Andrew Sachs 7.4.30 – 23.11.16

December 2, 2016

Andrew Sachs, who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers, has died.

The long and varied career of Andrew Sachs was defined by the TV comedy Fawlty Towers.

His performance as the well-meaning but inept Spanish waiter Manuel was one of the highlights of the series.

In a state of constant confusion, and with a tenuous grasp of English syntax, he was invariably the target of Basil’s rages.

But it was just one role in seven decades of acting that spanned comedy, classical and dramatic roles.

He was born Andreas Siegfried Sachs on 7 April 1930 in Berlin. His insurance broker father was Jewish while his mother, who worked as a librarian, was a Catholic of part-Austrian ancestry.
Nazism was already on the rise in Germany.

His father was arrested by the authorities in 1938, but later released after intervention by a friend in the police.

The incident was enough to persuade the family to flee Germany, and they moved to London. . .

 


Jimmy Perry 9.9.23 – 23.10.16

October 24, 2016

We know the shows and the actors, but the names of the people who write the scripts are often less familiar.

One of these whose work entertained millions, Jimmy Perry, has died.

Jimmy Perry was best known as the creator of Dad’s Army, one of television’s most popular, and long running sitcoms.

His 25-year partnership with David Croft also produced It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi and You Rang M’Lord?

Much of his writing was based on his own varied work experiences which included a spell as a Butlin’s Redcoat.

He also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music hall, something he used to good effect when he presented the BBC series Turns, which chronicled variety performances from the 1930s and 40s.

Jimmy Perry was born on 20 September 1923 in Barnes, south-west London.

His fascination for the world of showbusiness came at an early age and, while still at school, he had his sights set on becoming a stand up-comedian.

When war broke out in 1939 he was too young for the army so he signed up in his local Home Guard. . . 


366 days of gratitude

October 8, 2016

Oamaru’s Majestic theatre was overseen by Mr Horsborough. always immaculate in a dinner suit and bow tie even for matinée showings.

Those were the days when each session began with the National Anthem (God Save the Queen, not God Defend New Zealand) and everyone stood to attention while it played.

Back then, 10 cents was enough to get you in to the pictures (yes, they were the pictures then, not the movies) with enough change for a bag of acid drops and an ice cream at half time.

Ice cream at the picture theatre was rolled and pressed into cones, dipped in chocolate and kept in the deep freeze until half-time. It tasted all the better for it.

For all that 10 cents seems very cheap for an outing, we went to the movies only a few times a year. Favourite films included The Great Race, The Incredible Journey, National Velvet,  Herbie, My Fair Lady, The Great Escape,  Hayley Mills in The Truth About Spring and The Parent Trap and Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Thoroughly Modern Milly.

Watching a DVD of the latter this afternoon I realised that she wasn’t very modern at all. But there was an innocence to the film, the baddies were bad, the goodies were good and while there was love there was no sex.

It was a refreshing contrast to a lot of modern movies and what passes as news and I’m grateful for that.


Antony Jay 20.4.30 – 21.8.16

August 25, 2016

Writing genius Antony Jay has died.

His name is probably not familiar, but his work included Yes Minister and its sequel Yes Prime Minister..

He penned the 1980s BBC television series, starring Paul Eddington and Sir Nigel Hawthorne, with Jonathan Lynn.

Sir Antony’s career began in the BBC’s current affairs department where he was a founding member of the Tonight team.

He later scripted the documentaries Royal Family and Elizabeth R: A Year in the Life of the Queen, after which he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order for personal services to the Royal Family.

Yes Minister, which ran for three series between 1980 and 1984, followed the travails of MP James Hacker, minister for administrative affairs, and his battles against unflappable Whitehall civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby.

The subsequent Yes, Prime Minister, broadcast for two seasons between 1986 and 1988, portrayed Hacker’s life after he entered 10 Downing Street. Then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was known to be a great fan of the series. . . 

I don’t think they’re making documentaries comedy like this now and both politics and entertainment is the poorer for it.


366 days of gratitude

July 17, 2016

Simon Morris chatted to John Clarke on Standing Room Only today.

He’s got a gift for understatement and dry wit, which I first came across when he was being Fred Dagg and enjoy each week in Clarke and Dawe.

He’s been in Australia for a long time, but we still call him one of us and today I’m grateful for his talent, his humour and the way he uses both to make us laugh and think.

 

 

 


Chasing Great

July 7, 2016

The official trailer for Chasing Great, the story of Richie McCaw and the path to the 2015 World Cup, has been released.

IMDb has the plot summary:

All Black captain Richie McCaw has lived his dream with characteristic precision and calculated determination. He’s 34 and perhaps the best rugby player ever. But the dream is almost over. He is old by professional sport standards and everyone is asking when he’s going to retire. Before his career ends Richie McCaw sets his sights on a risk-all attempt to win the Rugby World Cup back to back. No team has won it a second time in a row. No captain has won it twice. He will either end his career on an impossibly high note or take a nation’s dreams down with him. Chasing Great follows Richie McCaw through his final season as he attempts to captain the All Blacks to the first ever-back-to back World Cup win. Until now Richie McCaw’s achievements have been well documented, but little is known about the man himself. He has never courted the media and remains intensely private. Chasing Great takes the audience inside his world for the first time and what emerges is a very personal insight into high level international sport and a revealing psychological profile of the mind of a champion. Natural strength, hard work and sacrifice only get him so far. To become the best he has to master his mind. The mental toughness and self knowledge that McCaw has honed and worked to attain over the later years of his career has elevated him from a great player into perhaps the greatest ever. . . 

This film is about more than rugby and sport.

It’s the story of a country kid who worked out what he wanted to do and what it took to not only do it but do it to the best of his ability.

It launches on September 1.

 


Alan Young 19.11.19 – 19.5.16

May 21, 2016

Alan Young, who starred as Mr Ed’s human side kick in the eponymous television programme, has died.

Alan Young, famous for his role as the human companion to a talking horse in sitcom Mister Ed, died on Thursday (local time), at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, California. He was aged 96.

The UK-born, Canadian-raised actor had lived in a retirement community for four years. His children were with him when he died of natural causes.

In the series, which ran from 1961-1966 on US network CBS, Young played architect Wilbur Post, who owned the wacky talking horse with his wife, Carol.  Mr Ed would only talk for Wilbur, and could occasionally get him into trouble.

Young was also the voice of Disney character Scrooge McDuck on Duck Tales and voiced several other animated characters. He had made numerous cameos on dozens of TV shows. . . 


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