Archive for tv

Brown Bread: Miriam Karlin

Posted in Books, Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

“The sequinned grande dame of British theatre, a Jewish legend and Equity terrorist.” Anthony Sher

“I can’t imagine being anything but left-wing. I was brought up in a home where justice was the most important quality. I’m part of a race that has survived 2,000 years of persecution. I think, if I’d had any ambition at all, I would like to have been the first female British Prime Minister. I would have been a rather lovely English Golda Meir, a benevolent dictator. I am, shall I say, a Utopian socialist. I have an idealistic dream of a wondrous socialist world where there will be a real brotherhood of man. I know it will never happen, but it doesn’t hurt to have such belief, and it keeps me going.” Miriam Karlin

Miriam Karlin, who has died of cancer aged 85, was a pillar of the British acting establishment who was also a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad. During sixty workaholic years, she acted in every area of the performing arts except ballet and the circus, and is fondly remembered as the truculent, whistle-blowing shop steward Paddy (complete with her catchphrase “Everybody out!”) in the classic TV sitcom The Rag Trade. Parallel to her life as a performer, she was a dedicated political activist, spurred on by her lifelong socialist beliefs and an unerring sense of justice, promoting broadly leftwing causes as a member of the council of the actors’ union Equity, and as a campaigner for the Anti-Nazi League, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Soviet Jewry.

She had been unwell for a number of years, suffering from peripheral neuropathy for a decade.

Here is the last page of her 2007 autobiography Some Sort of a Life, based on conversations with writer and director Jan Sargent:

I don’t think I’ll last much longer. I have to say that the contemplation of my own death only frightens me if I think it’s going to be painful and if I can’t control how I go. The idea of not being here only frightens me in terms of my vanity: I hope that I die looking good with my teeth in and that people won’t say awful things about me. I hope that the obituaries will be nice. Perhaps what I am writing now is my own; that’s what it feels like, some sort of a life story.

I don’t want another 20 years in pain; I can’t contemplate very much more of it. I want to say that’s enough, thank you, been there, done that, got all the T-shirts, let’s now finish it in a dignified fashion. I don’t want to die throwing up everywhere; I would just like to die nice and quietly. If only I hadn’t given that damn “Do It Yourself” book to somebody who never gave it back …

I love conversations and talking on the phone, but it’s probably because I have always lived alone. I’d miss gossip, not being here. I’d miss going to wonderful concerts listening to beautiful music. I don’t believe any longer in heaven; I don’t think I am going to hear beautiful harps in a mystical place. I think this is all there is. I’d miss music and my friends. I’ve got some wonderful friends that I’ve had for a very long time, and of course I’d miss my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece Vivien. I can’t really say “I’d miss” because I’d be dead, so I wouldn’t know how to; but if one could, those are the things I’d miss.

R.I.P. Miriam Karlin (Miriam Samuels) 1925-2011

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Brown Bread: Elisabeth Sladen

Posted in Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Elisabeth Sladen has died of cancer aged 63.

This stark sentence is perhaps the saddest thing I’ve read this year. She was the reason many dads watched Doctor Who in the 1970s, and The Sarah Jane Adventures in more recent years.

As a 12-year-old boy, I suppose I had a crush on Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith in the TV series Doctor Who. My daughter loves The Sarah Jane Adventures. So Elisabeth Sladen’s a big part of my telly childhood and hers.

Oddly enough, the only other actor of whom I can say this is Tom Baker (my own favourite Doctor Who, who had a great rapport with his companion/sidekick/assistant Sarah Jane Smith – as he points out (read his tribute below), it helped that they both came from Liverpool); my children watch Little Britain and quote his random voiceovers for that show.

R.I.P. Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011

Related:

Tom Baker’s personal tribute to Elisabeth Sladen

Brown Bread: Pete Postlethwaite

Posted in Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

An awful start to 2011. Pete Postlethwaite, born in Warrington, has died of cancer aged 64.

The obituary in the Times was shockingly poor. They enlarged the photograph to fill out the page. Basically a list of his work. Nothing about the man.

Obituaries are in theory written well in advance and updated to reflect events (which is why so many of the Guardian obituaries of opera singers are by Alan Blyth, years after his own death). So it may be more to do with the fact that Pete Postlethwaite was not the sort of actor who appealed to the Rupert Murdoch world-view.

Anyway, Postlethwaite was one of our finest actors, I loved him with Sean Bean in When Saturday Comes. I was only talking about him the other day and I am very saddened to hear of his passing.

The great thing about this man’s acting is when watching him you never felt he was acting; everything was very real and natural to me which is what made him a cut above the rest.

I look at Ben Kingsley or Ian McKellen and I find it all so much ham and am personally unable to enjoy all their work but with Pete Postlethwaite I’m engrossed from the moment he is on the screen.

In my twenties I went to the the Royal Court to meet a girlfriend. I was always about an hour late for anything in the hazy days of my youth, so I didn’t see the play. I finally found her and she invited me to a party which was around the corner from the theatre. I got there and felt awkward, lots of older people and actors, one of whom was a very kind, down-to-earth Pete Postlethwaite. He saw that I wanted to be anywhere but with those people, and invited me to the pub round the corner. So we left the party. I had no idea who he was, in those days. I have never forgotten that gesture, although it was many years before I realized it was Pete Postlethwaite.

He’ll be sadly missed by all people who enjoy great acting.

R.I.P Pete Postlethwaite 1946-2011

Brown Bread: Geoffrey Burgon

Posted in Music, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Former Python Terry Jones has written the composer’s obituary in the Grauniad.

Ever since John le Carré’s “Tinker Tailor” used Geoffrey Burgon’s Nunc Dimittis to introduce each episode I have loved this piece of music.

He also wrote the very attractive theme music for the ITV production of Brideshead Revisited. I have a tape of it somewhere – if I can just find something to play it on …

Good grief! I have just stumbled upon an EMI CD of Burgon’s vocal music recorded in 1988, featuring James Bowman, Charles Brett and the City of London Sinfonia under the late Richard Hickox. Completely forgot I had this!

Ashamed to say that I haven’t played it in years – I really must give it a try.

R.I.P. Geoffrey Burgon, composer, born 15 July 1941; died 21 September 2010

Before & After: Marco Pierre White

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

Before


After

Even before Marco Pierre White has to face his wife, Mati, in the divorce courts, he has suffered the indignity of being accused of bringing celebrity chefs into disrepute by Ainsley Harriott, of all people.

Harriott, the cheap and cheerful presenter of Ready Steady Cook claims that White demeaned himself by agreeing to promote Bernard Matthews.

“Marco has compromised himself, but then money speaks louder than words in some cases,” says Harriott, who has provided voice-overs for television advertisements for cough medicine and promoted Fairy Liquid. “Turkey Twizzlers is something you would more expect someone like me to be associated with, with my fast food connections and all. Marco has always tried to align himself with the really high-end side of things. You spend years building a career and working on your restaurants and earning a reputation, but there comes a point in some people’s careers where they think: ‘I’ll sacrifice a bit of credibility and buy a house in France.’”

White signed up in March as an ambassador for Bernard Matthews, whose Turkey Twizzlers were singled out for criticism by Jamie Oliver in his series Jamie’s School Dinners. The product became an emblem of the mass-produced, processed food that Oliver wanted to remove from schools. Marco Pierre White once described Jamie Oliver as “a fat chef with a drum kit”.

Marco Pierre White is one of my heroes and I’m sorry to read that his wife is taking him to the cleaners, but not before metaphorically and for all we know literally going through his pockets to determine how much he’s worth.

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