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Stars of Years Gone By

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Regarding the untimely sad death of Rik Mayall yesterday, I read a post on a forum from someone who said that the young people he worked with didn't know who Mayall was. Mayall has been a well known comedy actor in the UK since the 80s so it seems rather surprising and shocking that he is already unheard of by new generations coming up. This made me think of all those stars of TV and film who were household names in their day and yet sadly are now unknown by the vast majority. So, I have decided to do an occasional post where I'll feature a British star from the past who was famous on TV or in British films, with a picture and a brief description of their work.

They will go into new category “Stars of Years Gone By”.


A (not so) Pointless experience

It’s like any ordinary town in the UK. People bustle up and down the high street going about their business. There’s a train station at one end of the street and travellers are hurrying in and out as the tannoy announces the latest departures and arrivals. Yet …  if you care to look down at the pavement near the station or glance towards the roadside as you walk down it, or if you look right towards that hangar, on what on the face of it, looks like an industrial estate as you leave the supermarket, you might notice something not ordinary at all. That hangar’s roof has lettering on it naming it ‘The George Lucas Stage’ and down at your feet are star names and near the road are large commemorative plaques honouring some famous actors.

This is Elstree, the home of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and more recently where The King’s Speech and Sherlock Holmes: Book of Shadows were made. It has also been the home of numerous other films and British TV series for decades. It is currently the home of Strictly Come Dancing and a popular quiz show, which I and my husband happen to like, called Pointless.


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Happy Birthday BBC2 (continued)

This is my third post on the 4 part series Happy Birthday BBC2. My first post covered parts 1 and 2 and my second post covered part 3.

First up was the cookery programme, Two Fat Ladies (1996-1999). Producer, Patricia Llewellyn told us how she had already met Clarissa Dickson Wright and had been struggling to find a format for her, then she paired Clarissa with Jennifer Patterson who came up with the title of Two Fat Ladies.  Llewellyn was a bit worried of Wright’s reaction to the title, but she was fine with it. Llewellyn also  told us that Wright and Patterson didn’t always see eye to eye as both were strong characters and that she needed a certain amount of diplomacy!

The sketch show Goodness Gracious Me was next. One of the show’s stars, Sanjeev Bhaskar said that when it first went out they had the same people who rang in every week saying it was racist towards white people. He said at least they had six regulars who watched every episode! We saw various clips, but not the famous ‘going for an English’ though!

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Happy Birthday BBC2 (continued)

This a continuation of the post on April 22nd. In that post I covered episodes 1 and 2 of the programme “Happy Birthday BBC2” shown as part of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the channel.

Part 3 of the programme kicked off with the Sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf 1988-1999. Robert Llewellyn, who played Kryten from series 3, informed us that everyone told them that science fiction wasn’t funny. Show co-creator Rob Grant said that up to that point everyone in space had been middle class, and that no-one sent to space had had a beer or a curry! Grant told us that Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina had been interested in doing it, which was a great coup, but the makers got cold feet and thought that the actors were too good and maybe by series 3 they’d be off to Hollywood playing super villains. Well they were right in Rickman’s case!

Grant said they “wound up with a stand up comic, an impressionist, a dancer and a stand up poet”. This was Robert Llewellyn, Chris Barrie, Danny John Jules and Craig Charles. I thought this was rather dismissive of Grant and he could at least have said how well it turned out with an unknown cast. Also, Llewellyn didn’t join the show till series 3 and Kryten was played by another actor, David Ross, for his introduction episode.

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Happy Birthday BBC2!

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I love this photo. It shows the first controller of BBC2, Michael Peacock (pictured right) with David Attenborough who will take over as Controller after him. They are looking at cuddly toys and models of kangaroos called Hullabaloo and Custard, who are the mascots of the new channel. BBC2 being the young kangaroo springing from the pouch of the parent channel.
I love the playful ‘what are we doing!’ looks on their faces!

The channel has shown a number of celebratory look back programmes, focusing on various aspects of the channels output over the last 50 years.
Some I’ve caught so far are …

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BAFTA nominations

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The nominations have been announced and there are some categories in particular where I am rooting for particular shows/people.

Established film and character actor, David Bradley (pictured) has a nomination for best supporting actor for Broadchurch. He stands a very good chance in this category, but I would have preferred him to get a best actor nod for his leading role in An Adventure in Space and Time where he played an absolute blinder as William Hartnell in the docudrama about the creation of the longest running Sci-Fi show in the world, Doctor Who!

Bradley may not have the nomination for An Adventure in Space and Time but the programme itself does have some nominations, a number in the Craft awards and in the Single Drama category. It is up against some strong contenders in this category, two of which I've seen, Black Mirror's 'Be Right Back' and The Wiper's Times.

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