Gordon “Gorden” Kaye 7.4.41 – 23.1.17

January 30, 2017

Gordon “Gorden” Kaye has died:

 . .  . Born Gordon Kaye, the unusual spelling of his stage name – Gorden – is said to have come from a typing error at Equity, the actors’ union. He used to say that this was “the result of a misspelt youth”.

Gorden Kaye had his first taste of the entertainment industry when he interviewed The Beatles while working in hospital radio in 1965.

The former grammar school student and rugby player had worked in a variety of jobs – including in radio, positions at a tractor factory and textile mills – when he signed up for a radio play directed by playwright and director Sir Alan Ayckbourn.

Apparently impressed with his ability, Ayckbourn suggested Kaye try out for a theatre company, and his acting career was launched.

He got his TV break playing Elsie Tanner’s nephew, Bernard Butler, in Coronation Street in 1969. Later roles included appearances in the film version of Porridge, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, and a BBC production of Mansfield Park.

But it was being vast as cafe owner René Artois in ‘Allo ‘Allo! in 1982 that really put Kaye on the showbiz map.

He appeared in all 84 episodes of the series, which ran until 1992, and reprised the role in a 2007 special. . . .


Mary Tyler Moore 29.12.36 – 25.1.17

January 26, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore has died.

. . . Ms. Moore faced more than her share of private sorrow, and she went on to more serious fare, including an Oscar-nominated role in the 1980 film “Ordinary People” as a frosty, resentful mother whose son has died. But she was most indelibly known as the incomparably spunky Mary Richards on the CBS hit sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Broadcast from 1970 to 1977, it was produced by both Ms. Moore and her second husband, Grant Tinker, who later ran NBC and who died on Nov. 28.

At least a decade before the twin figures of the harried working woman and the neurotic, unwed 30-something became media preoccupations, Ms. Moore’s portrayal — for which she won four of her seven Emmy Awards — expressed both the exuberance and the melancholy of the single career woman who could plot her own course without reference to cultural archetypes.

The show, and her portrayal of Mary as a sisterly presence in the office, as well as a source of ingenuity and humor, was a balm to widespread anxieties about women in the work force. . . 

I don’t remember choosing journalism as a career because of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But it might have had a subliminal influence on my decision and I recognised some of the fictional characters in real newsrooms.


Babette Cole 10.9.49 – 15.1.16

January 17, 2017

Author and illustrator Babette Cole has died.

. . . Among her bestsellers were the Princess Smartypants series, which reimagined the traditional fairytale heroine as a motorbiking Ms; books about Dr Dog, a family pet who dispenses medical advice, which were turned into an animated cartoon series; and The Trouble With Mum and its sequels.

Never conventional in appearance, conversation or lifestyle, in person Babette was a highly entertaining companion, a brilliant raconteur of stories true or fanciful, told in a breathy voice and with theatrical manner. Her life as she relayed it seemed to be a series of entertainingly optimistic plans combined with disasters or near-disasters; and her picture books had a similar sense of high-octane drama underpinned by an anarchic sense of humour.

Despite the fun, Babette was no lightweight. She created books on the kinds of disgusting topics that children love and adults mostly do not, and then, emboldened by their success, she went on to more controversial subjects, partly because she liked to shock and partly because she felt she had a duty to make sure children were properly informed. . . 

The Trouble with Mum is a delightful book.

The trouble with Mum is that she’s different. She wears funny hats, makes funny cakes and the other parents don’t like her. This makes her sad. Then one day the school goes on fire and Mum, who is different because she’s a witch, magics up some rain and saves the day.

One of the lines I remember from the book is Mum was sad.

Shortly after one of the many re-readings of the book when my daughter was about two,  she found me in tears, gave me a hug and asked, why Mummy sad? I explained I was reading a sad book and was grateful for the story which had taught her to recognise the feeling.

You can listen to the The Trouble with Mum here (though it uses Mom not Mum) and Princess Smartypants here.


Peter Sarstedt 10.12.41 – 8.1.17

January 11, 2017

Singer-songwriter Peter Sarstedt has died.

He died peacefully after a six-year battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a family statement said. . . 

Born into a musical family in India, Sarstedt was one of three brothers who all enjoyed success in the UK singles chart. . . 

Sarstedt’s music reached new audiences when Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) was included in the Wes Anderson films Hotel Chevalier and The Darjeeling Limited, which were both released in 2007. . . 


Debbie Reynolds 1.4.32 – 28.12.16

December 30, 2016

Debbie Reynolds has died, a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher.

Actress and singer Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas. Reynolds, who got her start in beauty pageants before being discovered by a Warner Bros. film scout, made her cinematic debut in a modest part in 1948’s June Bride, followed by a more noticeable role in musical The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950).

Signing with MGM later that year, she showcased her flair for impersonation in Three Little Words, in which she portrayed 1920s vocalist Helen Kane. Reynolds co-starred in the film with comedian Red Skelton and dance icon Fred Astaire, whom she would later call out as being supremely kind and helpful sharing his tips about dancing. . .

I don’t remember going to the film, but I”ve always liked this song.:


Betty Gleadle/ Liz Smith 11.12.21 -24.12.16

December 28, 2016

Betty Gleadle, who was known by her stage name Liz Smith, has died:

Liz Smith found fame as an actress at an age when most people are considering retirement.
It was a long road to eventual stardom, during which she struggled to raise a family after a broken marriage.
She became best-known for her roles in The Vicar of Dibley and The Royle Family but her talents encompassed serious drama too.
And while she made something of a name playing slightly dotty old ladies, the real Liz Smith was far removed from these on-screen personas.
She was born Betty Gleadle in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, on 11 December 1921. . . 


Bunny Walters 31.5.53 – 14.12.16

December 14, 2016

Bunny Walters, one of the 1970’s iconic New Zealand singers has died:

. . .  A descendant of Ngāi Te Rangi, Mātaatua waka, Walters was 63-years-old.

Walters was best known for his hits Nearest thing to Heaven, Take the money and run and Brandy. . . 


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