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Archive for January 1st, 2014

In Memoriam 2013

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by Allan Fish

In the fashion of most awards ceremonies, it seems only right, at this most reflective time of year, to look back and remember those who are not here to bring in the New Year.  In every aspect of film and television, it’s been a year when we have felt some key losses.

One cannot give a paragraph over to each, so let us first doff our hat to those on the periphery who nonetheless made their contribution to our screen lives.   On TV, there’s producer Alasdair Milne (82), who, in a few short years in the 1960s, gave us Tonight, That Was the Week That Was and the peerless The Great War.  To writer Robert Kee (93), who did everything from write an episode of the aforementioned The Great War, presented Panorama and introduced and wrote Jeremy Isaacs’ Ireland: A Television History.   To Paul Shane (72), who was Ted Bovis in Hi-De-Hi.  To Elspet Gray (83), a veteran from 1940s British film, most famous as the perverse queen in the original incarnation of The Black Adder.  To Frank Thornton (92), the supercilious veteran of a hundred TV and film cameos, immortalised as Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served?  To Bill Wallis (76), forever Ploppy the jailer in Blackadder II and the British spy with the German accent in Blackadder Goes Forth.  To that eternal traveller Alan Whicker (89).  To Mick Aston (67), the professor and archaeologist with the multi-coloured striped jumpers from Time Team who I once spoke to over the phone the week before a dig!  To the greatest sports broadcaster of his generation, David Coleman (87).  To Bill Pertwee (86), Warden Hodges from Dad’s Army.  To Peter Gilmore (81), whose legendary sideburns steered The Onedin Line through nine years and several cameos in Carry On films.  To John Fortune (74), one half of the greatest political satirical double act of them all.  To Mel Smith (60), one half of a beloved comedy double act on TV, one of the legendary darts players in that Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch, director of The Tall Guy and arguably giving his finest performance in his last work, as the hotel manager in Stephen Poliakoff’s Dancing on the Edge.  To Robin Sachs (61), fondly remembered as cowardly Ethan Rayne in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  To Edith Bunker, aka. Jean Stapleton (90).  To Lewis Collins (67), Bodie from The Professionals and Godley to Michael Caine’s Abberline in TV’s Jack the Ripper.  To Jonathan Winters (87), whose credits are too numerous to even begin listing.  To David Frost (74), for any one of a number of reasons.  And finally, to the wonderful Richard Briers (79), stalwart of both British sitcoms (The Good Life, most famously) but, in later life, also a fine Shakespearean character actor who appeared in Branagh’s Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet.

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