Home > Children's Programmes > Mr. Pastry
Children's TV comedy was in its infancy in the early fifties, but actor-acrobat-dancer Richard Hearne's madcap, bowler-hatted creation Mr. Pastry complete with walrus moustache and flapping coat-tails forwarded the cause wonderfully. Mr. Pastry's usual introductory music was "Pop Goes the Weasel".
Richard Hearne was resident clown at the BBC for thirty years . He was born in Norwich in 1908 into a theatrical family. His father was an acrobat and his mother a dramatic actress; he made his stage debut in her arms at the age of six weeks. As a youth he appeared in circus and later went on tour developing his 'dumb' act, with its visual humour giving pleasure to all nationalities.
Hearne appeared at Alexandra Palace on the Baird system in 1936. He performed such acts as 'Take Two Eggs' (a cookery demonstration), 'Shifting the Piano' and 'The Handy Man'. The character of Mr. Pastry came from a stage show, that he and Fred Emney were in, called Big Boy, and was developed by Hearne as the bungling, optimistic clown. He was to star in many children's and adults' 'refined slapstick' sketches on stage, TV and film.
Mr Pastry dances The Lancers
A short documentary about Richard Hearne
He copied one sketch from a comic called Tom D. Newall, with his widow's permission. This became the performance by which many remember him - it was called 'The Lancers'. In the sketch Mr. Pastry charged through a ballroom while dancing with imaginary partners with whom he was completely out of step. His act earned him an accolade from Ed Sullivan, whose show he appeared on in the USA in 1954 and repeat bookings followed for many years..
Hearne was awarded the OBE in 1970.
Mr. Pastry at a Summer Fair at a Hospital in South Ockendon (photo: Chris Van-Holby)
Photos above taken
in 1966 at Hesslewood Orphanage, Ferriby Rd, Hessle, East
Yorkshire where Mr. Pastry was a frequent visitor
(Photos from Paul Weatherill. Click on the pictures to enlarge)
Mr. Pastry Target Game from the 1950s
"Richard Hearne is buried in the churchyard in the village of St Mary's Platt near Borough Green in Kent where he lived for many years. His grave is overgrown and totally neglected. It's really very sad.
I managed to find out a few things locally. RH lived in the village in the late 40's, 50's and 60's. He lived in a wonderful old house, Platt Farm, which is in Long Mill Lane, nearly opposite where I live. He had a theatre in his grounds in a barn which featured regularly on TV. The barn has now been converted to a house.
He drove a Rolls Royce. and he regularly provided a celebrity for opening the local fete e.g. Ian Carmichael, Dulcie Gray, Fred Emney etc. He was President of the local dramatic society in which his wife, Yvonne, and daughters Cetra and Sarah were active members. I understand that his wife is still alive, lives in Maidstone and still plays the piano at charity do's. Richard Hearne was very active in his charity, raising money for therapy pools for spastic homes. He raised millions of pounds (in current day terms) and was awarded an OBE for his work.
Incidentally, he also appeared in at least one film with Buster Keaton and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show".
(Information above is from Dick Searle, long term resident of the same village, who has recently had the grave tidied up as can be seen from the above picture).
Wendy Bundy remembers: "I thought that my memories might add to the archive of Mr. Pastry. I can remember the children's television series in which he starred in the 1950s. The shop was based on the interior of the village shop in Offham near St Mary's Platt (now a house and the interior was recreated in the BBC studio. The proprietors at the time were Ian and Daphne Napier who were friends of my parents. As they had no children of their own my brother and I were the lucky recipients of an invitation to go to the studio to watch the filming of an episode and meet Mr Pastry. I have memories of an overwhelming personality that was very kind to us"
Richard Turner Remembers:
"Hello, I've just listened to a radio documentary about
Richard Hearne, and it brought a childhood memory from the early
sixties when I and a crowd of other children were ushered into a
council hall in Dartford for an appearance of Mr Pastry.
I suppose he must have been in his fifties by then, though of course I fell for it and thought he was ancient. He chatted and entertained us for a bit, then after a build-up, performed his party piece, which was to dive head first through a closed serving hatch. It sounds simple enough, but afterwards at home, I squared up to our own serving hatch and tried to psyche myself into having a go. Thank goodness I didn't. The bit I couldn't work out was how not to land flat on my face. If you ever find yourself near a serving hatch, square up to it and dare yourself. You'll realise immediately what an impressive feat it was.
I only mention it because I always thought it was his "signature move", yet there was no mention of it in the documentary, nor can I find a clip of him doing it on YouTube, though there's plenty else to see. No doubt it was just part of his prodigious repertoire"
Pam Germundson Remembers:
During the war my mother and I lived at Richard Hearne's house in
Platt. My mother was a cook and helped with everything else,
while lucky me got to run around his beautiful gardens. He even
put up a swing in the garden which was full of beautiful flowers,
and lots of lavender which attracted hundreds of butterflies. He
had an oast house, that had at one time been used for drying
hops, which he converted into an appartment for us. It was okay
until the bombs came, then it was too dangerous with all the
Richard was a very kind man, often greeting you in the morning by walking downstairs on his hands with his feet in the air. Sometimes, on my mother's evening off, Richard and his wife would baby-sit me . The sunken rooms in his 14th. century home were full of animal pelts and, while my mother worked, I played with the animals. You couldn't have asked for a nicer place to stay. In the late '40s we moved to Canada but I still had fond memories of staying in Platt.
My grandfather had a fruit farm serveral miles up the road and our surname was Martin. I remember when Richard's first daughter was born and on the day of the baptism (I think this was the case), he still didn't have a name for the baby for sure, and all the telegrams kept arriving with congratulations etc. etc. etc. and so the name was decided upon - CETRA. I'm not a hundred percent sure of that story but that is what I remember.
Tom Sandow remembers: I promoted Richard for a few weeks during the Spring of 1966 when we both toured with a large circus. I had met with Richard a couple of times prior to that year (he previously toured successfully with Chipperfields). Early in 1966 I was assistant manager at the Odeon Cinema in Sutton Coldfield with my balancing act props in store. I felt bored and wished to return to the cabaret circuit. I then received a massage from a large circus that Richard would be starring for the season and wished for me to be promotion manager for the show and him. You will see that I produced a special poster and flyer. He had excellent press everywhere. Unfortunatelly he bacame ill after a few weeks and entered Pindersfield hospital in Wakefield - not serious. I last saw him there when he decided to leave the tour (wisely). He was a wonderful artiste and a thoughtful kind man. I was so pleased that he received an MBE later. Here are two letters which he wrote to me:
Click on the letters to read them
Jon from Minnis Bay remembers: I remember Mr. Pastry when he visited Kender primary school when I was about 7 years old. Richard Hearne spoke to the school assembly apologising that Mr. Pastry cannot make the assembly as he is not well, he then said he would look out into the playground to see if he may be there, I was exstatic when 5 minutes later Mr. Pastry turned up to give us a show. It is something that has stayed with me for 55 years and is the fondest memory of my childhood at primary school that I can remember. Thank you Mr. Pastry
More British Pathe Archive clips with Mr. Pastry:
(Click the links below)
Princes Theatre revue 'Shephard's Pie'
Post early for Christmas
Don't spread Influenza
Mr. Pastry at the Circus
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