands of lives, mainly in the townships around Johannesburg and in the hills of Natal.
In those circumstances another leader might have been tempted to blame the enemy alone. But when Mr Mandela spoke he surprised all of us who were listening: "There are members of the ANC who are killing our people… We must face the truth. Our people are just as involved as other organisations that are committing violence… We cannot climb to freedom on the corpses of innocent people."
He knew the crowd would not like his message but he also knew they would listen.
As an interviewee, he deflected personal questions with references to the suffering of all South Africans. One learned to read the expressions on his face for a truer guide to what Mr Mandela felt.
On the day that he separated from Winnie Mandela, I interviewed him at ANC headquarters. I have no recollection of what he said but the expression of pure loneliness on his face is one I will always remember.
But my final memory of Nelson Mandela is one of joy. On the night of 2 May 1994 I was crammed into a function room full of officials, activists, diplomats and journalists, struggling to hear each other as the music pulsed and the cheers rang out.
The ANC had won a comprehensive victory. On the stage, surrounded by his closest advisors, Nelson Mandela danced and waved to the crowd. He smiled the open, generous smile of a man who had lived to see his dream.
Date of Birth: 12 September, 1973, Glendale, California, US
Birth Name: Paul Willam Walker IV
Nicknames: Paul Walker
Paul Walker was one of the actors who helped make the Fast & Furious film franchise so successful.
Walker rode the Fast & Furious franchise to stardom, featuring in all but one of the six action blockbusters, beginning with the first film, in 2001. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Los Angeles-native brought California-surfer good-looks and an easy, warm charm to the street-racing series. Walker did some of his own driving in the films, though the insurers prevented him from doing as much as he would have liked. He said it was the driving and working with the stuntmen that he enjoyed most.
The son of a fashion model, Cheryl, and a sewer contractor, Paul, Walker grew up in a working class Mormon household in Glendale, California, the oldest of five children. His mother began taking him to auditions as a toddler and he was a child model by the age of two. He said his early induction to showbusiness wasn't to start him on a career path, but as simply a way to help provide for the family.
He made his big-screen debut as a 13-year-old in the 1986 slasher-comedy Monster in the Closet, and after a string of television roles, including small parts in Who's the Boss and Charles in Charge, he drifted away from acting for a while, but was then tracked down by a casting director with a long memory who gave him a role in the television series Touched by an Angel. He also had a recurring part in the soap The Young and the Restless
His returned to films in the 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles and had supporting roles in Pleasantville, Varsity Blues (as a young quarterback – "I got to play the meathead jock that I hated in high school," he recalled), Flags of Our Fathers and the 1999 teen comedy She's All That. His performance in the 2000 psychological thriller The Skulls, which explored the conspiracy theories surrounding Yale's Skull and Bones student society, caught the eye of producer Neal H Moritz despite the film's poor critical reception.
Moritz then cast him alongside Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious. Adapted from a Vibe magazine article, "Racer X", about underground street racing, the film became an unexpected hit. Walker's undercover police officer, Brian O'Conner, is ordered to infiltrate a ring of illegal street racers suspected of stealing electronic equipment and finds himself drawn to their adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle.
Walker, a self-styled "gearhead", had taken part in street races, and he used some his fee for the first film to import a Nissan Skyline R34 sports car, the model he drives in the 2003 sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, in which he starred without Diesel. He wasn't in the third instalment, but the pair were reunited for the fourth film, known simply as Fast and Furious (2009). It became the biggest hit in the series and the producers stuck with the formula for Fast 5 (2011) and Fast and Furious 6 (2013), each successive film garnering bigger box-office grosses. The most recent has made nearly £491.7 million worldwide so far.
Walker starred in other films between Fast & Furious outings, including the crime thriller Running Scared, the Antarctic adventure Eight Below and the heist film Takers, in which a gang of young criminals carry out a series of minutely planned bank jobs to bankroll their expensive lifestyle. Although he didn't make as much of an impact beyond the franchise, he continually drew praise from his co-stars and directors as a kind-hearted and eager collaborator. "Your humble spirit was felt from the start," Ludacris, one of his co-stars, said on Twitter. "Wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers."
In 2006 he was cast by Clint Eastwood in Flags of our Fathers as one of the six US Marines who famously raised the American flag at Iwo Jima during the Second World War. The seventh Fast & Furious instalment began shooting in September, with a release planned for next July. The film's production was on break with more shooting to be done, which producers said would go ahead despite Walker's death.
Walker also stars in the forthcoming Hurricane Katrina drama Hours, due to appear later this month. He plays a father stranded with his newborn daughter in a New Orleans hospital in what Walker described as "a passion project". Reading the script, he said, "I just wanted to believe that if I was faced with a similar situation, I would see it through the same way. You want to believe you have the make-up to do what it would take to keep this baby going." He is also in Brick Mansions, a remake of the French action film District B13, due for release next year.
Walker and Rebecca McBrain, a former girlfriend, had a daughter who lived with her mother in Hawaii for 13 years and then moved to California in 2011 to live with Walker.
Roger Rodas, who died with Walker, was a financial adviser and the CEO of Walker's company Always Evolving; the pair met through their shared passion for cars. Another passion for Walker was martial arts, and he held a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was also interested in marine biology, and made a series for the National Geographic Channel, Expedition Great White, in which he helped tag great white sharks off the coast of Mexico.
Date of Birth: 26 May 1946, Birkenhead, Wirral, Cheshire, UK
Birth Name: Lewis Collins
Lewis Collins was part of one of the great double acts in British television: Bodie and Doyle, the Seventies crime fighting duo in the series The Professionals.
As William Bodie, a former mercenary-turned-SAS trooper, Collins played the hardman of the team restrained, tough, yet armed with as many one-liners as lethal weapons. Alongside Ray Doyle, played by Martin Shaw, and under the uncompromising leadership of George Cowley (Gordon Jackson), his character worked for the secret government agency CI5. A fictional amalgam of MI5 and the CID, it was a below-the-radar unit set up to take the fight to nefarious criminals of every stripe from international drug dealers to terrorists.
Created by Brian Clemens, a producer who had made his name as the principal scriptwriter of The Avengers in the 1960s, The Professionals was filmed over four years (1977-81, though it continued to be aired until 1983). Yet Collins very nearly missed out on the central role of his career.
When filming began, in June 1977, Shaw was partnered by Anthony Andrews (who in 1981 would go on to find fame as Sebastian Flyte in the adaptation of Brideshead Revisited). After three days of shooting, Clemens decided that the pair did not have the required undercurrent of menace to carry off the concept.
He decided to keep the bubble-permed Shaw, who had established himself on stage at the National Theatre and elsewhere (in 1974 even playing Stanley Kowalski, the part made famous by Marlon Brando, in A Streetcar Named Desire). Casting around for a foil, Clemens thought of Collins, who had played opposite Shaw in an episode of The New Avengers. The producer remembered that the two actors had not got on well, and guessed that their tetchy relationship might develop into the abrasive on-screen pairing he was looking for.
In fact, when they met again, Shaw and Collins became friends. That chemistry carried to the screen, where though they were very different personalities their two characters are essentially devoted to one another.
A potent cocktail of violence, guns, girls and gangsters, The Professionals saw Bodie and Doyle operate in a seedy world of backstreet deals and silver Ford Capris, a mise en scène which lent their efforts an alluring sense of reality, no matter how fanciful the plot. When not disarming a Middle Eastern explosives kingpin, for example, the two were likely to be moaning about their lack of overtime pay, or their sore heads from the previous night’s boozing.
It was a mixture of glamour and grime that proved highly successful, if bruising. Collins and Shaw always did their own stunts and between them sustained three broken ankles and a fractured collarbone. Those who criticised the show for its excessive violence, like Mary Whitehouse, only added to its notoriety.
Towards the end of its run, however, all concerned accepted that the formula was becoming stale. Even so, Collins hoped that Bodie’s uncompromising persona might lead him to still greater heights. After The Professionals ended, he auditioned for the role of another secret operative: James Bond.
Lewis Collins was born on May 27 1946 at Bidston, Wirral, and left Grange Secondary School in Birkenhead to train as a hairdresser at the Andre Bernard salon in Liverpool. But in the mid-1960s he changed career to become a professional musician, and after stints with bands including The Eyes and The Georgians joined The Mojos, for whom he briefly played bass guitar.
The experience kindled an interest in the stage, and Collins enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before going into rep. He worked at Chesterfield and Glasgow, and toured with the Prospect Theatre Company before graduating to London’s West End with stage roles in City Sugar and The Threepenny Opera.
While appearing in The Farm, directed by Lindsay Anderson at the Royal Court, Collins was noticed by television producers. His early television work included roles in popular series such as Z Cars (1974) and a recurring role as the lodger in the ITV sitcom The Cuckoo Waltz (1975-77), with Diane Keene and David Roper. Crucially, he broke with his light-hearted image to be cast as a hitman in a 1976 episode of The New Avengers with Martin Shaw — they were working together again less than a year later.
Apart from The Professionals, Collins was best known for playing the SAS officer Capt Peter Skellen in the 1982 film Who Dares Wins. He even applied to join 23 SAS – a Territorial unit – in real life, passing the entrance tests but being rejected on the grounds of his fame. As well as harbouring a lifelong interest in guns, he was trained in martial arts, including karate, and held a black belt in ju-jitsu.
Roles in other action films followed, including Code Name Wild Geese (1984), with Ernest Borgnine and Lee Van Cleef; and Kommando Leopard (1985) and The Commander (1988), both with Klaus Kinski.
His audition for Bond came in 1986. Collins had hoped to re-create the original, hard-nosed character of Ian Fleming’s books, rather than the suave Lothario portrayed by Sean Connery. “He’s not over-handsome, over-tall,” Collins noted of Bond. “He’s about my age and has got my attitudes.” The producer Cubby Broccoli, however, considered him “too aggressive” for the part.
Collins’s last British appearance was in a cameo role in The Bill in 2002. More recently he moved to Los Angeles with his wife and children. There he took a two-year break from acting and trained as a director-writer at the UCLA Film School. He also qualified as a pilot.
Early last year Collins was cast to play Earl Godwin in the historically-based film of 1066, but reportedly withdrew from the production and parted company with his agent. He had been diagnosed with cancer in 2008.
Date of Birth: 23 November 1927, Belfast, Northern Island
Birth Name: John Morrison Cole
Nicknames: John Cole
John Cole, the BBC’s former political editor, who has died aged 85, set the political agenda during the Thatcher years, when his mangled Ulster accent, square glasses and unfashionable herringbone coat made him an instantly recognisable figure on the nation’s television screens.
The sight of Cole outside No 10 or on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament was a guarantee of compelling and incisive political analysis. Honourable, hard-working and well-informed, he aimed to provide “politics for grown-ups”, and he had an enviable knack of exuding authority without being pompous or obscure.
He refused to get caught up in gossipy personality politics and had to be prodded into reporting the sex scandals which rocked Mrs Thatcher’s administration. Yet he always kept ahead of the game, because he was trusted to be fair and because his analysis was always rooted in an understanding of the fundamental political issues.
Cole’s idiosyncratic style and Ulster brogue won him his own unintelligible puppet on Spitting Image, and he was guyed in Private Eye’s “Hondootedly” column. He was irritated by the satire, confessing that he regarded himself as “a pretty serious journalist. I didn’t want to turn into a buffoon.” Nor was he amused when, after a report in which he had used the phrase “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”, his colleague David Dimbleby turned to the viewers and said: “That last bit was in French.”
But this slightly prickly, humourless quality was also the key to Cole’s success as a journalist. Entirely free of cynicism himself, and detesting the quality in others, he subscribed to the unfashionable theory that politicians enter politics for honourable and idealistic reasons, and he approached them and their performance in those terms.
As a consequence, he was trusted by politicians right across the spectrum. Mrs Thatcher singled him out for her first interview after the Brighton bomb and in 1990 he was the first to break the news of her imminent downfall; the first to predict that John Major would be Prime Minister; and the first to predict (again correctly) that Major’s challenger, Michael Heseltine, would be appointed Environment Secretary in the new administration.
Cole’s performance during the crisis won him the Royal Television Society’s journalist of the year award. At one point he jokingly remarked that he was thinking of going ex-directory so that he did not have to take calls from cabinet ministers asking him what was going on.
Even delegates to the Tory Party Conference had a soft spot for Cole. Yet ironically, had they known his true political views, they would have had all their prejudices about the Corporation confirmed. For behind his rigorous impartiality there beat an “Old” Labour heart one colleague described him as the “last of the Stalinists”. He was a man who would, as he once confessed, have closed down Oxford and Cambridge and abolished the House of Lords.
Cole was a model of politeness when he interviewed Mrs Thatcher, but as he confessed after his retirement he found it hard to remain impartial, as he detested everything she stood for: what he saw as her lack of concern for the poor, her “enamelled certitude” and “immanent sense of being right”. In one interview conducted after he had retired from the BBC, he named her as the worst Prime Minister Britain had ever had. That he was able to separate the personal from the professional indicated a modesty and intellectual integrity of a kind which few political pundits have achieved before or since.
When Cole retired from the BBC in 1992, it was John Major who gave perhaps the most perceptive assessment of his career: “Politicians like him, they trust him and when he presents policies, there is one thing he does that few others have ever managed to do properly. That is to set out the background to the decision and the constraints that politicians face. I think that’s earned him very high admiration.”
John Morrison Cole was born in Antrim Road, north Belfast, on November 23 1927 into a Protestant Unionist family. His father owned a small electrical business. His upbringing was Presbyterian and colleagues felt that this was the key to his character. David Wilson, a BBC producer who worked with Cole, described him as “a very moral man, upright in a rather old-fashioned way. He isn’t a table-banging Paisleyite, he’s much more like Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”’
Cole never distanced himself from Northern Ireland and would become irritated with English friends who dismissed the Irish as a lot of warring tribes. He himself favoured the union and internment, and disliked the Anglo-Irish treaty, though he rejected narrow sectarianism and despised discrimination. But as with all his political reporting, he was careful to maintain a strict impartiality, giving due weight to both sides of the sectarian divide.
Cole was educated at the Belfast Royal Academy, but left at 17 to become a cub reporter on the Belfast Telegraph, where he cut his journalistic teeth reporting the agriculture estimates at the old assembly at Stormont.
He had his first political scoop aged 21 when he was sent to the border to interview the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, on his way back from holiday in Co Sligo: “There was another young reporter there, but he was just doing a holiday story asking the Attlees what they’d been doing... So [Attlee] was rather taken by surprise when I pulled out a cutting from a London paper which said that he was going to end partition and have a unified Ireland. This was news to Attlee, who denied it. 'Get your notebook out, young man,’ he said to me. There and then he dictated his denial, in perfect paragraphs. I phoned it across, word for word, and it made the front page.”
The scoop convinced Cole that his future lay at Westminster, and in 1956 he took a job as a reporter, then labour correspondent, for The Guardian. In 1960 he won an award for Scoop of the Year after picking up a rumour that Alf Robens, a possible Labour leader, was going to be made chairman of the Coal Board by the Tories. No one in the trade union movement or the Labour Party believed it not even Harold Wilson but it turned out to be true.
Cole worked his way up to deputy editor, then, after being pipped for the editorship, took the same position at The Observer before Lonhro bought the paper in 1981. Cole gave evidence against Tiny Rowland at the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and, when the bid was cleared, Rowland extended an ironic hand of friendship: “He fixed me with those icy blue eyes of his and said slowly 'I shall look forward to working with you.’ I knew I wouldn’t last.”
Cole was saved the indignity of touting round for a new job when, the following morning, the BBC rang to see whether he would be interested in the job of political editor. He took it like a shot.
In political interviews, Cole always played it straight, neither bullying nor sycophantic, a tactic which yielded a number of scoops. When he interviewed Mrs Thatcher after she had called the 1987 election, she was burying him in statistics when he saw “a chink for an old man to ask a woman no longer in the first flush of youth whether this would be her last election. She replied, 'Oh no, I intend to go on and on and on.’” He saw her human side. In The Thatcher Years (1987) he wrote: “I heard of one occasion when she breezed into a meeting, slapped a file on the table and said to the assembling ministers, 'I’m in a dreadful hurry this morning. I’ve only really got time to explode.’”
When Cole formally retired from the BBC in 1992, it was to mournful headlines. In retirement he wrote his memoirs, As it Seemed to Me (1995), in which he chronicled what politicians he knew had said or done over the years and developed the theme that the arrival of Mrs Thatcher marked the point at which pragmatic politics had given way to dogma. Disappointingly, however, he revealed little of himself. He continued to make regular appearances on television and radio, and in 2001 wrote a novel, A Clouded Peace, set in Northern Ireland.
Cole remained untouched by celebrity and lived a modest, frugal life. He avoided showbusiness parties, worked hard and continued to live in the pebble-dash house at Claygate, Surrey, that he had bought in 1956. People in the street would often take him for the weather man Ian McCaskill and, when asked what the weather would be, he would usually reply that it would be “sunny with a slight risk of showers”.
Typically, John Cole refused a CBE when it was offered in 1993.
Date of Birth: 2 March 1942, Brooklyn, New York, US
Birth Name: Lou Alan Reed
Nicknames: Lou Reed
Lou Reed was the lead singer and chief songwriter with the seminal late 1960s New York band The Velvet Underground, and one of America’s most enduring and influential rock musicians.
Pale, softly-spoken and sinister in black clothes and tinted spectacles, Reed was the prototype white urban hipster, whose grim songs captured in sordid detail the sublime miseries of urban low-life and introduced into the American pop song hitherto taboo subjects such as transvestism, sado-masochism and drug abuse.
Reed’s explicit lyrics ensured that the Velvets were rarely heard on the radio. Although they became New York’s most talked about band their cult status considerably enhanced when they were “discovered” by Andy Warhol their five-year career was necessarily curtailed by their inability to sell many records. Only after their disbandment in 1970 did The Velvet Underground achieve the near-idolatrous respect they had long coveted, and over the next decade they came to be seen as the seminal art rock band. Their influence is detectable in artists as diverse as David Bowie, Roxy Music and Talking Heads; and punk rock also owed much to the Velvets’ raw, anarchic sound.
The son of a successful accountant, Louis Alan Reed was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 2 1942 and brought up in the affluent Long Island town of Freeport, where he acquired a taste for rock and roll and teenage rebellion.
When not immersed in depression which one doctor attempted to cure with electroconvulsive therapy Reed spent his formative years perfecting three-chord rock and roll on rhythm guitar with high school bands including Pasha and The Prophets, LA, the Eldorados and the Shades. In 1957, with the latter band renamed the Jades, Reed cut his first record, So Blue, a song about teenage heartache.
His musical interests broadened at Syracuse University in the early 1960s, when he hosted a jazz programme on the campus radio station, a post which he was later obliged to relinquish after he was heard to belch loudly during a public service announcement about muscular dystrophy.
Military training, then compulsory at American universities, was treated by Reed with similar irreverence. He engineered his dismissal from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and escaped the ensuing commitment to two years’ military service by threatening to shoot his commanding officer.
While studying English and Modern Philosophy at Syracuse, Reed came under the influence of the poet and critic Delmore Schwartz, whose writings provided a literary model for Reed’s alienated bohemian persona.
On his graduation in 1964, Reed took a job with Pickwick Records, writing and recording derivative ditties about surfing and hot rods, which would then be piled high and sold cheap in supermarkets. One of his compositions, The Ostrich, enjoyed near-chart success for The Primitives.
But Reed’s real interests lay elsewhere. When not forcing out songs about summer good times, Reed worked on much bleaker numbers like Heroin, a detailed and dispassionate account of the pleasures of shooting up (“Cause when the smack begins to flow, Then I really don’t care anymore”).
In 1965 he joined the equally disillusioned John Cale, a classically-trained Welsh viola player, to form a band which would play their kind of music. With the guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker, they formed The Velvet Underground named after the title of a pornographic novel.
Reed’s dirty vocals half sung, half spoken and doomy lyrics, Cale’s aggressive, sawing electric viola, and the band’s use of “grungy” guitar and shrieking feedback were remarkable at a time when American rock music was dominated by such West Coast bands as Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, singing harmoniously about peace and love.
Their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), for example, covered such topics as heroin abuse (Waiting for My Man, Heroin), cocaine addiction (Run, Run, Run) and sado-masochism (Venus in Furs).
The band’s cult credentials were reinforced by the patronage of Andy Warhol, who had discovered them performing at the sleazy Greenwich Village night spot the Café Bizarre in 1966 and recruited them for his multimedia show The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, showing films over the band as they played. Warhol combined the group with the mannered German chanteuse Nico, who sang on some of Reed’s more wistful compositions.
Warhol’s imprimatur helped secure the band’s recording contract with MGM/Verve, and he was credited as The Velvets’ producer. As Reed recalled on Songs for Drella (1990), which he made with Cale as a musical obituary of their old mentor, Warhol encouraged them to work much harder, and would say things such as: “The songs with the dirty words make sure you record them that way.” Warhol also provided the celebrated “Banana” cover, which made the debut album a collector’s item.
A year later Reed broke with Warhol in an attempt to shake off the band’s cult following and gain a wider audience. But the three albums which followed White Light, White Heat; The Velvet Underground; and Loaded enjoyed no more commercial success than the first. Cale left the band in 1968 and Reed himself quit in 1970. He passed the next two years in what he called “exile and pondering”. In fact, he was working as a typist in his father’s company, before moving to London for a few months in 1972 and then recording his first solo album, Lou Reed. The record enjoyed a limited success, but he followed it with what is generally considered his finest solo album, Transformer.
Produced by David Bowie (then an up-and-coming “glam rocker”), Transformer brought Reed the wide following he had never attracted with The Velvet Underground and yielded his first hit single, Walk on the Wild Side. The song’s lyrics were no less salacious than those in earlier works, concerned as it was with homosexual prostitution; but the anticipated radio ban failed to materialise because the producers did not understand street idioms such as “giving head”.
But, with typical perversity, Reed followed Transformer with an album so morbid and pretentious that few radio stations were prepared to give it much airtime. Berlin (1973) describes an uneasy love affair between a young American expatriate and a German woman, Caroline. The couple become addicted to amphetamines, and Caroline ends up killing herself.
Although Reed later gave up listening to Berlin because it made him “too taut and nervous”, he insisted that the melancholy views expressed in it were not an artistic pose. “If people don’t like Berlin,” he said in 1974, “it’s because it’s too real. It’s not like a TV programme, where all the bad things that happen to people are tolerable. Life isn’t that way.”
Reed’s bleak vision was epitomised in his early 1970s stage act. Hair shaved in the shape of an Iron Cross, his eyes darkened with make-up and his lips and fingernails painted black, Reed liked to enhance his performance of Heroin by pretending to “shoot up” on stage. His louche demeanour was reflected in his private life, spent in a Greenwich Village apartment with his transvestite lover Rachel.
Disappointed with the public’s indifferent reaction to Berlin, Reed responded with Rock’n’Roll Animal (1974), recorded from a live performance at the Academy of Music in New York. This capitalised on the increasing popularity of old songs like Sweet Jane and proved his bestselling album to that date.
Reed’s oeuvre throughout the rest of the 1970s was at best undistinguished, but it is agreed to have reached its nadir with Metal Machine Music (1975). This two-disc set of ill-advised experimental electronic material, played on a primitive Moog, was, explained Reed, “unrestrained” by considerations of “tempo or key”.
In the first few days of its release, it sold enough copies to earn itself a modest chart entry, but shortly afterwards it went on to gain a record for number of copies returned to point of sale for a refund.
The albums which followed Coney Island Baby (1976), Sally Can’t Dance (1977), Street Hassle (1978) and The Bells (1979) served only to confirm the general view that Reed had failed to live up to his early promise and that he was determined to confuse his fans by swinging from almost self-parodic commercialism to indigestible experimentation.
But in 1982 Reed marked the turning point of his career with his redemptive album about the pleasures of being “an average guy”, The Blue Mask. Now happily ensconced in a rustic New Jersey retreat with the British writer Sylvia Morales, whom he had married on St Valentine’s Day in 1980, Reed bade farewell to his depraved persona of the 1960s and 1970s and set about promoting his new “caring” image. His marriage to Sylvia, whom he described as his best critic, and his fruitful association with the guitarist Robert Quine, led to three further successful albums, Legendary Hearts (1983), New Sensations (1984) and Mistrial (1986).
With stability came a more intense social conscience, which Reed articulated in 1989 on the most successful album of his career, New York. The subject matter metropolitan sleaze had changed little since Transformer, but his tone was now elegiac rather than celebratory. Halloween Parade, for example, was Reed’s memorial to those of his friends who had died of Aids.
Reed had always insisted that, had he not liked rock and roll so much, he would have liked to have written the Great American Novel . In later life he eschewed the vices for which he had become so famous in his youth. He gave up drugs and drinking in the early 1980s.
But if it seemed a miracle that he had lived long enough to make such sacrifices, Reed himself always insisted that his reputation for excess was greatly exaggerated. His stock response to questions about the autobiographical content of songs like Heroin was: “I couldn’t still be around if I had done everything I am reputed to have done.”
In his later years Reed practised Tai-Chi. He continued to make music, and in 2005 released The Raven, a double-CD based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Subsequent recordings included Hudson River Wind Meditations (2007) and Lulu (2011), on which he collaborated with Metallica. He underwent a liver transplant in May.
Lou Reed, who was briefly married and divorced in 1972, was also divorced from Sylvia Morales, and in 2008 he married the musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson.
Date of Birth: 8 March 1924, New Malden, Surrey, UK
Birth Name: Anthony Alfred Caro
Nicknames: Anthony Caro
Britain's finest sculptor since Henry Moore, who broke new ground with his abstract works in metal
The career of Anthony Caro, was so enduring and substantial that it long seemed part of our permanent British art landscape. We are good at that ignoring our best artists until we can take them for granted. There was a short period, at the start of the 1960s, when his new work drew a lot of attention, at a time when British art was erupting with new energies and optimism: St Ives going strong, plus situation painting, pop art, op art. By the mid-60s he was firmly established. His work was being shown, discussed and beginning to be bought on both sides of the Atlantic.
He had had an exhibition of new work at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1963, and he was teaching at St Martin's School of Art. Thus, in 1965, New Generation at the Whitechapel featured sculpture done mostly by people who had studied under him or were teaching with him. He was now chef d'école to a degree that no sculptor had ever been in Britain and no sculptor anywhere since Rodin. On the other hand, though he did cause a lot of young sculptors to make abstract sculpture in welded steel, his example led others to find their own methods and idioms, even to reject formal sculpture altogether for example, the young Barry Flanagan, Bruce McLean and the Gilbert and George partnership.
By rights, Caro should have been made president of the Royal Academy. Abstract art still riles Britain's cultural upper crust, but major abstract artists have been academicians for some years. Caro could well have stood at their head; some of his best artist friends are among them. But he stayed out until 2004, the year the presidency of his former pupil Phillip King ended. There was always a private side to the man, for all the calls of international fame. The work came out of intimate thought and doing, not out of polemics. One feels it was centred on his family life as much as in the potency that made him decide to be a sculptor, not an engineer.
He was born in New Malden, south-west London, the youngest of the three children of Alfred Caro, a stockbroker who had married his distant cousin Mary Rose. At Charterhouse school, Surrey, his interest in sculpture was encouraged by a housemaster who introduced him to the sculptor Charles Wheeler, later president of the RA. Young Caro worked with him in the holidays, learning the traditional methods of sculpture. He studied engineering at Christ's College, Cambridge, from 1942 to 1944 and got his degree, but still worked at sculpture in the vacations, studying at Farnham Art School, Surrey, followed by two years in the Fleet Air Arm.
By 1946 the die was cast. He went to study full time at Regent Street Polytechnic (now part of the University of Westminster) and the Royal Academy schools, becoming well grounded in traditional techniques and materials and in the aesthetics of ancient and medieval sculpture. Medals and other awards came his way in 1948 and 1949. That year he married a fellow student, the painter Sheila Girling, with whom he had two sons, Timothy, born in 1951, and Paul, born in 1958.
Their mutual professional criticism was important to both their careers. The best room at the 2009 summer show of the Royal Academy had Erl King, a grand metal sculpture by Caro, opposite a glowing abstract painting by Girling. Two years earlier, at Roche Court sculpture park, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, the couple had shown together for the first time in their marriage: he with a dozen huge, rusted steel pieces from the series called Flats, made in 1974 in Canada with the aid of a crane; she indoors with a sequence of vibrantly coloured canvases painted with architectural forms not far distant from Caro's.
In late 1959 Caro visited the US, talked with the critic Clement Greenberg and became friends with painters such as Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler. He also saw constructed sculpture by David Smith, whom he got to know well in 1963.
Back in London, in 1960, he bought welding equipment and scrap metal and completed his first abstract sculpture. It seemed he had undergone a Pauline conversion. His previous work had been modelled, like most of Henry Moore's, for whom he worked part-time from 1951 to 1953. In the later 1950s he had incorporated stones in his clay figures before casting them in bronze, unlovely but powerful forms that seemed expressionist but had more to do with bodily sensations of weight and energy than with emotions. These figures attracted attention, and in 1959 he won top prize for sculpture at the first Paris Biennale des Jeunes. The American experience seemed to have swept him off his feet.
But the new work was powerful too, and as disconcerting at first sight as the massive figures. The now welded, sometimes bolted, steel sculptures were without bases or figurative references. The first had something rustic about it, plain forms fixed together and painted in dark colours with industrial paints. By 1962 he was using aluminium as well as steel, adding bright colours and titles such as Hopscotch and Early One Morning. The sculptures had expanded to 20ft and occupied the air as much as the ground. Sculpture had not sung like that since Brancusi launched his soaring Birds in the 1920s.
In the mid-60s Caro was regularly in the US, teaching and working at Bennington College, Vermont, alongside such painters as Jules Olitski, and he continued to maintainclose contact with the US, so much so that American reference books claim him as a native. In 1964 Greenberg wrote of him: "Without maintaining necessarily that he is a better artist than Turner, I would venture to say that Caro comes closer to the genuine grand manner genuine because original and unsynthetic than any English artist before him."
Caro had a one-man show of figure sculptures at Gimpel Fils in London in 1957, and his second was the Whitechapel show in 1963. The following year he showed in New York at the André Emmerich Gallery, and from 1965 on he featured regularly at Kasmin in London and at Emmerich's. Later his London galleries were Waddington and then Annely Juda Fine Art.
What he had found was not a new category or process but a whole new field for exploration. No one had known it was there. He explored it with an avidity and sureness of instinct that stayed with him to the end and marked him a genius. But exploration can demand changes of direction, and these worried even his admirers. I recall regretting his very severe linear sculptures in 1965, which I now admire, and in 1967 praising the more engaging Prairie with an enthusiasm I still feel. All his new pieces, until the late 60s, sat on the floor, in real space, and had to earn their right to be there by involving us in their doings or impressing us by their presence. Unusually, Caro seemed to steer by basic principles, then quickly abandoned these to demonstrate others just as basic.
His 60s sculptures were conditioned by the extended horizontal plane, though almost at once they started lifting off the floor and denying gravity of matter and spirit. In the mid-60s he reined them in as though in penance for his ebullience, but then this concentration on a few elements led him to use steel mesh, to magical effect, and thus on to the floating horizontals of the sand-coloured Prairie.
By the end of the 60s, he was setting ploughshares into space like petals. But in the late 60s he also started making his "tabletop pieces", smaller sculptures that sit on or hang over the edge of a table or box. These were never maquettes for bigger works. They were chamber music, and often quite sprightly too. He used assistants on his large pieces to try different compositions often involving large pieces of steel, weld or bolt them and then treat their surfaces in various ways. The smaller pieces could be more private, intimate in a way sculpture rarely is. Their composition, the elements of which they are formed and their overall result, is always surprising.
It is as though, as well as being the Jackson Pollock, the Willem de Kooning, the Clyfford Still, the John Hoyland and the Robyn Denny of sculpture, he was also the Paul Klee. Working with scrap metal meant working out of a response to material and forms and to compositions as they developed. This genetic process is constructed sculpture's special gift to art, but though Picasso had opened that door, nobody until Caro had opened up the vast territory beyond it. Caro worked with steel and welding the way the best modern painters have worked with paint and canvas, with colour, form and surface so interactive that the artist's role becomes inseparable from theirs. Other constructing sculptors have made sure their work had its brand image, but Caro went on finding new things to do, new tunes to play.
Music was important to him, mostly classical, while jazz and pop were no enemy. He enjoyed the arts at large: Donatello, Matisse, ancient, modern, Indian, African. He was well read. But culture and learning are never paraded in his work. The nearest he got to that was with the Trojan War sculptures he showed at Kenwood House, Hampstead, in 1994; welded steel combined with fired ceramic to make vertical forms suggesting figures. Is nothing sacred? Literary associations in abstract art? Ceramic with steel? He had started using that combination in the 70s, as well as using cast bronze with steel and lead with wood and with glass fibres in resin, and even just bronze and just paper. Figures? Artists do not draw lines between abstraction and figuration.
Caro's work had become emphatically vertical with the Veduggio series of 1972-73, using large, soft-edged, pastry-like steel offcuts he found in Italy, and also emphatically natural and earthy because he varnished them to keep the rust rather than clothing them in paint. He enjoyed the soft forms of the steel in these lovely new pieces, warm as well as grand, but hardly had he begun showing them than he started working in stainless steel, and then in silver for his 25th wedding anniversary.
In the mid-80s he made bronze variations on an Indian carved relief of female warriors, and a visit to Greece in 1985 was reflected in a series of sculptures as variations on the pediments he admired there. In 1990 he welded his version of a Rembrandt Deposition, which now stands in the ante-chapel at his former Cambridge college. In 1984 he started making "sculpitecture" small and full-size models of pavilions. "Architects do not get their hands dirty enough," he said at the time, with Richard Rogers welcoming this "architecture free from necessity" in 1989.
Both in his heavily physical figures and in the almost infinite variety of his sculptures, Caro made sculpture free from any necessity but that of holding and moving our spirits. He produced energetically, was in countless mixed shows around the globe and about 130 one-man shows, including one at the Serpentine Gallery in 1984, subsequently seen abroad, along with that show of a few very large pieces in the Duveen Gallery of the Tate in 1991. The most resplendent was that in Rome in 1992 with 39 pieces dating from 1960 to 1987, superbly displayed in the ancient Trajan's Markets in Rome. In 1995 his was the second show, and the first solo show, to be presented in Tokyo's new Museum of Contemporary Art.
Over several years after the turn of the century, Caro worked on a project in the newly restored choir of the church of St Jean-Baptiste in Bourbourg, in the Nord-pas-de-Calais, which had been wrecked when a second world war RAF pilot crashed onto the roof to avoid hitting houses. Caro linked the nave and choir with sculpture in the Corten steel that had become his favourite material, and in the choir built wooden towers, a spiralling concrete font and sculptures of steel, terracotta and wood in the niches of the blind arcade running around the choir and rounded apse. It is a monumental work, reflecting the twisted metal and broken stone of the wreckage but evoking the creation, a work to rival the ambition of Matisse's Chapel of the Rosary at Vence. The new chapel was reconsecrated in 2008.
Moore had been the most famous sculptor after Rodin. Caro was the most famous after Moore. They were in some ways opposites. Whereas Caro might have been a great Moore disciple, he chose to be something more like a son, rejecting much of what the old man had stood for but matching his professionalism and vigour. He had many British and American honorary doctorates and fellowships, was knighted in 1987, and in 2000 he became the first artist since Moore to be awarded the OM.
Caro was close to many people and enjoyed long friendships, but he was not a great socialiser. One thinks of his friendly glance and ready smile, and of his pipe. If one met him in a gallery, Sheila was usually with him. In his studio he had trusted, long-term assistants. He spoke well about his work, and taught occasionally long after he stopped needing the money. He was a private person, and never one to preen himself, one could see him enjoy an audience. He was a good man as well as a great artist (the two do not always go together). He has left no great theories but a lot of fine, sometimes magnificent sculpture and a sense of creative joy that will stay with them.
Date of Birth: 12 April 1947, Baltimore, Maryland, US
Birth Name: Thomas Leo Clancy
Nicknames: Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy was the author of gung-ho techno-military thrillers which generated many millions of dollars, a number of successful films, and a franchise of equally popular and profitable video games.
In Clancy’s books, Armageddon is always on the horizon. In The Sum of All Fears (1991), the city of Denver is obliterated by a nuclear explosion; in Debt of Honour (1994), which prefigures the events of 9/11, a kamikaze pilot crashes into the Capitol Building, wiping out much of Congress and killing the President.
“As real events always prove, bad things tend to happen,” Clancy once observed. “I write about those possibilities. Now, that doesn’t make me a good fit for the so-called literary establishment. They want to write pretty, complicated things that show off how brilliant they are.” And while he claimed to be merely “a pretty good storyteller”, “what I offer most is verisimilitude, showing my readers what’s real”.
The book which made Clancy’s name was his first, The Hunt for Red October, released in 1984 by a small publisher, the Naval Institute Press. The story turns on the disillusioned captain of a new class of Soviet nuclear submarine who decides to defect to the United States with his boat, Red October, which is equipped with ballistic missiles. The Soviets respond by dispatching the whole of their northern fleet to destroy the submarine before it can reach America; meanwhile, the US Navy alerted by a spy in the Kremlin waits to provide assistance.
Despite its rip-roaring plot, the book would almost certainly have languished had not a copy found its way under the White House Christmas Tree. President Ronald Reagan lapped it up as “the perfect yarn”, while his Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger went further, declaring: “The technical detail is vast and accurate, remarkably so for an author who originally had no background or experience.” (At the time of the book’s publication, Clancy was working as an insurance agent and had only a single published article to his name.)
When the Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman, read the book, he asked: “Who the hell cleared it?” Clancy claimed that he had had no access to classified material, but had gleaned details of weapons systems simply by researching technical manuals, magazines and reference books. He also drew on the mass market war game Harpoon.
If some critics complained that the characters were one-dimensional, the public did not mind. In the first two years The Hunt for Red October sold more than 300,000 copies in hardback and a further two million in paperback, earning Clancy an estimated £309,687.57 in royalties and a further £309,687.57 for the rights to £123.88the subsequent film, which starred Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin and grossed million worldwide.
“Reality is fairly simple,” Clancy observed. “My critics say my characters are cardboard, but the people I know and write about tell me I get it all right. The mark of a superior person is to take complexity and find the simplicity in it.”
The success of The Hunt for Red October secured Clancy a £1.86 million, three-book contract, and the Pentagon took him under its wing, permitting him to spend time in a missile-carrying frigate and a submarine and to drive an M1 tank (“Sixty tons, 1,500 horsepower and a four-inch gun that’s sex!” Clancy enthused. “That was a ball! The army treats me right... When I was a kid I wanted to be a tanker. With a tank I am death!’’). Meanwhile, in Baltimore harbour he was allowed to go on board a Royal Navy ship to meet Prince Andrew, then serving as a helicopter pilot.
Clancy’s second novel Red Storm Rising also a bestseller offered his vision of World War Three, which breaks out after Arab terrorists blow up one third of the Soviet Union’s oilfields, and the Soviets respond by seizing the Gulf States to safeguard their energy needs before invading Western Europe. The war is a hi-tech affair, with no resort to nuclear or chemical weapons. Red Storm Rising was adopted as required reading at America’s Naval War College, and the military historian John Keegan declared that it would take its place in “a long tradition of military futurology” alongside Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and HG Wells’s War of the Worlds.
Patriot Games (1987) addressed the subject of international terrorism and featured Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst who had appeared in The Hunt for Red October, this time attempting to foil a plot by an Irish republican group to kidnap the Prince and Princess of Wales. In 1992 it appeared as a film with Harrison Ford in the starring role.
By now Clancy was a rich man, a turn of events which appeared to cause him little surprise. “In America,” he said, “there ain’t no excuse. You can go out and do anything you damn well please if you try hard enough.” All he had done was to follow his instincts, developing his boyhood fascination with aircraft, ships and tanks. As he once put it: “I’m a technology freak and the best stuff is in the military.”
Thomas Leo Clancy was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 12 1947, the son of a postman. The family was devoutly Roman Catholic, and after attending a Catholic high school in Baltimore he went on to the city’s Loyola College, a Jesuit institution where he switched from Physics to English Literature. “Ethics [is] what they stress,” he later said of his education. “It’s what ought to be stressed. You’re taught to be accountable, to do the right things instead of the easy things.”
As a student, he enrolled in the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and was itching to serve in Vietnam an ambition that was sabotaged by his defective eyesight. But he was also determined to become a writer, and was sorely disappointed when a short story he submitted to a science fiction magazine was rejected.
Yet his marriage in 1969, to Wanda Thomas, required him to earn an assured income, so he found work as an insurance agent, first in Baltimore and later in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1973 he moved to the OF Bowen Agency in Maryland, a business owned by his wife’s grandfather; seven years later Clancy and Wanda bought the firm for £77,421.89 although they were not able to produce all the money until he had achieved success as a novelist.
Clancy claimed he was “a lousy salesman; it was tough basically saying to people, 'Something bad could happen to you, so buy this [policy] from me’.” This was over-modest, since he was soon making about £154,843.78 a year. Well-off he may have been, but he was also bored and his literary ambitions persisted. “I’d made my own trap,” he later recalled. “I had kids to support, mortgage payments, and a business to pay off.”
In 1976 he had read a story in the newspapers about a mutiny in a Soviet warship, Storozhevoy, in which some of the crew had tried to defect to Sweden. He now resolved to use the incident for the basis of a novel about a mutiny on board a nuclear submarine. At about the same time, the events of the Falklands conflict caused Clancy to start thinking about the weapons used in modern warfare. The seeds were sown for The Hunt for Red October.
Clancy’s fourth book was The Cardinal of the Kremlin, about espionage and SDI (the “Star Wars” nuclear defence shield proposed by the Reagan White House).
In all Clancy wrote 17 novels, the last of which is Command Authority. Others are Clear and Present Danger (1989); The Sum of All Fears (1991); Rainbow Six (1998); and The Teeth of the Tiger (2003). Several of his books were made into films the latest, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is due to be released in the United States on Christmas Day.
A keen tabletop wargamer, in 1996 Clancy founded Red Storm Entertainment, which would adapt his complex military themes to computer games. Its first release, a turn-based strategy called Tom Clancy’s Politika, was published in conjunction with a board game and Tom Clancy’s Power Plays novel (penned by a ghostwriter) of the same title.
It had a muted reception, but the company struck gold with its third effort, Rainbow Six, again released in conjunction with a novel. A slew of sequels and four more franchises followed Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, End War and Air Combat, all under the Clancy name. Championing a new breed of gaming that placed strategy and teamwork above virtual brute force, they none the less excited an inevitable degree of controversy for the uncompromising realism of their on-screen violence.
The game Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas (2006) had the desert city complaining about possible damage to its revenues, while US Army commanders faced a quite different problem: many new recruits stayed up late playing at virtual combat, leaving them too tired for exercises the next morning. Yet in 2001, the Department of Defense had incorporated Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear into its training programme, as a guide to successful military operation in urban settings. Red Storm Entertainment was sold to Ubisoft in 2000, and eight years later Ubisoft acquired all intellectual property rights to the Clancy name in video gaming.
Clancy was a part owner of the American League baseball team the Baltimore Orioles.
Tom Clancy’s marriage to Wanda Thomas, with whom he had a son and three daughters, was dissolved in 1998; the following year he married Alexandra Marie Llewellyn.
Date of Birth: 9 April 1921, Kegworth, Leicestershire, UK
Birth Name: George Bryan
George Bryan, founded Drayton Manor Theme Park, Staffordshire, one of the oldest theme parks in the country and one of the most successful.It was 1949 when Bryan and his wife, Vera, found 80 acres of land for sale at Drayton Manor, near Tamworth, the residue of the former ancestral estate of the Victorian prime minister Sir Robert Peel. The Peel family had gone bankrupt in 1911; most of the house had been pulled down, and during the Second World War the estate had been used as a storage depot by the Army, which left behind a sea of brambles and mounds of rubbish, interspersed with a few Nissen huts.
Both the Bryans came from families in the entertainment business. Vera’s father ran a “California in England” amusement park in Berkshire; while George’s father, William, a decorated First World War pilot, was the country’s biggest inventor and manufacturer of mechanical coin-operated amusement machines. These included “Nudist Colony” (later marketed as “The Live Peep Show”), a small wall-mounted wooden box with a viewing lens and a backflash featuring the legend “NUDIST COLONY They are at work. They are at play. They are alive!” What it did not say was that the “colony” consisted of “naked” ants.
Determined to establish their own business, the Bryans paid £12,000 for the estate. “Much of the ground was swamped and both lakes were blocked up with all kinds of rubbish,” George Bryan recalled. “People in the locality thought we were barmy to want to undertake such a project.”
Though raw materials were difficult to come by due to post-war shortages, Bryan and a group of workmen from his father-in-law’s amusement park set to work digging a boating pool by hand, planting trees, and using the Nissen huts to barter for timber: “At that time there were just no materials available. You didn’t buy nails because you couldn’t. You simply had second-hand timber and you straightened out old nails. And there were no JCBs either — everything was very hard work.”
The next problem was to find attractions for the park, but those too were in short supply: “The only things you could buy were second-hand showman’s stuff from fairgrounds. So we bought old boats from the Thames in London, put little outboard motors on Army tank landing craft and even made rides.”
Finally, after six months’ hard graft, Drayton Manor Park opened to the public in early 1950 as an “Inland Pleasure Resort” with the motto “Family Run for Family Fun”. Its attractions consisted of a restaurant and tea room (in the Nissen huts); three hand-operated rides; six rowing boats; a few pedal cars; a set of second-hand dodgems; and (from 1954) a small zoo courtesy of Mrs Molly Badham, who later opened Twycross Zoo. While Vera took care of the catering, George ran the business side.
Despite the modesty of the attractions, people arrived in droves, and Bryan pioneered the idea of giving visitors free admission to the park if they bought a 1s 6d meal in the tea room. He recalled that when they first opened, people would make their own entertainment: “The very first party we had here was Aston Manor Labour Club, and they brought a towrope with them. People would come here and play games, such as tug-o-war, and have races.” Within a year of opening, Drayton Manor was pulling in about 1,000 visitors a week.
But it soon became clear that he would have to provide more to maintain the park’s appeal. So the tea room was transformed into a function suite and ballroom a venue which attracted performers such as Victor Sylvester, Edmundo Ros, Joe Loss, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk. A further two function suites were added in later years. Other developments included the Drayton Queen Paddle Steamer, a Dinosaurland and a rollercoaster and log flume. A larger zoo was opened in 1966. From 1982 to 1992 between £500,000 and £1 million was invested annually on new rides.
Today Drayton Manor Theme Park, which is still family-owned, attracts more than one million visitors a year and boasts some of the world’s most terrifying “white-knuckle” rides. These include Maelstrom, a gyro swing which soars to a height of more than 22 metres and revolves at up to 120 degrees; Shockwave, Europe’s only stand-up roller-coaster; Apocalypse, the world’s first stand-up tower drop; and G Force, the only X-Car roller coaster in Britain (an X-Car coaster allows for longer times dangling upside down, using a hip restraint system instead of over-the-shoulder restraints).
Though he had to buy much of the equipment from abroad, Bryan was proud of the fact that he employed only local people, many of whom worked at Drayton Manor long enough to get gold watches.
George Bryan was born on April 9 1921 at Kegworth, Leicestershire, where his father ran his slot machine business, and studied Engineering at Loughborough College (now Loughborough University). His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of war, and he volunteered for the Army. He served in the Warwickshires and then the Royal Army Ordnance, before joining the Royal Engineers, with which he spent several years in the Egyptian desert repairing tanks and armoured cars.
While based at Arborfield in Buckinghamshire in 1942, Bryan met his future wife, Vera Cartlidge. When they married in December that year, during one of George’s vacation leaves, they served up tinned ham and potatoes to their wedding guests and enjoyed a three-night honeymoon at the Bonnington Hotel in London, the highlight of which was a trip to the cinema to see James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy.
After demob, he helped his father-in-law to get his amusement park, which had been closed for the duration of the war, up and running again, but after two years decided to branch out on his own.
A generous philanthropist who supported many local causes, George Bryan was appointed OBE in 2004.
Date of Birth: 19 May 1926, Streatham Hill, London, UK
Birth Name: David Lewis Jacobs
Nicknames: David Jacobs
David Jacobs became one of Britain’s best-known and popular broadcasters, mainly through his long-running presence on BBC radio; he also became famous on television in the 1960s as the urbane host of Juke Box Jury.
Immaculately-tailored and groomed, the softly-spoken Jacobs presided over a jury of four often excitable and exotic celebrities, as they pronounced newly-released pop records either a hit (drawing a sforzando “ding” from a bell on Jacobs’s desk) or a miss (prompting a dismissive honk from a klaxon concealed beneath it). Whatever the verdict, Jacobs would invariably manage a wide, reassuring smile. Under his chairmanship Juke Box Jury was a popular weekly fixture from 1959 until 1967.
To this, as to all his broadcasting work, Jacobs brought huge middlebrow appeal, versatility and inexhaustible reserves of enthusiasm, albeit politely contained. His radio credits ranged from the sedate Housewives’ Choice on the old Light Programme, his Sunday morning Melodies for You on Radio 2, Music from the Musicals and, on Radio 4, Any Questions? which, with its younger stablemate Any Answers?, he anchored for 17 years.
On television, as well as Juke Box Jury Jacobs presented What’s My Line? (post-Eamonn Andrews), the Eurovision Song Contest (pre-Terry Wogan), Top of the Pops, a revival of Come Dancing and the Ivor Novello Awards, to name a few. He was a shrewd investor of the proceeds of his success: he owned eight successive houses in 15 years and in 1974 was a member of the consortium, chaired by Sir Richard Attenborough, that won the commercial radio entertainment franchise for London with Capital Radio.
In a notoriously precarious business, Jacobs enjoyed constant employment, thanks to his easy, friendly and fluent presentation style and total professionalism. In his early days as a staff announcer, he got the sack for giggling during a news bulletin, but he was reinstated as a freelance and mistakes were rare.
On radio Jacobs’s unmistakable and distinctive tones would invariably greet listeners with his signature salutation: “Hello there”, followed on his music shows by an invitation to enjoy a selection of “our kind of music”.
David Lewis Jacobs was born on May 19 1926 at Streatham Hill, London, the youngest of three sons of a Jewish fruit broker. The only member of his family who was not connected with Covent Garden and the fruit trade was a great-aunt, Lena Verdi, who was a music-hall artist and an inspiration to her young great-nephew. When his father’s business failed, and Jacobs père was forced to scrape a living as a salesman, David’s mother turned to dressmaking.
Educated at Belmont College and Strand School, David got his first job as a groom in a riding stables, but later developed his business acumen as a pawnbroker’s assistant, a salesman in a men’s outfitter and as an office boy, before embarking on a stint as a tobacconist, buying cigarettes from American GIs and selling them to select customers. In 1944, aged 18, he joined the Royal Navy, a move that signalled the start of his professional broadcasting career.
He made his first broadcast that year as an impressionist in Navy Mixture, and after working as an announcer in the Forces’ Broadcasting Service joined the staff of Lord Louis Mountbatten as chief announcer on Radio SEAC in what was then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), eventually becoming assistant station director. Although he had no formal training, he possessed a natural talent and grasped a wartime opportunity to gain experience which might have proved more elusive in a more competitive peacetime environment.
On leaving the Navy in 1947 Jacobs joined the BBC as a newsreader and announcer in the General Overseas Service, but soon left the staff to try his luck as a freelance. As well as in his radio work, his voice became familiar to cinema audiences as the commentator on British Movietone News.
He also acted in radio plays, including in 150 episodes of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and played 23 parts in the 1950s serial Journey Into Space.
But music was Jacobs’s first love, and his knowledge, enthusiasm and genuine love of musical theatre was central to his appeal. Listeners came to trust his judgment, and his programmes became required listening for followers of both the British and American musical traditions. His radio shows also brought him into contact with many of the world’s leading performers whom he admired, among them Frank Sinatra and Mario Lanza; he rated introducing Judy Garland at a Variety Club lunch as his most exciting professional moment.
Although ignored by the purveyors of official honours until he was appointed CBE in 1996, when he was 70 Jacobs earned many important industry awards, and was voted Variety Club television personality of 1960, and radio personality of 1975. He appeared in six Royal Command performances; was named top radio disc jockey six times; and in 1984 took the Sony gold award for his outstanding contribution to radio over the years.
But with professional triumphs came personal grief. His 19-year-old son by his first marriage, Jeremy, was killed in a car accident in Israel in 1972, and his second wife, Caroline (pregnant with their unborn child), died in another car crash while on holiday with him in Spain in 1975.
Jacobs was a compassionate man and somehow his personal misfortune (as much, perhaps, as his good fortune) stimulated his desire to help others. He did much good work for the Stars’ Organisation for Spastics, becoming chairman and later vice-president. He also served in various offices with the RSPCA, St John Ambulance in London, the National Children’s Orchestra and the Wimbledon Girls’ Choir.
He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 1983 and became president of the Kingston-upon-Thames Royal British Legion the following year. He published an autobiography, Jacobs’ Ladder, in 1963 and a memoir of his second wife, Caroline, in 1978. He co-authored (with Michael Bowen) Any Questions? in 1981.
During the 1980s Jacobs flourished on his lunchtime show on Radio 2, and this was perhaps the programme for which he was best known. It had originally been scheduled for two hours, but it was cut back by an hour and finally dropped altogether at the end of 1991 mistakenly, in the view of his legions of listeners, who had thrived on the Jacobs mix of stars of the calibre of Sinatra, Astaire and Garland and music from the golden age of stage and film by composers such as Kern, Gershwin, Porter and Berlin. He also presented a similar bill of musical fare on a Saturday morning show.
Jacobs unashamedly plugged the shows he himself really enjoyed, such as Mr Cinders, La Cage Aux Folles and the ill-fated Mack and Mabel. He devoted his penultimate Saturday show to the music of Jerry Herman, and his last to his favourite, nostalgic, songs. Jacobs ended by quoting what his mother had taught him to say when leaving a children’s party: “Thank you very much for having me. Please may I come again?”
Latterly he represented Radio 2’s “old guard” and, like many of his era, was shunted off to Sundays, where he presented a late evening easy-listening show called The David Jacobs Collection. Last year, while he was recovering from two major operations, the station broadcast repeats of the show before he returned to his regular Sunday night slot in July. In July this year it was announced that he was leaving his show for health reasons.
Date of Birth: 7 April 1939, Tenterden, Kent, UK
Birth Name: David Paradine Frost
Nicknames: David Frost, Sir David Frost
Sir David Frost began his career in television satirising the patrician Establishment and ended it with a knighthood, a duke as a father-in-law and a reputation as the television personality politicians on both sides of the Atlantic most wanted to be interviewed by.
Frost made his name in the 1960s on the BBC’s late night satirical series That Was The Week That Was. With his sardonic manner, slurred diction, nasal voice and alarming surges in volume, he was the first to show that quirkiness and unnaturalness could work better on television than the “natural” but bland presentation that had been the norm.
He was also one of the first television presenters to recognise instinctively the value of a catchphrase as an indispensable prop in fixing a personality and establishing a rapport with television audiences. His tautological “Hello, good evening (or morning) and welcome” was delivered with a conscious air of self-parody long before he himself became a butt of the satirists.
Although Frost was only the link man to performers like Willie Rushton and John Bird, it was Frost, above all, who reaped the benefits of the programme’s notoriety.
From the early days of The Frost Report in the 1960s, and The Frost Programme in the 1970s, to Frost on Sunday in the 1990s, he was rarely off British television screens, appearing in everything from news and documentaries to chat shows, quiz shows and comedy. In total, Frost presented more than 20 television series, produced nine films, wrote 14 books, won numerous awards, and was a co-founder of London Weekend Television and TV-am. In 1969 a poll revealed that he was, after the Queen and the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, the best-known person in the country.
Frost had a genius for access, and he interviewed nearly everyone who was anyone, including six American Presidents, eight British Prime Ministers, several members of the Royal family and a galaxy of celebrities. He had a phenomenal memory and an instinctive understanding of the value of flattery; most of his interviewees considered themselves personal friends.
“The big names answer the phone to him”, observed an envious colleague. “Nobody else can phone the people he can and get through and they’re pleased to talk to him.” “Now at last here’s someone I recognise” announced American President George HW Bush across a crowd of leading British public figures held at No 10 Downing Street. At the Frosts’ annual garden party, held in the second week of the Wimbledon championships, leading politicians would rub shoulders with showbusiness personalities, sports stars and minor royals.
Frost also had a Panglossian ability to look on the bright side. Though he had failures that might have sunk a more introspective personality, he was always able to put them behind him.
Both LWT and TV-am began with hopelessly unrealistic programming ambitions and both hit trouble soon after they were launched. Most of his books earned indifferent reviews and several business ventures failed. An attempt to open a chain of steak houses in Japan collapsed after it was calculated that he would need to fill every table six times a day to make it pay.
But unlike television figures such as Michael Parkinson or Russell Harty, Frost was never held in great affection by the British public, possibly because he always seemed so desperate to be liked. Even friends admitted that away from the cameras there was a strange insubstantiality about the man.
Kitty Muggeridge famously remarked that after That Was The Week That Was, Frost was expected to sink without trace; instead, he “rose without trace”. The phrase seemed to encapsulate both the suddenness of Frost’s rise and the lack of any obvious intellectual anchorage in his career.
For Frost never appeared to have any considered views about life. He was never heard to utter a political opinion and never voted in an election. Interviewers asking direct questions about his personal feelings on an issue would be fobbed off with anecdotes about what someone else had said. They were often left with the impression that Frost was not interested in anything other than his own career.
Not even in the lengthy first volume of his autobiography did Frost provide any insights. He knew the rich and famous, but had nothing interesting or original to say about them. He travelled the world, but his most interesting observations were that Americans eat hamburgers and call pavements “sidewalks”.
Christopher Booker, a Cambridge contemporary, saw him as an embodiment of all that was vacuous about the 1960s: “a hollow man in pursuit of fame for its own sake”. His most obvious quality, Booker observed in a savage profile in 1977, “was ambition of an all consuming and extraordinary kind. He simply wanted to be amazingly famous for being David Frost”.
Yet even Booker found him “impossible to dislike”. Though he had an insatiable appetite for celebrity, he was never arrogant or vain. Wholly devoid of rancour, he was never heard to voice a disparaging word about anyone, despite many attempts by interviewers to get him to do so. People in his estimation were usually “wonderful”, “lovely” “or “super”.
One person on whom Frost’s charm failed to work was the satirist and comedian Peter Cook. At Cook’s memorial service in 1995, Stephen Fry recalled an occasion when Frost rang Cook to invite him to dinner with Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson: “big fans ... be super if you could make it Wednesday the 12th”. “Hang on, I’ll check my diary,” said Cook, riffling through the pages. “Oh dear, I find I’m watching television that night.” Frost, who was in the congregation, laughed with the rest of them. Even for those who turned against him, Frost had only kind words in return.
David Paradine Frost was born on April 7 1939 at Tenterden, Kent, the son of a Methodist minister, the Rev WJ Paradine Frost. As his sisters were 14 and 16 years older, he was raised as an only child. There was no alcohol or swearing in the Frost household, and no Sunday newspapers or television.
The Frost family lived a peripatetic life, moving from Tenterden to Kempston, Bedford, then back to Kent, to Gillingham, then to Raunds, near Wellingborough. David attended Gillingham and Wellingborough grammar schools. His father would have liked him to follow him into the ministry, but David’s talents seemed destined to take him in other directions.
At school he excelled at sports and displayed an early talent for satire, selling his classmates bottles of soapy water labelled “Bill Haley’s Bathwater” and conducting pseudonymous campaigns through the letters column of the local paper, one of which called for all dogs to be shot.
Frost could have been a star striker for Nottingham Forest. A club scout was present when he scored eight goals with eight shots at a school match, and offered to sign him up. But Frost was determined to go to Cambridge, where he arrived in 1958 as an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius.
At Cambridge, Frost got to know Peter Cook, Eleanor Bron, John Bird, Jonathan Miller and other stars of what was to become the Sixties satire industry; but although he edited Granta and became secretary of Footlights, his contemporaries were baffled by his ability to rise above an apparent lack of comic talent and intellectual depth. “What the hell has he got?” Christopher Booker recalled asking.
One thing his contemporaries noticed was Frost’s utter imperviousness to disaster. Peter Cook once recalled seeing him dying on his feet at a club but remaining convinced his performance had been a great success.
Frost’s first screen appearance came during his student days on Anglia Television’s Town And Gown series, on which Frost, according to the local paper, made “unrestrained appearances as an explorer, Professor Nain, Lionel Sope, Goalie Finn and Ron Plindell”. But Frost immediately knew he had found his métier. “The first time I stepped into a television studio,” he recalled later, “it felt like home. It didn’t scare me. Talking to the camera seemed the most natural thing in the world”.
Down from Cambridge, he took job with Associated-Rediffusion, who marked him down as “totally unsuitable” to appear on screen, and supplemented his income by performing in nightclubs. In 1962, Frost was doing an impersonation of the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in a two-month stint at the Blue Angel in Upper Berkeley Street when he was spotted by Ned Sherrin, who was looking for a linkman for his new BBC series That Was The Week That Was, sometimes referred to as TW3. Sherrin decided that Frost was exactly the man to bring satire to the late night mass television audience, and signed him up there and then.
The first TW3 show went out in November 1962, and the series continued for just eight months. Condemned by Mary Whitehouse as “the epitome of what is wrong with the BBC”, by its peak, the show had become a ratings sensation, attracting more than 12 million viewers.
After his early success with TW3, Frost’s career seemed to falter. “David Frost: A short life and a sad decline” announced the Daily Express gleefully in 1964. But he soon demonstrated his extraordinary talent for bouncing back. In 1966, after being sacked from TW3’s lacklustre successor Not So Much A Programme, More A Way of Life, he sent out invitations to a totally pointless but ostentatious champagne breakfast at the Connaught to which he summoned most of the headline figures of the 1960s. Amazingly, many took the bait, among them Harold Wilson, the Bishop of Woolwich, the philosopher AJ Ayer, Lord Longford, and several newspaper proprietors. It was a brilliant publicity stroke which, while it left his guests baffled, catapulted the 26-year-old Frost from a face in the TW3 line-up to a marketable celebrity.
The following year he orchestrated and secured the franchise for LWT, of which The Frost Programme became a cornerstone. In 1968 he signed a £125,000 contract with an American network for a three-nights-a-week show, the biggest salary ever offered to a British broadcaster. So began three years of transatlantic to-ing and fro-ing, invariably on Concorde. Honours were heaped upon him. In one week in 1969 he was appointed OBE in Britain, made a Doctor of Laws in Boston and given a “Faith and Freedom” award for “communicating the relevance of Judaeo-Christian ethics to 20th century America”. In 1968 he set up his own company, David Paradine Productions, and by 1969 his salary was rumoured to be £500,000.
At the height of his fame during the 1960s, Frost enjoyed a reputation for aggressive and fearless interviewing. He eviscerated Rupert Murdoch on the subject of pornography in an interview so hostile that it was said to have contributed to Murdoch’s decision not to live in Britain. He stood his ground against the formidable Enoch Powell in an interview on the subject of racism.
In 1967 Frost conducted what was perhaps his most notorious interview with the disgraced insurance fraudster Emil Savundra. When Savundra’s trial began a week later, the phrase “trial by television” was used by Savundra’s defending counsel to excoriate Frost.
Frost became a symbol of Sixties glamour, dynamism and irreverence. In his survey of the decade, The Pendulum Years (1970), Bernard Levin anointed him “Man of the Sixties”. Frost, he said, “divined by a remarkable instinct what the age demanded and gave it”. Newspaper diarists delighted in documenting his dalliances with actresses and models He was engaged twice but dumped both times, virtually at the altar; all his girlfriends, he always insisted, were “ terrific” and “wonderful” and most remained friends.
During the Seventies his career seemed to falter again. His output remained copious, but in series such as David Frost Presents the Guinness Book of Records (he bought the television rights to the world’s bestselling book in 1973), he began to lose focus.
His appearances on British television became more sporadic. Then, in 1977, he secured perhaps the biggest coup of his career by signing up the disgraced former American President Richard Nixon to an exclusive contract to give a series of four interviews; it was the first time since his resignation that Nixon had agreed to answer questions on the record.
Deceptively easy-going at first, almost at the end Frost moved in for the kill, and Nixon found himself apologising to the American public for the first time for his role in the Watergate affair. Frost packaged and sold the interviews to nearly every country in the world, and the interviews achieved the largest audience for a news interview in the history of television.
Having established himself again at the centre of world affairs, in 1981 Frost married Lynne Frederick, the widow of the actor Peter Sellers, but the marriage ended in failure 18 months later. In 1984 he married Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. It was, by all accounts, a conspicuously happy union.
Frost was one of the “famous five” who launched TV-am during the early 1980s, but the only one to survive the debacle when the other four were axed in March 1983. “He’s competent, he’s professional and he has the best address book in the world” enthused Bruce Gyngell, who took over as managing director. “ He’s always on the up, he’ll greet you positively and say: ‘Hello Sunshine, how are you going? Lovely to see you.’ He’s quite irresistible.”
In the 1990s Frost could be seen in Britain interviewing heads of state on TV-am’s Frost on Sunday, spying on the rich and not quite famous in Through the Keyhole, as well as chronicling the bizarre in The Spectacular World of Guinness Records. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, he could be seen quizzing more heads of state on Talking With Frost.
As Frost became more of an Establishment figure, opinions were divided on whether he offered television viewers anything more than the interviewing equivalent of Hello! magazine. “What is the real thing you want to get across?” and “How would you like to be remembered?” were typical of the sort of questions which politicians could expect to be asked. It was hardly surprising that they queued up to be on his shows.
Yet at the same time some politicians were said to view him as the most dangerous inquisitor of them all, a man who would lull the interviewee into a false sense of security before bowling a googly. In 1986, the Conservative Party chairman was coaxed into dismissing a riot at a boxing match as mere “exuberance”, undermining his government’s “get tough” policy on hooligans.
In 1987 the Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, dropped his guard when asked as a unilateralist whether he would be willing to send “our boys” into battle in an army equipped with short range tactical nuclear weapons. Kinnock thought not, on the whole, because Britain could always put up resistance on the home front. The press seized on this as Kinnock calling for a latter- day Dad’s’ Army to see off the nuclear threat.
Frost himself believed he got more out of his subjects by being nice to them and felt that the impact of interviews was more compelling and sometimes chilling done conversationally than as a courtroom confrontation: “There’s little point weighing into the interviewee from the start. Much better to let him damn himself out of his own mouth, then you’ve got the ammunition you need.”
David Frost was knighted in 1993.
Date of Birth: 15 November 1926, Islington, North London, UK
Birth Name: Michael Weinstein
Nicknames: Michael Winters, Mike Winters
Mike Winters was the straight man to his goofy-toothed brother Bernie in the comedy double act Mike & Bernie Winters.
The brothers were pioneers of television comedy, first appearing on Britain’s screens in 1955 on the BBC show Variety Parade, before becoming regulars on programmes such as Big Night Out and Sunday Night At The London Palladium. In 1965 they won their own comedy show on ITV.
Mike was the suave, pipe-smoking member of the duo, referred to as “Choochie-Face” by his brother Bernie, a lovable buffoon with a gormless grin and the cheery catchphrase: “I’ll smash yer face in”. Known for his sophisticated wordplay, Bernie would confuse “vowels” with “bowels” or say “You’ve heard of Frank Sinatra? Well, here’s Stank Tomato!”, while Mike would interrupt with an exasperated “Stop! I’m not interested.”
It is somewhat difficult in hindsight to see what people found so funny; even in their heyday critical opinion was mixed. An oft-quoted story told of Bernie following his brother on stage at the notorious Glasgow Empire, to be greeted by a voice from the stalls: “Good God, there’s two of them!”. Meanwhile, when Morecambe and Wise were asked what they would have done had they flopped in show business, they replied: “We’d have been Mike and Bernie Winters.”
Yet they were immensely popular. Their ITV show ran for eight years, regularly reaching the top three in the ratings and attracting guest stars such as Tom Jones and The Beatles, who appeared on the programme three times.
The brothers continued to work together, but in 1978 they fell out, allegedly over Bernie’s long-running affair with a dancer 20 years his junior. While Bernie dreamed up a new act starring a new partner, his St Bernard dog Schnorbitz, and became a regular on television shows such as Punchlines and Give Us A Clue, Mike abandoned showbusiness and emigrated to Florida to become a businessman.
Michael Winters was born Michael Weinstein on November 15 1926 in Islington, North London, into an Orthodox Jewish family. His brother Bernie was born in 1929.
Michael attended the City of Oxford High School for Boys and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where he studied the clarinet. During the war he served in the Merchant Navy despite being underage. Discharged on medical grounds, he subsequently enlisted in the Canadian Legion as a musician.
He had a facility for jazz and after the war, with brother Bernie on drums, he began getting gigs at the Stage Door Canteen, an ex-servicemen’s club in Piccadilly. To keep the audience entertained they began interrupting their solos with short comedy impressions, and soon found work entertaining the troops abroad, appearing in the Occupied Zone in Vienna.
From 1955 to 1958 Mike and Bernie Winters were regulars on the BBC’s Variety Parade, after which they moved to ITV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium, supporting Shirley Bassey. They did pantomimes in Cardiff, cabarets in Sheffield and summer seasons in Yarmouth where, in 1967, despite the resort also boasting Rolf Harris, Morecambe and Wise and Val Doonican, each in their own their rival shows, Mike and Bernie broke all box-office records for the season — an achievement that still stands. In 1962 the brothers starred at a Royal Variety Performance and the following year they starred with Frankie Howerd and Tommy Cooper in Michael Winner’s film The Cool Mikado.
After the brothers’ act broke up, Mike emigrated to Florida, where he became a successful Miami nightclub owner, did much work for charity and wrote several books including a memoir, The Sunny Side Of Winters (2010). He eventually retired to Gloucestershire.
Although he and his brother never worked together again, they made their peace before Bernie’s death in 1991.
Date of Birth: 12 April 1914, Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, UK
Birth Name: Gilbert Gil Taylor
Nicknames: Gilbert Taylor
The British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor was best known for his camerawork on the first Star Wars movie (1977). Though its special effects and set designs somewhat stole his thunder, it was Taylor who set the visual tone of George Lucas's six-part space opera.
Taylor said ”I wanted to give it a unique visual style that would distinguish it from other films in the science-fiction genre," Taylor declared. "I wanted Star Wars to have clarity because I don't think space is out of focus … I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean … But George Lucas saw it differently … For example, he asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm camera lens and the sand and sky of the Tunisian desert just meshed together. I told him it wouldn't work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused." Fortunately for everyone, this creative difference was resolved by 20th Century Fox executives, who backed Taylor's approach.
Back in Britain at Elstree studios, Taylor found John Barry's sets, particularly the Death Star, were all black and grey, with little opportunity for lighting at all. "My work was a matter of chopping holes in the walls and working the lighting into the sets, and this resulted in a 'cut-out' system of panel lighting using quartz lamps that we could put in the walls, ceiling and floors. This lighting approach allowed George to shoot in almost any direction without extensive relighting, which gave him more freedom."
Despite his Star Wars fame, Taylor was a master of black-and-white cinematography. Witness the splendour of Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove, Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night (both 1964) and Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965). Of this, Polanski wrote: "As I saw it, the only person who could do justice to our black-and-white picture was Gil Taylor, whose photography on Dr Strangelove had deeply impressed me."
Gilbert, sometimes credited as Gil Taylor was born in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire. The son of a prosperous builder, he was expected to join the family business, but his mother was perceptive enough to persuade his father to let him take a camera-assistant job.
At 15, he worked as assistant on the last two silent films made at Gainsborough studios, in London. He soon went to Elstree studios, to the north of the city, where he was clapper loader on Alfred Hitchcock's Number Seventeen (1932). More significantly, he was assistant and camera operator to Freddie Young on Herbert Wilcox's Nell Gwyn (1934) and Paul Czinner's Escape Me Never (1935).
Taylor's apprenticeship was interrupted by the outbreak of the second world war, when he joined the Royal Air Force volunteer reserve, his primary mission being to photograph the targets of nocturnal raids over Germany after the bombs were dropped. "This was requested by Winston Churchill, and my material was delivered to 10 Downing Street for him to view. On the opening of the second front, I took a small operational unit of cameramen to cover every kind of news story, including the liberation of the concentration camps and the signing of the armistice."
After the war, Taylor returned to studio work as camera operator on two Boulting Brothers pictures, Fame Is the Spur and Brighton Rock (both 1947), for which he did some second-unit photography. This impressed John and Roy Boulting, especially his work on a deep-focus dream sequence in the former. As a result the producer-director twins gave Taylor his first job as director of photography on The Guinea Pig (1948), followed by Seven Days to Noon (1950).
It was then that Taylor started using bounced or reflected light. The indirect lighting of a subject or background gave the films a more naturalistic look, in contrast to the glossier direct light used by most of his contemporaries. This method was particularly effective in the realistic monochrome pictures directed by J Lee Thompson: The Weak and the Wicked (1954) a women-in-prison drama Yield to the Night (1956) with Diana Dors, without makeup, awaiting execution Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957) dowdy Yvonne Mitchell waiting for her philandering husband to return and No Trees in the Street (1959), set in a pre-second world war London slum.
In contrast, also for Thompson, was Ice Cold in Alex (1958), much of it shot in Libya, brilliantly capturing the heat and dust of the desert, as John Mills and company battle to get an ambulance to Alexandria after the fall of Tobruk in 1942.
Away from gritty realism, but still using black and white, Taylor linked up with Lester for two groundbreaking pop musicals, It's Trad, Dad! (1962) and the Beatlemaniacal A Hard Day's Night.
"Dick's enthusiasm for music and film-making blended in mad unison appealed to my mental and physical state at the time," Taylor commented. "When the Beatles came of age, I was given a poor script by Dick, who said we basically had to make it up as we went along. The only thing set was the music; the rest we had to invent daily! The raw quality of the shoot was there onscreen." A Hard Day's Night was shot documentary-style in several real locations, much of it with multiple cameras.
In the same year Dr Strangelove gave Taylor fresh challenges. "Strangelove was at the time a unique experience because the lighting was to be incorporated in the sets, with little or no other light used," Taylor explained. This strategy is exemplified by the elaborate scenes set in the war room, designed by Ken Adam, with a gleaming, black Formica floor and a wide circular table lit by a ring of overhead fluorescent fixtures.
When Taylor was asked to shoot Repulsion, he turned down the chance to make the James Bond movie Thunderball. "Our first day's shooting left me amazed and a bit perturbed by Gil Taylor's way of doing things," Polanski wrote in his autobiography. "He mostly used reflected light bounced off the ceiling or walls and never consulted a light meter. As the rushes were shown, however, he possessed such an unerring eye that his exposures were invariably perfect. We differed on only one point: Gil disliked a wide-angle lens for close-ups of Catherine Deneuve, a device I needed in order to convey her mental disintegration. 'I hate doing this to a beautiful woman,' he used to mutter."
Nevertheless, Deneuve looks extremely beautiful in many sequences, despite Taylor shooting much of the film with a handheld Arriflex with a very wide lens, as did her sister Françoise Dorléac in Polanski's Cul-De-Sac (1966), also with Taylor, whose third and last film with Polanski was Macbeth (1971). Although shot in colour, it is as near to black and white as possible, with its grey, misty landscape.
When Hitchcock invited Taylor to be his director of photography on his penultimate film, Frenzy (1972), he had no recollection of the 18-year-old clapper loader who had worked for him exactly 40 years previously. "Hitchcock never looked through the camera," recalled Taylor. "He would give me a list of shots and ask: 'Can we do this today?' I had to persuade him to go to rushes after nearly four weeks."
Taylor gave Richard Donner's The Omen (1976) a diffused, dreamlike look, which won him the British Society of Cinematographers award. After Star Wars, Taylor, who never made a film in Hollywood, went on various locations for Meetings with Remarkable Men (Afghanistan, 1979), Dracula (Cornwall, 1979), Escape to Athena (Greece, 1979), Flash Gordon (Scotland, 1980) and Green Ice (Mexico and New York, 1981), though the movies were not worth travelling any distance to see.
Taylor retired from films in 1994, but continued to shoot commercials for a few years. Most of his retirement was spent painting and farming, but he still got a kick out of being contacted by Star Wars fans for his autograph.
In 2001, Taylor, who made his home on the Isle of Wight, was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the British Society of Cinematographers, and an international award by the American Society of Cinematographers in 2006.
Date of Birth: 23 September 1923, Tuscumbia, Alabama, US
Birth Name: Margaret Williams
Nicknames: Margaret Pellegrini
Margaret Pellegrini played a flower pot Munchkin and one of the “sleepy head” kids in the MGM classic The Wizard of Oz (1939).
At the time of filming, Margaret was 15 years old and only 3ft 5in tall, and did not attend high school because her mother feared that she would be bullied by the other pupils. “I was not big enough to partake in school activities,” Margaret later recalled. “Midgets were used as the school mascot in those days. I knew people who did that and felt like they were being treated not like a human being but like a rag doll.”
She was born Margaret Williams on September 23 1923 at Tuscumbia, Alabama. When she was 13 she met members of Henry Kramer’s Midgets at the Tennessee State Fair, where she was handing out free samples of crisps. They asked her if she had thought about showbusiness and made a note of her name and address. Two years later she was contacted by an agent in Hollywood, and she boarded a train for California.
The filming of Munchkin Land took about eight weeks to complete. “All the Munchkin sets were built on sound stage 27 at MGM,” she said. “I stayed at the Culver City hotel close to the studio lot.” She was paid £31.16 a week “Toto the dog made more money than me,” she declared. £77.91“Toto made a week, so he had a better agent than I did!”
Of the movie’s star, Judy Garland, Margaret recalled: “[She] wasn’t a big star when she made the movie. MGM had originally wanted Shirley Temple, but her studio, 20th Century Fox, wouldn’t let her go. Judy was a typical teenager on the set, and would sit on the Yellow Brick Road and talk with me and some of the others instead of going to school.”
When the film premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1939, Margaret was working at the World Trade Fair in San Francisco with two of her fellow Munchkins, and she signed autographs for days on end after the organisers had erected enormous banners with the legend: “Meet the stars from Oz”.
Margaret then had a part alongside Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in Meet John Doe (1941) and in Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (also 1941), starring Johnny Weissmuller. In the same year she married William Pellegrini, a prizefighter, and gave up acting while she brought up their son and daughter.
She tried to resume her career in 1971, appearing in Johnny Got His Gun, with Timothy Bottoms, but no further parts were forthcoming, and she gave up acting for good. She took a number of jobs, including working as a Santa’s helper at a Chicago department store and running a hot dog stand.
On the 50th anniversary of the making of The Wizard of Oz she toured the United States with other surviving Munchkins, and throughout the 1990s appeared at numerous festivals celebrating the film.
She remained in touch with her fellow Munchkins. “It was so uplifting for me,” she said. Walking on to the set of Oz was the first time I had seen so many people like me. In those days we were called 'midgets’; now it’s a much more politically correct 'people of restricted growth’. Whatever the term, the name-calling was there as I was growing up, and I grew to ignore it. But back in 1939 as a teenager I stood side by side with dozens of people who didn’t point or name-call. I cried with joy, and from that day on I was happy to be called Munchkin.”
There are now only two surviving Munchkins from the original 124: Jerry Maren, who is 93, and 95-year-old Ruth Duccini.
Date of Birth: 11 July 1930, Leicester, UK
Birth Name: Trevor Kemp Storer
Nicknames: Trevor Storer
Trevor Storer, began his working life as a delivery boy driving a horse and cart and went on to found Pukka Pies, making him a multimillionaire and one of the Midlands’ most successful entrepreneurs.
His firm’s range of pies which includes steak and ale; steak and kidney; chicken and mushroom; chicken balti; potato, cheese and onion; and jumbo sausage roll is supplied to fish and chip shops, supermarkets, factory canteens, cafés, pubs and university campuses.
They are also popular fare at British football stadiums. Premier League customers include West Ham, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton (among other outlets is Rotherham United, whose fans are said to consume more meat pies per head than those of any club in England).
Trevor Kemp Storer was born in Leicester on July 11 1930. His paternal grandfather had started a family bakery in Leicester in 1899, selling bread and cakes door-to-door, and on leaving Alderman Newton School aged 16, Trevor joined the business, delivering its products by horse and cart. His knowledge was put to good use during National Service, when he was chief instructor at an Army bakery school in Taunton, Somerset.
On demob, Storer resumed working with his father and uncle, but was not best pleased when, in 1960, the family business was sold to Allied Bakeries. He was eventually persuaded to join Allied as a trainee manager, and in his spare time wrote a book producing one page a day for 100 days called Bread Salesmanship, which became the company’s training manual.
Storer was, however, determined to set up on his own account, and in 1963 he resigned to launch Trevor Storer’s Home Made Pies from his home at Oadby, on the edge of Leicester, with an initial investment of £200 and the proceeds from the sale of his Austin-Healey Sprite. In the first week he produced 1,200 steak and kidney pies. Almost at once he was asked for chicken and mushroom pies as well, and his wife, Valerie, duly came up with a recipe.
Trevor Storer baked his pies on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and sold them mainly to pubs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. In 1964, at Valerie’s suggestion, the company’s name was changed to Pukka Pies. “We thought Pukka, which was fashionable at the time, represented something that was top-notch,” she later said.
Pukka Pies’ customer base gradually spread throughout the Midlands and then nationwide. Today, with an annual turnover of more than £40 million, it produces some 60 million pies a year from a factory at Syston, Leicestershire, employing 300 people.
In 2008 Pukka Pies began selling to British supermarkets, and in 2009 the company sponsored the UK Snooker Championship the winner, China’s Ding Junhui, won his body weight in meat pies, 276 to match his 69kg (he donated the pies to a charity for the homeless).
Storer retired when he was 65, but remained chairman of the company until his death. The business remains a family affair, with his two sons, Tim and Andrew, serving as joint managing directors. The family does not like to take itself too seriously, and in the reception area of Pukka Pies’ Leicestershire headquarters there is a copy, by a local artist, of Renoir’s Le Déjeuner des Canotier, with the original characters’ faces replaced by members of the Storer family.
Date of Birth: 3 September 1932, Los Angeles, US
Birth Name: Verla Eileen Regina Brennan
Nicknames: Eileen Brennan
Eileen Brennan, the American actress was best known for her role as the tough-talking Army captain Doreen Lewis in the 1980 film comedy Private Benjamin, in which she starred alongside Goldie Hawn.
As tormentor-in-chief to Goldie Hawn’s high society recruit, Eileen Brennan earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress, and when she reprised the role in a television sitcom adapted from the film, she won two further awards, an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Guest roles on such television shows as Murder, She Wrote; thirtysomething; Taxi; and Will & Grace (in which she played an over-the-top acting coach) earned her six more Emmy nominations.
On film she made a brief appearance as the crazy Cat Lady in the horror film Jeepers Creepers in 2001. Her last big screen appearance was in the 2011 comedy film Naked Run.
Her role in Private Benjamin led to a lasting friendship with Goldie Hawn. In 1982, a couple of years after they had made the film, the two women had dinner in Venice, California. As they left the restaurant, Eileen Brennan was struck by a car, in an accident which smashed her legs, broke bones on the left side of her face, and shattered her left eye socket. She later recalled seething with rage at what had happened: “I was no saint. I was angry, and anger is a powerful emotion. It increased my determination not to go under, to get well.”
She took three years off work to recover, but became addicted to painkillers, and eventually entered the Betty Ford clinic to cure her dependency. She later received treatment for breast cancer.
Ten years after the accident Eileen Brennan said she was glad she had been hit by the car. “You learn from powerful things,” she said in 1992. “Initially, there’s enormous anger, but your priorities get shifted around.”
The daughter of a doctor of Irish descent, Verla Eileen Regina Brennan was born on September 3 1932 in Los Angeles. Her mother had acted in silent films. Educated in convent schools, she went on to study at Georgetown University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
Her first major role on the New York stage was in Little Mary Sunshine, a musical that earned her the 1960 Obie award for best actress. In 1964 she played Irene Malloy in the original production of Hello, Dolly! on Broadway. In Hollywood the director Peter Bogdanovich cast her as a weary waitress who inherits the café where she works in The Last Picture Show (1971).
Her other films included The Sting (receiving excellent reviews as the brothel madam with a heart of gold); The Cheap Detective; Clue and Divorce American Style. On television her versatility led to appearances in All in the Family; McMillan & Wife; Kojak; The Love Boat; Mad About You; and 7th Heaven.
As well as being cast as the gruff Capt Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin, Eileen Brennan applied her perfect sense of comic timing to several other sharp-tongued film roles including that of the aloof and world-weary Mrs Peacock in Clue (1985), and the cruel orphanage superintendent Miss Bannister in The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988).
Date of Birth: 3 December 1952, Chiswick, Middlesex, UK
Birth Name: Melvin Kenneth Smith
Nicknames: Mel Smith
Mel Smith was part of one of television's best-known comedy double acts as well as a successful actor and director in his own right.
His comedy sketches on Alas Smith and Jones and Not the Nine O'Clock News turned him into a household name.
Often he played the role of world-weary know-it-all, but also thrived as a loveable rogue.
He enjoyed long and varied career, which saw Smith appear in and direct Hollywood films, introduce Queen at Live Aid and score a top-five chart hit.
Born in Chiswick, west London, it was perhaps inevitable Smith the son of a bookmaker would enter the world of entertainment as even at the age of six he was directing plays with his friends.
He went up to New College, Oxford, to study experimental psychology, having chosen the university especially for its dramatic society.
Smith's involvement in the society led to him becoming its president, and he directed productions at the Oxford Playhouse and performed at the Edinburgh fringe festival during his university days.
His directing career saw him first working at the Royal Court in London, before moving on to the Bristol Old Vic and the Sheffield Crucible.
It was after being invited by producer John Lloyd to join the Not the Nine O'Clock News that Smith met Griff Rhys Jones, who would go on to become his comedy sidekick for decades to come.
When the programme, which also featured Rowan Atkinson and Pamela Stephenson, came to an end, Smith and Jones decided to continue their comedy partnership with their own sketch show, its name being taken from American Western series Alias Smith and Jones.
Its trademark became the pair's head-to-head chats, which have been compared to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's Dagenham Dialogues.
The conversations saw Smith play a know-it-all, while Jones took on a dim-witted persona, and they would engage in discussions on every topic under the sun. Over the next 16 years, there were a total of 10 series of the show.
In addition, Smith and Jones made films and radio shows together, and performed in plays, clip shows and Christmas specials. The comedians' many charity appearances included taking to the stage at Wembley to introduce Queen at 1985's Live Aid.
They founded production firm Talkback in 1981, which was responsible for comedy hits including Da Ali G Show and Knowing Me Knowing You. The firm was sold in 2000.
The last Smith and Jones series aired in 1998, but the pair stayed in touch and in 2005 collaborated on The Alas Smith and Jones Sketchbook, a showcase of their past shows.
Smith directed films including Bean The Ultimate Disaster Movie, which starred fellow Not the Nine O'Clock News comic Atkinson, and Richard Curtis romantic comedy The Tall Guy. His acting credits included Babylon in 1980, the 1987 hit The Princess Bride and Sir Toby Belch in Trevor Nunn's 1996 production of Twelfth Night.
The comic also took the title role in Raymond Briggs' animated Father Christmas in 1991, in which he sung the song Another Bloomin' Christmas.
He had previously demonstrated his vocal talents in 1981, releasing the single Mel Smith's Greatest Hits, and in 1987 when he teamed up with Kim Wilde for the Comic Relief song Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree which reached the top five.
Smith worked with Jones again on a sketch show for BBC One only last year.
Date of Birth: 11 May 1982, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Birth Name: Cory Allan Michael Monteith
Nicknames: Cory Monteith
The Canadian actor Cory Monteith, shot to fame as the all-American student Finn Hudson in Glee, the worldwide television hit about an Ohio high-school show choir.
When the musical-comedy teen series began in 2009, Monteith was cast as Finn after submitting what he described as "a cheesy 80s music video-style version" of the REO Speedwagon power ballad Can't Fight This Feeling. Although he had no previous singing experience and his vocal performance was considered slightly weak, producers believed that Monteith displayed the naivety they were looking for in Finn, a quarterback in the fictional William McKinley High School football team and a member of its choir, New Directions.
The role made Monteith not only a global TV star, but also a lead singer in a recording act with sales of more than 50m singles and 13m albums. The Glee cast recorded covers of pop songs and musical numbers on eight soundtrack and three compilation albums. Astonishingly, taking advantage of the age of music downloads, it also hit the charts with more than 200 singles. The first, Don't Stop Believin', reached No 2 in the UK and No 4 in the US in 2009.
Finn's squeaky-clean character was in stark contrast to the teenager Monteith had himself been a decade earlier. He frequently missed school while drinking and taking drugs until family and friends persuaded him to attend a rehabilitation centre at the age of 19. He came out and returned to his old ways.
The turning-point came when Monteith stole money from a member of his family to fund his addictions. When he was caught, he was given an ultimatum: get clean or face the law. He chose to turn his life around. "I'm lucky to be alive," Monteith said two years ago. However, the actor checked back into rehab for four weeks in March.
Monteith was born in Calgary, Alberta, where his father served in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and his mother was an interior decorator. The couple divorced when Monteith was seven and he and his older brother were raised by their mother in Victoria, British Columbia. Leaving his troubled teenage years behind, Monteith moved in with a family friend in the city of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, and took a job as a roofer. Another friend, an acting coach, gave him free lessons. Moving to Vancouver, Monteith started auditioning for TV roles and was soon landing parts, starting in Stargate: Atlantis (2004).
As well as appearing in other popular series, such as Supernatural (2005), Smallville (2005), Stargate SG-1 (2006) and Flash Gordon (2007), on the big screen he was in two horror films, Bloody Mary (2006) and Final Destination 3 (2006), and the comedy Deck the Halls (2006). There were regular TV roles as Charlie Tanner in the first two series of the sci-fi teen drama Kyle XY (2006-07) and Gunnar, drummer in a rock band, in the short-lived MTV series Kaya (2007).
Stardom finally came with Glee, which brought Monteith a 2010 Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with the cast) and parts in several films, including the role of Justin, a TV star battling with his social-activist brother, in Sisters & Brothers (2011).
Date of Birth: 25 June 1935, East London, UK
Birth Name: Raymond William Butt
Nicknames: Ray Butt
Ray Butt, was the original producer of Only Fools And Horses, BBC Television’s award-winning comedy series which was regularly voted the nation’s favourite sitcom.
Its motley cast of eccentric, droll and low-life oddballs was headed by Del and Rodney Trotter, two south London brothers, played by David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, who sold “dodgy gear” from a clapped-out yellow three-wheeler van (“Trotter’s Independent Trading Company, New York, Paris, Peckham”), in a perpetual quest for illusory fortune (“This time next year, Rodders, we’ll be millionaires!”).
The show had its origins in a conversation in a BBC bar between Butt, then directing the sitcom Citizen Smith (1977-1980), and John Sullivan, a former BBC scene-shifter turned scriptwriter whose latest idea for a new sitcom called Readies, set in modern multicultural London, was already causing jitters within the BBC hierarchy.
Over a drink, Butt and Sullivan compared their working-class backgrounds. Butt’s parents had run a stall on Roman Road market, and Sullivan had worked on street markets as a boy. They agreed that the most interesting market characters were the unlicensed fly-pitchers, always helped by a younger lookout, who sold useless goods like fake perfume or bogus designer clothes out of suitcases.
Butt and Sullivan started meeting regularly at Butt’s local pub, the Three Kings on the corner of North End and Talgarth Roads in Fulham, hatching the scenario that would become Only Fools And Horses. When Butt received Sullivan’s initial script, he fell about laughing. “It was marvellous, simple as that.”
Where Readies had rung alarm bells within the BBC, the new script was so enthusiastically received by comedy bosses that a six-part series was commissioned on the spot, without the usual pilot episode to test audience reaction.
But when it came to casting the main part of Del Boy, Butt only settled on David Jason after catching a repeat of Open All Hours in which Jason played the dozy Yorkshire shop assistant Granville to Ronnie Barker’s miserly Arkwright.
Sullivan, however, was not convinced that Jason could create the brash, fast-talking south Londoner he had in mind. Butt stuck to his guns, and invited Jason in to read for the part with Nicholas Lyndhurst, already cast as Del’s gauche younger brother, Rodney, finally persuading Sullivan that Jason would be ideal. He also convinced BBC bosses that even though Jason and Lyndhurst looked nothing like brothers, “that’s the fun of it!”
For all Butt and Sullivan’s high hopes, the first series in 1981 met with a muted response. They felt that the BBC, embarrassed by some of the more “colourful” aspects of the show, had buried it in the schedules. A second series also failed to make an impact, but when the episodes were repeated, they shot straight into the Top 10 ratings. By the end of series three, Only Fools And Horses was drawing 15 million viewers a week.
Eventually it broke all viewing records. Although it ended in 1991, a final three-parter in 1996, in which Del and Rodney discovered a watch worth £6 million, attracted more than 24 million viewers, the highest-ever audience for a British sitcom episode.
Butt found that working with the famously insecure Sullivan could lead to some narrow squeaks. Sullivan always delivered his scripts at the last minute, and by the time Only Fools And Horses was topping the ratings in 1989 he was so pressured that he was sending Butt a scene at a time. Only Fools And Horses won three Baftas and several other television industry awards.
With Sullivan, Butt had further success with the witty but bittersweet romantic comedy Just Good Friends (1983–86), starring Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis; and Dear John (1986-88), about a man whose wife has left him for his best friend.
Raymond William Butt was born on June 25 1935, the son of an east London street trader who had a stall selling sweets and cigarettes on Roman Road market in Bow, the oldest known trade route in Britain . Ray’s father also ran a sweets and tobacconists wholesalers elsewhere in the East End. The story of how his father and business partner cycled to Ascot to sell sweets at the races loomed large in Butt family lore.
As his parents moved around the East End, Ray moved from school to school, finishing at the William Ellis School in Highgate. As a teenager he worked for Tommy Cooper, the future comedian who long before he made a success in show business practised his patter selling ice cream in the Roman Road market.
Butt did two years of National Service in the RAF as an electrician, some of it stationed in Norfolk. His entree into television was accidental: when a relative spotted an advertisement for electricians at the BBC, he applied and was accepted.
Like John Sullivan, Butt was a protégé of the veteran comedy producer Dennis Main Wilson, who had previously presided over such classics as The Goon Show, Hancock’s Half Hour and Till Death Us Do Part. After working his way up from electrician to cameraman, by 1969 Butt was a full-blown director, his first major series being The Liver Birds.
He went on to direct many other BBC shows including Are You Being Served? (1972); Last Of The Summer Wine (1973); It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974); Citizen Smith (1977); and Hilary (1984).
After leaving the BBC in the mid-1980s, he directed two sitcoms for the ITV contractor Central in 1989, Sob Sisters and Young, Gifted and Broke, but they made little impact, and he retired at the age of 54.
Date of Birth: 2 August 1925, Cairo, Egypt
Birth Name: Alan Donald Whicker
Nicknames: Alan Whicker
Alan was best known as a Broadcaster and journalist, best known for his long-running TV series Whicker's World
In a 1969 television documentary about Haiti, Alan Whicker, asked the notorious dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier, in kindly, innocently interested and rather baffled tones: "But Papa Doc, they say you torture people?" It was a succinct example of the former Fleet Street journalist's ability to ask the most piercing questions while giving those being questioned no personal provocation or excuse to break off the interview an ability that, if not unique, was certainly less common among other interviewers in a world often dominated by inflated egos.
As long ago as the early 1970s, some of the young turks of TV were writing Whicker off as out of date. Instead, the thick spectacles, immaculate blue blazer, neat military moustache, and persistently unjudgmental and blandly phrased questions, plus a commentary in alliterative tabloidese, gave him a career that outlasted those of many of his rivals. He kept travelling the world for 60 years in search of exotic and humanly interesting material, often about the rich.
He flew 100,000 miles a year for British audiences of up to 15 million and his programmes also sold well abroad. In 1978, he flew the 7,000 miles back to London from Singapore to receive a Bafta Richard Dimbleby award and immediately flew back again. He won many other awards, including the Screenwriters' Guild best documentary script in 1963.
The secret of Whicker's ability to appear unthreatening in the most fraught and unpromising interviews was long debated in media watering holes. Was it his short stature and modest looks, at a time when the age of appearances usually dictated great height and good looks as a necessity for interviewers and presenters? Did he truly have the mind of the average viewer? Did one or all of these aspects of Whicker explain why, when he interviewed the American oil billionaire J Paul Getty in 1963, he was able to suggest that Getty's success in business was matched by his failure as a human being without being thrown out?
Whicker was usually civil about the younger hands who tried his sort of game, but could be catty when attacked or compared unfavourably with younger professionals. He declined to make Around the World in 80 Days, the series that brought the actor Michael Palin a new career as a TV traveller. Afterwards, Palin asked him on camera why he had turned it down. Whicker replied that he wanted to see who the makers would go to when they were scraping the bottom of the barrel. "That will hit the cutting-room floor," laughed Whicker. He stated that Clive James "can't interview to save his life".
Whicker always maintained that the best view the cameras had of him was the back of his neck. He created the series Whicker's World in 1959; and its title was a good definition of what all his programmes were about. There were many variations of the essential Whicker trademark Whicker's South Seas, Whicker Way Out West, Whicker Down Mexico Way, Whicker's Orient, Whicker's Miss World and so on but he made sure that he did not appear too much in them, letting the interviewees be the stars.
Californian recipients of multiple breast implants or owners of pink-dyed poodles were treated with the same merciless deference as pot-bellied and cigar-smoking billionaires on world cruises. It worked better than hectoring would have done. Whicker regarded himself as a professional's professional, one who continued to look for "human interest" stories while the attention span of many around him in his later years narrowed more to sleaze.
Whicker's background had certainly not made it easy for him to be warmly human. His father, Charles, a captain in the Hussars, was serving in Cairo at the time of Alan's birth, and died three years later. Alan returned to Britain with his mother, Anne, and sister, and they settled in London, where Alan attended Haberdashers' Aske's school. His sister died shortly afterwards.
He became, in effect, an only child who found himself at ease nowhere or equally at ease everywhere. His relationship with his mother grew more intense. "We adored one another," he would claim, explaining that this was what made him appreciate women, one of the "great pleasures" of his life. During the blitz, the only things his mother took down to the air-raid shelter were Alan's letters home. He was devastated by her death.
One of his satisfactions as a schoolboy had been going on a school camp at Teignmouth, Devon. While there, he would set off on a bus along the coast road to see how far he could get to that mecca, Torquay. It was the beginning of his love of travel. As a captain in the Devonshire Regiment during the second world war, he was seconded to the Army Film and Photographic Unit, then became a war correspondent in Korea.
After the war, he worked as a reporter for the Exchange Telegraph news agency but never (although he was often described as such) as a reporter for the cult magazine Picture Post. This often repeated mistake was an irritation both to him and to old Picture Post hands who thought he was trespassing. He was doing odd jobs for BBC radio when Alasdair Milne, then working for its flagship current affairs programme Tonight, spotted his ability to ask "impertinent" questions without giving offence.
Whicker had found his metier. In 1957 he joined Tonight and from then on insisted on seeing the footage first, then writing his own commentary. The technique served him well as he looked all over the world for kinks in human character and behaviour for Whicker's World.
One of his younger colleagues, Peter Salmon, commissioned Whicker's World programmes on Hong Kong and Spain for the BBC in the 1990s, despite feeling that Whicker's manner and interests were not those of a new generation: he simply felt that, as an interviewer, Whicker was without peer, able to get more than anyone else out of a one-to-one interview.
In 1993 Whicker was the first to be named in the Royal Television Society's Hall of Fame for an outstanding creative contribution to British TV. A fanclub was formed, consisting of members who dressed up as Whicker and discussed their hero once a month. His singular style also gave rise in 1972 to Monty Python's celebrated Whicker Island sketch, with all of the team doing impressions.
Whicker remained active into old age, continuing to make TV and radio series until recently, and publishing volumes of memoirs. He had become wealthy, with a Nash flat in Regent's Park and a handsome home in Jersey. In 2005 he was appointed CBE.
After ending a four-year engagement to the heiress Olga Deterding, in 1969 he began a lasting relationship with Valerie Kleeman, a neighbour in Regent's Park. They travelled the world together, she as his research assistant offering her observations and advice, which he usually took.
Date of Birth: 30 October 1914, Hackney, East London, UK
Birth Name: Anna Eva Lydia Catherine Wing
Nicknames: Anna Wing
Anna Wing became a household name in her 70s as Albert Square's indomitable matriarch.
When Anna Wing took on her most famous role, in EastEnders in 1985, the Sun ran the headline: "Enter the dragon ... Lou Beale!" As hard as nails and as brittle as pressed flowers, Lou was one of a declining breed, a widowed East End mother whose power indoors was absolute, but whose attitude towards the outside world was one of mounting fear and alienation. She played Albert Square's indomitable matriarch for only four years but Wing became synonymous for many with her character.
The original character outline by Julia Smith and Tony Holland, creators of EastEnders, described Lou Beale thus: " the changing face of the area (especially the immigrants) is a constant source of fear to her, but then she doesn't go out much. She prefers to be at home, or on a trip down memory lane."
Wing recognised this stereotypical character since she had grown up among just such women. Born in Hackney, east London, she took along her birth certificate to the audition to prove she was the daughter of a greengrocer which was fitting since Lou and her late husband Albert had built up the Beales' business running a fruit and veg stall on Walford Market.
At the time of her audition, Wing was 71 and the show's producers worried about whether she was up to EastEnders' tough filming schedules. "All my life I've been an actress, now I want to be a household name," she told them.
She worked 70 hours a week for four years to achieve that aim, playing Lou largely from an armchair, dispensing reminiscences to the family faithful. "I can recall when there was 25 of us round this table for Sunday winkles, and separate tables out in the yard for the kiddies," she said once. She could even reflect on the menopause with her trademark combination of denial and sentiment: "I never had all that trouble. I just got on with it. In my day, we fetched ourselves by the bootstraps and carried on no matter what."
By 1988, Wing had had enough. She asked to be written out. "We had 31 million viewers and it was shown all over the world, and I suddenly thought 'Should I be in this?'... I had a crisis of conscience." So the scriptwriters obligingly killed Lou off. She returned from an outing to Leigh on Sea feeling ill and retreated to bed. After giving putative wisdom to her descendants, she said her last words: "That's you lot sorted. I can go now." At the Queen Vic after her funeral, her son Pete proposed a toast to that "bloody old bag".
Wing deserves disentangling from the legend of Lou Beale. She was several things unimaginable to her soap character, including a Quaker and CND supporter. She decided, aged 11, that she wanted to be an actor after seeing John Gielgud on stage at the Old Vic (in 1977, she appeared with her idol in Alan Resnais' film Providence).
After attending the Croydon School of Acting in south London, Wing worked extensively in repertory theatre. She also worked as a teacher and an artist's model, at tenpence an hour. "I had a very attractive body, a Renoir, and they were mad about it."
A lifelong pacifist, when war broke out in 1939 she took a nursing course and volunteered with the Red Cross. After the war, she worked both as a nursery school teacher and as a stalwart of repertory theatre, where she met her first husband, the merchant navy lieutenant and actor Peter Davey. The pair had a son, Mark, and were divorced in 1947.
In 2007, she reckoned to have appeared in at least 50 plays in 68 years, among them Early Morning in 1969 and A Man for All Seasons in 1971. During the 70s, she worked with her eldest son Mark Wing-Davey, the actor and director, in Sheffeld Crucible's production of Free for All. She also had small parts in films such as Billy Liar (1963) and an adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House (1973).
Between 1953 and 1960, she was the partner of the surrealist poet Philip O'Connor, whom she encouraged to write his first book, the extraordinary Memoirs of a Public Baby (1958). She once lamented that she had nothing to remember O'Connor by but a scribbled farewell note reading: "I love you, the gist of it is, I've been unfaithful. Have packed and gone." She said: "I pined for him for 15 years." She had a second son, John, with O'Connor.
Wing appeared in the ATV soap Market in Honey Lane between 1967 and 1969. The drama was set in a Cockney market, and made at Elstree studios where, 20 years later, she would film EastEnders. During this era, she also had roles in Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars and Play for Today. But EastEnders was to be her big, if belated, break.
After EastEnders, she had parts in Casualty, Doctors, French and Saunders, The Bill, Silent Witness and Doctor Who. In the cinema, in 2004, she appeared opposite Orlando Bloom in The Calcium Kid and as an ancient fairy in Tooth. That year, she was made an MBE for her services to drama and charity. Perhaps her strangest incarnation was in 2012 as a nonagenerian East End gangster in a music video for the band Quarrel. She played an indomitable woman bent on purging her manor of funk music.
Date of Birth: 17 October 1960, Dublin, Ireland, UK
Birth Name: Bernadette Therese Nolan
Bernadette Nolan was the lead vocalist with The Nolans, a group of Irish singing sisters and one of the original girl bands; their 1979 hit “I’m In The Mood For Dancing” that became a classic in the disco boom of the early 1980s.
Renowned for their spangled flares, platform shoes, big hair and perky wholesomeness, The Nolans began performing together in 1974 and had a string of hits between 1978 and 1984. At the outset they formed a quintet comprising Anne, Linda, Denise, Maureen and Bernadette, but in 1980 they became a quartet when Anne and Denise stood down and their youngest sister, Coleen, joined the group.
Originally billed as The Nolan Sisters, they were rebranded The Nolans and sold 25 million records worldwide (12 million in Japan, where they outsold The Beatles) and earned more than 20 gold, silver and platinum discs with albums and singles including Gotta Pull Myself Together and Attention To Me.
They toured with Frank Sinatra in 1975 and performed with artists such as Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Stevie Wonder and Andy Williams. But when Denise left and Anne took a two year break to have a family, the remaining four sisters were stricken with a series of misfortunes sickness, infidelities, bitter feuds and bereavements which played out in the tabloid press and several tell-all autobiographies. They toured for the last time in 1984, and although they continued to sing and perform they also pursued successful careers in television and on stage.
The rift endured, in one form or another, for more than three decades. Bernie, as she was always known, finally left the group in 1994 to launch an acting career following her success in the stage play The Devil Rides Out a year earlier.
“I am the nutter of the family,” she told an interviewer. “We’re all quite funny, but I’m loud and funny. I do everything the others do not I drink, I smoke (well, I’m trying to give up), I stay out late, I have sex. So what? Of course I don’t like the idea of one-night stands, but I’ve got no ties, so I can do what I like. I get really infuriated with the goody-goody Catholic girls image.”
She maintained that the group was not as wealthy as it should have been because they had signed a bad record deal. “It was very hard to accept our decline. We’ve done shows where they’ve said: 'Glad you came we couldn’t get the group we really wanted.’ I wish things were still the way they used to be.” To try to replicate their explosion on to the pop scene more than a quarter of a century earlier, she and her sisters Maureen, Linda and Coleen signed up in 2008 for a lucrative reunion tour.
The eldest sister, Anne, was excluded by the tour’s producers, prompting her to accuse her siblings of “stabbing me in the back”.
“They could have had five of us on stage. They have had in the past,” Anne complained. “And let’s face it, even Nolans fans don’t know what sister sang on what hit. No one has a clue.”
Relations between the sisters deteriorated still further in 2010 after Bernie Nolan was diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease returned in 2012 and she was told that it was incurable. In her autobiography, Now And Forever, published in May this year , she admitted that the rift between the sisters was deeper then ever. Although she claimed to have made her peace with all five of her sisters before her death, it was clear that Anne and Denise remained estranged from Coleen and Linda, with Maureen apparently caught in the middle.
Bernadette Therese Nolan, always known as Bernie, was born on October 17 1960 in Dublin. Her parents, Tommy and Maureen Nolan, a husband and wife singing duo, would have two sons and five other daughters Anne, Denise, Maureen, Linda and Coleen. “It got to the stage,” Bernie, the second youngest, once said, “where they didn’t talk about whether the new baby was going to be a boy or a girl but whether they could sing.”
The girls were still young when the family moved to Blackpool and they started singing together professionally as a family troupe, performing in pubs and clubs and on television. Their 1979 hit I’m In The Mood For Dancing epitomised their feel-good brand of music and brought them enormous chart success.
But beneath the upbeat image, the Nolan family was a troubled one. Although none of the other sisters knew it, throughout their early years their violent, drunken father had sexually abused Anne. When she was 16 he suggested they run away and live as man and wife.
Anne told the others only after Tommy Nolan’s death in 1998. She later recounted her experiences in a book, Anne’s Song (2008); but although Coleen had found her a publisher Anne maintained that apart from Denise her other sisters were not supportive. Bernie, in particular, did not approve of her sister’s decision to parade the family’s scandal. “I personally wouldn’t have made that public,” she argued, “I’d have kept it private.”
Anne’s marriage ended in 1997, and in the same year Coleen split from the EastEnders actor Shane Richie. Soon afterwards Anne was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having been cleaning and child-minding for Coleen to make ends meet, she believed her exclusion from the 2008 comeback tour was the result of a petty argument she had had with Coleen’s husband, Ray Fensome. In the resulting family meltdown, Bernie asserted that Anne would have retained more self-esteem had she kept her troubles to herself.
By then Bernie Nolan’s acting career was well under way. In 2000 She had joined the cast of the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside as Diane Murray, having starred to critical acclaim in a West End revival of Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers. Two years later she left Brookside to play Sgt Sheelagh Murphy in ITV’s police drama series The Bill. In 2005 she released her debut solo album of power ballads, All By Myself.
In 2006 she took part in Channel 4’s series The Games, returning to the live stage in 2009 to play the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Manchester Opera House.
In 2007 three of the Nolans were included in the Guinness Book of Records for each playing the lead role in Blood Brothers (Bernie in 1999, Linda in 2000 and Denise in 2003, all at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh). Bernie also starred as Mama Morton in a touring version of the musical Chicago in 2012, and later that year announced the Nolans’ farewell tour.
Date of Birth: 3 October 1929, Brooklyn, US
Birth Name: Bert Stern
Bert Stern, the celebrity photographer, became one of the highest paid talents in the American advertising industry, and famously took more than 2,000 pictures of Marilyn Monroe in an intimate three day shoot, the so called “Last Sitting” and shortly before her death in 1962.
Many showed the actress naked, or posing through diaphanous scarves. “She was so beautiful at that time,” Stern recalled. “I didn’t say: 'Pose nude.’ It was more one thing leading to another: You take clothes off and off and off and off and off. She thought for a while. I’d say something and the pose just led to itself.”
Although self taught, Stern helped to revolutionise Madison Avenue and the world of 1960s advertising, recently depicted on television in Mad Men, by transforming simple commercial photography into a branch of conceptual art. With contemporaries like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, he reinvented the vocabulary of glossy magazines (which had hitherto regarded pictures mainly as a means of illustrating advertising copy) by the use of clear, uncluttered and arresting images.
His first assignment, for Smirnoff vodka in 1955, for example, featured a simple close up of a martini glass in the heat of the Egyptian desert with the Great Pyramid at Giza shimmering in the background. One American critic called Stern’s photograph “the most influential break with traditional advertising photography” of its era.
As a portraitist he photographed some of the world’s most beautiful women, among them Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot. Stern also shot pictures of the then 13 year old actress Sue Lyon in heart-shaped red sunglasses one became the poster image for Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film Lolita (1962).
An obsessive womaniser, Stern admitted that he “fell in love with everything I photographed”. But it was the so called “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe for Vogue magazine that was to furnish his most enduring portfolio. He confessed to trying to get the actress into bed as she peeled off layers of clothing during the shoot at a Hollywood hotel. Whether or not he succeeded was never clear, though he later suggested: “I could have hung up the camera, run off with her, and lived happily ever after.”
The son of Jewish immigrants, Bertram Stern was born on October 3 1929 in Brooklyn, where his father worked as a children’s portrait photographer. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, he landed a job in the post room at Look magazine, where he met Stanley Kubrick, the magazine’s youngest staff photographer, with whom he shared “a mutual interest in beautiful women”; the pair formed a close and lasting friendship.
Despite his lack of training, Stern became assistant to Look’s art director Hershal Bramson. This led to a position as art director at Mayfair magazine, where Stern bought a camera, learned how to develop film and make contact sheets, and started taking his own pictures.
In 1951 Stern’s career was interrupted by the Korean War, and he was drafted into the US Army. But instead of being posted to Korea, he was diverted to Japan and assigned to the photographic department, where he learned to use a film camera, shooting news footage for the Army while taking stills for himself.
After his discharge his old boss Bramson, then working for a small advertising agency, offered Stern a photographer’s job on a new campaign for Smirnoff. Walking down Fifth Avenue with a martini glass filled with water for inspiration, Stern noticed the Plaza Hotel was inverted in the glass that acted like a lens and turned the image upside down. This gave him the idea to photograph the Pyramid of Giza upside down in the glass, and in 1955 he flew to Egypt to capture the image.
After a brief detour into documentary film making he directed Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959), a much-admired record of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival Stern returned to stills photography. By 1962 he had begun photographing personalities as well as advertisements and, having joined Vogue magazine, was invited to Rome by Twentieth Century Fox to photograph Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra.
Richard Burton, whom Stern had already photographed at his studio in New York, was playing Mark Antony and began an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Stern became friends with both and was able to shoot “more candid, fun pictures” of the couple when they were together off set.
Stern’s contract at Vogue gave him a free hand to photograph what he liked, and in June 1962, when he realised that Marilyn Monroe had never been photographed for the magazine, he arranged a shoot at the Bel-Air Hotel, where he adapted one of the spacious suites as a studio. “You’re beautiful,” he exclaimed as he greeted her in the corridor, and she replied: “What a nice thing to say”.
At Monroe’s suggestion, she posed naked, draped in scarves, pearls, paper flowers and bedsheets during the 12-hour session, which ended at dawn. The editors at Vogue were ecstatic , and sent Stern back to photograph Monroe for a further two days, during which he shot the black-and-white images that became some of the most intimate celebrity portraits ever taken.
When Stern submitted his pictures he had shot 2,571 over three days Vogue decided to use the mono pictures rather than the colour nudes. “They called me up to see the layouts,” Stern recalled. “There was something haunting about them. That Monday, she died.”
But as his career flourished through the 1960s, Stern’s personal life fell apart, particularly as he underpinned his exhausting work schedule he booked as many as seven shoots a day with heavy use of amphetamines. Eventually his marriage to the beautiful New York City Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent collapsed, along with his health and his finances.
Recovering in Spain, he had the idea for The Pill Book, a photographic compilation of different pills which he shot as simple still lifes. The book sold more than 18 million copies, and by the late 1970s Stern had returned to America to photograph portraits and fashion.
In 1983, through a friend, he met Shannah Laumeister, then 13, whom he photographed. After a second sitting four years later, she became his girlfriend and muse, and the couple secretly married in 2009. In 2012 Shannah Laumeister directed a candid film documentary, Bert Stern: Original Madman, which was released earlier this year.
In 2000 Stern’s photographs of Monroe were published in a mammoth book, Marilyn Monroe: The Complete Last Sitting. He latterly sought to duplicate his Monroe success with Lindsay Lohan, and while the pictures proved a tabloid sensation, they were widely criticised as tawdry and exploitative.
Date of Birth: 1926, Wood Green, London, UK
Birth Name: Pat Ashton
Pat Ashton was an actor for over four decades. Probably her most important TV role was that of Annie, wife of a burglar (Bob Hoskins) who comes out of prison to find that his old friend (John Thaw) has moved in, in Thick As Thieves (1974). When Yorkshire TV declined a second series, the writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais took the idea to the BBC, where it was developed into the much-loved series Porridge.
Pat was born and raised in Wood Green, north London. During her early years, the piano was the focus of entertainment at home, with her brother Richard playing all the popular songs of the day. Her grandmother had been a trapeze artist, performing in front of the tsar in Russia, and Pat quickly became fascinated with music hall, learned to tap-dance from an early age and went on to study singing with Manlio Di Veroli.After the second world war she ran "concert parties", essentially variety shows, some of which, at the Gaumont cinema in Wood Green, featured the young Barry Took. After finding an agent, Pat performed at seaside resorts around England in summer season shows.In the early 60s, trading on her singing and dancing, she toured Europe with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Oh! What a Lovely War.
Her early West End shows included Half a Sixpence and The Match Girls, and later she appeared in Stepping Out.
She also performed regularly at the Players' theatre in London.One of her first TV breaks was taking the role of Fanny Cornforth opposite Oliver Reed in Ken Russell's Dante's Inferno (1967), a film in the Omnibus series on the life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, this later led to a small role in Russell's 1971 film The Devils.By the 1970s other TV producers had picked up on her popular blonde, cockney persona. In fact, in 1970 she understudied Barbara Windsor in the Ned Sherrin-produced musical Sing a Rude Song, based on the life of music hall singer Marie Lloyd, and successfully took the lead role when Windsor was struck down with laryngitis.
Pat took TV roles in On the Buses (1971, and appeared in two spinoff films), Both Ends Meet (1972, with Dora Bryan), Yus My Dear (1976, with Arthur Mullard), Rooms (1977), The Benny Hill Show (1972-80), The Gaffer (1981-83, with Bill Maynard) and Tripper's Day (1984, with Leonard Rossiter).
Date of Birth: 18 September 1961, Westwood, New Jersey, US
Birth Name: James Joseph Gandolfini Jr
Nicknames: James Gandlfini
James Gandolfini was one of those rare actors who was able to portray a violent, bullying, murderous, vulgar, serial adulterer, while simultaneously eliciting sympathy and understanding from television audiences. In 86 episodes from 1999 to 2007, in HBO's hit series The Sopranos, the balding, beefy, middle-aged Gandolfini, as Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mafia boss, managed to transcend any stereotyping of Italian-Americans (although the charge was still made) by showing the flawed character's vulnerable side.While Tony Soprano does embody the close-knit Italian-American community, with its codes of masculinity, Gandolfini, who had studied the Sanford Meisner method of acting for two years, lived up to Meisner's exhortation to "find in yourself those human things which are universal". Gandolfini always claimed to be nothing like Tony Soprano: "I'm really basically just like a 260-pound Woody Allen."Gandolfini explained that he sometimes went to extremes to express Tony's anger by hitting himself on the head or staying up all night to evoke the desired reaction. "If you are tired, every single thing that somebody does makes you mad. Or I just walked around with a stone in my shoe. It's silly, but it works."Yet it was the scenes of the therapy sessions with his psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) that really humanised the character. "If you took the Melfi scenes away, you wouldn't care about this man as much, or care about anything that was happening to him," Gandolfini explained.
Like his television alter ego, Gandolfini was born, raised and educated in New Jersey. His mother was a school dinner lady, and his father a bricklayer and stonemason. Both his parents were devout Roman Catholics of Italian ancestry and spoke Italian at home. After graduating from Park Ridge high school, Gandolfini gained a BA in communication studies at Rutgers University.
After the role of one of the poker playing buddies of Stanley Kowalski (Alec Baldwin) in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway in 1992 in which he had the last line of the play, "The game is seven card stud" Gandolfini started to get roles in movies, first making an impression in Tony Scott's True Romance (1993), which understandably got him an audition for the leading part in The Sopranos. In a memorable stomach churning scene, as a ruthless hitman he beats up Patricia Arquette, only to have her whack him on the head and set him on fire.Gandolfini was then cast against type as shy guys in Mr Wonderful (1993) and Angie (1994), but returned to bad ways as an ex KGB man in Terminal Velocity (1994), as a southern-accented stunt man turned bodyguard in Get Shorty (1995), as a corrupt cop who kills himself in Sidney Lumet's Night Falls on Manhattan (1996) and a mafia man in The Juror (1996). Of the last, Roger Ebert wrote: "Gandolfini has a very tricky role, who is about as sympathetic as a man can be who would, after all, kill you. His line readings during a couple of complicated scenes are right on the money. If the movie had been pitched at the level of sophistication and complexity that his character represents, it would have been a lot better."Gandolfini portrayed all his roles admirably, but there was no inkling that he would ever be anything more than a serviceable heavy in mainly commercial thrillers for the rest of his career. It was television and Tony Soprano that gained him Emmy awards, three years running, and superstar status, which he never equalled but which sustained his active post-Sopranos life. This included In the Loop (2009), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) and Welcome to The Rileys (2010), in all of which he attempted successfully to soften his persona.In 2007, Gandolfini produced a documentary, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, in which he interviewed 10 injured Iraq war veterans. This was followed by Wartorn (2010), about post-traumatic stress disorder and its impact on soldiers and families through several wars in American history.
Date of Birth: 16 May 1941, Sierra Leone, Africa
Birth Name: David Laurie Lyon
Nicknames: David Lyon
David Lyon was a stalwart of numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions and became a familiar face on television in series such as The Bill, Lovejoy, Taggart, Holby City and Midsomer Murders.
Though he was a popular figure at the RSC, Lyon never got to play the Dane and most audiences would be hard-pressed to name his roles. On stage they included the Earl of Westmoreland in Henry IV parts I and II and Henry V; Capulet in Romeo and Juliet; the Duke of Albany in King Lear; Thomas Mowbray in Richard II; King Philip of France in King John; Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing; Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew; and Dull in Love’s Labour’s Lost. On the small screen he ranged from bishops (The Inspector Linley Mysteries) to murderers (Midsomer Murders).
The principal exception to this rule was his role as Henry Collingridge, Margaret Thatcher’s decent but dithery successor whose position at No 10 is steadily undermined by his Machiavellian Chief Whip Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson) in the 1990 BBC production of House of Cards.
The role was memorable not least because the first episode in the four-part series aired on November 18, four days before Mrs Thatcher stunned her Cabinet by announcing that she would resign as Prime Minister “as soon as a successor can be chosen”. Lyon uttered exactly the same lines, written some months earlier, in House of Cards two weeks later. He added, as Mrs Thatcher may also have done to her Cabinet colleagues, two-thirds of whom had told her she might not win if she stayed in the race: “I should like to take the opportunity of thanking you for your friendship and your loyalty at this time those who feel this description applies, of course.”
David Laurie Lyon was born on May 16 1941, the son of a diamond merchant, and grew up in Sierra Leone. He was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, where he played scrum-half for the first XV. Forced to leave school aged 16 after his father was declared bankrupt, he worked for Royal Insurance in Glasgow, then as a flooring salesman in Birmingham. In his spare time he performed as an amateur actor with the Old Grammarians in Glasgow and the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham, and in the early 1970s studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
After making his professional debut in Manchester in 1975, he performed in repertory theatres around the country before joining the RSC in 1976. As well as supporting roles in Shakespeare, he also appeared in several modern plays, such as The Innocent, After Aida and Piaf.
In 1998 he married the actress Sandra Clark, whom he had first met at drama school when she was married to someone else. They spent their honeymoon touring with a production of Romeo and Juliet, in which they were playing Capulet and Lady Montagu.
Date of Birth: 21July 1926, Amersham, UK
Birth Name: William Desmond Anthony Pertwee
Nicknames: Bill Pertwee
Bill Pertwee made his name as the irascible ARP Warden Hodges in the 1970s BBC sitcom Dad’s Army; he also successfully featured in Round The Horne.
As chief tormentor of the local Home Guard commander, Capt Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), Warden Hodges proved far more of an irritant than the armed hordes of Nazi Germany which (almost) invariably left the citizens of Walmington-on-Sea in peace.
Dressed in the brief authority of wartime office, Hodges pulled rank at every opportunity to act as a one-man counterweight to the military might represented by Capt Mainwaring’s platoon. With the perfect put-down Hodges riled Mainwaring by twitting him as “Napoleon” Pertwee played the town’s tinpot dictator with total aplomb.
The show’s creators, David Croft and Jimmy Perry, were apt to use the same coterie of actors in all their television series, and so Pertwee followed his long-running part in Dad's Army with a regular part of the policeman, PC Wilson, in You Rang M’Lord?, which ran for 26 episodes between 1988 and 1992.
Yet it was as Warden Hodges that Pertwee found his place in the public imagination. For away from the Home Guard parades and manoeuvres, the character was a humble high street greengrocer, as in thrall to (and in fact in awe of) the pompous bank manager Mainwaring as Cpl Jones (the butcher) and even Pte Fraser (the undertaker). And it was upon such satirical appreciation of the essentially English nuances of class that the huge success of Dad’s Army was built.
William Desmond Anthony Pertwee was born on July 21 1926 at Amersham, Buckinghamshire, the youngest of three brothers. His father, who was of Huguenot descent (the family name originally having been Pertuis), had not followed his own father into farming, but made his living as an engineer working for a firm selling tarmacadam to councils. His mother had herself been born in Brazil.
In the early 1930s the family moved to Glasbury-on-Wye in Radnorshire, and then, as their fortunes faltered, to Colnbrook, near Windsor, Newbury, and finally Erith in Kent. There, Bill’s eldest brother joined the Atlas Preservative Company as export manager, the managing director being a 20-year-old Denis Thatcher, whose father owned the firm.
Bill was educated at a local convent and, following his father’s death, moved with his mother and brothers to Blackheath, south London. Evacuated at the outbreak of the Second World War to Sussex, he attended a local private school run by an eccentric called Felix Eames.
Another move, to Wilmington in Kent, landed him at Dartford Technical College, and in 1941 his eldest brother, who had joined the RAF, was killed when his aircraft crashed in Yorkshire while returning from a bombing mission over Germany.
After the family’s final move, to Westcliff-on-Sea, Bill found a place at Southend College and took a job at the Southend Motor and Aero Club, which before the war had repaired funfair rides and dodgem cars, but was then making parts for Spitfire cannons.
When the war ended, Pertwee was offered a job with Oxley Knox, a firm of City stockbrokers, but was sacked when he answered the office telephone with a facetious impression of the broadcaster Raymond Glendinning, only to find Mr Knox of Oxley Knox on the other end. An advertisement in The Daily Telegraph for salesmen vacancies at Burberry’s new sports department led to another job, but a family friend soon offered him a better one in his window and office cleaning business.
Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s Pertwee developed his interest in showbusiness, becoming a regular at opening nights in the West End. In 1954 he became an assistant to his second cousin, the actor Jon Pertwee, and the following year he turned professional, joining a variety bill at Gorleston near Great Yarmouth on £6 a week.
As a performer his first big radio break came in the early 1960s as a regular in the comedy series Beyond Our Ken, starring Kenneth Horne, followed by Round The Horne. The latter achieved cult status, but after eight years Pertwee was abruptly dropped. He wrote to various television producers asking for work, and was used as a warm-up man on such shows as Hancock and Up Pompeii, before in 1968 David Croft offered him a few episodes as the Warden in Dad’s Army. The booking eventually lasted for nine years.
As well as the stage version of Dad’s Army (Shaftesbury, 1975) Pertwee also starred in the Ray Cooney farce There Goes The Bride, his first West End role, at the Piccadilly Theatre. In 1975 he was part of the Dad’s Army ensemble that took part in the Royal Variety Performance. In the 1980s he appeared in the Ray Cooney farces See How They Run and Run For Your Wife, which successfully toured in Canada.
Pertwee was the author of several books, the first of which, Promenades and Pierrots (1979) traced the history of seaside entertainment in Britain. A follow-up, By Royal Command (1981), looked at the links between the Royal family and showbusiness. His autobiography, A Funny Way To Make A Living, appeared in 1996.
Date of Birth: 2 January 1932, Purley, Surrey, UK
Birth Name: Richard Thorp
Richard Thorp starred as Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay in the 1955 film The Dam Busters, but became better known to millions of television viewers as Alan Turner, the landlord of The Woolpack in the Yorkshire-based soap Emmerdale.
Alan Turner joined the series as a farm manager in March 1982, and went on to become its longest-running character. Inept, boozy and bullying, he ran through a series of lovers, wives and secretaries; but in later years, after becoming landlord of The Woolpack, he sobered up and, by the time of Thorp’s death, had become a pillar of the community “like the village war memorial”, as he put it.
Thorp recalled that when he first joined, the plot lines were very different from those of later episodes: “I remember one story, and it ran for about five episodes. It was all what Seth was doing to Amos’s rhubarb. We didn’t have to go to bed with anybody or get jolly with our mothers, we just put a few slugs on a chap’s rhubarb. I enjoyed that more because everybody knew the characters more back then rather than who they were sleeping with and who was gay and who wasn’t.”
Thorp’s character was central to a number of pivotal plots, including one in which his daughter Steph (played by Lorraine Chase) tried to bump him off by pushing him down the stairs, before keeping him drugged to the eyeballs in a B&B in order to get her hands on his money.
When he first joined Emmerdale, Thorp, a fit 50 year-old, was something of a pin-up for women of a certain age, but by the mid-1990s he had ballooned to 18 stone and had become, in his own words, “less a national heart-throb and more the local heart attack”. In consequence his character became more marginal, and he admitted finding it frustrating not to be given decent storylines. In 2010 he said: “I recently asked the scriptwriters if I could get a juicy love interest, but they said that given my age, they would have to dig someone up!”
But he admitted that he could not afford to retire because he needed the cash to pay three ex-wives.
Richard Thorp was born on January 2 1932 at Purley, Surrey, and got his first film role in Robert Jordan Hill’s 1949 comedy thriller Melody in the Dark. His breakthrough part was that of Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay in The Dam Busters, which he landed after applying for a more minor role because he bore a physical resemblance to the real Maudslay, who had died during the operation.
Thorp appeared in several more feature films, including The Barretts Of Wimpole Street (1957), but later confessed that he had been too lazy to pursue a career in Hollywood, and in any case preferred working in television soaps because they guaranteed a regular income.
Before joining Emmerdale, Thorp was best known as Dr John Rennie in the ITV hospital soap, Emergency Ward 10, which he joined in 1957. Often described by tabloids as “the nation’s heart-throb” who was a regular on the show for 10 years and became so popular with its mainly female audience that its producers employed two secretaries purely to deal with his fan mail.
Thorp continued to work despite ill health. In 1994, after starring on This Is Your Life, he had a serious heart attack and was in intensive care for three days. Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukaemia. Although the cancer did not develop, he continued to live with it. In 2009 he took a break from Emmerdale to have knee replacement surgery.
Richard Thorp’s three marriages ended in divorce, and in the 1960s he was briefly (though secretly) engaged to Babs Beverley of the Beverley Sisters.
Date of Birth: 19 June 1940, Thrybergh, South Yorkshire, UK
Birth Name: George Frederick Speight
Nicknames: Paul Shane
Paul Shane made the leap from provincial stand-up club comedian to television stardom when he played the lowbrow holiday camp compère Ted Bovis in the popular 1980s BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!
Jimmy Perry, who co-wrote the series with David Croft, was watching Coronation Street in 1979 when he spotted Shane playing a minor character called Frank Roper, a Post Office official. The scene lasted only two minutes, but Perry immediately realised that the bull-necked Shane would be perfect as Bovis, the resident comic at Maplin’s holiday camp.
In an ensemble cast typical of the Croft-Perry canon (Dad’s Army; It Ain’t Half Hot Mum), Shane was perhaps the character with the greatest individual heft, a wily, vulgar, end-of-the-pier throwback concerned to raise a belly-laugh at every turn and, in so doing (as one commentator has observed), elevate low comedy to the status of a high art.
Amid the shabby splendour of Maplin’s Hawaiian Ballroom, Ted Bovis unceasingly strove to fashion his latest “belter” by way of a gag or comedy routine. Moreover, Shane as Bovis squat, pie-faced, garishly dressed, with a ragged moustache and heavily-greased slicked back hair was the ideal foil for his sidekick, the lanky, gormless novice comedian, Spike Dixon (Jeffrey Holland).
Shane’s path to fame had started in the late 1960s when he was invalided out of his job as a coalminer and determined to make a career as a singer, borrowing from the repertoires of stars ranging from Matt Monro to Elvis Presley. His bookings took him from venues like the Cemetery Road Social Club, Scunthorpe, where he played to an audience of steelworkers impatient for the glamorous grandmother competition final, to cabaret dates at leading nightspots across Yorkshire and Lancashire.
As an unreconstructed provincial entertainer, it was Shane’s good fortune to emerge into the national consciousness before television sitcoms became neutered by the dictates of political correctness, relying instead certainly in the case of Hi-de-Hi! (1980-88) on the saucy humour of the seaside postcard. This was given full rein in the portrayal of Maplin’s Yellowcoats, the cadre of young women led by the man-eating Gladys Pugh (Ruth Madoc), charged with keeping up the campers’ flagging esprit de corps.
Although the series became the programme Butlins loved to hate for perpetuating the stereotypical image of holiday camps as chilly, regimented and down-at-heel, in 1985 the company hired Shane to appear as Ted Bovis in a publicity stunt assisted by a leggy Redcoat.
The son of working-class parents, Paul Shane was born George Frederick Speight on June 19 1940 at Thrybergh, near Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Leaving Spurley Hey school, Rotherham, he took a job as a miner, so impressing his workmates at Silverwood Colliery with his singing at the coalface that they urged him to turn professional. When, in 1967, he injured his back slipping on soap in the pithead baths, he was pensioned off at the age of 27.
With his compensation he bought the equipment he needed to launch himself as a singer in the clubs and pubs of South Yorkshire, encouraged by his mother, who herself occasionally sang at weddings. Initially calling himself Paul Stephens, he made his debut as a vocalist at a local pub, followed by his first club booking at St Ann’s Club, Rotherham, for which he was paid 30 shillings (£1.50).
Making the transformation from singer to comedian, Paul Stephens began with a “straight” rendition of Green Green Grass of Home, but eventually made it a comic send-up of the Tom Jones hit. Warned by Equity that there was another entertainer called Paul Stephens, he decided to change his name to Paul Shane after seeing the Alan Ladd Western Shane (1953) on television.
As his career as a club entertainer around the pit villages flourished, Shane started to pick up small parts on television. In 1977 he appeared for the first time in Coronation Street as a disc-jockey called Dave-the-Rave, and in May 1979 he was cast as Frank Roper, the appearance noticed by Jimmy Perry, who offered him the part of Ted Bovis in Hi-de-Hi!
When the series ended in 1988, Perry and Croft offered Shane the part of the butler Alf Stokes in their next sitcom You Rang, M’Lord? A comic parody of dramas like Upstairs, Downstairs, which ran until 1993. Although in 1991 ITV had given Shane his own series, Very Big Very Soon, in which he starred as a northern variety agent, it fared badly in the ratings and was pulled after one series.
In Oh, Doctor Beeching! (1995-97), Shane played the acting stationmaster Jack Skinner. Other television roles included appearances in Holby City, Muck And Brass, Kavanagh QC and Emmerdale. In 1981 he was the subject of an edition of This Is Your Life.
Shane’s stage work included roles in Run For Your Wife at the Whitehall Theatre, as Mr Bumble in a revival of Oliver! at the London Palladium, and in tours of Fur Coat And No Knickers and Ray Cooney’s Out Of Order. His numerous pantomime appearances included Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk in 2008. His last film role was as a retired bank robber in The Grey Mile (2012).
Date of Birth: 16 July 1946, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
Birth Name: Richard LeParmentier
Richard LeParmentier was an American character actor but in the 1970s moved to Britain, where he was cast as a young space station commander who is almost choked to death by Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film (1977).
Although LeParmentier appeared in more than 50 films and television series, it was the modest role of Admiral Motti, commander of the Death Star space station, who foolishly mocks Vader’s “sorcerer’s ways” and “sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion”, for which he became best known.
Darth Vader (played by David Prowse) finds Motti’s lack of faith disturbing, and starts crushing his windpipe using the “Force” (a powerful form of telepathy), choking the young commander, but allowing him to live.
Devotees of the Star Wars canon have acclaimed “a brilliantly understated piece of cinema that showcased the true power of the Dark Side while highlighting the Empire’s main weakness over-confidence”. The scene remains a favourite with fans and has even spawned an online craze known as “Vadering”.
LeParmentier’s role may have been modest but it was also crucial. It was his character’s reckless act of defiance in standing up to Darth Vader that prompted the Rebel Alliance’s strike on the Death Star.
“I did the choking effect by flexing muscles in my neck,” LeParmentier recalled. “It’s one of the most famous Star Wars scenes and it’s the most parodied one too. Eddie Izzard does a bit on it in one of his routines.”
In 1988 LeParmentier played Lieutenant Santino in the animated classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) a role that furnished him with the celebrated line: “Now that’s what I call one seriously disturbed toon” and found steady work as an actor on British television.
During the 1980s and 1990s he was also a television screenwriter, scripting episodes of Boon and The Bill for ITV.
Richard LeParmentier was born on July 16 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but moved to Britain in 1974, settling in Bath. He appeared in the David Essex rock film Stardust (1974), and with James Caan in the futuristic Rollerball (1975). But it was a week’s work at Elstree Studios in 1976, in between playing bit parts on British television, that changed his life when he shot his scene as Motti in Star Wars.
“I thought the film was going to be a success as soon as I read the script, despite the fact people were laughing at us as we shot the thing,” LeParmentier recalled. Walter Murch, a friend of the film’s director George Lucas, explained that people thought it was laughable “because they couldn’t see the vision behind it. It was in pieces. It’s just that once you see the vision, then it all makes sense.”
For more than 30 years LeParmentier was a fixture at Star Wars conventions all over the world, often signing pictures of himself sporting his Imperial Officer uniform while being choked by Darth Vader’s “Force”. His role of Motti, although the briefest of episodes in a 40-year acting career, occupied most of his official website.
One section of the site called “Motti’s hotties” featured a series of photos of LeParmentier posing with female fans, one of whom wore a bored expression and a shirt emblazoned “porn star”. Interviewed on the site, LeParmentier said he would prefer to be known as a writer first and as Admiral Motti second. “But you can’t deny being part of [one of] the most popular and influential films of all time,” he explained.
In the 13th James Bond film Octopussy (1983), LeParmentier played an American aide.
While appearing as a reporter in Superman II (1980) he met the British actress Sarah Douglas, who was cast as the Kryptonian supervillain Ursa. They married the following year, but divorced in 1984.
Date of Birth: 13 October 1925, Grantham, UK
Birth Name: Margaret Hilda Roberts
Nicknames: Margaret Hilda Thatcher
Britain's first female prime minister whose three terms broke the pattern of postwar politics.
Margaret Thatcher was a political phenomenon. She was the first woman elected to lead a major western power; the longest serving British prime minister for 150 years; the most dominant and the most divisive force in British politics in the second half of the 20th century. She was also a global figure, a star in the US, a heroine in the former Soviet republics of central Europe, a point of reference for politicians in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
In Britain, the Thatcher years were a watershed. After them, the ideals of collective effort, full employment and a managed economy all tarnished by the recurring crises of the 1970s were discredited in the popular imagination. They were replaced with the politics of me and mine, deregulation of the markets and privatisation of the state's assets that echoed growing individual prosperity. Thatcher did not cause these changes, but she legitimised and embedded them. Her belief in the moral authority of the individual and the imperative of freedom of choice led left as well as right to reappraise the welfare state. Her perception of economics, society and Britain's place in the world continue to shape British politics.
It is often claimed that she gave no warning of the revolution she was about to unleash when she won her first majority in 1979. In fact, although the official manifesto was opaque, her speeches in the years between defeating Edward Heath for the leadership of the Conservative party in 1975 and coming to power laid out the ideology that underpinned her policies over the next 11 years.
Thatcher was pragmatic about her methods but constant in her targets: socialism, the Labour party and above all the collectivist state that Labour, abetted by one-nation postwar Conservatism, had constructed. She believed that the state was a burden on private enterprise. Its cost was crippling the economy and overloading it with debt. Vested interest had been allowed to flourish, most notably in the trade unions but also in the nationalised industries of coal, steel and telecommunications.
Many others shared her analysis. The strength of her beliefs gave her the courage to push on where others might have conciliated. She came to ignore criticism with a ruthlessness that was in the end her undoing.
She was not the only person who saw a world divided between good and evil. What marked her out was a willingness to say so, abroad as well as at home. Soviet leaders, after years of detente, were startled to find their regime denounced as the embodiment of inhumanity, bent on military expansion. Before she had won a general election vote in the UK, Thatcher had won the sobriquet overseas of the Iron Lady.
Only an outsider could have given birth to an ideology as iconoclastic as Thatcherism, and Thatcher always regarded herself as a challenger of the status quo, a rebel leader against established power. What mattered to her was less the breadth of her support than the depth of her convictions.
In time, there grew around her a mythology that rooted her absolute faith in the individual in her upbringing above the grocer's shop in the Lincolnshire town of Grantham. She was the second of two daughters of Alderman Alfred Roberts and his wife, Beatrice. The two girls were educated at Kesteven and Grantham girls' school, and at 17 Margaret won a place to study chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford, where she was tutored by the future Nobel prizewinner Dorothy Hodgkin (with whom she remained on respectful terms, despite Hodgkin's passionate opposition to nuclear weapons). She graduated in 1947.
Less than two years later she was selected to contest the hopeless Kent seat of Dartford, despite the reservations of some party activists who were appalled at the prospect of a 23-year-old woman as their candidate. She contested Dartford in both the 1950 and 1951 general elections.
It was at a social function after her first adoption meeting that she met Denis Thatcher, a businessman with a passion for rugby who had earlier rejected the chance of fighting the seat himself. Denis drove the candidate back to London. Well-off, divorced and amiable, Denis ran his family paint firm, which was later absorbed into Burmah Oil. They were married in December 1951. In 1953, their twins, Mark and Carol, were born. Denis, it was claimed, spent the day at a cricket match Carol later called their marriage "a partnership of parallel lives" and while still in the maternity hospital, Margaret signed up to study for her bar finals. She was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1954.
For a young woman with a new family, to become an MP was unprecedented. But in 1958, she was selected for the rock-solid north London constituency of Finchley, the seat she represented from October 1959 until she retired at the general election in 1992.
In October 1961, after only 20 months on the backbenches, the then prime minister, Harold Macmillan, made Thatcher a junior pensions minister (a job she later gave to her own successor, John Major). It would be nearly 30 years before she returned to the backbenches. In 1967, with her party in opposition, she was promoted to the shadow cabinet by the new party leader, Heath, and when he won the election of June 1970, she became education secretary, the only woman in the cabinet.
Here, her public reputation was made as "Thatcher the milk-snatcher", the minister who cut spending by ending universal free milk for primary school children. It was a defining moment, but also a rare breach of the Conservatives' unwillingness to disturb the postwar consensus. Much more in keeping was her continuation of Labour's plan to replace grammar schools with comprehensives.
But she was at the ringside as Heath's experiments in monetarism and industrial relations legislation crashed and burned. Heath resumed the interventionist policies of the 1950s. In February 1974, as a miners' overtime ban prompted power cuts and the introduction of a three-day working week, Heath asked: "Who governs Britain?" He lost the general election. Thatcher later claimed she had always been uncomfortable with Heath's consensual approach. At the time, however, she was silent and loyal.
However, after Harold Wilson narrowly won a second election victory in October 1974, Thatcher was among the embryonic new right preparing to challenge Heath. Its intellectual leader was Keith Joseph, but his chance of leading the party vanished with a notorious speech, claiming that the poor had too many children. Thatcher decided she would put her name forward for the contest. "Someone who represents our viewpoint has to stand," she told Joseph. Denis told her she was out of her mind, a view echoed in every newspaper. To a party that could not decide whether it was worse to be female or to be suburban, she appeared entirely unelectable.
Yet she defeated Heath in the first ballot and four other contenders in the second. The beaten favourites included William Whitelaw, the man who was later her indispensable deputy. She won in an ambush that capitalised on discontent with Heath rather than positive enthusiasm for her. As a result, she was never sure of her party: "Is he one of us?" became the defining question of the next 11 years. Many of her backbench colleagues shared the prevailing view in the Labour government that Thatcher's leadership made the Tories unelectable. She worked assiduously to meet a barrage of criticism criticisms that often focused as much on attributes of gender as on matters of policy. Her hair, her clothes and particularly her voice were attacked. Politics remained a largely male preserve, about the strength to confront, whether it was trade union power, economic crisis or Soviet threat.
Thatcher's only cabinet-level experience had been in a relative backwater. She had always conformed to the norms of a woman in public life. Engaged in discourse largely with men, she observed the conventions, flirted, sometimes shouted and occasionally wept. Her advisers emphasised the feminine, softened her appearance and lowered her voice. Yet she was always most authentic when she was defiant. If a single phrase captured her political identity, it was from her 1980 party conference speech: "This lady's not for turning." She played by the rules that demanded that she present herself as soft and yielding, but by her diligent attention to detail, the concentration of her focus, and her appetite for conflict, ultimately she subverted them.
Thatcher drew up a new settlement with the welfare state, and organised labour and the City in a way that rewarded enterprise and individual effort over the collective and the communitarian. She regarded group interests, from trade unions to the professions, as protectors of privilege.
Although monetarism had already been forced upon the preceding Labour government by the International Monetary Fund, under Thatcher it was presented as a crusade, until it was discreetly abandoned in the mid-1980s.As the global slump reached its nadir in early 1981, she and her chancellor, Geoffrey Howe, defied all appeals for Keynesian-style reflation. In the first budget of the administration, VAT was nearly doubled to 15% while personal taxes were slashed the top rate of income tax from 83% to 60%, and the standard rate from 33% to 30%. Over the next 10 years, the standard rate came down to 25%, and the top rate to 40%. Interest rates were to be the principal method of controlling the money supply. Removing exchange controls was the first symbolic piece of deregulation. In September 1982, unemployment which became the de facto weapon against the trade unions reached 3 million.
A series of employment acts were introduced which ended trade unions' traditional show-of-hands votes and brought in secret pre-strike ballots as well as decennial votes on the political levy. Wages councils were constrained. In a second tranche of legislation in the late 1980s, the closed shop and secondary strike action were outlawed.
Thatcher thought the government had no role to play in public sector pay negotiations or in seeking to secure industrial peace. The steelworkers were the first to clash, and although, in 1981, planned pit closures were aborted to avert a miners' strike, by early 1984 the government was prepared literally for what was to be the last stand of the old trade union movement in its heavy industry heartland: the year-long showdown with the miners that culminated in mass closures and ultimately privatisation.
Thatcher shrugged off record personal unpopularity and relished facing down her critics. But she would not have survived without the crisis on the left which led to the formation of the breakaway Social Democratic party. In 1981 there were riots in Brixton, south London, Toxteth in Liverpool and Manchester's Moss Side. From March 1984, striking miners and police were in frequent, violent confrontation. In 1985 Brixton erupted again, and there was rioting too in the Handsworth area of Birmingham. In the same year PC Keith Blakelock was murdered during disturbances on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north London.
Privatisation, which came to be a fundamental of the Thatcherite mission, was only hinted at in 1979, and in the depression of the early 1980s caution prevailed. When the ailing nationalised motor manufacturer British Leyland ran into trouble in early 1980, Joseph, then Thatcher's industry minister, bailed it out like a Heathite. Nonetheless, in 1980-81 more than £400m was raised from selling shares in companies such as Ferranti and Cable and Wireless. Later came North Sea oil (Britoil) and British Ports, and from late 1984 the major sales of British Telecom, British Gas and British Airways, culminating at the end of the decade in water and electricity. By this time these sales were raising more than £5bn a year.
Conflict was at the heart of Thatcher's style. But it is a myth that she never ducked a challenge. Ever a pragmatist, she was astute in the fights she picked. The battles during her first term, from 1979 to 1983, ranged across a forbiddingly wide terrain and set the tone for the years to come. Not all of the challenges were sought: the IRA was behind many of them. In August 1979 Lord Mountbatten and 18 soldiers were murdered in separate attacks. In April 1980, she authorised the SAS to launch their live-on-TV rescue of 19 hostages from Iraqi-trained terrorists in the Iranian embassy siege. The following year, she refused to intervene to prevent the deaths of Bobby Sands and nine other republican hunger strikers in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland.
The IRA's mainland bombing campaign that ensued added to the impression of a government under siege. Airey Neave, who had run Thatcher's leadership campaign, had been assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army just before the 1979 election. She lost another intimate, Ian Gow, at the hands of the IRA 10 years later. On 12 October 1984 the Provisionals' campaign nearly claimed Thatcher herself. Five people died in the bombing of the Grand hotel during the Conservative party conference in Brighton. Others, including the cabinet ministers Norman Tebbit and John Wakeham, were seriously injured.
The prime minister responded with resilience. Betraying no sign of shock, she delivered her speech to the conference later the same day, as planned. She was already negotiating with Dublin what was to become a year later the Anglo-Irish agreement, an attempt to improve security co-operation for which she faced down her Ulster Unionist friends and conceded the acceptance of an Irish dimension in the affairs of Northern Ireland. She did not seek a settlement, but with hindsight the agreement can be read as a major step in the peace process.
The conflict with which she was most closely identified, and the one that arguably rescued her from being just a one-term wonder, was the Falklands war. On 2 April 1982, General Leopoldo Galtieri invaded the islands in the South Atlantic. Discussions about a leaseback and the removal of a naval patrol vessel had been misread as a sign that Britain was ready to abandon its distant colony. Thatcher, ignoring the initial advice given to her by much of her cabinet – and inspired by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Henry Leach took the extraordinary risk of dispatching a taskforce to retake the islands. While negotiations for a peaceful outcome stuttered on through the US secretary of state, Alexander Haig, the Royal Navy steamed south. On 21 May the British landed and on 14 June the Argentinians surrendered. Less than a year later, the Conservatives were returned with a majority of 144 over a divided opposition.
Thatcher's years in office were bookended by two defining events of global significance. On Christmas Day 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Ten years later, the Berlin Wall came down, heralding the collapse of the Soviet empire. The invasion of Afghanistan reinforced Thatcher's belief in the expansionist intent of the Soviet empire. She became the evangelist for America's ambition to upgrade its own and Nato's nuclear defences with Cruise and Pershing missiles. In 1980 she announced Cruise would come to Britain. As a result, the perimeter fence around the RAF base at Greenham Common, Berkshire, became the centre for a decade of anti-nuclear campaigning by women's groups. She negotiated to upgrade Britain's independent nuclear deterrent by acquiring Trident II, at a cost of £7.5bn.
Yet for all the attention to hardware, Thatcher always believed its citizens would be the ones to destroy the Soviet empire. Visiting the Berlin Wall in 1982, she prophesied that it would be brought down by the "anger and frustration of the people". She promoted co-operation and fostered relations with Poland and Hungary, encouraging their leaders to imagine a world after communism. At the same time, she sought out modernisers in the Soviet Union and brought Mikhail Gorbachev, when he was still a relatively minor figure in the Politburo, to the attention of Ronald Reagan as a man "to do business with". She made a triumphant visit to Russia in 1987 where she was mobbed by the public and took the argument against communism direct to live television, "as if she was fighting a byelection in Moscow North," this paper's correspondent wrote. If her subsequent reluctance to accept German reunification suggests her belief in the people was less deep-rooted than she would claim, she was a leading force in undermining the power of the Soviet Union.
In her battle against communism, she marched in step with the US. She and Reagan were in particular sympathy (sorely tested when, in October 1983, the US invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada, a Commonwealth member), although she disagreed strongly with his dream of major nuclear disarmament. That, she considered, was a threat to European security.
The Westland affair early in 1986 marked the beginnings of Thatcher's break with Europe. She preferred to see the ailing British helicopter company merge with the American Sikorsky rather than accept the European solution that her defence secretary and leading critic, Michael Heseltine, had wanted. He resigned. In the ensuing row, Thatcher came close to being implicated in the deliberate discrediting of her rival. Her protege, the trade secretary Leon Brittan, was forced to resign. Her pro-Americanism was sealed in April 1986 by her support, alone in Europe, for the US bombing raid on Libya.
Thatcher had originally been a supporter of Britain's membership of the Common Market and Labour's complete rejection of it after the successful referendum in 1975 only strengthened its appeal to her. However, she was elected in 1979 on a promise to seek a budget rebate, a preoccupation that dogged every summit for her first five years until she reluctantly agreed a settlement at Fontainebleau in 1984.
A period of relative calm, during which Thatcher advocated speeding up the single market negotiations followed, until the passage of the Single European Act in 1987. At that point, she realised that her ideal of Europe as a trading partner, a market for British goods and services where remaining trade barriers would wither away, was at odds with the vision of closer political integration shared by the European commission president, Jacques Delors, and most other European nations. Her battles against it became one of the deadly fissures in her relations with her cabinet.
It is one of the paradoxes of an era that will be remembered for its hostility to the EU that in the Single European Act (which led to the Maastricht treaty), Thatcher ceded more control over British affairs than any prime minister before, while in sponsoring the Channel tunnel, she established a permanent land route to the continent.
In 1988, she made a speech in Bruges attacking "creeping Euro-federalism". Throughout the following year, her chancellor, Nigel Lawson, fought for a date for sterling to join the exchange rate mechanism (ERM), to which the UK was committed and which would allow interest rates to fall. Thatcher was determined that the value of the pound should not be pegged to European currencies. Protesting at the influence of the economist Alan Walters as a rival centre of advice, Lawson resigned.
Thatcher's desire to build a free-market Europe was matched by her attempt to strengthen the role of the individual against the state at home. The election of June 1987 produced another landslide, her third election victory. It heralded a programme of radical public sector reform intended to assert the power of the consumer and bring market discipline into schools and hospitals.
The 1988 Education Act brought in city technology colleges and grant-maintained schools, free of local authority control. Housing action trusts further limited local councils' room for manoeuvre. A purchaser-provider split was introduced into the NHS. The rhetoric of public spending cuts continued, although the records show that public spending rose every year in her time in office, declining only as a share of GDP.
Local councils, particularly Ken Livingstone's Greater London council, were among Thatcher's most effective critics. Her response was the poll tax, properly known as the community charge, levied on an individual basis that would link council spending to local taxes. She ignored advice that such a tax would be impossible to collect and that it was also severely regressive. In March 1990 there were protests and riots in a mass rejection of an unjust tax.
Meanwhile the party splits over Europe were reaching a climax. Geoffrey Howe, an early and loyal Thatcherite, had supported Lawson over Britain's membership of the ERM. Only the threat of their resignation had forced her to agree to join. In revenge, Howe was sacked as foreign secretary and made leader of the House and deputy prime minister. In October 1990, as Thatcher stood at the dispatch box after the Rome summit (where she had been ambushed with demands for further integration) dismissing, it seemed, any progress at all with "No! No! No!", Howe finally resolved to resign.
The defiance that had once so impressed her party, and many in the country, now sounded dangerously deluded even to some of her closest supporters, especially those in marginal seats. It took less than 10 days from 13 November when Howe made his resignation speech to 22 November when Thatcher announced her resignation for Conservative MPs to eject her.
At the 1992 election, Thatcher retired from the Commons and took a seat in the Lords. Powerfully affected by a sense of injustice, she found it hard to desert the field of domestic politics. Her only consolation was that in ensuring the accession for her favourite, Major, she denied it to Heseltine. But she was soon letting it be known that Major was not, after all, one of us. After his defeat in May 1997, his successors with the exception of Iain Duncan Smith – were found to be disappointments too.
The first of her two volumes of memoirs, The Downing Street Years, appeared in 1993, followed two years later by The Path to Power. She also established the Thatcher Foundation, which, funded by the large fees she could command for public speaking in the US and Japan, was intended to promote her ideas, not least in the emerging democracies of eastern Europe. In March 2002, after a series of minor strokes, she gave up public speaking.
Thatcher broke the pattern of postwar politics and changed its nature. Labour accommodated rather than reversed her attack on the welfare state and left her employment legislation almost untouched. When the Conservatives finally returned to power in May 2010, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, David Cameron and George Osborne shared her priorities and used her language. So complete, it seems, was her undermining of the role of the state that even the catastrophic failure of deregulated markets has yet to trigger a reappraisal.
It is a paradox of her period in office that, while seeking to limit the scope of government, she introduced a style of command and control, top-down, centralised authority that strengthened it and has proved hard for her successors to resist. It has leaked into the way political parties are managed, so that they struggle to regenerate a spirit of local activism. Some of the most valuable institutions of civil society from the churches to the trade unions have been scarred by her attacks on collective enterprise.
Denis, to whom Thatcher had awarded a baronetcy in her resignation honours, died in 2003.
Date of Birth: 31 July 1947, Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, UK
Birth Name: Richard Griffiths
Richard Griffiths was one of Britain’s most recognisable actors, deploying his girth and equally sizeable talent to great effect on television, on stage, and on the big screen.
He was memorable in a host of different genres, with a range and subtlety that belied his giant physique. A natural in Shakespeare’s comic roles, notably Falstaff, he later captured the imagination of young filmgoers with his performances as the hideous Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter series. But it was, perhaps oddly, for his portrayal of two sexual predators that he was best-loved.
As Uncle Monty in Withnail and I (1987) he erupted, cheeks lightly rouged, into the bedroom of his nephew’s terrified flatmate, declaring that “I mean to have you, boy, even if it must be burglary.” Like the film’s other stars, Paul McGann and Richard E Grant, Griffiths would have such memorable snippets of dialogue quoted at him by legions of fans for the rest of his career. (“They’re all a bit silly about it, and they quote stuff and expect me to know it. I find that very odd.”)
Almost two decades later he played Hector, an inspirational teacher who fondles his pupils while giving them lifts home on his motorcycle, in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys (2004). The play was a smash hit in London, and went on to repeat the success on Broadway. Like Withnail it contained some lines that left audiences helpless with laughter (notably when one boy sighs: “I’m a Jew ... I’m small ... I’m homosexual ... and I live in Sheffield ... I’m f---ed.”) A large part of its appeal, however was what its director Nicholas Hytner called Griffiths’s “masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation”.
Griffiths was always at pains to insist that Hector is not a paedophile the boys in the play are all over 18. “I’d feed all paedophiles into a tree-shredder,” he told interviewers. “One minute with a tree shredder. Anything left the police can have.” And he was almost as intemperate with audience members who forgot to turn off their mobile phones. At least three times he interrupted the play in mid-performance, threatening to walk off.
Griffiths became so associated with gay roles that many assumed he was gay himself. “Look, I’m just acting,” he said. In fact he was married and declared a pronounced preference for women of a fuller figure. “I could never understand the attraction of Bette Davis. I always preferred Jane Russell.” Moreover, not only was he not gay, it turned out that he had started life so skinny that he required medical treatment.
Richard Griffiths was born on July 31 1947 in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire. His father, Thomas, was a steelworker who also fought for money in pubs and, like his mother, the former Jane Denmark, was deaf-mute. Only two of the couple’s five children survived: two were stillborn and one, a longed-for daughter, died days after birth. The poverty, Griffiths said later, was “Dickensian”, with the unusual twist that, as he communicated with his parents by sign language, and the family had no television or radio, Richard’s childhood home was largely silent.
He ran away frequently but always came back to his parents because “I was sort of responsible for them. From the age of four I would help with the shopping. They would sign and I would translate to the shopkeeper.” As a result, he complained, “I have a lifelong loathing of shopping.”
He was also skinny as a boy, so skinny in fact that aged eight he was given treatment on his pituitary gland. His metabolism slowed and he gained 60 per cent of his body weight within a year. He was picked on at school but, owing to his new-found heft, coupled with a temper that he retained throughout his life (“I think I get it from my father. He was a very aggressive man”), he was more than able to hold his own. “I was the biggest. I once attacked two kids because they threw an apple core at me and it hit me in the face and everyone laughed and that was what really made me angry, being laughed at. So I pursued them round the school and beat them up. I was so angry. It was the best fight I ever had.”
He left St Bede’s school at 15 and applied for “a poxy job in a warehouse” only to find himself one of 300 hopefuls; so he returned to full-time education at Stockton and Billingham College. Taken by a teacher to see his first professional theatre production at 17, when he was in the audience of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Griffiths found himself spellbound.
He applied to do a drama course at the Northern College of Music in Manchester, which did not go down well at home. “In Teesside at the time ... if you said you wanted to be an actor it meant you had to be put to death. I had to keep the acting secret from my Dad. He raged at its pooffery when he found out.”
His first major role was in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the college’s drama society. When the student playing the governor of Massachusetts fell ill, Griffiths, promoted from a minor role, found himself overawed. “But I learnt it and did it.”
Like the principal characters in Withnail and I, Griffiths’s years as an aspiring actor were hard. But he soon realised that the weight he struggled with was a theatrical asset. Early in his career he was playing the Griffin in Alice in Wonderland when the actor playing the Mock Turtle turned to him and said: “Now listen to me, lad, you are very, very useful. You’ll never be out of a job.”
In the mid-1970s Griffiths was spotted by Trevor Nunn, then the Royal Shakespeare Company’s artistic director, and moved to live in Stratford. He rose through the roster of roles, eventually playing Bottom and Trinculo as well as Volpone and Henry VIII.
Still, it was a precarious life, and the best financial rewards came from advertising. Griffiths appeared in a series of television ads for Holsten lager, then in 1979 was asked to go to America for three days to film a series of ads for BMW. But Nunn would not give him the time off from the RSC and Griffiths lost out, a blow he never forgot. “That would have meant never having to worry about overheads again, and I could have devoted my life to interesting theatrical projects.” Instead, he would have wait until the Harry Potter films (from 2001) to achieve real financial security despite its subsequent success, Withnail and I was a flop at the box office.
Griffiths appeared in many other films, from Gandhi (1982) to Naked Gun 2 1/2 (1991), and also became well known to viewers of Pie in the Sky as Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe, a food-loving policeman who longs to retire from the force and set up his own restaurant. The light-hearted drama ran for five series on BBC1 from 1994.
Despite his success, Griffiths was not averse to moaning about the lot of the actor. It was a trait, he admitted, that drove his wife, Heather Gibson, an Irish actress whom he met in 1973 in a production of Lady Windermere’s Fan, “nuts”.
His most enduring concern, however, was with his size. His bountiful proportions may have come in useful in securing work, but there were complications elsewhere. Armrests on seats were a particular bugbear. And while he felt that the business of moving about and acting provided some sort of veil to his shape, posing for still photographs left him uncomfortably exposed. “I don’t like the way I look so I don’t like being photographed. I become defensive.” Being asked to appear naked, as his co-stars were in a production of Equus (2007), was never an issue. “Thank goodness it’s not me being naked. I wouldn’t inflict my naked body on any paying audience.”
“Everybody my age should be issued with a 2lb fresh salmon,” he told an interviewer before the play opened. “If you see someone young, beautiful and happy, you should slap them as hard as you can with it. When they ask, 'Why did you do that?’, you say, 'Because, you lucky young bastard, you don’t know how fortunate you are.’ And they don’t...”
Date of Birth: 8 April 1943, London, UK
Birth Name: James Herbert
James Herbert, the author sold more than 50 million horror novels, a tally bettered in the genre only by his friend Stephen King; Herbert wrote 23 books but was always rather to his frustration best known for his first two, The Rats (1974) and The Fog (1975).The Rats, a gory tale about mutant rodents taking over the country, was finished in nine months when Herbert was 28 and working as an art director in the same advertising company as Salman Rushdie. Herbert recalled making “loads of money” at the time but finding the job too easy: “I just decided to write a book, and it all poured out of me.”
The book did not meet with universal approval. Martin Amis, in the guise of “Henry Tilney” in the Observer, was the first to review it. “By page 20,” he wrote, “the rats are slurping the sleeping baby after the brave bow-wow has fought to the death to protect its charge. Enough to make a rodent retch, undeniably and enough to make any human pitch the book aside.”
The Sunday Times’s critic thought differently, calling The Rats “brilliant”; but when Herbert went into his local WH Smith’s and asked if they had the book, they replied no, and nor were they likely to. Such opprobrium inevitably heightened its appeal, and word quickly went around among teenagers that it was gripping stuff. Before long the book had sold more than a million copies.
Despite the commercial success of The Rats and his later novels, Herbert remained dissatisfied with his literary status, feeling that the “literary snobs” should take him more seriously. “I’ve always suffered from being labelled a horror writer just because I didn’t go to university, just because I still talk in my natural voice, just because I’m not as articulate as Martin Amis. We like to kid ourselves that we’re in an equal society, but we’re not.”
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Herbert referred to a men’s style magazine’s recommended reading list of 20th-century novels that one should read by the age of 30: alongside books by Joyce, Salinger and Heller was The Rats, by James Herbert. He also pointed out that his fourth novel, Fluke (1977), had found its way on to the GCSE syllabus, and that a professor at an American university had written to him to say that he was analysing the Herbert oeuvre.
“I know I’m good,” he said, “and I know I write well.” Of the explicit violence Amis affected to deplore, Herbert explained that “it flowed naturally from the pen. But I also wanted to show what it was really like to have your leg chewed by a mutant creature. I was very much against the Tom and Jerry and John Wayne types of violence where no one is ever really hurt, and Indians are killed without any suggestion that they may be husbands and fathers, and perhaps keep a dog back in the tepee.”
Herbert maintained that his books were moral works about redemption, “packed with metaphor and subtext”. But he did not deem them suitable reading matter for his own daughters until they were 15 (the books were banned from their school, so they couldn’t read them there either). “There are certain key scenes which are graphic,” Herbert admitted, “but I prefer to think of them as spiritual. It’s never wham, bam thank you ma’am unless it’s a subsidiary character.”
James Herbert was born on April 8 1943 in east London, just around the corner from the Krays. “Ours was the only Catholic household in the street,” he recalled. “All the rest were Jewish.” His parents ran a fruit stall in Bethnal Green market. His mother continued doing so into her seventies, and consistently turned down her son’s offers of a comfortable retirement in Sussex. At 75, she sat her GCSE in English. The day she passed, she filed for a divorce from her hard-drinking, gambling husband, but she continued to cook dinner for him once a week; someone would take it round to him on a bus.
At the age of 10, James followed his brother John on a scholarship to St Aloysius, a Roman Catholic grammar school in Highgate. John went on to become a “very, very middle-class” Lloyd’s broker. James progressed to Hornsey College of Art, and from there got a job in a small advertising agency, using the name of a better qualified friend (Denis Barker) for his interview. Before long, “Barker” had progressed to become group head in a larger agency, Charles Barker.
The idea for The Rats, Herbert explained, came from a line in Dracula in which a lunatic says he has seen 1,000 rats with red eyes staring up from the lawns. “I put that image together with my own experience of rats not fear of them, but loathing from growing up in the East End of London.” At the back of his house there had been some stables where the market traders dumped rotting fruit and vegetables. It was alive with rats.
Herbert wrote the book during evenings and weekends. Written in manuscript in purple felt tip pen, with barely a crossing out, he needed only one draft and then asked his wife to type it up a system he stuck to for subsequent novels. He had five rejection slips before he found a publisher, eventually selling it to New English Library for an advance payment of £150 and a royalty of five per cent.
After The Rats, Herbert wrote his books at the rate of roughly one a year until the turn of the century: The Fog (1975); The Survivor (1976); Fluke (1977); The Spear (1978); Lair (1979); The Dark (1980); The Jonah (1981); Shrine (1983); Domain (1984); Moon (1985); The Magic Cottage (1986); Sepulchre (1987); Haunted (1988); Creed (1990); Portent (1992); The City (1993); The Ghosts of Sleath (1993); ’48 (1996); Others (1999); Once (2001); Nobody True (2003); The Secret of Crickley Hall (2006); and Ash (2012).
Four of his novels The Rats, The Survivor, Fluke and Haunted were made into films; The Magic Cottage was dramatised for Radio 4; and The Secret of Crickley Hall was adapted for television by BBC One.
He was appointed OBE in 2010.
In 1979 Herbert was ordered to pay damages to the author Trevor Ravenscroft after Mr Justice Brightman ruled in the High Court that in The Spear an improbable story of neo-Nazi terrorism in England Herbert had copied from Ravenscroft’s The Spear of Destiny. “He did so to give his novel a backbone of truth with the least possible labour to himself,” said the judge, adding: “One must not underestimate the commercial attraction of the rubbish I have attempted to describe.”
For his later novels, Herbert tended towards supernatural plots. “The great advantage of my field is that you can always go way over the top if you’re in danger of getting bored,” he said. He claimed to have torn the horror genre from the grip of the bourgeoisie and “upper-middle-class writers like Dennis Wheatley”: “I made horror accessible by writing about working-class characters.”
Herbert lived in Sussex, with unbroken views of the South Downs. He aimed to be in his study by 10am and write until one, then from 2pm until six. Shrewd and cautious with his money, he was a member of Lloyd’s until 1991, when he withdrew.
“I worry about the many things that could happen to the people I love,” he said. “The books are full of that neurosis and I guess people tune into that. I have a dread of sounding pretentious and try not to talk too much about what I do.”
Date of Birth: 15 January 192, Dulwich, London, UK
Birth Name: Frank Thornton Ball
Nicknames: Frank Thornton
Best known as the haughty department store supervisor Captain Peacock in the TV comedy Are You Being Served?
The actor Frank Thornton, who has died aged 92, had a flair for comedy derived from the subtle craftsmanship of classical stage work. However, he will be best remembered for his longstanding characters in two popular BBC television comedy series the sniffily priggish Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served? and the pompous retired policeman Herbert "Truly" Truelove, in Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine.
Robertson Hare, the great Whitehall farceur, told him: "You'll never do any good until you're 40." And, said Thornton, "he was quite right." In the event, he was 51 when David Croft, producer of another long-running British staple, Dad's Army, remembered the tall, long-faced actor from another engagement and decided to cast him as the dapper floor-walker in charge of shop assistants played by Mollie Sugden, Wendy Richard, Trevor Bannister and John Inman in the Grace Brothers department store of Are You Being Served? (1973‑85). Thornton's latter-day Malvolio, all pinstripes and impassive disdain, proved a perfect antithesis to the general air of jobsworthy incompetence and smutty innuendo.
Captain Peacock was ideal casting for Thornton, who went on to appear in all 10 series. For when it came to a sense of the punctilious, the right way to do things, Thornton was your man.
In later life, he came to lament his own typecasting, feeling it had limited his chance to play more heavyweight roles. But his deadpan manner and ability to play the straight man gave him a career that extended for more than seven decades from a debut in 1940.It was Thornton's understated but exquisite sense of timing that marked him out and gave him his durability, something that the writer-director Ray Cooney put down to his early years in weekly repertory, where over a period of three years "you'd get through 150 plays. It steeped you in character work."
He recalled Thornton's ability to hold his ground in the most trying circumstances, citing an instance in the 1993 run of his West End farce It Runs in the Family. With the rest of the cast "corpsing" around him, Thornton, solid as a rock, and the foil for the surrounding mayhem, resisted by a desperate working of his eyebrows before finally succumbing "with tears pouring down his face". He was, says Cooney, the epitome of professionalism.
Born Frank Thornton Ball in Dulwich, south-east London, he was educated at Alleyn's school. He knew he wanted to be an actor from about the age of five, but first became an insurance clerk, taking drama classes at night at the London School of Dramatic Art. As a child, he described himself as "a bit of a loner, not one of the lads. I think I was probably a bit of a prig because I seem to have been stuck with this supercilious persona for as long as I can remember."
From his first professional appearance, in Terence Rattigan's French Without Tears in Co Tipperary, he swiftly graduated to companies led by the actor-managers Donald Wolfit where he met his future wife, Beryl Evans – and John Gielgud. After reaching the West End and appearing in the first production of Rattigan's Flare Path in 1942, Thornton then spent four years in the real RAF.
After demob, he divided his time between repertory and the West End before his television comedy career took off in 1960 with Michael Bentine's frenetic It's a Square World. Regular appearances followed alongside such comic greats as Tony Hancock (including the celebrated Hancock's Half Hour episode, The Blood Donor), Benny Hill, Eric Sykes, Ronnie Corbett and even Kenny Everett, on whose show he memorably appeared attired as a punk rocker.
But he also continued to work in the theatre. His air of lugubriousness served him well as a "grey-faced, bug-eyed" Eeyore (as one review put it), in an adaptation of Winnie the Pooh at the Phoenix theatre, London, in the early 1970s.
In 1980, he and Gwen Nelson were the old couple in Eugène Ionesco's absurdist drama The Chairs for the Royal Exchange, Manchester, and played Gremio in Jonathan Miller's TV version of The Taming of the Shrew. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he could be seen in the West End and elsewhere in classic revivals: Cooney farces, and musicals such as Me and My Girl (1984), Spread a Little Happiness (1992) and three of the Barbican's Lost Musicals series, Music in the Air (1993), the Gershwins' Strike Up the Band (1994) and Take Me Along (1995).
The reality TV court show got its comeuppance with the spoof version All Rise for Julian Clary (1996-97) in which Thornton supplied the necessary token gravitas. When his turn came for This Is Your Life in 1998, Clary responded with a glowing compliment: "I'm here, Frank, to tell the world what we all know, what a funny, amusing and very handsome man you are." By then Thornton had succeeded Michael Bates, Brian Wilde and Michael Aldridge in leading the exploits of the trio at the heart of Last of the Summer Wine: his tenure lasted from 1997 till the series came to a close in 2010.
Thornton had more than 60 film credits, including Victim (1961), The Dock Brief (1962), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (with Zero Mostel, 1966), A Flea in Her Ear (with Rex Harrison, 1968), The Bed Sitting Room (1969), The Old Curiosity Shop (1995) and Gosford Park (2001), as well as the Disney TV adaptation of Great Expectations (1991). His last appearance came in the 2012 film version of Run for Your Wife.
Date of Birth: 25 December 1925, Hull, UK
Birth Name: Norman Victor Collier
Nicknames: Norman Collier
Norman Collier belonged to the tradition of northern comics on which television feasted in the 1970s and 1980s before dumping them in favour of “alternative” comedians.
Collier started out on the northern club circuit, attracting an enthusiastic regional following before coming to wider attention with his debut on the Royal Variety Show in 1971. “Unknown comedian Norman Collier won a standing ovation for his act,” reported the Daily Express. “Norman turned out to be one of the big successes of this year’s Royal knees-up,” agreed the Daily Mirror.
He is perhaps best remembered for his recurring gag in which a northern club compère struggles with an intermittently faulty microphone; and another in which he created the noises, gestures and movements of a chicken, using his out-turned, off-the-shoulder jacket to suggest the creature’s wings, a routine that recalled the antics of Max Wall.
Drawing on the tradition of the 1950s radio comedian Al Read, Collier perfected a style of absurd situational monologues rather than relying on the usual rattle of quick-fire jokes. Although his set pieces often drew on northern working-class stereotypes, he made a point of avoiding the kind of racist material that proved the undoing of some other comedians, and made them unusable on television.
As well as making regular appearances on popular radio and television shows of the 1970s and 1980s, including The Generation Game, Blankety Blank and The Little And Large Show, Collier also toured extensively in Britain, the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East. Jimmy Tarbuck became a fan, acclaiming Collier as “the comedian’s comedian”.
Collier stumbled into showbusiness by chance. In 1948, when he was working as a builder’s labourer, a friend invited him for a pint at the social club in Perth Street, round the corner from his house in Hull. When the booked comedian failed to appear, Collier stepped forward. “In those days, if the act didn’t turn up, they asked for a volunteer,” he explained. “The next thing I knew, I was being announced.”
Notwithstanding his lack of experience, Collier paid five shillings (25p) for a Variety Artists’ Association card that allowed him to work in the clubs; in post-war Hull the working men’s clubs were all privately owned.
While venturing further afield to appear at nightclubs in Doncaster and Goole, he spent his days employed as a labourer at the DCL chemical works (now BP) at Saltend, on the outskirts of Hull. Once, when moving some scrap, he found a funnel and, using it as a prop, started shouting “Vote for Collier” through it. When he realised the boss was watching, Collier expected to be sacked. Instead, when the boss pointed to all his smiling colleagues, he was told to carry on.
By 1962 Collier was getting so much nightclub work that he turned professional. Booked for a show called Clubland Performance in Blackpool, hosted by Michael Aspel, he was subsequently signed to Lew Grade’s talent agency and billed with Cliff Richard and the Shadows. Collier was soon touring Britain with other big stars of the day, such as the Everly Brothers.
One of Collier’s sketches about a mythical northern working men’s club in which he played various characters, including the cloth-capped chairman became the basis of Granada Television’s popular Wheeltappers’ and Shunters’ Social Club series in the mid-1970s.
His own television debut was in 1965 on Let’s Laugh, made by the BBC in Manchester. Also on the bill was another unknown northern comedian, Les Dawson, and the singer Tom Jones, who, despite seeing his second single, It’s Not Unusual, rocket to the top of the record charts, arrived at the studios in a little blue van.
The eldest of eight children, Norman Victor Collier was born in Hull on Christmas Day 1925, and is said to have weighed 15lb 4oz at birth. His expanding family lived in a two-bedroomed house with an outside lavatory and no hot water. As the eldest child, Norman had to run errands and bathe the other children.
“We were like rats in a box,” he recalled. “Everything was on tick, and I used to run round to the shops at nearly closing time on a Sunday night and ask them to fill my carrier bag up with stale pastry for twopence. I also used to go to the old marketplace in Hull and bid for meat, sixpence a joint.”
At the age of 17 he joined the Royal Navy, and towards the end of the Second World War served as a gunner in an aircraft carrier.
Throughout his years on the club circuit, Collier invariably returned home to Hull after his show, regardless of whether he had been performing in Wales, London or on the south coast.
He claimed that he was kept “grounded” by his wife, Lucy, who would dispatch him and their son, Vic, who drove the car, with “snap” boxes of sandwiches wrapped in tin foil together with tea bags and powdered milk.
Collier also appeared frequently in pantomime, notably as Widow Twankey opposite the comedians Little and Large in Aladdin at the New Theatre, Hull. He continued to perform into his eighties. In 2009 he appeared with Tom O’Connor, Faith Brown, Bucks Fizz, Cannon and Ball and Ray Allen in a 25-night tour of The Best of British Variety.
Collier, a long-standing member of the Grand Order of Water Rats, raised thousands of pounds for charity by organising golf tournaments, and also played golf for the Variety Club of Great Britain. His autobiography, Just a Job, appeared in 2009.
Date of Birth: 24 July 1928, Berkersdorf, East Galicia, Poland (now Ukraine)
Birth Name: Johannes Crewe
Nicknames: Hans Moretti
Hans Moretti was a magician, illusionist and escapologist who became well-known in Britain for his performances on The Paul Daniels Magic Show in the 1980s.
A big, burly man with a huge handlebar moustache, Moretti often appeared slightly sozzled when he came on stage. This was an illusion that made it all the more heart-stopping when, for example, he was wrapped in chains, tied in a sack and thrown into a tank of water. Fingernails would be bitten to the quick as the voice-over informed the audience that Moretti’s air would run out in 45 seconds.
It would be several minutes more before the sack, motionless at the bottom of the tank, showed signs of movement and Moretti eventually emerged triumphant, brandishing his chains.
The magician also performed with his wife, Helga, as The Morettis in such death-defying stunts as the “Sword Box”, in which Moretti would squeeze himself, chained and handcuffed, into a box so small that Helga could barely close the lid. She would then invite members of the audience to push swords through the box at whatever angle they liked. When the weapons were removed he would emerge from the box in full clown get-up, holding a chicken and balloons.
In another stunt Moretti would shoot an apple off Helga’s head using a crossbow, while blindfolded. She, understandably, favoured a backcombed hairdo à la Marge Simpson.
For magicians, however, one of Moretti’s most remarkable stunts involved creating a “tree” out of rolled newspapers, perching it on beer mugs on the floor, then balancing Helga, horizontally, on top, while he passed a hoop over her body. He would then return her to the ground and snip through the tree with a pair of shears.
Hans Moretti’s real name was Johannes Crewe, and he was born on July 24 1928 at Berkersdorf, a village in East Galicia in what was then Poland (now Ukraine). His family moved to western Germany after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
He began performing at the age of 16, initially as a juggler, adding an extra element of suspense to his act by keeping the balls in the air while suspended above the ground by his mouth from a wire. Moving on to magic and illusion, he found fame replicating some of the classic escape acts of Harry Houdini, including one in which he would escape from a straitjacket hanging from the end of a burning rope suspended in mid-air from a helicopter; he would jump to the ground only seconds before the rope burned through.
Moretti performed at circuses and on television shows around the world, and appeared on The Paul Daniels Magic Show more times than any other guest performer. In Las Vegas he was billed as “Europe’s Greatest Illusionist”.
His artistry won him a Grand Illusions award in 1976, for the “Sword Box” routine, and the International Federation of Magic Societies’ Mentalism Award (for a stunt in which he played “Russian Roulette” with two loaded revolvers) in 1979.
He was also appointed to the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Date of Birth: 23 September 1943, Manchester, UK
Birth Name: David Anthony Gubba
Nicknames: Tony Gubba
Tony Gubba was one of BBC Television’s sports presenters and was regarded as an industrious all-rounder.
In a career spanning nearly 40 years, he presented Sportsnight, Match of the Day and Grandstand, and commentated on a wide range of sports for the BBC, including hockey, table-tennis, golf, tennis, bobsleigh, ski-jumping and darts.
As a football commentator, however, he tended to be passed over for the big, glamorous games. As the Belfast Telegraph noted in 2009, “lurking in the background behind Motty and Barry Davies, he never really got the big gig, always destined to cover Romanian matches at the World Cup, the archery at the Olympics, or the snowman fondling at the Winter Olympiad”. Yet Gubba, whom the sports writer Giles Smith described as “the legendary BBC football reporter and fabled Saturday afternoon 'bits and pieces’ man”, was nothing if not versatile.
When he turned his talents to ice-skating in the 1980s, he fell out with the British stars Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean shortly after they had won a third consecutive World Championship in Helsinki. Their innovative style led Gubba to press the couple over whether they had broken the rules, a gambit that so upset the pair that Gubba’s place at the microphone was subsequently taken by Barry Davies.
The skating stars later worked closely with Gubba, however, when he enjoyed his most recent role in the commentary box. In 2006 he was rediscovered by a new generation of television viewers as the voice of pro-celebrity ice dance on ITV’s Dancing On Ice.
In this capacity he earned something of a cult following for his surreal flights of fancy, such as when he witnessed the routine of the EastEnders actor Matt Lapinskas : “This is the slam dunk cartwheel followed by some back crossovers, then the towering inferno and the bouncing aeroplane.”
It was not as though this was a one-off on Gubba’s part. “That,” he observed on another occasion, “was a racing gazelle followed by the forward assisted teapot, then a roll-up into a camel ride and there were some cool butterflies into a fish lift.” But as one tabloid television critic noted, at least Gubba “makes Dancing On Ice almost watchable”.
David Anthony Gubba was born on September 23 1943 in south Manchester and educated at Blackpool Grammar School. He began in journalism on the Sale and Stretford Guardian, and having completed his training landed a reporter’s job on the Daily Mirror in Manchester. In the late 1960s he moved into television with Southern TV, based in Southampton, and from there returned to Manchester as a general news reporter with the BBC regional news magazine Look North.
Moving into sport in 1972, he transferred to BBC Television in London, joining the football commentary team headed by David Coleman and Barry Davies. From 1974 until 2006 he covered every World Cup and was a member of the BBC’s commentary team at every Olympic Games, both Summer and Winter, between 1972 and 2012.
In 2006 Gubba’s neighbours opposed his plan to build a five-bedroom house on his property at the riverside village of Sonning, Berkshire. Gubba complained that the objectors were stuck in the past and had launched personal attacks against him. “There seems to be an attitude in Sonning that everything should stay the same as it was in 1643,” he added.
He was a sports all-rounder who particularly enjoyed playing football, salmon fishing, golf and skiing.
Date of Birth: 21 November 1923, Bargoed, Wales, UK
Birth Name: Henry Howard Greenhouse
Nicknames: Harry Greene
Harry Greene became in the 1950s British television’s first do-it-yourself handyman, and created the formats for some of the home makeover shows that flourished on the small screen some 40 years later.
In 1955, with his wife, the actress Marjie Lawrence, Greene had starred in an early ITV soap opera, Round at the Redways, about a couple who run a DIY store, with Greene playing an inept repair man. When the producers were casting round for cheap new programme ideas, his wife suggested that Greene should film a DIY show about him renovating their flat in Primrose Hill, north London.
The result was Handy Round the Home, a programme launched in January 1957 in which Greene gave practical demonstrations that viewers at home could copy, always emphasising “Safety first DIY second”, which became his catchphrase.
Greene’s background lay in the theatre. In 1950 he had joined Joan Littlewood’s touring Theatre Workshop company, throwing up his job as a drama teacher for an itinerant life as an actor, scene-builder and stagehand on £3 a week. His transition to television in 1955 subsequently led to his appearing in some 35 feature films, alongside such stars as Sean Connery, Sir John Gielgud, Melina Mercouri, Lana Turner and Jean Seberg. Between acting jobs, Greene developed his own building company, learning individual trades by hiring subcontractors and working as, for example, an apprentice plasterer or bricklayer .
In the 1980s he devised, wrote and produced a TV-am series called Dream Home, in which he renovated a small tumbledown house in Hampshire which was later given away in a competition. In On The House he undertook a similar project for the BBC , building and completing a house from scratch. Greene contributed to the rash of home improvement shows that proliferated on daytime television from the 1990s. His concept proposal for a show called Room for a Change became the popular BBC strand Changing Rooms, which ran for eight years from 1996. For 10 years he was the DIY presenter on the QVC shopping channel.
He was born Henry Howard Greenhouse on November 21 1923 at Bargoed, south Wales, and brought up in the small mining town of Rhymney . From Rhymney Grammar School, he went to Newport Technical College, but on the outbreak of war joined the REME, from which he was seconded to classified work on tank design. Post-war he studied at Cardiff College of Art and trained as a draughtsman’s assistant, but at weekends he worked as a stagehand at the New Theatre, Cardiff. This led to amateur acting roles with the Unity Theatre company, and as a volunteer assistant on the weekly radio shows on BBC Wales starring the Welsh actor Eynon Evans.
In 1950, while teaching art and drama at Tredegar Grammar School, Greene took a class to see a performance of Ewan MacColl’s Uranium 235 by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop. Littlewood was looking for a young Welshman to play Shakespeare’s Owen Glendower, and Taffy in MacColl’s Paradise Street. She also wanted someone who could build theatre sets . Greene resigned his teaching job the following day, joined the company, and realising that Harry Greenhouse would be a tight fit on theatre posters shortened his name to Harry Greene.
When the Theatre Workshop settled at a permanent base in Stratford, east London, Greene married an actress with the company, Marjie Lawrence, with whom he starred in commercial television’s first soap opera, the twice-weekly drama Round at the Redways.
He was the author of more than 20 books on DIY and home improvements, including The Harry Greene Complete DIY Problem Solver (2003).
Date of Birth: May 1928, Lambeth, London, UK
Birth Name: Raymond Patrick Cusick
Nicknames: Raymond Cusick
The iconic shape of the Daleks, the most enduring villains from the BBC's long-running television science-fiction series Doctor Who came from the imagination of the designer Raymond Cusick. The famous domed silhouette, with three protuberances eyestalk, sucker arm and gun and distinctive spherical skirt decorations, has retained its shape even into the current incarnation of the show.
Cusick's involvement with the second Doctor Who adventure, The Daleks, in 1963, came by chance. The original designer was due to be Ridley Scott, but his schedule ended up clashing with the proposed filming dates. Cusick took the job instead, which required him to come up with such creations as a petrified jungle, a gleaming alien city and some robotic-looking creatures. The Dalek was revealed to be not a machine but a protective shell in which a mutant creature the result of the genetically disastrous consequences of nuclear war was housed.
According to Cusick, Terry Nation, the Doctor Who writer who created the Daleks, suggested they should make a gliding movement "like the Georgian state dancers", but there was little other visual description in the script. There was a general consensus among the production team that the cliched "man in a suit" look be avoided in favour of something more otherworldly. Cusick demonstrated the creature's style of movement by grabbing a pepperpot and sliding it across the table to the model maker Bill Roberts (whose company Shawcraft built the Daleks). An initial design involved the Dalek operator propelling the machine with a tricycle housed inside it but eventually the actors moved the squat, castor-mounted props along by shuffling their feet.
Over the next two years, Cusick had to contend with a number of Doctor Who adventures that required new sets each week. The Keys of Marinus (1964), for example, featured hideous brains in jars one week, a lethal jungle the next and a snowy vista after that. Cusick felt that the show's low budget was stretched particularly thinly on stories of this kind, but was assisted by the low-resolution television picture, which, he admitted, covered a multitude of sins. Planet of Giants (1964) was a humdrum story made remarkable by Cusick's impressive renderings of an oversized science laboratory, dead insects and a moving giant fly.
Cusick left Doctor Who after the 12‑part epic The Daleks' Master Plan (1965-66), on which he shared the intensive workload with a fellow designer, Barry Newbery, and was occasionally somewhat rueful about his involvement with the show. He recalled appearing on the TV discussion show Late Night Line-Up with Nation and asking him afterwards about potential involvement with the forthcoming Dalek feature films (made in colour by Aaru productions and starring Peter Cushing in 1965 and 1966). Nation was enthusiastic and reassuring about the projects but, Cusick said: "Then I never heard from him again." From these films and many other commercial exploitations of the Daleks, Nation, a freelancer with a canny agent, became a rich man. Cusick, on the other hand, was a BBC staff member, and only after a lengthy and hard-fought battle by his head of department, got a special merit payment that amounted to no more than a few hundred pounds. He was, however, the proud recipient of a gold Blue Peter badge for his work.
Born in Lambeth, central London, Cusick nurtured a desire to be a sculptor and attended evening classes at art school, but his father felt he should pursue a more practical path. He studied science and maths at Borough Polytechnic (now London South Bank University) but did not enjoy it, then enlisted in the army and served in Palestine. Returning to the UK, he worked in repertory theatre and joined the BBC staff as a design assistant in 1960. Graduating to designer proper in 1962, he was as was the norm expected to turn his hand to a variety of programmes with diverse requirements and from different genres.
After Doctor Who, he worked on productions as wide-ranging as The Pallisers (1974), The Duchess of Duke Street (1976-77), Rentaghost (1978), When the Boat Comes In (1981) and Miss Marple (1985-87). A history enthusiast, he most enjoyed productions that required fastidious research. He had a particular interest in the Napoleonic wars and contributed military campaign articles to the journal of the Waterloo Association.
He provided a vast number of photographs and design sketches for J Jeremy Bentham's 1986 book Doctor Who: The Early Years, and contributed to several Doctor Who DVDs. He was largely self-deprecating about his work, highlighting the ad hoc nature of 1960s television production.
After retiring from the BBC in 1988, he ran a small hotel in south London with his wife Phyllis, whom he had married in 1964 ("Monster man marries" said the local paper). She predeceased him. He is survived by two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Date of Birth: 27 May 1921, West Maitland, New south Wales, Australia
Birth Name: Roland Fredrick Godfrey
Nicknames: Bob Godfrey
Bob Godfrey, was the godfather of British animation, celebrated for short films including the initially banned Kama Sutra Rides Again (1972) and the Oscar-winning Great (1975) as well as his children's TV series Roobarb (1974), narrated by Richard Briers, and the Bafta-winning Henry's Cat (1982-93), narrated by Bob. His seemingly simple drawings drew their strength from posture and gesture and his constant innovations in style were the result of shoestring budgets. He was in every way a true amateur film-maker who produced, directed, animated, acted in and did the voiceovers for his films. His influence on leading animators cannot be overestimated: Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) worked in his basement; Terry Gilliam made his Monty Python animations overnight in Bob's studio, as he could not afford his own place; and Nick Park credits The Do-It-Yourself Animation Show, presented by Bob in the 1970s, as a major influence.
Other successful producers and directors kept their awards and certificates in prominent places; Bob's were in his loo. He was always very approachable and was never happier than when surrounded by students; he even took his classes to the pub. His studio had a lifesize hanging effigy of Margaret Thatcher. On receiving a letter from the then prime minister, and fearing the worst, he was surprised to find he had got the MBE, appointed in 1986.
Bob was born in West Maitland, in New South Wales, Australia, and emigrated to the UK with his parents a few years later. He went to school in Ilford, north-east London, and attended art school in Leyton. Work as a graphic artist for the manufacturer Lever Brothers in the 1930s was followed by a spell with the GB Animation outfit financed by J Arthur Rank. As a Royal Marine during the second world war, he took part in the D-day landings.
He began to concentrate on animation in the early 1950s and drew upon influences ranging from Donald McGill's seaside postcards to the Goons. He particularly liked satirising political figures and British attitudes to sex. Small men and dominant women played their part, and his loose style of drawing belied his artistic skill. It was his speciality to combine live action with various animation styles. He directed and acted in several live-action films; enjoyed bit parts in the Beatles films A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965); and won a Bafta award for Henry 9 til 5 (1970).
The anecdotes of Bob's life abound. There was the time that Yoko Ono paid him £5 to photograph his derriere for her exhibition. His irreverence often landed him in trouble. A film laboratory refused to develop a scene that had the Queen singing Good Evening Friends as a finale. His cutout technique of animation featured photographs from magazines that were used without permission, leading to threats by photographers. He also pushed the limits of the medium: Kama Sutra Rides Again was banned but it later earned an Oscar nomination, as did Dream Doll (1979) and Small Talk (1994).
His unfulfilled ambition was to make a feature film it nearly came true with a project called Jumbo but he was at least partly satisfied with Great, a half-hour cartoon on the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, voiced by Briers. Despite the Oscar it brought Bob, he rarely made money on his films. The fact that he survived in the industry was in part due to it being more fun to work with him on ideas he was enthusiastic about than it was to work in a studio making dull commercials. It was taken for granted that if you worked with Bob you would almost certainly be used as a cartoon character in one of his movies, and there was a more than even chance that you wouldn't get paid on time.
The financial situation changed a little for the better when Roobarb, made for the BBC, took off. In the series, Roobarb, a green dog, sets out to achieve certain goals which are meaningful to him, but considered useless by his arch-enemy, Custard, a pink cat. The onlooking birds take great delight in seeing Roobarb fail, yet he lives to fight another day. When the BBC wanted a new series of Roobarb, Bob asked if I would write a series to suit the same audience. I put forward the idea of Henry's Cat, and it was accepted, but this time he decided to finance it himself. The series enabled Bob's studio to keep going during a difficult time for the animation industry.
Bob's love of ridiculing pretentious attitudes was the underlying theme of both Roobarb and Henry's Cat. Henry's Cat is never seen in profile, and he doesn't have a name, as the first story was based on Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin. The boy, Henry, got lost in the second story and was never part of the TV series or the published books. Henry's Cat also sets out to achieve impossible goals, but has a group of friends who aid and abet him in his objectives. Unlike Roobarb, most of the Henry's Cat stories have happy endings. The cat's face is made up of an M (for the ears), two eyes (giving an I), an O (for the nose) and a W (for the mouth) to form the word MIOW.
I once had a phone call from Bob with good news and bad news. The good news was that the studio's computer had been stolen. The bad news was that they had caught the thief and got it back. As the industry moved from traditional animation to the new, computer-driven technology, styles changed. It was the end of an era and the studios full of bric-a-brac and pinned-up sketches, with their truly bohemian atmosphere, were replaced by screens and machines.
Date of Birth: 1954, Sydney, Australia
Birth Name: Jeremy Ramsden
Jeremy Ramsden, was one of the finest photographic printers of his generation. Jeremy could take a frame of anyone's film and turn it into a work of art on paper. His attention to detail was apparent in the way he would produce a variety of prints from the same frame, each having its own distinct mood and character. When you got your negatives back, you would see his meticulous notes written on little strips of masking tape affixed to the protective sheets. When you consider the names on his client list – which included Tim Walker, Elaine Constantine, Harry Borden and Brian Griffin – the breadth of his achievement becomes clear.
Jeremy was born in Sydney, Australia. He joined the merchant navy after leaving college, arriving in London in time to celebrate his 21st birthday. A keen photographer since childhood, he became involved in the London photo scene in a variety of capacities, including studio assistant to Brian Duffy, freelancing as a photojournalist (he was a fine photographer in his own right) and mastering the arcane art of colour printmaking.
His experiences of the glory days of Soho in the advertising boom of the 1970s and 80s would have made a very interesting book. Jeremy had a stereotypical Aussie gusto for travel, people and a good story but, above all, he liked sharing his enthusiasm for the world and how we see it. He was generous with his time and a champion of photographers. Having Jeremy in your corner was like having a secret weapon; an unsolicited compliment from him was worth far more than one from almost any picture editor.
A couple of years ago, Jeremy co-founded Labyrinth, a darkroom in the East End of London which has become a mecca for new and established photographers. Jeremy was full of excitement for the young talents coming to him, the brave ones who had chosen film over digital. He gave a great deal and asked for very little in return. The industry will feel a lot colder without him.
Date of Birth: 17 July 1950, Baltimore, Maryland, US
Birth Name: Otis Robert Harris
Nicknames: Damon Harris
Damon Harris, was the silken-voiced lead singer with the Temptations, one of Motown’s most commercially-successful groups, and sang on their biggest hit single in the 1970s.
Originally formed in Detroit in 1962, the Temptations had mutated throughout the 1960s, with multiple changes in the line-up. Harris joined in 1971 shortly after the departure of Eddie Kendricks, one of the original lead singers. With the arrival of Harris and another new recruit, Richard Street, the group’s producer, Norman Whitfield, steered them away from ballads to a more upbeat style, while retaining the military precision of their choreography and finely-tuned harmonies.
Performing in the soaring falsetto register he had greatly admired in Kendricks, Harris took the lead on his third recording for the Temptations, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, which topped the American pop charts in 1972 and went on to win three Grammy awards. Harris also led on Love Woke Me Up
This Morning, from their 1972 All Directions album, and featured on another, The Temptations Live in Japan (1975), now a collector’s item.
On Grammy award-winning hits such as Cloud Nine and Psychedelic Shack in the early 1970s, Harris proved such an effective replacement for Kendricks that many record-buyers did not realise that it was he taking the lead. Michael Jackson called him simply “The Voice”.
His four-year tenure with the group ended abruptly in 1975. According to Otis Williams, the group’s founder, Harris was fired for making inappropriate statements that affected the public’s perception of the group.
Otis Robert Harris was born on July 17 1950 in Baltimore, Maryland. As a teenager he was a fan of the Temptations, and in particular Kendricks.
Modelling himself on his hero, Harris and three high school friends formed a Temptations tribute band called The Young Tempts, but were obliged to change the name to The Young Vandals when Motown Records objected to the obvious reference to their own stars.
Harris later chose to go to college rather than pursue a career in the music business. But in April 1971 he was persuaded by a friend to audition for the genuine Temptations, who were appearing in nearby Washington, DC. The group had just replaced Kendricks with Ricky Owens, from The Vibrations, but the newcomer was proving uneven and they were again looking for a replacement.
The group’s leader, Otis Williams, hesitated before taking on Harris, who at 20 was nearly a decade younger than the others. But Harris made his stage debut with them a few weeks later as first tenor and falsetto . On joining the band, he changed his name to Damon Harris because “the group already had an Otis”.
On his departure in 1975, Harris re-formed The Young Vandals, renaming the group Impact. They made several minor soul and disco hits, including Happy Man and Give a Broken Heart a Break, which climbed to No 5 in the US disco charts.
When their album Impact flopped in 1976 the group signed with Fantasy Records and released a second album, The Pac is Back, which also sold slowly. The group disbanded and Harris moved to Reno, Nevada, to complete his college education, recording a few solo singles, including It’s Music (1978) and the album Silk. He re-released the album in 1995.
He returned to music in the 1990s and began touring, sometimes billing himself as “The Temptations Review starring Damon Harris”. Occasionally he would appear with another ex-Temptation, Richard Street, until Street formed his own Temptations tribute band. Harris also briefly toured with three other former Temptations, David Ruffin, Kendricks and Dennis Edwards, before Ruffin and Kendricks died.
Harris, who had been suffering from prostate cancer , started the Damon Harris Cancer Foundation dedicated to promoting awareness, diagnosis, and treatment of the disease.
Date of Birth: 14 January 1934, Merton, Surrey, England, UK
Birth Name: Richard Briers
Richard Briers, played the engaging free spirit who strove for a self-sufficient lifestyle in Surbiton in BBC Television’s classic 1970s comedy series The Good Life.
Although acclaimed on television for a style of dithering comedy which reminded an earlier generation of the Aldwych farceur Ralph Lynn, Briers also proved adept in serious roles in the classics. In Kenneth Branagh’s 1997 film of Hamlet, his Polonius was praised by one critic for its “conspiratorial edge”.
In The Good Life Briers played the hapless Tom Good, a draughtsman who decided to abandon the office rat race and live off the land. Instead of moving to the country, however, he and his wife Barbara (Felicity Kendal) eviscerated the lawn at their suburban home, planted vegetables and kept livestock all to the horror of their relentlessly middle-class next door neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter (Penelope Keith and Paul Eddington).
With his omnipresent grin and boyish mannerisms, Briers proved perfect for the role. The Goods’ attempts to be truly self-sufficient were constantly thwarted by the machinations of the snobbish Margo, who feared that they were lowering the tone of the neighbourhood beyond repair; but Tom and Barbara always laughed in the face of adversity, and never lost their affection for their tormentor.
Written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey and screened in 30 episodes between 1975 and 1978, The Good Life was probably Briers’s most famous vehicle on television. It was “a happy and somewhat rare combination of intelligent writing and superb playing”, judged the television critic of The Daily Telegraph.
From 1984 to 1987 Briers starred in another popular sitcom, Ever Decreasing Circles. Also written by Esmonde and Larbey, it featured an obsessive, middle-aged fusspot whose settled routine is unexpectedly threatened by a flashy rival for his wife’s affections. Penelope Wilton played his long-suffering wife and Peter Egan the too-smooth neighbour.
It all seemed a far cry from Briers’s earnest portrayal of the Dane in a student production at Rada of Hamlet, when his naturally rapid delivery led WA Darlington of The Daily Telegraph to liken him to “a demented typewriter”. Yet with his sense of timing, air of hapless innocence and his ability to keep the straightest of faces amid the mayhem typical of his brand of embarrassed humour, it was no great surprise that Briers went on to become one of Britain’s leading practitioners of farce and light comedy.
Briers continued to be offered television work, and starred as the Rev Philip Lambe in All In Good Faith (1985-88). Lambe, the former vicar of an affluent rural parish, had to knuckle down to life in a tough Midlands city and meet its challenging problems. But after Briers’s conspicuous success at the BBC, this series his first for ITV was reckoned a disappointment.
Richard David Briers was born on January 14th 1934 at Merton, Surrey. His father, Joe Briers, was, among other things, a bookmaker, but found it hard to hold down a job and frittered away money in pubs. “[He was] a smashing man,” his son recalled, “but he was never settled in one job, and he was not as ambitious or acquisitive as I am. We were always on the edge, so I grew up in a slightly tense atmosphere.”
The family lived at Raynes Park, south-west London, and occasionally received handouts from a wealthy relation. Richard was educated at Ridgeway School in Wimbledon, where he failed to shine scholastically “I never even got a Z-level” but showed an interest in acting. The family’s flat overlooked a Rialto cinema, and he could hear the sound of the films playing below. His screen idols as a boy were James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.
His first job, at 16, was as a filing clerk in the Strand, and after two years he endured “a further two years’ hard grind” doing similar work for the RAF during his National Service. He relieved the boredom by taking part in amateur dramatics and was encouraged in this by the actor Terry-Thomas, his father’s cousin.
Briers was offered a place at Rada, where he was a contemporary of Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole. For the first time in his young life he found himself excelling, and he won Rada’s silver medal for his portrayal of Hamlet. “Until then, I could just see failure staring me in the face,” he recalled. “Now there was a glimmer of hope.”
He made his professional debut at the Playhouse Theatre in Liverpool, where he met his wife, Ann Davies, herself an actress. “My first professional part,” Briers recalled, “was as a botanist who was mad about getting rare plants from America, and I’ve played fanatics on and off ever since.”
After touring in a farce, Something About A Sailor, and spells in rep at Leatherhead and Coventry, Briers made his first London appearance opposite one of the West End’s most famous theatrical couples, John Clements and Kay Hammond, in Lionel Hale’s comedy Gilt And Gingerbread (Duke of York’s, 1959). Other early West End work included Double Yoke (St Martin’s), It’s In The Bag (Duke of York’s) and Noël Coward’s Present Laughter (Queen’s).
Unlike some actors, Briers was not content with the notion of “resting” between jobs. His childhood poverty made him yearn for financial security; he seized every opportunity that came his way, and was careful with his money.
His break into television came in 1962, as a troubled pupil barrister in Henry Cecil’s Brothers In Law in a 13-part adaptation by Frank Muir and Denis Norden. Although he was a success in the first series, he declined to take part in a second, despite being offered double the money. “I wanted to be an actor rather than a TV personality,” he explained, although in the event it was television that drove his career forward.
Created specially for him, Marriage Lines (1963-66) was the series that established him in the public eye. Briers starred as a young man adjusting to married life with his former secretary in a small flat in Earl’s Court, south-west London. The series ran for 45 episodes and helped Briers to establish the amiably enthusiastic comic persona that became his signature.
His stage career continued in parallel, his most notable parts being Mortimer Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace (Vaudeville, 1966); Moon in The Real Inspector Hound (Criterion, 1968); and two of his favourite roles as Butley in the play of the same name in 1972, and Sidney Hopcroft in Absurd Person Singular at the Criterion in 1973.
In 1972 Briers returned to Shakespeare in the title role of Richard III on a provincial tour for Toby Robertson’s Prospect Productions. A decade or so later he earned further critical respect, particularly as Hjalmar Ekdal, the naive father in Ibsen’s grim masterpiece The Wild Duck (Lyric, Hammersmith, 1980), and as Uncle Vanya, for Kenneth Branagh’s touring Renaissance Theatre Company.
Briers’s television career continued to flourish with parts in The Other One (1977-79); One-Upmanship (1976-78); and the Alan Ayckbourn trilogy The Norman Conquests (ITV, 1977). When he befriended Kenneth Branagh, the young actor cast Briers in stage productions of Twelfth Night (1987), King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (both 1990) and Coriolanus (1992), and in his film versions of Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Frankenstein (1994) and In The Bleak Midwinter (1995). Hitherto Briers’s film career had been comparatively low-key, with appearances in A Matter Of Who (1961), All The Way Up (1970) and Rentadick (1972).
Between 2000 and 2005 Briers played the engagingly dotty laird Hector MacDonald in the BBC Television series Monarch of the Glen, alongside Susan Hampshire, Alastair Mackenzie and Julian Fellowes.
Off camera, Briers’s pursuits were essentially suburban: gardening or drinking in the garden, golf, entertaining friends and reading. He took a particular interest in theatre history, and was a member of the Garrick. He published four books, Natter Natter (1981); Coward and Company (1987); A Little Light Weeding (1993); and A Taste of the Good Life (1995).
For many years Briers and his wife divided their time between a house in Bedford Park, west London, designed by Norman Shaw, and a country cottage to which he escaped as often as he could.
He was appointed OBE in 1989 and CBE in 2003.
Diagnosed with emphysema in 2008, he estimated that he had smoked half a million cigarettes before giving up the habit in 2003.
Date of Birth: 8 August 1928, Brampton, Cumbria, UK
Birth Name: Derek Batey
Derek Batey, once asked a contestant on Mr and Mrs to name his wife's favourite flower. "Oh Derek, that's easy," came the reply from the husband as he smiled at his wife. "It's Homepride."
But the ITV show with which the Cumbrian presenter became synonymous, and which was watched by 11 million ITV viewers on Saturday nights by the late 1970s, was not premised on spreading marital misinformation to a nation of couch potatoes. Rather, its aim was to encourage conjugal felicity: the show's theme song went "Mr and Mrs, be nice to each other / Mr and Mrs, we've got to love one another". Coterminous with an era in which divorce rates soared and casual sex became socially unexceptionable, Mr and Mrs proselytised for the straight and narrow virtue of heterosexual commitment.
The show's format was simple: one partner sat in a soundproofed booth while Batey asked the spouse three questions. For example: What is your partner's favourite way to eat an egg? What part of your partner's body is she or he most embarrassed about? What animal is your partner most scared of? The pair then swapped places. Couples who got one question correct won £10 and those who got all six right won a jackpot of £2,000. Losers received a carriage clock and Batey's condolences.
For viewers, one of Mr and Mrs' pleasures was the insight into the otherwise inscrutable privacy of the British marriage. Batey once asked: "When you're having a meal at home and there's no one else around, just you and your wife, do you always have serviettes, sometimes have serviettes, or never have serviettes?" "He looked at me for about three minutes," recalled Batey, "and then said slowly, 'Do you mean boiled or fried?' " It wasn't always husbands who gave dopey answers, but mostly. Perma-smiling Batey, with his dapper bouffant and unflappable geniality, was a perfect foil to such follies. The show made him a national star.
Until 1967, though, he had been merely a presenter and interviewer on Border Television, the long-defunct ITV franchise based in Carlisle. In that year, he saw a tape of a Canadian version of the show that had been on air for four years, and he realised its potential. "I liked it and decided to run a Border Television version of it for 13 weeks. The response from our viewers was fantastic and it stayed in our local schedule every year from then until daytime television opened up in 1973, when it was taken by the full ITV network and was an immediate hit nationally."
He presented Mr and Mrs 500 times on television and 5,000 times on stage. For 12 years from 1975, he presented a Sunday-night stage version of Mr and Mrs at Blackpool's Central Pier.
Batey was born in Brampton, Cumbria, and won a scholarship to the local grammar school. He developed showbiz aspirations after watching variety acts including Arthur Askey, Will Fyffe, Ted Ray and Harry Lauder, and ventriloquist AC Astor, at Her Majesty's theatre, Carlisle.
In 1940, he bought a ventriloquist's doll for three guineas and called him Alfie. One day, little Derek was practising his ventriloquism act in the bedroom. "I heard a sort of squeaking noise behind me and turned round to see our window cleaner just about to fall off his ladder at the sight of a 12-year-old boy talking to a wooden doll in a mirror." After leaving school in 1944 to become articled to a firm of accountants, he continued with semi-professional "vent shows" several nights a week.
Batey's break came when he was booked by the BBC to perform his ventriloquism act, improbably, on local radio. Later he became a radio reporter on The Voice of Cumberland and Points North, a radio show from Manchester introduced by Brian Redhead. In 1957, he moved to TV as a regional compere on Come Dancing. In 1960 he was lured to become a presenter on the newly launched Border Television; there he produced and presented programmes about religion, politics and sport, and wrote calypso numbers.
As well as for Mr and Mrs, Batey was known in the 1970s for Look Who's Talking, a talk show whose guests included Ken Dodd, Norman Collier, Dukes and Lee, and Jim Bowen. At the height of his celebrity, Batey was on ITV three times a week – he also hosted Your 100 Best Hymns. In 1978, he joined Border's board of directors.
After retirement, Batey divided his time between homes in St Anne's in Lancashire (where he kept his collection of ventriloquist's dolls, including the venerable Alfie), Gran Canaria and Florida.
ITV axed Mr and Mrs in 1988, but in 2006 the production company Celador considered a version with gay and/or unmarried contestants. Batey, who owned the rights to the show, frowned on the idea, saying: "It is a format that has lasted throughout the times and I see no reason to change it." But it did change: now Phillip Schofield presents a celebrity version of Mr and Mrs on ITV.
Date of Birth: 7 June, 1942, East sussex, UK
Birth Name: Patricia Bysshe Shelley
Nicknames: Pat Derby
Pat Derby was an Englishwoman who became an expert handler for some of the biggest animal celebrities on screen, from Lassie to Flipper; after a career working for Walt Disney, among others, she rebelled against what she called the “horrifying” cruelty of the industry.
As well as the famous collies on Lassie and dolphins on Flipper, Pat Derby worked with large American black bears for the series Gentle Ben and in 1975 handled a cougar for a car advertisement in which a skimpily-clad Farrah Fawcett was required to cosy up to the big cat.
Unlike many trainers of the period, her methods centred around “positive reinforcement”, rather than physical coercion. The advertisement, for example, ended on a shot of the snarling cougar perched above a billboard bearing the company logo. “I got him to twitch his tail by tickling it from behind the sign,” she later recalled.
Yet Pat Derby eventually became alarmed by the “dark side” of the Hollywood animal industry. “I went into that occupation with the feeling that if people earn their living off animals, they must love them a lot,” she said. “But it was really horrifying to me when I saw how even little dogs who worked on films had to live.” She once walked out on Disney while filming Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Colour after a bear cub was forced to endure hours of retakes under hot studio lights.
In 1976 she published The Lady and Her Tiger, which served both as an autobiography and an exposé of the inhumane handling techniques practised by some of her colleagues. The book won an American Library Association Award, but it also put an end to her career in show business.
Finding herself persona non grata, Derby became a campaigner and, in 1984, co-founded the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) with her partner Ed Stewart. After acquiring 30 acres of land in Galt, outside Sacramento in California, they populated it with four-legged refugees from cruel owners and the entertainment world.
Among its first inhabitants were a jaguar, several lions and bears, as well as an African elephant, known as No 71, rescued from an estate in Florida. As the couple achieved public notice with their campaigns against cruelty in the circus industry, numbers at the sanctuary expanded. “It was like Noah’s Ark,” Stewart recalled. “They just kept coming.” Today, PAWS has three Californian sanctuaries, including the 2,300-acre ARK 2000 in San Andreas.
The second of two children, Patricia Bysshe Shelley was born on June 7 1942 in East Sussex. Her father, who claimed the great Romantic poet as an ancestor, died when Pat was 12. She left formal education three years later, moving to New York on her own to try her luck as a dancer and actress. She enrolled at Columbia University but subsequently dropped out and moved to the West Coast, where she found a job at a nightclub in San Francisco.
There, in 1964, she met Ted Derby, a fellow performer who was also an animal trainer. They married and together set up a roadside zoo, also using the animals in film and television. When the marriage broke down in the mid-1970s, however, the couple were forced to divide up their menagerie.
It was while filming the car commercial for the Mercury-Lincoln Cougar that she met Stewart, then employed in advertising for the car company. The pair relocated to California and set up their first animal sanctuary, at Howling Wolf Lodge in Leggett. During this period Stewart became a vocal advocate for animal rights, making his influence felt at the California State Legislature and the Department of Fish and Game. Six years later PAWS was established at Galt to raise awareness of cruelty in the entertainment industry, to ensure high standards of care for animals bred in captivity, and to create a safe environment for the shelter of rescued or retired wildlife.
Their first legislative success came the following year. Pat Derby soon rose to prominence as a spokesperson for animal welfare, appearing on such shows as Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, Animal Planet, The Today Show and CBS Evening News. Working alongside Stewart, she pioneered a “non-dominance” technique in the safe handling of elephants, and served with several state committees, advising on elephant welfare. Throughout her life, she remained acutely conscious of the inherent shortcomings of raising wild animals in captivity: “You can never replace the wild. You can only make the prison as comfortable as possible.”
Work on the ARK 2000 began in May 2002. It is now the only sanctuary in America to house bull elephants. In 2012 Pat Derby and Stewart received the Lily Award, presented by the Voice For the Animals Foundation, “for their extraordinary and heroic work”. An elephant at the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya has been named “Pat Derby” in her honour.
Date of Birth: 21 May 1924, Kennington, London, England, UK
Birth Name: John Ammonds
John Ammonds was one of British television's finest producer/directors specialising in the field of light entertainment. He shaped countless peak-time shows during the so-called "golden age" of TV; and helped Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise and many other major stars reach the summit of their small-screen careers, setting a standard of quality in terms both of content and form that continues to command respect.
Among his distinctive contributions to the success of the Morecambe and Wise show was the droll little dance with which Eric and Ernie ended each performance (Ammonds got the idea from seeing Groucho Marx do something similar in the 1932 film comedy Horse Feathers), the deployment of star guests as unlikely comic stooges, and Eric's use of the close-up to make conspiratorial remarks to the viewers (a conceit that has inspired many imitations). He also ensured, as the writer Eddie Braben's amiably relentless taskmaster ("If you sent him a Christmas card, you'd expect him to send it back for a rewrite"), that the standard of the scripts remained remarkably high.
Ammonds was a calmly efficient organiser and encourager of diverse talents, temperaments and techniques; he could be creative and flexible as well as disciplined and managerial; he possessed an exceptionally sharp eye and ear for detail; and he always acted as though he was the servant of the public rather than of his profession. The most polished of populists, he epitomised the BBC's traditional dictum about "giving viewers what they want but better than they expected it".
He was born in Kennington, London, to working-class parents. His mother, Jessie, one of 16 children, had married his father, John, a watchmaker, in what John junior described as a "shotgun wedding" and he would say later that he remembered only the arguments between this "quite unsuited" couple during his formative years.
It was his father who introduced him to the world of entertainment. As a frustrated actor with a passion for the work of Charles Dickens, Ammonds senior sometimes co-opted his son into the amateur dramatic troupe he had formed, the Dickensian Tabard Players, to tour the workhouses and prisons in and around Southwark. One of the most vivid memories John would retain of these juvenile performances was of the occasion when, aged about 13, he appeared as Oliver Twist in a production staged inside Holloway prison before an audience of "extremely interested" women prisoners: "They were good and started shouting and screaming only after Bill Sikes had killed Nancy."
Although John won a scholarship to a grammar school at Sutton in Surrey, he found much of his education uninspiring, preferring to amuse himself at home by constructing a variety of crystal and cat's whisker radio sets in his father's garden shed. Rather than stay on to complete his Higher School Certificate, he left at the age of 15 and instead sat the entrance examination to become a civil servant at the London county council (mainly because it seemed to promise a job for life and a pension at the end of it). After sampling the job on a part-time basis, however, he decided to try something else.
His career in broadcasting began in 1941, after he sent a speculative letter to the BBC asking if there were any openings for a junior engineer and was invited to apply to become a sound effects operator in the corporation's engineering division. He spent the next 13 years in the BBC's variety department at London, Bristol and Bangor, before moving to Manchester to be a producer. By the mid-1950s, he was responsible for several popular radio shows, working with such popular northern performers as Jimmy Clitheroe, Dave Morris and, in their debut series, Morecambe and Wise.
Moving into television at the end of the decade, John soon won a reputation not only for the competence of his productions but also for his knack of embellishing the image of his stars. It was his idea, for example, to begin Harry Worth's shows with a much-mimicked optical illusion, involving his "levitated" reflection in a shop window, and his idea again to get Val Doonican to croon one song each week sitting in the rocking chair that ended up being his trademark.
It was after he was reunited with Morecambe and Wise in 1968, however, that John achieved his greatest success, proving himself, not only as producer/director but also as an all-purpose creative sounding board, as invaluable to the pair as George Martin had been to the Beatles. He taught them how best to use their talents for television, turning their show into the most admired entertainment of the time.
He left the show in 1974, after eight series, in order to devote more time to his wife, Wyn, whom he had married in 1952 and had then recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. However, he continued to oversee numerous other productions for both the BBC and ITV, including shows featuring Mike Yarwood, Dick Emery and Les Dawson. He was also reunited once again with Morecambe and Wise when they asked him to supervise their final few shows for Thames.
Ammonds was appointed MBE in 1975 for his services to entertainment who retired from broadcasting in 1988. Living in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, he continued to help care for his wife until her death in 2009, and acted as a wise and generous adviser to many writers and documentary makers keen to chronicle the era of television he had graced.
Date of Birth: 7 September 1914, Leytonstone, London, England, UK
Birth Name: Stuart Freeborne
His imagination and talent were central to the success of such pictures. For example 2001’s famous “Dawn of Man” sequence was only possible because of Freeborn’s pioneering work on ape suits. Though his techniques were new, the results were so polished that some viewers were convinced that the apes must be real. Meanwhile for George Lucas, the director of Star Wars, Freeborn created a cast of intergalactic monsters and heroes from the bloated reptilian villain Jabba the Hutt to the pint-size chartreuse Jedi, Yoda, which appealed to audiences every bit as much, if not more, than their human counterparts.
Yoda appears in the second of the Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), as tutor and mentor to the aspiring Jedi warrior, Luke Skywalker. Freeborn’s effects served to create an emotionally convincing character, and each of Yoda’s gnomic, grammatically-tortured musings was accompanied by expressive head-cocking, ear-twitching, lip-pursing and eye-rolling. The character, whose features Freeborn modelled on his own (with a dash of Albert Einstein thrown in for good measure) has become something of a cult figure.
The Empire Strikes Back combined old-school puppetry with animatronics that would come to dominate special effects thereafter. Animatronics would themselves be largely superseded by computer-generated images, such as those used in the recent Star Wars trilogy (1999-2005). Shot 20 years after the first three movies, the new films’ impressive but somewhat soulless effects had many critics longing for the characterful wizardry of the originals. For Freeborn’s ability to bestow the spark of life was acquired not at the computer screen, but at the mirror of the house in which he grew up, where he endlessly practised transforming the only model available himself.
Stuart Freeborn was born in Leytonstone, east London, on September 7th 1914, and grew up in Beckenham, Kent. His father was an insurance broker and keen that Stuart should follow in his footsteps. The boy had other ideas, and made himself up into a host of characters from Mr Hyde-like fiends to trilby-sporting, matchstick-chewing sleuths. He photographed the results and fired off the pictures to film studios, to no avail.
According to Nick Maley, a make-up artist who later worked alongside Freeborn, the aspiring special-effects man got his break as a 21-year-old by passing himself off in Beckenham as the Emperor Haile Selassie. Initially the impersonation was rewarded only with a police interview, but as the story spread, Denham Studios, headed by Alexander Korda, offered Freeborn a job.
He began on Wings of the Morning (1937), starring Annabella and Henry Fonda, and followed it with Victoria the Great (also 1937) and The Thief of Baghdad (1940). During the war he trained with the RAF but was forced to truncate his service owing to haemophilia. Instead he worked on The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).
It was not until Green For Danger (1946) that he got his first on-screen credit, and two years later his career took-off with Oliver Twist. Required to transform Alec Guinness into Fagin, Freeborn produced two versions of the character for screen testing. One was subtle, one grotesquely exaggerated. Director David Lean put the tests to a vote, and the latter version won the day. “So that’s the way I had to do it, never mind how over the top it was,” Freeborn recalled. In New York, the hook-nosed villain was denounced as anti-Semitic and Oliver Twist was not shown there until 1951.
The controversy upset Freeborn, but his talent was no longer in doubt. He worked on several films a year, including, in 1957, The Bridge on the River Kwai. Again working with Lean, Freeborn flew out to Sri Lanka where, travelling one day to the set, he was in a car accident that killed all the vehicle’s other occupants. Thrown into the jungle, he lay semi-conscious, unnoticed by rescuers for several hours. After he was spotted he spent four months recuperating in hospital.
He transformed Peter Sellers into three characters in Dr Strangelove (1964) and four years later the director of that film, Stanley Kubrick, hired him again to mastermind the opening sequence of 2001, A Space Odyssey (1968).
The prologue captures the moment that, under the shadow of the unflinching monolith, apes learn how to use tools, a leap in intelligence prefiguring the rise of man. Freeborn’s genius was to craft lightweight foam skins for the headpieces of the ape suits that perfectly reflected the expressions of the mime artists inside them. The apes’ lips drew back to reveal teeth underneath. In each ape mouth, the tongue was operated by the actor’s own. Weaving the bodysuits from yak, horse and human hair, was simple by comparison. It was time-consuming, however, as in many parts of the costume each hair had to be punched into foam latex with a needle. Freeborn would deploy similar techniques to create the hirsute Wookie hero, Chewbacca, in Star Wars.
Also in the 1970s, Freeborn worked on the devilish Omen (1976) and the action-hero film Superman (1978). It was he who came up with the idea of parting Christopher Reeve’s hair one way when he was playing his shy alter ego Clark Kent, and the other when he was sporting his superhero’s cape. Before shooting, Freeborn also played a part in relieving Gene Hackman, cast as the villain Lex Luthor, of his treasured moustache.
Richard Donner, director of Superman, wanted Hackman cleanshaven for the part. So he asked Freeborn to make him up with “the greatest moustache you’ve ever done”, and then had a meeting with Hackman. Donner told the actor: “Do me a favour. The moustache has to go. You take off your moustache and I’ll take off mine.” Reluctantly, Hackman allowed Freeborn to shave him. Once the razor had done its work, Donner peeled off his appendage.
Freeborn continued to work until 1990. His last project was the television film Max and Helen. In 1984 he was nominated for a BAFTA for his work on Return of the Jedi.
Date of Birth: 25 August 1947, Leipzig, Germany.
Birth Name: Peter Gilmore
James Onedin, the protagonist of the long-running BBC television series The Onedin Line, gained his splendid name from a sea nymph. After the programme's creator, Cyril Abraham, had read about mythological figure Ondine, he transposed the "e", thus making her a man. And what a man: Peter Gilmore, who played Onedin in 91 episodes from 1971 to 1980, had tousled hair, flinty eyes, hollow cheeks, mutton-chop sideburns racing across his cheek, lips pulled severely down, chin thrust indomitably forward to face down the brewing gale.
The sea captain did not so much talk as emit salty barks that brooked no demur. In 1972, while filming, Gilmore was buzzed by speedboats from the Royal Naval College. Still in character as Onedin, he yelled irascibly at the tyro sailors: "Taxpayers' money! Where are your guns? What use would you be if the Russians came?"
Like Horatio Nelson, Francis Drake and to a lesser extent the early 70s prime minister Edward Heath, the very cut of Gilmore's jib suggested that the British if only in prime-time costume dramas still ruled the waves. For many, Gilmore's name conjures up the stirring Adagio from Khachaturian's ballet Spartacus that was used on the opening credits. Madly and marvellously, Onedin set up a shipping line with sailing vessels in late-19th century Liverpool at a time when steamships were taking over the seaways.
By series two, his business model had seen off the sceptics but his wife, Anne, had died in childbirth. That plot twist was partly explained by the fact that the actor who played her, Anne Stallybrass, had decided to return to the theatre.
To honour his dead wife's memory, Onedin added a steamship to his fleet called the Anne Onedin and then allowed Kate Nelligan (as a coal-merchant's eligible daughter) and Caroline Harris (as a 20-something worldly wise widow) to vie for his affections. He spurned both, marrying his daughter's governess, Letty Gaunt, who died of diphtheria. By the eighth and last series, Onedin was married to a third wife, Margarita Juarez, and had become a grandfather.
Before Howards' Way, The Onedin Line was the BBC's nautical franchise: Abraham wrote five novels loosely based on his television scripts, while Gilmore was frequently asked to launch ships and was also bombarded with fan mail and advice from veteran sailors. He parlayed fame into reviving a former career as a singer, releasing in 1974 an album of sailor shanties called Songs of the Sea and in 1977 another called Peter Gilmore Sings Gently.
He regretted that he became too typecast as Onedin to get other lead roles. In 1978 he starred opposite Doug McLure in the film Warlords of Atlantis as an archaeologist searching for the fabled underwater city who ends up battling a giant octopus and other sea monsters.
Gilmore was born in the German city of Leipzig. At the age of six, he moved to Nunthorpe, near Middlesbrough, where he was raised by relatives, later attending the Friends' school in Great Ayton, north Yorkshire. From the age of 14 he worked in a factory, but later studied at Rada. While undertaking national service in 1950 he discovered a talent for singing and after his discharge joined singing groups who performed all over the country.
During the 1950s and 60s he became a stalwart of British stage musicals, appearing in several largely unsuccessful shows, including one called Hooray for Daisy! in which he was the chief human in a drama about a pantomime cow. He even released a single in 1960 as a spin-off from his performance in Follow That Girl, Susan Hampshire's only foray into musicals. In 1958 he appeared on the pop programme Cool for Cats, where he met the actor Una Stubbs, then one of the Dougie Squires Dancers, who were weekly tasked with interpreting hit songs in movement. The couple were married from 1958 until 1969.
His success at this time in British and US TV commercials led him to be cast in comedies, with 11 appearances in Carry On films, two of which Carry On Jack (1963) and Carry On Cleo (1964) gave him early nautical roles. In 1970 he married Jan Waters, with whom he starred in both stage and television productions of The Beggar's Opera, he playing the highwayman Captain Macheath.
The Onedin Line brought Gilmore the fame that had eluded him. In 1976, he and Jan divorced and he started living with Stallybrass, whom he married in 1987. In 1984 a new generation of viewers saw Gilmore as Brazen, the security chief of a distant human colony called Frontios in Doctor Who's 21st series. Brazen died heroically while helping the Doctor escape. Gilmore made his last stage appearance in 1987 in Michael Frayn's Noises Off and his last screen one in the 1996 television movie On Dangerous Ground.
Date of Birth: 25 September 1947, Cleveland, Ohio, US
Birth Name: Cecil Womack
Cecil Womack was the brother of Bobby Womack and a celebrated soul songwriter and singer in his own right. With his wife, Linda, he formed Womack & Womack, scoring seven UK hit singles between 1984 and 1994, among them Love Wars, Teardrops and Celebrate the World.
Born on September 25 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio, Cecil Womack was the son of a steelworker who also sang and played guitar in a gospel group. Cecil and his older brothers Curtis, Harry, Friendly and Bobby formed The Womack Brothers in imitation of their father’s group, and as a child Cecil quickly proved proficient on guitar and piano.
Impressed by The Womack Brothers, their father abandoned his own group to sing with his sons, and the six Womacks were soon singing in churches across the Mid-West. In 1953 they opened for The Soul Stirrers, which featured the rising star Sam Cooke. Once established as a solo star, Cooke would sign The Womack Brothers (without their father) to his label, changing their name to The Valentinos and insisting that they sing secular music.
The Valentinos began releasing boisterous R&B singles that exhibited their excellent harmonies, instrumental prowess and songwriting. In 1964 they had an R&B hit in the United States with It’s All Over Now, which was quickly covered (even more successfully) by The Rolling Stones, giving the British band its first UK No 1 and first hit in America. The song had been written by Bobby Womack, who later recalled: “I was still screaming and hollering right up until I got my first royalty cheque. Man, the amount of money rolling in shut me right up.”
Cooke was shot dead in late 1964, and without his support The Valentinos disbanded soon afterwards. Bobby Womack who had been working as Cooke’s guitarist married his widow, Barbara, and developed a very successful career as songwriter, session guitarist and, eventually, solo artist. In 1966 Cecil married the Motown singer Mary Wells, for whom he wrote and produced several songs; they went on to have three children together.
Meanwhile, Bobby’s marriage to Barbara had ended disastrously when she discovered that he was having an affair with her daughter Linda, who was still a teenager; Bobby had to flee the family home at the end of a gun barrel.
In 1976 Cecil and Mary Wells divorced, and the next year he married Linda Cooke. Together the couple penned hits for The O’Jays, Patti LaBelle, George Benson and Teddy Pendergrass, for whom they wrote one of his biggest hits, Love TKO. In 1983, as Womack & Womack, they secured a recording contract with Elektra. The duo’s 1983 debut album, Love Wars, won wide critical acclaim, while the title track was a hit in both America and Britain.
In 1987 Womack & Womack moved to Island Records, and their 1988 album Conscience turned out to be the most successful of their career, with the single Teardrops reaching number 3 in the UK charts and proving a huge hit worldwide.
Womack & Womack’s songs combined musical intelligence with fine harmony vocals and supple instrumentation. Yet the couple never managed to capitalise fully on Teardrops’ success, and their 1991 album Family Spirit failed to chart. Not long afterwards, following a visit to Nigeria, Cecil and Linda claimed to have discovered ancestral ties to the Zekkariyas tribe, and they adopted the names Zeriiya (Linda) and Zekuumba (Cecil) Zekkariyas; in 1993 under the name House of Zekkariyas aka Womack & Womack they released an album called Transformation to the House of Zekkariyas, which featured their final UK Top 50 hit, Secret Star.
They settled with their four children in Africa, seemingly content with a lifestyle far removed from the conventional music industry. In 2007 they released the album Circular Motion, and although they occasionally performed in Europe, for the most part they avoided the public eye.
Covers of their songs by artists such as Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, The Beautiful South and Joss Stone brought them lucrative royalties.
Date of Birth: 20 August 1916, Raton, New Mexico, US
Birth Name: Petro Vlahos
Petro Vlahos, developed the blue- and green-screen technique that made memorable visual effects possible on films such as Mary Poppins and Ben Hur.
While others had grappled before with so-called “composite photography”, overlaying shots of separately-filmed actors on background sets, the results were never totally convincing, with actors often appearing to glow in a halo of light that spoiled the effect.
Vlahos moved the process forward, first for the spectacular chariot race in William Wyler’s 1959 remake of the epic Ben Hur, and later for the charming penguin dance in the Disney musical Mary Poppins (1964). For the song Jolly Holiday, Walt Disney had decided that one of the choruses should be sung by animated penguins dressed as waiters.
Although Disney had spent £164,205.72 buying the rights to Vlahos’s blue-screen process “chicken feed”, he called the money technicians had to accommodate the animation with live footage that had already been shot, which meant major revisions. That did not prevent Vlahos working with the Disney studio on The Love Bug (1969) and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), both of which also relied on special effects.
The techniques that Vlahos perfected in such pictures were applied in many subsequent science-fiction and fantasy films, including the first Star Wars trilogy between 1977 and 1983. Unfortunately, shooting for some of the special effects in Star Wars took place during the hottest British summer for many years. The blue-screen process required giant arc lights, making the sets stiflingly hot: electricians fainted, and the actor playing Chewbacca, clad in a body suit of angora wool and yak hair, collapsed from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Vlahos and his collaborators won an Academy Award for their composite processes in 1965, and with his son, Paul, he shared another Oscar in 1995 for the blue-screen advances made by Ultimatte, the company he founded in 1976.
His original concepts and innovations have been enhanced and expanded over the years, making possible entirely seamless composites which preserve fine details such as hair, smoke, mist, motion blur and shadows while automatically suppressing “blue spill” (whereby light from the blue screen behind washes across the foreground subject).
Refinements of Vlahos’s pioneering technique were used to make many of the blockbuster films of the 1990s, notably Titanic (1997), in which scenes that had hitherto been too dangerous, expensive or difficult to film were finally possible.
Special effects triumphs in contemporary films like Avatar (2009), in which blue-skinned Na’vi dwell among floating mountains, and Life of Pi (2012), in which the tiger, the ocean, and sometimes even the boy Pi himself are digital creations, also derive from Vlahos’s work.
Petro Vlahos was born on August 20 1916 at Raton, New Mexico. After graduating in Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941, he became a designer at Douglas Aircraft during the Second World War.
After working as a radar engineer at Bell Laboratories, he joined the Motion Picture Research Council, spending six months devising a complex laboratory process that separated blues, greens and reds before recombining them. The result his patented “colour-difference system travelling matte scheme” created the breathtaking visual effects in Ben-Hur .
Having minimised the unwanted “halo” side-effect that had dogged earlier attempts, he modified the technique to work on green screens as well as blue.
On television, technology based on Vlahos’s work was regularly seen in episodes of Doctor Who, and made it possible for weather presenters to point at sun and rain symbols that only their viewers can see.
In all Vlahos held more than 35 patents for film-related gadgetry, and in 1978 received an Emmy for his work.
Date of Birth: 16 February 1918, Anglesey, Minnesota, US
Birth Name: Patricia Marie Andrews
Nicknames: Patty Andrews
Patty Andrews was the lead singer and soloist with the Andrews Sisters. The swinging American trio, comprising Patty and her older siblings, LaVerne and Maxene, achieved their greatest success in the 1940s, contributing to the war effort with catchy songs including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) and, with Bing Crosby, Don't Fence Me In.
The Andrews Sisters performed at military bases and raised money for war bonds; their hits were sung by the troops and by women working in factories. Patty, LaVerne and Maxene accompanied the most popular singers and big bands of the day; enjoyed success not just on radio but also in musical comedy films; and spawned a host of other sister acts not all of whom were real siblings.
Patricia Marie Andrews was born in Minnesota, the third daughter of a Greek immigrant, Peter (who had anglicised his surname), and his Norwegian wife, Olga. The parents ran a restaurant. Inspired by the success of the Boswell Sisters, the pretty, blonde Patty and her siblings began in vaudeville in the early 1930s. "There were just three girls in the family," she recalled. "LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene's was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts." The sisters toured America with the Larry Rich band and before long were starring at the Hotel Edison in New York with Leon Belasco.
The Andrews family relocated to New York in 1937 and the sisters were offered a recording contract by Decca. Things took a momentous turn when they recorded Bei Mir Bist Du Schön, Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin's revamped version of an old Yiddish standard. It reached No 1 in the US in 1938, establishing Cahn and Chaplin as ace songwriters and making the Andrews Sisters the hottest name in the record business. The song has now come to be emblematic of the age often used when a film or TV drama deals with the era of jitterbugs and evacuation, to say nothing of Land Girls, who sang it as they stacked the hay.
Further hits followed for the trio including Beer Barrel Polka and Hold Tight, Hold Tight (both 1939) and in 1940 they were signed by Universal Pictures and appeared in the film Argentine Nights with the Ritz Brothers. They then made two wartime comedies starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Buck Privates and In the Navy (both 1941), and also appeared in Private Buckaroo (1942), which followed new recruits doing their basic training and included the sisters' patriotic We've Got a Job to Do. The sisters appeared as themselves in the all-star film Hollywood Canteen (1944), about the ever-open cafe for American servicemen, founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield, and where Hollywood celebrities volunteered during the war. The sisters' voices were also featured in the Disney cartoon Make Mine Music in 1946.
After the success of the uptempo Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar and the sentimental ballad (I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time, the sisters accompanied Crosby on a No 1 hit, Don't Fence Me In, in 1944. It was one of several successful collaborations with the crooner, including Pistol Packin' Mama, Jingle Bells, Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (Ma Baby) and Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive. The sisters also appeared with him and Bob Hope in Road to Rio (1947). Danny Kaye partnered them on, among others, The Woody Woodpecker; and with Carmen Miranda, the trio sang Cuanto Le Gusta. By themselves, the sisters had number one hits with I Can Dream, Can't I? and I Wanna Be Loved.
In many ways Patty was the most successful member of the group. Certainly, her solos made her the most prominent sister. In the mid 1950s she broke away from the group, but people still wanted more of the Andrews Sisters and they were soon back together.
It was the death of LaVerne in 1967 that eventually broke up the group. In the early 70s Bette Midler had success with her recording of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and people once more went looking for the original, which had a renewed success. In 1974 Maxene and Patty were back in business, starring in a Broadway musical, Over Here!, about the group's wartime success. The show featured a third "borrowed" sister and ran for almost a year, closing after the sisters had an argument. Patty, who had solo success in Las Vegas and performed on cruise ships, continued to work after Maxene's death in 1995.
Date of Birth: 22 March 1935, Anglesey, North West Wales, England, UK
Birth Name: Tom Parry Jones
Nicknames: Parry Jones
Tom Parry Jones was a Welsh scientist who developed the world’s first electronic breathalyser in 1974 and sold the product to police forces around the world.
The origins of the breathalyser go back to 1927, when a police surgeon in Marlborough persuaded a suspect to inflate a football bladder by breathing into it. By measuring the ethanol content of the exhaled air, the surgeon was able to testify in court that the man was “50 per cent drunk”.
In 1954 Robert Borkenstein, a captain with the Indiana State Police, invented the first “breathalyser”, a device consisting of a tube containing chemical crystals attached to a plastic bag, the crystals undergoing a colour change dependent upon the level of alcohol detected in a suspect’s breath.
When the British government introduced the Road Safety Act 1967, which defined the maximum level of alcohol a person could have in his or her body while driving and introduced the roadside “breathalyser” screening test, Parry Jones established a company, Lion Laboratories, in a converted garage in Cardiff to make the “Alcolyser” crystal-filled tubes for these early products.
But the Alcolyser was a somewhat crude device which could be used only to justify the arrest of a motorist on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol. The suspicion was then usually confirmed with a blood or urine test back at the police station. Some policemen continued to use more rough-and-ready kerbside methods, such as asking motorists to walk in a straight line.
In 1972 Parry Jones began examining the possibility of developing a fuel cell alcohol sensor as the basis of a more reliable screening instrument. His portable “Alcolmeter”, an electronic device the size of a cigarette packet, transformed the process of screening by providing police with a more reliable kerbside test, removing the need for a follow-up blood or urine test. However, it took some time to catch on, and Parry Jones recalled that he found “inventing the device the easy part, but producing it, developing it and selling it was the challenge”.
Parry Jones’s new device was approved for police use in Britain only in 1979; but the following year it won Lion Laboratories the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement, and the product is now marketed worldwide.
The son of a farmer, Thomas Parry Jones was born on March 27 1935 and grew up in Anglesey. After taking a degree in Chemistry at Bangor University in 1958, he took a doctorate at the University of Alberta, Canada. Returning to Britain, he was appointed a lecturer at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire.
In 1964 he moved to the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology at Cardiff where, with his colleague Bill Dulcie, an electrical engineer, he formed Lion Laboratories in 1967. In 1991 the company was sold to the American technology giant MPD.
Parry Jones went on to set up PPM, a company specialising in the manufacture of monitoring instruments for toxic gases, and established a small air charter company, Welsh Dragon Aviation.
Around a decade ago he established an endowment fund at Bangor University to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology. The fund supports an annual Bangor Science Festival, established by the inventor and by former students of the university.
Parry Jones also served as chairman of the Snowdonia Business Innovation Centre, which helps companies to commercialise products and technology; as president of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs; and as a trustee of the Engineering Education Scheme for Wales.
He was appointed OBE in 1986.
Date of Birth: 16 June 1923, Anglesey, Norwich, England, UK
Birth Name: Geoffrey Vernon Townsend Matthews
Nicknames: Geoffrey Matthews
Geoffrey Matthews was Director of Research and Conservation at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) for more than three decades and also a founding father of the Ramsar Convention, the first international agreement on the conservation of natural habitats.
Sir Peter Scott founded WWT, at Slimbridge, the Gloucestershire wetland reserve, in 1946, and nine years later, to establish it as an international centre of research and conservation, recruited Matthews, an authority on bird navigation.
Matthews dedicated the next 33 years of his life to WWT, building a team of scientists which developed waterfowl biology using the Slimbridge collection of birds and observing ducks, geese and swans in the wild.
Many of their discoveries such as the long-distance migrations of waterbirds between Eastern and Western Europe are now taken for granted. They carried out regular counts of waterbirds throughout Britain, and introduced sophisticated ringing and catching schemes. WWT was soon attracting visiting scientists from all over the world.
At the same time Matthews continued his study of bird navigation, and supervised PhD students at the universities of Bristol and Cardiff . He also became deeply involved in conservation at a time when this was in its infancy, and when coordinated national and international efforts were urgently needed to conserve wildfowl and their habitats.
Matthews worked with the Nature Conservancy and wild-fowling groups to establish a network of refuges for migratory wildfowl at their key wintering sites across Britain. He was often in demand to advise on British conservation legislation notably the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, which gives statutory protection to Sites of Special Scientific Interest and on EU Directives .
Matthews also made an important contribution to the International Wildfowl Research Bureau IWRB, now known as Wetlands International, becoming its British delegate in 1956 and its Director in 1969, when he brought its headquarters to Slimbridge. Under his directorship, IWRB expanded greatly, extending its work to Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Through IWRB, Matthews developed and promoted the novel concept of an intergovernmental convention on the conservation and wise use of wetland habitats and resources; and in February 1971, at Ramsar in Iran, the Convention of Wetlands (known as “the Ramsar Convention”) was signed by 18 nations, including Iran and the Soviet Union. It was one of the four major international legal biodiversity agreements of the 1970s .
Matthews remained Director of IWRB until 1988 and was closely involved with the Ramsar Convention’s development and application. The Convention, whose secretariat started at Slimbridge in 1987 and is now based in Switzerland, today has 164 member states, 2,075 Wetlands of International Importance, and a total area of designated sites of nearly 200 million hectares.
When Matthews retired from WWT in 1988, Sir Peter Scott observed: “WWT and IWRB have played a significant part in the survival and conservation of wetlands and wildfowl on a global scale, and the greatest part of that achievement we owe to Geoffrey Matthews.”
The younger of two children, Geoffrey Vernon Townsend Matthews was born on June 16th 1923 in Norwich, where his father worked as a vet for the Ministry of Agriculture. From Bedford School, Geoffrey went up to Christ’s College, Cambridge, to read Natural Sciences, and in 1943 his tutor, CP Snow volunteered him for operational research in the RAF. He served in Bomber Command and as a navigator on B24 Liberators with Air Command South East Asia.
Matthews then returned to Cambridge to complete his degree, and in 1950 received his PhD on Bird Navigation, an interest developed during his wartime posting on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, where he pondered how seabirds navigated to isolated breeding sites there. His postdoctoral research at Cambridge included classic studies of orientation in pigeons and shearwaters, and his seminal monograph Bird Navigation was published in 1955 .
Matthews served on many committees, including as president of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (1971-74) and vice-president of the British Ornithologists’ Union (1972–75).
In retirement, he wrote The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: its History and Development (1993). He contributed to 43 other books and was the author of more than 150 papers. For 20 years he edited the journal Wildfowl.
Matthews received the British Ornithologists’ Union Medal in 1980 and the RSPB Medal in 1990.
In 1986 he was appointed OBE, and in 1987 an Officer of the Order of the Golden Ark by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for his services to conservation.
A man with a keen sense of humour, Matthews derived particular pleasure from his immortalisation in the naming in his honour of a new species of feather louse found on Greylag geese Ornithobius matthews.
Date of Birth: 30 October 1935, Hampstead, London, England, UK
Birth Name: Michael Robert Winner
Nicknames: Michael Winner
Michael Winner, supplied interviewers with a list of more than 30 films he had directed, not always including the early travelogue This Is Belgium (1956), mostly shot in East Grinstead. But his enduring work was himself a bravura creation of movies, television, journalism, the law courts and a catchphrase, ''Calm down, dear", from an exasperating series of television commercials.
He was born in London, the only child of George and Helen Winner, who were of Russian and Polish extraction respectively. His builder father made enough money propping up blitzed houses to invest in London property. The profits funded his wife's gambling, which, her son complained, so distracted "Mumsie" that he was never paid due attention. She left him in the bedroom with the mink coats of guests who came to his barmitzvah only to play poker with her.
A boarder at St Christopher school, a Quaker establishment in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, Winner was an attention seeker from start to expulsion. According to his school reports he was "spoilt" with a "craving for power which he is trying to achieve by the use of his money". He also earned a "reputation of being movie mad" after he pinned handwritten reviews on the noticeboard.
When the publisher Paul Hamlyn addressed the school, Winner, then 14, asked for copies of all his film books and phoned him, reversing the charges, until they were sent. He then approached British studios, claiming to write for Hamlyn, and when that scam was found out, turned his acquaintance with a child actor into an article for the Kensington Post in 1950. It became a regular, syndicated showbiz column: he was not paid, but the seats were free and he had the undivided attention of Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye. That became a permanent part of his persona – the enfant terrible among the stars.
For his father, he studied law and economics at Downing College, Cambridge, and also edited the Varsity newspaper. He persuaded the owner of the Rex cinema in Cambridge to apply to the local council to approve a showing of The Wild One, banned by the censor because of its violence. The stunt attracted nationwide interest.
After university, television companies turned Winner down for a directors' course, so he wrote for both TV and film, and was a gossip columnist of sorts. He hired a Rolls-Royce and was, said a fellow writer, "a master at gathering banal quotes from silly girls down to the last burp". He invented a debutante, Venetia Crust, a fiction for which he was eventually exposed (later he used the name of her "father", Arnold, for movie credits).
Winner's father loaned him £1,500 for his first film, money soon recouped as Some Like It Cool (1962) filled a gap in the market for a comedy in a nudist camp. It was among several films he confected in the early 1960s. None demonstrated his maxim "create your own material to get a better class of employment", but they did end a period in which he sacked secretaries rather than have them know that he had no deals going.
Winner shared a new blokey humour emerging in post-Brylcreem Britain: after directing Billy Fury in Play It Cool (1962) and accurately reproducing bedsitter-land in West 11 (1963), he made The System (1964); You Must Be Joking! (1965) for which he blew up a car in Piccadilly Circus in the rush hour and told police he had no idea who was in charge; The Jokers (1966); and I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname (1967), with Oliver Reed and Orson Welles.
Winner extended his boy-genius phase by phoning reference books on his 30th birthday to tell them he was 29, knowing entries would not be changed for three years. He went on the road to make Hannibal Brooks (1969), a comedy lumbering through 200 locations, working again with Reed, and The Games (1969), about an Olympic marathon.
"I was looking for something that would keep us employed," he said of his move to Hollywood. "You don't have that much choice." Rejecting The French Connection as a project, he began with the westerns Lawman (1971), shot in Spain with rubber cacti, and Chato's Land (1972).
His real metier turned out to be primitive violence. Winner despised analysis, but it is significant that he directed testosterone fuelled revenge fantasies during the years when his by then widowed mother (a "nice, little, white-haired lady … She was a killer") sold paintings and antiques left to Winner to fund her casino losses, and set 11 firms of solicitors on him.
Winner mentioned to the actor Charles Bronson the idea of a man "justified" by the rape and murder of his womenfolk to shoot muggers, which led to Winner directing Death Wish (1974), and two sequels. He also directed coarse versions of The Big Sleep (with Robert Mitchum, 1978) and The Wicked Lady (1983 – he saw the original 20 times for Margaret Lockwood's bosom). All of these, as Bronson remarked, were abusively hard on women. In 1993 Winner converted Helen Zahavi's novel Dirty Weekend into a fantasy of a female exterminating angel, but it hardly evened the score (nor squared with his claim that his favourite film was Bambi).
Critics disliked a pleasureless tension gripping his films, whether it be The Nightcomers (1971), a prequel to The Turn of the Screw; Won Ton Ton The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976); or Alan Ayckbourn's A Chorus of Disapproval (1989). Winner was always quick to challenge the press he taped his interviews either directly or through legal action (he gave away the damages). Papers would get a warning from the company, Scimitar Films, he ran with John Fraser: back at school, Winner had paid Fraser two shillings a week to clean his room and make his beds, and sixpence for washing up.
In 1984 he set up the Police Memorial Trust in response to the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher. Several years later he proposed a naff memorial to officers killed in the course of duty, featuring snarling alsatians (the Queen suggested their mouths be shut).
He began to describe films as a hobby, since he had sufficient millions for Learjet rides, a garage of cars that he drove Mr Toadishly and the slow repurchase of the rest of the Holland Park house in one flat of which his family had lived. The restored mansion, Woodland House, the former home of the Victorian artist Sir Luke Fildes, has more than 40 rooms and housed his valuable collection of artwork for children's books, including EH Shepard's drawings of Winnie-the-Pooh. He also collected the artwork of Donald McGill, master of the ribald, big‑bosomed seaside postcard.
A succession of young women shared evenings among his antiques, but did not live on the premises, where more regular companions included five full-time cleaners and herds of soft toys. On more solitary evenings he cut and glued table mats, and said obituarists would describe him as a "table-mat maker", adding "film‑maker" if there were space.
Eventually, he re-encountered Geraldine Lynton-Edwards, whom he had met in 1957 when she was a teenage ballet dancer; they were engaged in 2007, and married in 2011. He had intended to leave his house to the nation, but put it up for sale for £60m just before his marriage. He also auctioned much of his art collection, but swore this was not to repay £9m he had borrowed for little luxuries, including the hire of helicopters. He did not part with his autograph album of star signatures, or the teddy bears.
"I ate cornflakes on my own," he replied to questions about his swinging life when he was young and slender, although it was never all that he ate, and certainly not after the Sunday Times encouraged him into restaurant reviewing for his Winner's Dinners columns (published in book form in 1999). These were less about digestion than self-definition: several famous eateries banned him for his bullying.
His "calm down" catchphrase in the telly ads he directed and appeared in (once in drag) for the Esure insurance company displaced his own excitability and fluster on to (female) others. Esure sold a million policies during his era, before replacing him with a stop-motion-animated mouse. By then the ''calm down'' line had developed its own career David Cameron was heavily criticised when, during prime minister's questions in 2011, he directed it against the Labour MP Angela Eagle. Winner himself had been a fervent supporter of Margaret Thatcher, before a Blairite conversion.
He retired from his restaurant column in December 2012. His last years had been a tribulation involving a near-fatal bacterial infection from oysters, MRSA and liver disease.
Date of Birth: 30 April 1938 Fulham, London, UK
Birth Name: David Cripps
David Cripps was the leading British photographer of objects of his generation. His work helped to launch the careers of countless artists and makers. David had a supreme gift for showing his subjects from ceramics to studio glass and jewellery with a new clarity and candour, bringing out form, colour and texture through his crisp use of light and shadow, and setting his subjects in a studied space that gave context and breadth. His photography went beyond documentation, adding a new dimension to the objects on which he set his camera.
Much of his observational skill came from his graphic training, a visual sense that was nurtured early. He was born in Fulham, south-west London, into a family of modest means. His mother had been in service (the poet John Masefield was among her employers) and his father was a gas fitter. Though he was often ill as a child, his parents recognised an ability that gained him a place at the Sir Christopher Wren school in Notting Hill, west London. The school was linked to Hammersmith School of Art, and much of the curriculum was devoted to art and architecture, giving David a portfolio sufficient to take him to the London College of Printing in the mid-1950s. He went on to work in Chelsea as a graphic artist for Hans Schleger, the German-born designer famous for his London Transport circle and bar symbol for bus stops and pioneering work on corporate identity. This was a heady time, with David very much part of the swinging London art scene.
David Cripps was a perfectionist, his asides on substandard work pithy and wonderfully blunt.
Following a period in an advertising agency, David got a job at the new Observer colour supplement, assisting the art director. It was here that his photographs were first seen, initially fashion shots and then still life’s for the cover. This made him an obvious choice for the memorable still-life sequence that accompanied Raymond Hawkey's titles for Richard Attenborough's film Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), for which Hawkey and David received great acclaim.
After a period of personal difficulties, David resurfaced at the time Crafts magazine was launching in 1973. By chance he met its art director John Hawkins who employed David to photograph craft objects for its features, and the characteristic simplicity of David's style became an integral part of the publication, and the modern crafts imagery of the 70s and 80s. In 1975 Bruce Bernard, the discerning picture editor of the Sunday Times magazine, spotted David's photographs and employed him immediately. As Bernard would later write, David's work "showed a much more particular appreciation of each individual object than I had ever seen before. He uses light to illuminate not blind and sees every subject as an entirely separate problem ... But his unique respect for the subjects does not rob his pictures of their graphic strength."
As well as extensive work for the Crafts Council (which gave him a retrospective in 1979) and Design magazine, Cripps contributed to many books in the late 70s and 80s. These included numerous monographs and catalogues on artists and makers such as Charles Sargeant Jagger, Lucie Rie, Elizabeth Fritsch, Alison Britton and, more recently, Ewen Henderson, Carol McNicoll and Michael Rowe, many of whom became valued friends. There were his contributions to major surveys such as Wealth of the Roman World for the British Museum (1977), Dada and Surrealism Reviewed for the Hayward Gallery (1978), British Craft Textiles (1985) and Quilts of the British Isles (1987). Books for the popular market included charming studies with Mary Stewart-Wilson of Queen Mary's dolls' house (1988) and the Royal Mews (1991), each project cherished for how it might broaden his perception and technique. He was a fine portraitist, and his personal work included superb landscape, still-life and flower studies, many of which were exhibited in solo shows in London and Birmingham in the mid-1990s.
While David was involved in several recent projects, including recording much of the great ethnographic collection at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, London, and work on Royal Mail commemorative stamps, he was semi-retired by 1998, the year he moved from north London to Ramsgate. Though distant from his favourite Soho drinking haunts, he relished his new Kent friends, and a large house to renovate. And while not the world's best businessman bills were things you never opened – he brought his sensibility to stylish dressing, good cooking and a lasting interest in art.
A perfectionist, his asides on substandard work were pithy and wonderfully blunt. But he was one of the warmest people I have known, and it was this modesty and empathy that he brought to the camera, a lasting contribution for which he was made an MBE. As Bernard wrote: "Through his dedication to the work of the artist craftsman he has himself became a true artist and craftsman of the camera."
Date of Birth: 23 September 1926, Paris, France.
Birth Name: Andre Cassagnes
The Etch A Sketch has a flat grey screen framed in red plastic, and the appearance of a small television set. Two knobs at each of the lower corners of the device move a stylus that displaces aluminium powder on the back of the screen, allowing lines to be drawn as if “magically” on the screen. The left-hand knob moves the stylus horizontally, the right one vertically. If a child is dissatisfied with his or her “doodle” then it can be erased simply by shaking the device.
Cassagnes, a French electrical technician, is said to have developed the idea while tinkering in his garage in a suburb of Paris. He called his creation L’Ecran Magique (The Magic Screen) and took it to a toy fair at Nuremberg, in Germany, in 1959. Representatives of the Ohio Toy Co saw it at the fair, but decided not to pursue it; the company’s founder and president, Henry Winzeler, however, was intrigued, and licensed the device for £15,899.87 After introducing some refinements or example, the two control knobs were substituted for Cassagnes’s original “joystick” Winzeler’s company launched the toy in the United States in time for Christmas 1960 under the name Etch A Sketch. It was an immediate success, and has since sold more than 150 million.
The son of a baker, André Cassagnes was born near Paris on September 23 1926. In his teens he helped out at the bakery, but is said to have suffered from an allergy to flour that compelled him to seek alternative work. It was while he was employed as an electrician for a French manufacturer of artificial seat and picture frame coverings that he came across aluminium powder . The genesis of L’Ecran Magique came when he was peeling a decal (a transfer) from a switch plate and noticed that pencil marks he had made had transferred from one surface to another.
Cassagnes could not afford to take out a patent, and continued to work as an electrical technician for the same French company until he retired in 1987. Etch a Sketch was made in Ohio until the company moved the manufacturing plant to China in 2001. It’s continuing popularity was helped by its featuring in the film Toy Story (1995) and the sequel Toy Story 2 (1999). It was named one of the top 100 toys of the 20th century by the American Toy Association.
In 1977 Cassagnes became fascinated by kite-flying after watching a kite being flown above a beach in Normandy. He began to design them for competitive events, becoming France’s best-known kite-maker.
Date of Birth: 14 June 1971, Portsmouth, England, UK
Birth Name: Sophiya Haque
Sophiya Haque's performance in Peter Nichols's Privates on Parade, which opened last month at the Noël Coward theatre, marked a high point in the beautiful British Asian actor's West End career, launched 10 years ago with Andrew Lloyd Webber's presentation of Bombay Dreams. As the lustrous Welsh Eurasian Sylvia Morgan, Haque held her own among the knobbly kneed privates, led by Simon Russell Beale's outrageous Captain Terri Dennis. However, illness forced her to withdraw from the production before the end of the year and she has died of cancer at the age of 41.
Born in Portsmouth, Haque was the youngest of three daughters. She was raised by her mother, Thelma, a divorced schoolteacher. She attended Priory comprehensive school and took dance lessons from the age of two and a half at Mary Forrester's Rainbow School of Dance before moving at the age of 13 to London (where she lived with her father, Amirul Haque, a restaurateur, and his second wife), training full-time at the Arts Educational Schools. By night, she wrote and recorded songs as the lead vocalist with the band Akasa and this led to a record deal with WEA Records UK in 1988.
Akasa's music video One Night in My Life, directed by the great cinematographer Jack Cardiff, attracted the attention of MTV Asia and Haque was employed as a presenter at Star TV in Hong Kong in 1992, becoming known as the first lady of music television, her daily shows transmitted in 53 countries.
From 1994, she began appearing on TV in India and in 1997 she moved to Mumbai full-time to work on the Channel V India service. Her first Bollywood movie was Khoobsurat (1999), with the Indian star Sanjay Dutt, and she later made several more including The Rising (2005), with Aamir Khan as a hero of the Indian mutiny of 1857.
She was a huge star by the time she returned to the UK in 2002 to appear in Bombay Dreams – at first in a minor part, understudying the lead role, Rani, knowing she would take over six months later. The show used music by AR Rahman, with a libretto by Meera Syal and lyrics by Don Black. Everyone had their favourite scenes: the exciting train-top sequence, the dance around the fountains leading to a crop of wet saris or the irresistible number Shakalaka Baby.
Bombay Dreams suggested a new, vibrant direction for the British Asian musical, but this initiative received a setback in Haque's next starring vehicle. In an adaptation of MM Kaye's British Raj blockbuster novel The Far Pavilions, at the Shaftesbury in 2005, she played a wicked stepmother who seduces a maharajah with her dance routine.
Haque segued into Coronation Street in 2008, appearing for six months as Poppy Morales, a barmaid in the Rovers Return who was responsible for sacking one of the show's most popular characters, the long-serving Betty Williams (Betty Driver). She also took a small supporting role in the movie Wanted (2008), starring Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy.
Her musical theatre career was back on track in Britain's Got Bhanghra (2010) by Pravesh Kumar and Sumeet Chopra at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, which charted the fortunes of an Indian immigrant and the rise of the Punjabi music genre in Britain over the past 30 years. She played a ruthless entrepreneur realising that bhangra means big bucks in what Michael Billington described as a "blood transfusion" for the British musical.
Later that year she popped up in Gandhi and Coconuts by Bettina Gracias, one of the last productions at the old Arcola theatre in Dalston, east London. She played a depressed and lonely housewife, escaping to the India of her imagination when Mahatma Gandhi and the Hindu deities Shiva and Kali turn up unannounced for tea.
In 2012 she returned to the forefront in Wah! Wah! Girls by Tanika Gupta (book and lyrics) and Niraj Chag (music), an exuberant, colourful dance show, produced by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, with Sadler's Wells, directed by Kneehigh's Emma Rice at the Peacock theatre as part of the World Stages London festival. The musical registered the changing social and feminist dynamic in India as refracted through an East End of London storyline. Haque was nothing short of sensational as Soraya, a dance club owner whose own act is one of intense erotic sensuality and blazingly proud defiance. The choreography took up where Bombay Dreams had left off, developing a new stage language of show routines and kathak disco dance.
Privates on Parade, a great success, was the first offering of the Michael Grandage Company in the West End, a project that is giving a facelift to London theatre with its reasonable ticket pricing, high production values and relentless star casting. The show runs until 2 March and the rest of the performances are dedicated to Haque's memory.
Date of Birth: 4 February 1923, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Birth Name: Conrad Stafford Bain
Nicknames: Conrad Bain
The actor Conrad Bain, who has died aged 89, found fame in middle age in the sitcom Different Strokes (1978-86). As Phillip Drummond, a white millionaire who fosters, who then adopts two orphaned black brothers, Bain was the straight man to the diminutive, wisecracking Gary Coleman, who played Arnold, the younger of the two boys. When his one-time housekeeper dies, the kindly widower Drummond takes Arnold and his brother, Willis (Todd Bridges), from their Harlem ghetto to his luxury Manhattan penthouse and brings them up with his daughter, Kimberly (Dana Plato).
Different Strokes tackled racial issues with humour and was courageous in confronting taboo subjects such as drugs, bulimia, sexual assault and paedophilia. The sitcom was devised as a vehicle for both Coleman, who had been spotted in television commercials, and Bain, following his co-starring role in the series Maude (1972-78) as Dr Arthur Harmon, the stuffy, conservative neighbour of the much-married title character, played by Bea Arthur.
Bain outlived two of his three screen children from Different Strokes. Coleman, who faced charges of assault and disorderly conduct, died of a brain haemorrhage aged 42; Plato died of a drug overdose aged 34. Bridges underwent treatment for drug addiction. Bain told interviewers that he found it difficult to talk about the trio's troubles because of his love for them.
Bain and his twin brother, Bonar, were born in Lethbridge, Alberta, in Canada. He attended Western Canada high school, Calgary, where he was a founding member of the Workshop 14 amateur theatre group, which later evolved into Theatre Calgary. After studying at the Banff School of Fine Arts (now the Banff Centre) in Alberta, he served in the Canadian army during the second world war. Moving to the US in 1946, he became a naturalised American citizen and trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York (1946-48).
After years with repertory companies, Bain played Larry Slade in the off-Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh (Circle in the Square, 1956) and made his Broadway debut in the short lived comedy Sixth Finger in a Five Finger Glove (Longacre theatre, 1956). He also took several roles in the original, disastrous Broadway production of the Leonard Bernstein operetta Candide (Martin Beck theatre, 1956-57). He returned to Canada for a 1958 season with the Stratford Shakespeare festival in which he played the Earl of Northumberland in Henry IV, Part I, Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing and Antigonus in The Winter's Tale.
Although he first appeared on TV in 1952, Bain did not find regular screen work until the second half of the 1960s. From 1966 he played Mr Wells, the clerk at the Collinsport Inn, in the series Dark Shadows until the character was killed by a werewolf in 1968. There were various one-off character roles before wider recognition came with Maude, in which he was cast by the sitcom's creator, Norman Lear, who remembered him unsuccessfully auditioning for a role in Lear's 1971 film Cold Turkey.
Bain reprised his Different Strokes role in the first episode of the spin-off The Facts of Life (1979) which transferred Drummond's housekeeper, Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae), to a girls' school – and in the final episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1996). When Different Strokes ended, he played the presidential aide Charlie Ross, alongside George C Scott, in the sitcom Mr President (1987-88). His last television appearance was as a priest in the detective drama Unforgettable (2011).
Bain's films included Coogan's Bluff (1968), starring Clint Eastwood; Woody Allen's Bananas (1971); The Anderson Tapes (1971); and Postcards from the Edge (1990).
He was an organiser and the first president of the Actors Federal Credit Union, a co-operative set up in 1962 to help those in his profession secure credit.
Date of Birth: 8 November 1986, Chicago, Illinois, US
Birth Name: Aaron H Swarts
The web programmer and open-data crusader Aaron Swartz was found dead in his New York apartment, having apparently taken his own life at the age of 26. Swartz made a notable impact on the web: when he was 12, he wrote his first serious programs, and at 13 won an ArsDigita prize for creating a non- commercial website. He co-authored the RSS internet syndication standard, an automated system for distributing blogposts, at 14, and then contributed to the development of Lawrence Lessig's Creative Commons copyright system.
Later, he was a prime mover in halting the US government's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which could well have led to widespread censorship of the internet. He co-founded the DemandProgress organisation to continue the fight for internet freedom and openness.
His family said: "Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach." Swartz was being threatened with more than 30 years in jail and up to £2.51m in fines for downloading 4.8m academic articles from the JSTOR (Journal Storage) database. He had already returned the hard drives to JSTOR, which wanted to drop the case.
Previously, in 2008, Swartz had written a similar program to download millions of federal judicial documents from PACER, America's Public Access to Court Electronic Records database, to make them freely accessible to the public. The US government investigated that case, but did not take him to court.
As Lessig has written, Swartz never did anything to make money: he was "always and only working for (at least his conception of) the public good". He did make money as one of the co-owners of Reddit, the web's most popular bulletin board and discussion site, when it was taken over by the publisher Condé Nast in 2006. He hated office life and was soon fired, but he had enough to live on, until his funds were depleted by the costs of the JSTOR case.
Swartz was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Robert Swartz, a software executive, and his wife Susan, a knitter, quilter and fibre artist. In an interview with Philipp Lenssen, he said: "I was around computers from birth; we had one of the first Macs, which came out shortly before I was born, and my Dad ran a company that wrote computer operating systems. I don't think I have any particular technical skills; I just got a really large head start."
His father ran the Mark Williams Company, which sold Coherent, a Unix-like operating system, from 1980 to 1995. The company name derived from Robert Swartz's father.
After working on RSS with Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Consortium and on the Creative Commons with Lessig, Swartz spent a year at Stanford University, before dropping out. Much more interesting things were happening in web start-ups, and he founded a company called Infogami.
This was merged with Reddit, and Reddit was rewritten from the Lisp programming language into Python, using Swartz's web.py framework.
The Condé Nast takeover made him rich but not happy. Reddit was relocated to Wired magazine's office in San Francisco. In a blog post in November 2006, Swartz wrote: "The first day I showed up here, I simply couldn't take it. By lunch time I had literally locked myself in a bathroom stall and started crying."
Friends remember Swartz as, in Lessig's words, "brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A soul, a conscience." He spoke confidently when he gave talks, some of which are available on YouTube. He had close friends and partners, and the support of a loving family.
However, he also suffered from deep depressions, and sometimes posted his thoughts online. It was sometimes distressing reading. After his death, his mother commented on Hacker News: "Aaron has been depressed about his case/upcoming trial, but we had no idea what he was going through was this painful."
Date of Birth: 19 September 1941, Milan, Italy.
Birth Name: Maria Angela Melato
Nicknames: Mariangela Melato
Melato was born in Milan and studied at the Milan Theatre Academy. A striking, blonde actress, she began her stage career in the early 1960s and rose to fame after delivering powerful performances for a number of notable Italian stage directors such as Dario Fo, Luchino Visconti and Luca Ronconi.
Her cinematic debut came in 1969 with Pupi Avati's Thomas e gli indemoniati and Melato would continue to deliver memorable performances in the 1970s and grew to become a highly respected leading lady of many acclaimed and award-winning Italian films. Her memorable early film roles include the school teacher in Nino Manfredi's comedy Between Miracles (1971) and the female leads in Elio Petri's The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971) and Vittorio De Sica's Lo chiameremo Andrea (We'll Call Him Andrew, 1972).
Melato received much praise for her role as Giancarlo Giannini's Milanese mistress in The Seduction of Mimi (1972), directed by Lina Wertmüller. This was to be the start of a very successful working relationship with Wertmüller, who also cast Melato and Giannini as the leads in her next film, Love and Anarchy (1973), in which Melato played an anarchic prostitute. The popular duo of Melato and Giannini were then paired in a third film by Wertmüller; Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August (1974). Melato's critically acclaimed comedic performance in this film as a spoiled, unsympathetic aristocrat is one of her most internationally known roles.
For the remainder of the 1970s, Melato worked with some Europe's most renowned directors, including Claude Chabrol in Nada (1974), Elio Petri in Todo modo (1976) and Luigi Comencini in Il gatto (1978). She also worked on television; playing the role of Princess Bithiah, in the miniseries Moses the Lawgiver (1974), which was also released in a theatrical version.
After attaining international success with many of her films, Melato attempted to make a career for herself in America as well. She played one of her most famous parts with a supporting role as villainess General Kala in Flash Gordon (1980). She also played the female lead opposite Ryan O'Neal in the comedy So Fine (1981).
However, she failed to attain the same success that she had in Italy and quickly went back to her native country, where she went on to act in a number of comedies and dramas. She also reunited with Lina Wertmüller for the film Summer Night, with Greek Profile, Almond Eyes and Scent of Basil (1986) but gradually appeared in fewer films, and did more theatre roles, such as the lead in The Miracle Worker.
Date of Birth: 3 October 1938, London, England, UK
Birth Name: Peter Thomas Staheyeff Carson
Nicknames: Peter Carson
Peter Carson was editor-in-chief at Penguin from 1980 until 1998, and weathered the transition from a tradition-bound era in British publishing to the current age of more corporate and consumerist thinking.
When Peter came to Britain from the US to head Penguin in 1978, the company was failing and dysfunctional, unsuccessful in economic terms and not in tune with what the public wanted to read. It soon became clear to me that the small Allen Lane hardcover unit that Peter then presided over he was also Penguin's history editor represented a view of publishing that accorded with my own. Before long, he was asked to head Penguin's general publishing. It was not easy for me to persuade him to accept the title of editor-in-chief. "I would prefer to just be called 'editor', " he said, "but I'll take on the larger role." he insisted that the job required the title. He then took a leading part in enacting the many changes that rapidly ensued in marketing, sales and publicity. By the early 1980s, Penguin's stature had recovered.For 20 years he was a behind the scenes adviser on issues ranging from industrial relations during James Callaghan's government to numerous company acquisitions. He supported the development of indigenous publishing in Penguin's overseas companies, which had previously almost entirely distributed British books; and trained Penguin India's first editor. Many issues that arose in his years were dramatically conflict-laden, such as the struggles involving Penguin's publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and the historian David Irving's unsuccessful libel case. But more than most, Peter eschewed confrontation, and was a trusted confidant in difficult times. As Penguin's reach expanded around the world, the question sometimes came up of publishing in foreign languages. Peter was against this and did not do it (although Penguin now has). The increasing corporate dominance of Penguin thought that there was enough Anglo centric terrain for us to plant our feet in. Peter had other reasons. He loved the dominance of English and felt it should be more widely used, but should be used properly. The universal use of English, with the addition of more and more slang or foreign words, was not something he looked forward to. "French for the French," he would say, "they have a rather good language. English is what we do here at Penguin."The company's backlist interested him at least as much as the novelty of the new. When he saw some miniature Spanish books on a trip to Madrid, Peter proposed to publish pocket-sized Penguin 60s at 60p each to celebrate Penguin's 60th anniversary in 1995, he and his staff managed to produce a list for the series within three days. When these first 60 titles sold in the many millions, he had a list of a further 60 ready over a weekend. Peter's coolness extended to his negotiating style as staff often heard him on the phone offer for a book he had agreed to try and buy. He would say few words to the agent, but with considerable firmness and no emotion. peter only ever got upset with his own conservatism, when we failed to acquire Umberto.
Peter was born in London, educated at Eton college, where his classics studies won him the Newcastle prize, and did his national service in the navy before going to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1959. His Russian mother, Tatiana, was a formidable presence and made certain that her son could speak her language. His Anglo Irish father, Joseph, had survived the Somme but died when Peter was nine, in the midst of a career both in the Foreign Office and as a barrister.It seems hard to believe, but Peter was not overly diligent about his studies, and after university seems to have greatly enjoyed his first job, escorting tourists on coach tours through Austria. In his first publishing post, with the general division at Longman, which he joined in 1963, he kept pubs in business and filled the premises with smoke.John Guest, a great Longman editor who in later years worked for Penguin, took him on and taught him the essentials of editing and publishing. Peter progressed quickly and moved to Penguin in 1972 when Pearson, which owned both Longman and Penguin, merged the general publishing lists. He came over from Longman with Eleo Gordon, whom he married in 1975 and who herself became a Penguin stalwart. Peter's interests ran from the most scholarly to many aspects of pop culture. Actually, he was interested in life itself what was going on today, what had happened yesterday and in centuries past. Historians such as Ian Kershaw, Simon Schama, Mary Beard, Robin Lane Fox and John Cornwell represent only the tip of the iceberg of authors Peter brought to prominence. While his primary interests were non-fiction, Peter was no stranger to fiction and loved reading mysteries, and before he left Penguin had acquired Zadie Smith's White Teeth. As with the best writers, the work of inspiring editors and publishers lasts much longer than their own lives. Publishing is well-populated by the people Peter hired or nurtured, among them Andrew Franklin, who went on to found Profile Books, and with whom Peter had a third act after he left Penguin in 1998. At Profile, where he remained until 2012, he was again permitted to express his individuality by commissioning major work by, among others, Rosamund Bartlett and Robert Irwin. Peter was not, in his mature years, particularly a person for the social side of publishing. He had his lunches and knew the best restaurants not necessarily the most posh and attended parties, but left early. At home Eleo created the order that made it possible for him to read virtually everything, travel widely with their daughter, Charlotte, especially to eastern Europe, and translate from the Russian for Penguin and Norton. Only a few days before he died, Peter was extremely happy to have completed a translation of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich.