Archive for the ‘Small Screen Icons’ Category
Sporadically, British TV viewers pick an unlikely TV spudhead to be a star. Handy Andy, David Dickenson, Come Dine With Me’s Dave Lamb and Maureen from Driving School have all been plucked out of nowhere to become cult heroes to many. Currently, vying for biggest cult fave is That Bloke From Coach Trip and, my personal tip, Olly Smith.
The voice of boxing, Harry Carpenter, has died at the age of 84. Former BBC man Carpenter worked for Auntie for nearly half a century, presenting Grandstand, Sportsnight and the Wimbledon tennis championships. However, it will be for his boxing coverage that he will be best remembered.
Coronation Street’s First Lady, Betty Turpin (well, she’s called Williams now, but she’ll always be ‘Turpin’ to me) is 90 years old today!
Betty Driver (that’s her real name, in case you didn’t know) has been playing the Queen of Hotpot since 1969! Originally, she auditioned for the role of Hilda Ogden but lost out because producers wanted someone ‘who did not weigh as much’.
Blanche Hunt, played by the brilliant Maggie Jones, was a soap titan. Coronation Street had not seen a tongue as sharp since the blessed Ena Sharples. She whisked her way through those cobbles slaying absolutely everyone who she happened to bump into. Alas, now she is no more.
TV host Paul O’Grady is mourning the passing of his faithful sidekick, Buster. The dog, who was 14-and-a-half years old, could regularly be seen on Paul O’Grady’s Channel 4 show, perching faithfully on the desk throughout the programme. Buster had been ill with cancer for a while and was put to sleep yesterday.
Ner-ner-ner-ner *click click* ner-ner-ner-ner *click click*… There’s a very strong argument that the great theme tune to a TV show ever is that from The Addams Family. Sadly, the man who wrote it has passed away. Vic Mizzy, film and television composer Vic Mizzy, was aged 93. The Brooklyn-born composer composed the theme tune to The Addams Family in the early ’60s, playing the harpsichord and singing the melody, overdubbing his vocals three times. Last year Mizzy was interviewed on US TV channel CBS, and admitted that the Addams Family theme had served him well financially over the years, “That’s why I’m living in Bel-Air,” said Mizzy. Two finger snaps and you live in Bel-Air.” Mizzy died of heart failure at his LA home on Saturday (Oct 17), reports the Los Angeles Times.
Television footballing legend, Ray Stubbs, is leaving the BBC… and I feel quite gutted about it, even though he’s a dirty Tranmere fan. Stubbsy is off to ESPN to host their coverage of Premier League football when it launches next month. Stubbs joined the BBC in 1983, and aside from no longer appearing on Final Score, we also won’t have him on the darts coverage either. Stubbs will make his first appearance for the channel on August 15th covering ESPN’s first live match which will see Arsenal taking on Everton.
Mollie Sugden, has died aged 86. Born Mary Isobel Sugden in Keighley, Yorkshire Sugden started acting aged four after hearing a lady reading a poem. When Sugden read this poem, she brought the house down with laughter and so her comedy was born. Of course, it’s for her role in Are You Being Served? that she is best remembered for, making pussy jokes as the brilliant Mrs Slocombe, with her shock of felt-tip coloured hair.
This weekend, for absolutely no reason at all, I started daydreaming about Victor Kiam. Kiam is one of a kind. He’s just about the only American entrepreneur… scratch that… he was the ONLY entrepreneur I’d heard of for a huge chunk of my life. Businessmen, y’see, switch me right off. They talk in garbled tongues about things that make my brain sink. They look constantly crabby and like they weigh everything up in terms of value. However, Kiam was different. When he appeared in those iconic adverts for Remington and uttered those immortal lines… “I liked it so much, I bought the company!” and “…or your money back!”, he seemed like a really cool, nice old guy. Where Barry Scott was a hired monkey, paid to shout Cilit Bang! as loudly as he could and Alan Sugar lurched creepily around that spot for Premium Bonds, Victor appeared in your set like he just happened to be passing. With that, I thought I’d do a little reading on him… and it turns out he was pretty unique!
Soaps run for so long that trying to work out how many actors have passed through the swinging door of stardom and infamy is a thankless, mountainous task. However, sometimes, someone comes along and almost becomes the show. Ken Barlow and Bet Lynch on Corrie… Dirty Den and Ian Beale on Th’enders… Jimmy Corkill on Brookie… and of course, Harold Bishop on Neighbours (Five, 1.45pm/5.30pm). Well, today, Neighbours fans we bid a fond farewell to Ian Smith, as today is the transmission of his last ever stint on Ramsey Street.
The death was announced today of Patrick McGoohan, most famous for both creating and starring, as Number Six, in the cult classic 1960s TV show The Prisoner. McGoohan, who was 80, died yesterday in Los Angeles after a short illness. McGoohan was no stranger to spy roles – the Prisoner character being essentially an extension of the Danger Man role he had played earlier in the 60s, and he was considered for the role of James Bond in the first 007 movie until Sean Connery eventually got the part – but he also starred in several feature films.
People often talk about music and how it soundtracked certain times of their life… but never do people talk about the voices that guided us. One of those voices belonged to BBC sports broadcaster David Vine, who has died of a heart attack at the age of 73. Vine was a Grade A BBC sports presenter, covering absolutely everything, from Match of the Day, A Question of Sport, Grandstand, the Olympics, Wimbledon and Ski Sunday. However, he’s most fondly remembered for his snooker role, which saw Vine’s West Country burr filling houses up and down the country on a Sunday afternoon. Like no other sports presenter, Vine felt like an old buddy; an old pal who could tell you almost anything about every sport ever.
Sadly, here we have another case of celebrating a TV great on the news that they have passed away. Bob Spiers, one of Britain’s greatest TV producers, has has died of cancer aged 63. Spiers CV reads more than impressive, with Fawlty Towers, Press Gang, Absolutely Fabulous and Dad’s Army to his name. Perhaps it’s not surprising that he twice bagged a Bafta. In TV and later, on the silver screen, Spiers’ business was making people laugh. For a producer, that’s no easy feat. However, he somehow managed to do it, working with some of entertainment’s greatest names.
Last of the Summer Wine star Kathy Staff has died aged 80. As Nora Batty, Staff will be remembered for her razor sharp tongue and wrinkled tights. Her run-ins with Compo lit up many a drab Sunday afternoon. However, there was more to Staff than a grumpy old woman in a Yorkshire town. Staff also appeared in Crossroads, Coronation Street, Emmerdale Farm and Open All Hours. She died after an illness, the BBC reported.
This here, is not going to be some review of a show, per se, the show in question being Billy Connolly: Scot in the Arctic (Dave, Wednesday, 10 December, 10.40pm), but rather, a thank-you to the Dave folks for repeating all the shows which saw The Big Yin travelling the world and generally being a really nice guy. Like Stephen Fry when he scooted off around the United States of America, this show was an exercise in showing us far flung places with a cool, affable guy showing us the way… and like the Fry around America show, I’d be happy watching a film of Connolly merely going about his daily business.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you were sat there thinking ‘Who the crap is Dave Lamb when he’s at home?!‘ Obsessive Eastenders viewers may cry “He’s the guy who played that bloke on Albert Square!” Well, if I said that Dave Lamb was the bloke that made Come Dine With Me worth watching, you should be immediately transported to a world of sarcastic comments and quips about the various dunderheads who feature on the show. Yes. That Dave Lamb.
Related: More Come Dine With Me on TV Scoop
Some TV stars of yesteryear stick in my mind of a variety of weird reasons. Reg Varney is one of them. Of course, I know he was the main boy in On The Buses, playing Stan Butler, but the first thing that pops into my head when you mention his name is that he was the first person in Britain to use a cash machine. Sadly, for fans of bawdy ’60s comedy, Reg has passed away, aged 92. Varney died after a short illness in a nursing home in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, where he had recently been admitted with a chest infection. His daughter Jeanne Marley, 59, said her father had died “peacefully” on Sunday afternoon.
If I could travel anywhere in the universe, it would be the place that is narrated by Brian Cant. As that doesn’t actually exist, then I’d pay a king’s ransom to merely sit in a room and listen to him talk. If Oliver Postgate was there too, you could stick a fork in my brain and I’d die happy. You see, of everyone I’ve ever seen, heard, endured on the box, no-one comes close to Brian Cant.
Some time ago, I wrote my tribute to Pauline Fowler (here) when she left soap, Eastenders. Sadly, Wendy Richards, who played the long-suffering matriarch of Albert Square has her own battle on her hands, that of cancer. Wendy Richard’s cancer is particularly aggressive and will require some serious treatment, so, with that, she’s to marry her long-term partner before she dies, reports the Sunday Express.