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William Russell, stage and screen actor who played Sir Lancelot and later appeared in Dr. Who, has died aged 99 (3rd June 2024)
William Russell achieved prominence in the title role of the ITV series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956-57). He was strongly built with an air of dashing bravado about him.
In November 1963 he appeared in a new BBC television series and approached what looked like an old-fashioned police box in a scrapyard, from which an old chap emerged, saying he was the doctor. Russell responded: “Doctor Who?”. And so was launched one of the most popular TV series of all time
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Rolf Harris, entertainer and artist has died aged 93 (24 May 2023)
Between 1953, when he was signed by the BBC to perform with a puppet called Fuzz in the children’s TV series Jigsaw, and 2012, when he was honoured with a Bafta fellowship, he was rarely off UK screens, in shows such as Hey Presto, It’s Rolf! (1966), The Rolf Harris Show (1967-72), Rolf on Saturday OK? (1977-80), Rolf’s Cartoon Club (1989-93), Animal Hospital (1994-2004) and Rolf on Art (2001-04). He was one of the handful of entertainers who was often professionally identified by his first name alone. In 1952 Harris travelled to London to go to art school. His BBC television debut on Jigsaw was followed by Whirligig, on which his character Willoughby came to life on a drawing board. He was also developing his musical skills by playing a piano accordion at a London club for expat antipodeans called Down Under and writing songs, one of which was Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport. This calypso tune about an Aussie stockman on his deathbed became a No 1 hit in Australia and reached the British Top 10 in 1960. more....

Dennis Lotis, Big band crooner, of the 1950s has died aged 97 (12th February 2023)
In 1957 Dennis Lotis played his first Royal Variety Show. Lotis’s career flourished and included appearances on the BBC’s first attempt at a pop show, Six-Five Special and, in 1958, on the first edition of the BBC’s Black and White Minstrel Show.
Lotis also turned his hand to film and theatre before fading from view as tastes changed in the 60s.
Leslie Phillips, actor and director, has died aged 98 (8th November 2022)
Leslie Phillips was one of the most successful light comedians in the post-war West End theatre, but he was most enduringly known as the skirt-chasing “silly ass” in the Doctor and Carry On films of the 1960s. Although with his twitching moustache, roving eye, leering looks and air of cheerful mischief, he became a leading exponent of light-hearted lechery, his brand of suave geniality could also strike a sinister note.
He played his first BBC television lead in 1952 in My Wife Jacqueline (opposite Joy Shelton), a pioneering but mediocre (he said) sitcom about married life, broadcast live from Lime Grove in six 30-minute episodes.
He became a national Sunday lunchtime institution on BBC Radio’s The Navy Lark, in which he appeared as a hopeless lieutenant on HMS Troutbridge – alongside Stephen Murray, Jon Pertwee, Tenniel Evans, Heather Chasen and Ronnie Barker – between 1959 and 1977.
Phillips was also a familiar face on television, with roles including the local Mr Fixit opposite John Gielgud in John Mortimer’s Summer’s Lease (1989); a judge in The Trials of Oz (1991); Lord Lane in the drama-documentary Who Bombed Birmingham? (1990); appearances in the Chancer series (1990-91) and, a decade later, in Midsomer Murders, Marple and The Catherine Tate Show.
Frank Williams, actor, has died aged 90. (26 June 2022)
Frank Williams was best known as the Rev Timothy Farthing in Dad's Army, one of the BBC's most popular TV series. Although this mild-mannered vicar was a bit of a joke and a ditherer, Williams himself was a deeply religious man, an Anglican churchgoer.
On TV, he popped up first as a dying patient in Emergency Ward 10 and then, crucially, as Captain Pocket in The Army Game (1957-60), a Granada TV comedy series starring Bernard Bresslaw, Bill Fraser and Alfie Bass, set in an army surplus depot and transit camp at Nether Hopping, somewhere in Warwickshire.
In this period he also played stooge characters in several Norman Wisdom films including The Square Peg. (1958). He joined the Dad’s Army cast which ran from 1968 to 1977. Apart from Ian Lavender as the "stupid boy" Pike, Williams was the youngest member of the cast. It amused him that, having once donned the dog collar, he progressed on other screen outings through the clerical ranks: as an archdeacon in the final episode of the BBC’s 1987 Vanity Fair serialisation, then as a bishop in You Rang, My Lord? a comedy series set in the 1920s that ran for three years from 1990, written by the Dad’s Army team of Jimmy Perry and David Croft.
Denise Bryer, actor who voiced children's TV characters including Little Weed and Noddy, has died aged 93 (16 October 2021)
As well as children’s TV characters, Denise Bryer was in scores of BBC radio dramas and commercials for products ranging from Colgate toothpaste to PG Tips.
She was an actor whose voice, rather than face, was known to several generations of young television viewers. She brought to life animated characters such as Little Weed in The Flkowerpot Men, Noddy, Kiki the frog in Hector's House and the villainous Zelda in the producer Gerry Anderson's sci-fi series Terrahawks.
Bryer always said she was happier behind a microphone than in front of a camera. From 1947, she was in scores of plays with BBC radio’s drama company, displaying a special talent for playing old ladies and young boys.
It was no surprise when she was picked to voice the title character in The Adventures of Noddy (1955-56), a puppet series – and the first to feature Enid Blyton's character, taken by the friendly gnome Big Ears to live in Toyland. The "parp-parp" sound of the horn from Noddy’s little car announced his arrival, along with the jingle of the bell on his hat.
Anderson and the director of photography Arthur Provis were among the owners of Pentagon Films, which then hired Bryer to voice a 1956 Kellogg's Sugar Ricicles commercial featuring Noddy.
When the pair formed AP Films, its first production was the 52-episode marionette series The Adventures of Twizzle (1957-58), created by Roberta Leigh. Bryer was cast as the feline friend of the title character, voiced by Nancy Nevinson.
She was back with Anderson for his western saga Four Feather Falls (1959-60). Her then husband, Nicholas Parsons, played Sheriff Tex Tucker, who had a talking dog and horse, and she voiced several characters – Martha "Ma" Jones, the store owner, Little Jake, the town's only child, and Makooya, a little boy.
Una Stubbs, actor whose long, eclectic career ranged from Shakespeare to Sherlock has died aged 84 (12 August 2021)
In 1955 Una Stubbs was "the Dairy Box girl" in an early TV ad, her breathy, adenoidal voice instantly memorable. She was also dancing at the London Palladium, and in 1956 appeared in both ITV's Cool for Cats, the first-ever teen pop music show, with the Dougie Squires dancers.
She was best known as Cliff Richard’s girlfriend in two high-spirited pop musical movies – Summer Holiday (1963) and Wonderful Life (1964) – and as Alf Garnett’s daughter, Rita Rawlins, married to a socialist layabout (Anthony Booth, Cherie Blair’s father and so Tony’s father-in-law), in Johnny Speight’s classic TV series Till Death Us Do Part (1965-75) and in episodes of its 1980s sequel, In Sickness and in Health.
Her place in popular television culture was sealed in the next few years as she appeared in Fawlty Towers; as the ferocious Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge (1979-81); and as team captain in the television show, Give Us a Clue.
After many years on the Stage during the 1990s and 2000s, her television career remained eclectic, as she popped up in EastEnders as Caroline Bishop in 2006, and in various episodes of Benidorm, Midsomer Murders and The Durrells. From 2010 onwards she was busy as Mrs Hudson in Sherlock.
Frank Windsor, actor, has died aged 92 (2nd October 2020)
Frank Windsor was, as DS John Watt, one of the longest-serving coppers on the TV beat – in Z Cars and its BBC sequels and spin-offs from 1962 right through to 1978.
He trained for the stage in London at the Central School of Speech and Drama, still situated in those days, the early 1950s, at the Royal Albert Hall and toured in Britain and India with the Elizabethan Theatre Company
His first foray into television saw him playing the Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria in a BBC Sunday Night Theatre play of 1955 and, in 1957, the Duke of Norfolk in a television version of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, three years before it became a West End hit. Windsor’s experience in Shakespeare made him well qualified to play the Earl of Warwick and Sir Walter Blunt, among other characters, in the landmark BBC series of Shakespeare histories, An Age of Kings (1960).
Leslie Randall, actor, writer and comedian, has died aged 95 (July 2020)
Leslie Randall was best known for the TV show Joan and Leslie, ITV’s first sitcom, which began in 1955. He had a mammoth 62-year career in the business.
Although he got a taste for acting while serving in the RAF, his first professional appearance as a comedian was on television in the BBC’s New To You talent showcase. This led to standup tour dates at Val Parnell’s Moss Empires variety theatres.
In 1951 he married Joan Reynolds, whom he met in repertory at Darlington. They shared their big break in 1955 starring in Joan and Leslie, which ran until 1958. The couple also appeared in a long-running series of TV adverts for Fairy Snow.
Heather Chasen, actress, has died aged 92. (22 May 2020)
Heather Chasen spent a year (1958-59) in the role of Mollie Ralston in the Agatha Christie whodunnit The Mousetrap (Ambassadors theatre, London) and many West End roles followed.
She played more than 20 characters – most of the female parts – throughout the 18-year run of the BBC radio sitcom The Navy Lark (1959-77), set on board the Royal Navy frigate HMS Troutbridge. With adept changes of voice, Chasen’s roles included Ramona Povey, the wife of Richard Caldicot’s commander; Miss Simpkins, assistant to the Sea Lord; and Wren Chasen, alongside Leslie Phillips and Jon Pertwee as, respectively, the sub-lieutenant and chief petty officer perpetually trying to get the vessel out of the trouble they had personally created.
Chasen appeared on television in Crossroads for a four-year run (1982-86) as Valerie.
She had runs as Helen Baker in the Francis Durbridge thriller The World of Tim Frazer (1960), Caroline Kerr (1968-69) in the BBC soap The Newcomers, Isabel Neal in the afternoon serial Marked Personal (1973-74), Mary Queen of Scots in the children’s adventure A Traveller in Time (1978) and Aunt Rachel in Young Sherlock: The Mystery of the Manor House (1982), as well as playing Margaret Thatcher in the drama-documentary Who Bombed Birmingham? (1990).
Andrée Melly, the actress, died on 31st January 2020 aged 87 (27 February 2020)
Andrée Melly was born on 15 September 1932 in Liverpool, and was educated in Liverpool and in Switzerland. Her mother and father were Edith and Francis Melly and her brother was jazz legend, George Melly.
Andrée began her career at the New Theatre, Bromley alongside such stars as Robin Bailey, Leslie Phillips and Arthur Lowe. Moira Lister had played Tony's girlfriend in the first series of Hancock's Half Hour', and Andrée took over for the second and third series, appearing in a total of 32 episodes.
Perhaps most noticeable about her first three appearances in the series was that she played alongside Harry Secombe, while Hancock was absent. She was (re)introduced into the series when Hancock and Bill smuggled her back to East Cheam from Paris, where they had ended up after setting out for Southend!
In the early years of the long-running BBC radio comedy 'Just a Minute' she was a regular panellist. Along with Sheila Hancock, she was one of the most regular female contestants, appearing in fifty-four episodes between 1967 and 1976. In 1972, she chaired an episode. She was the first panellist to win points for talking for the prescribed 60 seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation.
She also appeared in several episodes of the 'Benny Hill Show'. She continued to appear on British television until 1991.
She was the last surviving regular cast member of Hancock's Half Hour. 
Michael Medwin, actor, has died aged 96 (26 February 2020)
Michael Medwin was born in London in 1923, he was made an OBE for services to drama in 2005.
He trained at the Italia Conti stage school in London and made his film debut as a radio operator in 1946's Piccadilly Incident.
He made his television debut as a boxer in Kid Flanagan (1948). In The Army Game (1957-58), he was Springer, the ringleader to four privates who regard national service as a licence for anarchy.
In the five decades that followed, he appeared in such films as A Hill in Korea, Doctor at Large, Carry On Nurse and The Longest Day.
Often cast as cockney spivs at the start of his career, he moved on to authority figures like the doctor who treats Connery's James Bond in 1983's Never Say Never Again.
He also played the nephew of Albert Finney's title character in Scrooge, despite being 12 years Finney's senior. Alongside Finney, he also produced such films as Lindsay Anderson's If...., O Lucky Man! and Charlie Bubbles.
Pearl Carr, singer, has died aged 98 (16 February 2020)
The young Pearl was put into one of CB Cochran’s shows and then joined the Three in Harmony singing group, who appeared in Best Bib And Tucker with Tommy Trinder at the London Palladium in 1942.

She sang with Cyril Stapleton and his Orchestra and then joined a vocal quartet, the Keynotes, for whom she was the lead singer in 1946. The Keynotes were regular guests on two radio shows, Take It From Here and Breakfast With (Bernard) Braden.
Teddy Johnson had worked as a drummer and DJ, and then had a hit single with Beloved, Be Faithful in 1950. When he appeared on the BBC radio show Black Magic, hosted by the bandleader Stanley Black, Carr was asked to sing with him. The partnership worked well, although they had no plans at the time to repeat it. However, by 1952 they were dating and they started appearing on the same shows, performing separate acts and coming together for Idle Gossip and Shadow Dance, which Johnson would sing while Carr danced.
They were also regulars on the Winifred Atwell Show on TV (1956-57), as well as on Big Night Out and Blackpool Night Out and the new children’s series Crackerjack, and they hosted shows for Radio Luxembourg, advertised as Mr and Mrs Music.
The couple represented the UK in 1959 at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘Sing little birdy’ and finished 2nd with the “Sing, Little Birdie”. The song peaked at No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart.
Actor, comedian and broadcaster Nicholas Parsons has died aged 96 (28th January 2020)
After several years working in radio variety, Parsons’ breakthrough came in 1956 on independent television when he was asked to play straight man to droll comedian Arthur Haynes. The show, with scripts supplied by Johnny Speight, who went on to pen Till Death Us Do Part, was a resounding success and Parsons’ partnership with Haynes lasted 10 years, during which time they enjoyed a season at the London Palladium and appeared six times on The Ed Sullivan Show in America.
During this period he was a regular face on British television comedy and variety shows, even providing the voice of Sheriff Tex Tucker in the Gerry Anderson TV puppet series Four Feather Falls (1960). He also began to appear in British film comedies, cast mainly as amiable posh twits or sundry ineffective lower-order government officials in the likes of Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (1959) with Peter Sellers and Terry Thomas, Doctor in Love (1960), Carry on Regardless (1961) and Murder Ahoy (1964), featuring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple.
Christopher Beeny, known for roles in Upstairs, Downstairs and BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, has died at the age of 78 (7th January 2020)
The London-born actor had his first taste of the spotlight aged six when he danced for the Ballet Rambert, and went on to land his first role in 1953 with The Long Memory.
He was also one of the first British soap stars, nabbing the part of Lenny Grove in the 1950s BBC series The Grove Family.
He gained notice when he appeared in the highly successful period drama Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–75) as the footman Edward Barnes. He appeared as Geoffrey in the single mother sitcom Miss Jones and Son (1977–78), as Tony in the remake of The Rag Trade (1977–78) and co-starring (as Billy Henshaw) with Thora Hird in a further sitcom, In Loving Memory.
In 2001 he made a guest appearance in Last of the Summer Wine, something which he repeated numerous times until 2009 when he joined the cast as a regular character. He appeared originally as the character Herman Teasdale, who later became Morton Beamish.
In 2006, he played a cameo role in Emmerdale. Coincidentally, he played the cousin of the character Noreen Bell, who had been played by his Upstairs, Downstairs colleague Jenny Tomasin. Beeny also played cameo roles in BBC TV's Sense & Sensibility and ITV's series Honest.
Actor Elizabeth Sellars has died aged 98 (6th January 2020)
Elizabeth Sellars had a fulfilling career on television and on stage, and took leading roles in low-budget British thrillers, as well as supporting roles to bigger stars in bigger pictures, in the 1950s and 60s.She emerged at a rich time for British television drama, often appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Night Theatre (1951-59) and ITV’s Play of the Week (1959-67). In the theatre, she had long runs in West End productions, and was one of the stars at Stratford-upon-Avon during Peter Hall’s first season as artistic director of the newly formed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1960-61. more....
Dame June Whitfield, comedy actor, has died aged 93 (29 December 2018)
On radio June Whitfield became a national favourite playing the eternal fiancée Eth, coaxing her dozy Ron Glum (played by Dick Bentley) towards the altar in the Frank Muir-Denis Norden 1950s radio series 'Take It From Here' (in the portion of the show known as "The Glums"), and began her association with Roy Hudd in 'The News Huddlines' in 1984, which lasted into the new century.
On Television June became a regular on Arthur Askey’s 'Before Your Very Eyes' in 1956, then played his wife in the 'Arthur Askey Show' in 1961. She also appeared in the 'Tony Hancock Show', the comic’s first series for ITV, and when he moved back to the BBC in 1961 she went with him. She went on to perform a long running double-act as the long-suffering wife of overgrown boy scout Terry Scott in the archetypal suburban sitcom 'Happy Ever After' (1974-78) and its follow-up 'Terry And June', which ran from 1979 until 1987 when it was axed by the BBC as out-of-touch in the age of "alternative” comedy".
She later captivated a new generation as Jennifer Saunders’s vague but sometimes acerbic mother in 'Absolutely Fabulous'.
Richard Baker, former BBC newsreader and presenter dies aged 93 (17 November 2018)
Richard Baker served on a minesweeper with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War, attached to the supply convoys to Russia.
A keen amateur dramatist, Baker resumed his education after the war and joined the BBC in 1950 as a radio presenter.
His voice introduced the first news bulletin broadcast on BBC television in 1954 but it was a year before he was actually seen on screen, going on to become one of the most familiar faces on TV. In 1969 he was narrator of the BBC children's series, Mary, Mungo & Midge, which ran for 13 episodes, and he later narrated another children's series, Teddy Edward, made three guest appearances on Monty Python's Flying Circus and was a regular on the panel game, Face the Music.
In 1982, he decided to leave the TV news desk but his voice continued to be heard on BBC radio where he presented, among other programmes; Start the Week, These You Have Loved and Your Hundred Best Tunes.
For many years he fronted the Last Night of the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall, resplendent on a balcony festooned with streamers.
Babs Beverley, member of the Beverley Sisters,has died aged 91 (28 October 2018)
The first broadcasts by the Beverley Sisters were on wartime radio shows. When the BBC’s television service reopened after the war, they were featured almost daily.
Their first television series, in 1947, was called Three Little Girls on View. Rebranded as Those Beverley Sisters, it ran for a further seven years.
Following their TV success, the Beverley Sisters were not short of offers for summer seasons at seaside theatres and seasonal pantomimes. There were spells at Blackpool, Great Yarmouth and Bournemouth. When they were booked to appear in Cinderella in Liverpool in 1956, the script was adapted so they could play a trio of principal boys.
The Beverley Sisters appeared at the Royal Variety Performance five times, beginning in 1952 and ending 50 years later for the Queen’s golden jubilee celebrations. In later years they supported ex-service personnel charities, notably the Burma Star Association. All three were made MBE in 2006.
Ray Galton, comedy script writer, has died aged 88 (5th October 2018)
Ray Galton joined up with Alan Simpson when, as boys, they had both suffered from tuberculosis and met in the same sanitorium. The two boys found they were on the same wavelength and teamed up to become writing partners. Together they created Hancock’s Half Hour – on radio and later on television – for Tony Hancock, a programme that, in 1954 was one of the first "situation comedies", based on characters and experiences rather than on gags.
For seven years, Galton and Simpson wrote every word uttered by Hancock, a difficult and touchy man who embraced the illusion that he could do better than his writers, and parted company with them. His career never fully recovered.
Galton and his writing partner, now part of Associated London Scripts, a co-operative writers’ agency, along with Spike Milligan, Eric Sykes and Howerd, were rescued by the BBC TV series Comedy Playhouse, a vehicle for individual plays. They contributed number four, The Offer, featuring an old rag-and-bone man and his deluded and snobbish son. Both writers thought these characters too good to waste and saw the comic possibilities of a series. It became Steptoe and Son, a TV programme that drew audiences as high as 28 million. They also wrote for the comedians Frankie Howerd and Les Dawson, and lived a Rolls-Royce lifestyle far removed from their working-class roots.
Denis Norden, comedy writer and TV presenter, has died aged 96 (18 September 2018)
In 1942, Norden joined the RAF. He became a radio operator and also wrote stage shows to entertain the troops: one of them benefited from the talents of the servicemen Eric Sykes and Bill Fraser. While in northern Germany, Norden encountered the horrors of the recently liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
On demob in 1945 he started to write gags for variety comedians, including Nat Mills and Bobby and Issy Bonn.
Norden met Muir in 1947, when both were working for a script-writing agency run by a top comedy writer of the day, Ted Kavanagh. Norden was providing material for a young Australian comic, Dick Bentley, and Muir was writing for handle-bar-moustached Jimmy Edwards. A BBC radio producer, Charles Maxwell, suggested that the two young writers team up to work on Take It from Here, starring Edwards, Bentley and Joy Nichols (later replaced by June Whitfield).
Norden and Muir moved into TV with several successful shows – Whack-O!, for example, also starring Edwards as the charlatan headmaster with a traditional faith in the value of caning (1956-60, with a colour TV revival in 1971-72) – and worked as joint consultants to the BBC TV light entertainment department (1960-64).
Norden and Muir moved into TV with several successful shows – Whack-O!, for example, also starring Edwards as the charlatan headmaster with a traditional faith in the value of caning (1956-60, with a colour TV revival in 1971-72) – and worked as joint consultants to the BBC TV light entertainment department (1960-64).
Teddy Johnson, singer, has died aged 98 (6 June 2018)
The British entry has finished second in the Eurovision song contest 15 times. The first of these was in 1959 when Sing, Little Birdie was performed by the husband-and-wife duo Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson. In addition to his singing career as a soloist and with his wife, Johnson was a well-known radio personality on Radio Luxembourg and the BBC, and an occasional actor.
After the war he joined the resident band at the Locarno dance hall in Streatham, south London, and broadcast as a singer with the bandleader Jack Payne. Johnson worked with several more dance bands before he was hired in 1948 as chief announcer for the English language programmes of Radio Luxembourg.
In 1950, Johnson briefly presented the record request show Housewives’ Choice until BBC managers deemed him be too informal.
He had more luck as compere of the radio variety show Black Magic, which also featured Carr, an established singer and member of the vocal group the Keynotes. This was the start of their long professional and personal collaboration. They toured together in variety shows during the 1950s and were regular guests on the BBC children’s programme Crackerjack. The couple married in 1955.
Peter Byrne, actor who played Andy Crawford in Dixon of Dock Green, has died aged 90 (14 May 2018)
Peter Byrne had joined Dixon of Dock Green at its inception, as a wet-behind-the-ears police constable. PC George Dixon had previously featured in The Blue Lamp, the most popular film in British cinemas in 1950. Although the character was shot dead little more than 20 minutes in, he was brought back to life in a 1952 stage version of The Blue Lamp that featured Gordon Harker as Dixon, Byrne as PC Andy Crawford and Warner as Chief Inspector Cherry. Ted Willis, co-writer of both the film and play, then turned it into the television series, with Warner as star and Byrne reprising his stage role.
In later years, Crawford married Dixon’s daughter, Mary (played successively by Billie Whitelaw, Jeanette Hutchinson and Anna Dawson), and moved to CID, rising to the rank of detective inspector, and gradually did more of the legwork for Dixon – astonishingly, Warner was 80 by the time the programme finally ended in 1976.
He had a guest role in a 1981 episode of the TV sci-fi serial Blake’s 7 as Justin, a scientist who genetically engineers animals as slaves for humans, and a run in the sitcom Bread as Derek (1988-91), a widower who befriends Nellie Boswell (Jean Boht). He played an ageing Tony Blair relocating to the Middle East in the satirical 2006 series Time Trumpet, set 25 years in the future, and appeared in episodes of Doctors (2006) and Holby City (2006 and 2012).
Ronald Chesney, harmonica player and comedy writer, has died aged 97 (23 April 2018)
On leaving school at 16, Ronald Chesney became a professional harmonica player.
Exempted from serving in the forces during the second world war after having a TB-infected kidney removed, Chesney played his part by teaching musical skills to the troops and other listeners in the radio programme Let’s Play the Mouth-Organ (1940). His own eponymously titled show followed in 1941 and 1947, along with long runs in the radio series Variety Band-Box (1944-51) and Workers’ Playtime (1949-56).
While providing musical interludes with his "talking harmonica" during the entire run of the radio comedy Educating Archie (1950-60), featuring the ventriloquist Peter Brough and his doll, Chesney met Ronald Wolfe, who joined the show as a scriptwriter in 1955. They teamed up and, with Marty Feldman, wrote for the final two series, as well as a TV version (1958-59).
When Feldman left to team up with Barry Took, Chesney and Wolfe continued together – Chesney giving up his career as a harmonica player – and created the 1961 radio sitcom It’s a Deal, starring Sid James as a bungling property developer.
The Rag Trade then began 20 years of hit comedies for the pair on television.

Zena Skinner, TV cook and author, has died aged 91 (4 April 2018)
Zena Skinner presented the popular BBC show 'Cookery Club' and had a television career that spanned nearly 30 years. She made her first appearance on 'Cookery Club' in 1959, showing viewers how to make brandy snaps.
She went on to present many programmes for the BBC, including 'Town And Around', 'Ask Zena Skinner' and 'Bon Appétit'. She even appeared on the BBC children's television show 'Crackerjack'. She was a regular contributor to the Radio Times and wrote several cookery books. Meanwhile she was brand ambassador for Tupperware, which distributed her cookery leaflets with women's magazines. Her popularity was in large part due to the fact that compared to other TV cooks of the time, Skinner's style was down-to-earth and accessible.

Bill Maynard, comedy actor, has died aged 89 (30 March 2018)
In 1949, Bill Maynard appeared in talent shows for Bryan Michie and Carrol Levis as well as in an Opportunity Knocks! stage production and in 1953 he made his first TV appearance on the BBC show Face the Music.
He worked in local repertory companies and then went to Butlins holiday camp, Skegness, where he met the comedy actor Terry Scott. Maynard and Scott became stars when the BBC gave the pair their own television show, 'Great Scott, It’s Maynard' (1955), a sitcom in which their characters shared a flat. Maynard also had his own series, 'Mostly Maynard', but that proved less successful and his desire to switch to acting led to the break-up of the partnership with Scott.
In the 60s and 70s he found work in TV series such as Till Death Do Us Part (1969 and 1972), Up Pompeii (1970), Coronation Street (1970) and Love Thy Neighbour (1973). The Carry On films kept him occupied throughout the 70s, along with, on TV, Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggitt! (1974) and The Life of Riley (1975).
Katie Boyle, actress and presenter, has died aged 91 (20 March 2018)
A love of cinema pushed Boyle from an early modelling career towards the film world. As Catherine Carleton she played school secretary Miss Weston in the comedy Old Mother Riley Headmistress (1950), with music-hall stars Arthur Lucan and Kitty McShane.
Boyle also danced in the chorus at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, in the pantomime Dick Whittington (1949-50), starring Paul Scofield and Geraldine McEwen. Although she acted in another film, The House in the Square (1951), she then became a full-time model, still as Catherine Carleton, with catwalk jobs and work for Vogue.
Her growing fame led the BBC producer Richard Afton to feature Boyle in the "Beauty Spot" on his variety show Quite Contrary (1953). After one programme, he made her its presenter.
This introduction to television led to an appearance in the 1954 Royal Variety Performance and a return to acting. Billed as Catherine Boyle, she was in several films as well as a string of television plays.
She landed the starring role in the BBC adventure serial Golden Girl (1960). As Katie Johnson, she was the secretary who through an unexpected inheritance becomes the world’s richest woman.
However, the Eurovision Song Contest brought Boyle fame in her own right and she left acting behind. She presented the ITV advertising magazine Mayfair Merry-go-round and, over the years, was a panellist on Juke Box Jury (1960-1965), Call My Bluff (1967-1970), Punchlines (1981-1983), Blankety Blank (1979-1985) and the English, American and Italian versions of What’s My Line? She hosted her own BBC Radio 2 show, Katie & Friends in 1990.
Peter Wyngarde, actor famous as the suave television sleuth Jason King, has died aged "around 90" (18 January 2018)
Following the War, Peter Wyngarde, who had endured the Japanese internment camp Lunghua due to his British diplomat father visiting China at the time that the Japanese invaded, returned to London and claimed to have read law at Oxford, but there is no record of him having studied there in the postwar years. His first acting credit was as a policeman at the Buxton Playhouse in May 1946, making nonsense of the 1933 birth date he claimed.
He supported Alec Guinness’s Hamlet at the New theatre in London in 1951, then played the soldier Dunois to Siobhán McKenna’s Saint Joan at the Arts in 1954. He appeared opposite Vivien Leigh in Duel of Angels at the Apollo in 1958, and said that the highlight of his career, at the Bristol Old Vic in 1959, had been playing Cyrano de Bergerac.
His burgeoning TV career brought him lead roles as Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities (1957), Long John Silver in The Adventures of Ben Gunn (1958) and the title role in Rupert of Hentzau (1964). His appearance in The Avengers (1966), inducting Diana Rigg into the Hellfire Club, is well remembered.In The Innocents (1961), he did not have a single word of dialogue; his only film lead was as a psychology professor in a horror film, Night of the Eagle (1962).
Jack Good, the man who put pop music on television, has died aged 86 (29 September 2017)
IIt was in 1957 that the BBC decided to abandon the “Toddlers’ Truce”, which required television to shut down for an hour each day between 6pm and 7pm to give mums time to put their young children to bed.
Jack Good was the producer who persuaded the BBC to accept the idea of a Saturday night TV pop show called Six-Five Special and then filled the studio floor with young listeners, creating the atmosphere of a teenage hop as they jived to the Vipers or Tommy Steele.
In 1958 he was on his way to ITV, where Cliff Richard was booked for Oh Boy!, as were Marty Wilde, Billy Fury. The show was recorded at Hackney Empire every Saturday morning and transmitted that evening, competing directly against Six-Five Special, which it swiftly rendered obsolete.
Oh Boy! lasted a year. Good followed it in 1959 with Boy Meets Girls, also for ITV, in which Marty Wilde and the Vernons Girls were the featured performers. In turn that show was succeeded in 1960 by the Good-produced Wham!, whose guests included Fury, Joe Brown and Jess Conrad.
Sir Bruce Forsyth, entertainer who began his career in variety and became an enduringly popular TV host has died aged 89 (18 August 2017)
Bruce Forsyth made his BBC television debut in 1939 on the Jasmine Bligh talent show. He later launched his career as Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom, at the Theatre Royal, Bilston, in Staffordshire, in 1942, wearing a satin suit made by his mother and playing the accordion, ukulele and banjo.
Forsyth led a busy and sometimes complicated private life with a penchant for showgirls, singers and beauty queens, made his Windmill theatre debut in 1953, performing impressions of Tommy Cooper.
During a summer season at Babbacombe in Devon in 1957, another dance act recommended Bruce to their agent, Billy Marsh, and this led to a booking on a television show, New Look, followed by the breakthrough Sunday Night at the London Palladium in September 1958; in black and white, and always broadcast “live” on ATV, Forsyth demonstrated his genius for improvisation and ad-libbing as he shuffled and chivvied the audience participants in physical competitions and word games in the show’s Beat the Clock segment.
He displayed a true vaudevillian’s talent for catchphrases; as Tommy Trinder (whom he succeeded on Sunday Night at the London Palladium) had “You lucky people”, or Arthur Askey “I thank-yeaow”, so Forsyth patented “I’m in charge” at the Palladium followed by “Nice to see you … to see you, nice!” and “Didn’t he do well?” on The Generation Game.

Ty Hardin, actor who starred as Bronco Layne, has died aged 87 (3rd August 2017)
Ty Hardin was a blond beefcake actor who appeared in films such as Battle of the Bulge (1965) and Custer of the West (1967), after making his name on television as Bronco Layne in the popular Western series Bronco.
Broadcast by the BBC from 1958 to 1962, Bronco, in which Hardin played a former Confederate captain and adept horseman roaming the Old West and meeting such characters as Wild Bill Hickock, Billy the Kid and Jesse James, was an instant hit.
Hardin’s appeal for women viewers was obvious, and the catchy theme tune embedded itself in the British psyche. The most popular of several parodies, commencing “Bronco, Bronco, tearing across the dotted line” was a reference to a shiny, abrasive lavatory paper of the day.

Sir Roger Moore, illustrious actor who starred as Ivanhoe in the 1950s TV series, has died aged 89 (22nd May 2017)
Roger Moore was born in London. Tagging along with friends in 1945 to auditions for film extras, Moore was picked to appear in a non-speaking role as a legionnaire in Caesar and Cleopatra, starring Vivien Leigh and Claude Rains. After three years in the army, Moore returned to acting, landing small roles in theatre and film, and moved to New York City in 1953 with his second wife, the singer Dorothy Squires and began getting acting work on US television. Returning to Britain, he took the lead in the 1958 television adventure series adapted from Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe.
Other regular TV roles of increasing size followed, including two western series, The Alaskans and Maverick, before Moore finally became a bona fide star, playing the crime-fighter and playboy Simon Templar in the popular television crime series The Saint.
Two years after The Saint ended, Moore was cast once more as a playboy adventurer in The Persuaders!, in which he was teamed with Tony Curtis. The odd-couple pairing (Moore, as Lord Brett Sinclair, was dapper; Curtis, playing Danny Wilde, was a ruffian) and the action staged in glamorous locations made the series a hit.
Moray Watson, actor, has died aged 88 (3 May 2017)
Following repertory theatre in Nottingham, Leatherhead and Liverpool, the West End beckoned. Moray Watson made his debut in Small Hotel (St Martin’s Theatre, 1955), then was seen as the novel-writing butler, Trevor Sellers, in the comedy The Grass Is Greener (St Martin’s, 1958). He reprised the character in the film version two years later, alongside Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum. Then came rare starring roles, in The Bad Soldier Smith (Westminster Theatre, 1960-61) and The Public Eye (Broadway, 1963-4).
After his introduction to television audiences as assistant control engineer Peter Marsh in the landmark sci-fi serial The Quatermass Experiment (1953), Watson switched to soap opera, spending a year (1962-3) in the women’s magazine serial Compact as art editor Richard Lowe, then returning for the last month of its run in 1965.
He was cast to type in war films such as The Valiant (1962), Operation Crossbow (1965) and The Sea Wolves (1980) but was better utilised on television. His dozens of character roles included Godfrey Cass in Silas Marner (1964), Barrington Erle in the first series (1974) of The Pallisers, Angus Kinloch in Quiller (1975), Chief Constable Chubb in Murder Most English (1977), Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1980), Judge Frobisher (1978-88) in Rumpole of the Bailey and Wordsworth, the butler, in the sitcom Union Castle (1982).
Veteran Saturday Club presenter Brian Matthew has died aged 88 (8 April 2017)
Brian Matthew was born to musical parents in Coventry in September 1928, it is unsurprising that he blossomed on the radio music scene, capturing the attention of BBC producers after his first appearance on the new 'Saturday Skiffle Club' - later renamed 'Saturday Club' - in 1957.
He originally found employment as a news reader for the BBC Home Service, studying under the veteran broadcaster, John Snagge. He moved to the Light Programme and presented the occasional programme such as 'Housewives’ Choice' and was the announcer for the comedy programmes, 'Take It From Here' and 'Hancock’s Half Hour'.
His talents in front of a camera saw him take on television roles during the 1960s - including hosting shows 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' and 'Swinging UK' - before he cemented himself as a much-loved regular radio presenter.
And it was his 27-year stint as presenter of the Saturday morning show, 'Sounds Of The 60s', which kept him firmly in the hearts of radio listeners all the way into the 2000s. His broadcasting career spanned almost 70 years, but to many Brian Matthew's name will always be synonymous with the sounds of the 60s..

Alan Simpson, scriptwriter, has died aged 87 (8 February 2017)
Alan Simpson was half of one of Britain's most successful comedy writing partnerships. Simpson, it is always said, patiently banged away at a manual typewriter while his partner, Ray Galton, strode up and down the room declaiming ideas or dialogue. They made an odd couple, but it worked. Together they wrote the scripts for Tony Hancock's radio and TV shows, and for many comedy plays, and they created Steptoe and Son, which ran for eight series.
With Ray Galton, in 1951 he supplied the well-known comic Derek Roy with jokes at five shillings a go for his Happy Go Lucky radio programme, after which the duo were put on the show's payroll at eight guineas a week. They ended up writing all the shows, an hour once a fortnight, for 20 guineas each.
They knew they had "arrived" when Hancock offered them 25 guineas. The comedian had made a name for himself in the BBC shows Educating Archie and Kaleidoscope and in 1954 he was given his own radio series, Hancock’s Half Hour, in which he played an exaggerated version of himself. Galton and Simpson wrote the scripts, establishing a form of comedy based on character and situation, rather than sketches and gags. They continued to script the show when it was adapted for television in 1956, altogether writing 160 radio and TV programmes for Hancock between 1954 and 1961.
Desmond Carrington, actor and disc jockey, has died aged 90 (1 February 2017)
Desmond Carrington was a unique radio phenomenon: a veteran DJ for BBC Radio 2 whose weekly show of classical and popular music was broadcast from his home – a farm in Perthshire – using his personal collection of some 80,000 CDs, LPs and 78s.
Called up for second world war service in 1943, he joined the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and was sent to India. Later posted to Colombo, where he joined Radio SEAC, and discovered that radio was a natural medium for him.
On demob, he became a member of the BBC Drama Repertory Company, and was an independent producer for Radio Luxembourg as well as the BBC. He also began to appear on TV, including in a very lucrative Daz commercial.
It was this growing experience of TV, together with his good looks, that landed him the part of Dr Chris Anderson, the new house physician at the fictional Oxbridge General hospital, in Emergency – Ward 10, a year after the series started in 1957. His original contract was for three weeks; he stayed for more than 200 episodes.
Barbara Hale, actress, Della Street in Perry Mason, has died aged 94 (27 January 2017)
Barbara Hale was best known as Della Street, the super-reliable secretary of Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), the criminal defence attorney in the popular CBS television series (1957-66), a role for which she won a best supporting actress Emmy; two decades later, the pair reunited to make more than two dozen television movies for NBC.
After appearing in such films as The First Yank in Tokyo (1945), The Boy With the Green Hair (1948), The Window (1949) and The Clay Pigeon (1949), Hale delivered perhaps her most notable movie performance in the Columbia sequel Jolson Sings Again (1949), playing a nurse and the singer's new wife.
Hale then appeared often as the female lead in a number of top-level movies, including Lorna Doone (1951) with Richard Greene, The First Time (1952) with Robert Cummings, Seminole (1953) with Rock Hudson and Hugh O’Brian, The Lone Hand (1953) and The Oklahoman (1957) with Joel McCrea, A Lion Is in the Streets (1953) with James Cagney, 7th Cavalry (1956) with Randolph Scott and The Houston Story (1956) with Gene Barry.
After the Perry Mason series ended, Hale appeared in the star-studded Airport (1970), in the lamentable The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) and alongside her son in the John Milius surfing picture Big Wednesday (1978). She also played Katt's mom on a 1982 episode of The Greatest American Hero.
Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes), glamour model and actress, has died aged 80 (24 November 2016)
In 1955 Sabrina was chosen to play a dumb blonde sidekick in Arthur Askey's new television series, Before Your Very Eyes (BBC 1952–56, ITV 1956–58) which soon made her a household name.
She made her motion-picture debut in Stock Car, in 1955. She then appeared in a small role in the 1956 film, Ramsbottom Rides Again. In her third movie, Blue Murder at St Trinian's (1957) she had a non-speaking role in which, despite sharing equal billing with the star Alastair Sim on posters and appearing in many publicity stills in school uniform, she was required only to sit up in bed wearing a nightdress, reading a book whilst the action took place around her.
Other TV appearances included Double Your Money (1955), Make Mine a Million (1959), Tarzan (1967), This Is Your Life - (Arthur Askey, 1974).
Hugh O'Brian, actor who played Wyatt Earp, has died aged 91 (5 September 2016)
Hugh O’Brian was one of the first American actors to achieve television celebrity in 1950s Britain as the marshal of Dodge City in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.
More than 200 black-and-white episodes of the series were shown on the fledgling ITV network between 1956 and 1962. Handsome and square-jawed, O’Brian landed the starring title role because he resembled the real Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) as a young lawman in late 19th-century Kansas and later in Tombstone, Arizona.
It was the first television western to be aimed specifically at adults. Series appealing to children such as The Cisco Kid and The Lone Ranger had been scheduled for late afternoon slots. Inspired by the legendary events of the real-life frontier marshal, Earp played in after-dinner prime time and transformed O’Brian into one of television’s first sex symbols.
O'Brian was a one of the founders of the Thalians, a show-business charitable organization formed in 1955 to raise money for children with mental health problems. In 1964, he established the Hugh O'Brian Acting Awards competition at UCLA.
Sir Antony Jay, writer, broadcaster and director, has died aged 86 (23 August 2016)
After National Service in the Royal Signals, Antony Jay joined BBC Television in 1955, and was a member of the team that launched the current affairs programme Tonight, which he edited from 1962 to 1963. After a further year as head of Television Talk Features, he left the BBC to work as a freelance writer and producer.
From 1981, Jay was co-author, with Jonathan Lynn, of Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, the political comedies which kept the nation laughing through the Thatcherite 1980s. Yes, Minister ran for three series, before the advancement of Jim Hacker’s career (due to his valiant defiance of a new Euro directive redefining the British banger as an “emulsified offal tube”), led to its relaunch as Yes, Prime Minister, with the same cast (Sir Humphrey promoted to Cabinet Secretary), in 1986. The series ran until 1988. However, not many, perhaps, were aware that the serial was commissioned with a serious political purpose: to popularise public choice theory. It is because it succeeded spectacularly that Jay received a knighthood in 1988.
Jay also wrote the BBC TV documentaries Royal Family and Elizabeth R, for which he was appointed CVO in 1993 for personal services to the Royal Family.
Brian Rix, Lord Rix, brilliant comic actor, manager and dedicated campaigner for people with learning disabilities, has died aged 92 (20 August 2016)
Brian Rix devoted his life almost equally to stage farce – as one of the most brilliant comic actors in the postwar years – and to campaigning for people with learning disabilities. He was successful at both. In the theatre, both in management and on stage, his name became synonymous with the “Whitehall farces”, named after the London venue and with plotlines usually involving a lie, a comic deception and someone being caught with his trousers around his ankles. Rix also ran repertory companies and presented more than 90 farces on television in the 1960s – to huge audiences – starring the big names of the day, such as Dora Bryan, Sid James, Sheila Hancock and John Le Mesurier.
In 1952 Reluctant Heroes became one of the first West End plays to be partly televised. As a result, there were huge queues outside the Whitehall. Rix negotiated a contract with the BBC that lasted 17 years. The TV work included a number of Sunday Night Theatre productions under the Brian Rix Presents banner in the late 50s and early 60s.
Management was the art that mattered to him. For years he put on and appeared in the most noted farces of the West End, including Dry Rot by John Chapman, who had understudied him in Reluctant Heroes. Rix also appeared in the film of Dry Rot (1956), one of 11 film credits.
In 1949 he had married the actor Elspet Gray; the first of their four children, Shelley, was born with Down’s syndrome.
He threw himself into fundraising for learning disability charities, and in 1978 he began the Let’s Go! TV programmes for people with learning disabilities – he made 40 of them.
In 1979 a job advert in the Guardian caught Rix’s eye, for the position of Mencap’s secretary general. He applied and was initially turned down, but was later accepted and started work in 1980.
Sylvia Peters, actress and BBC continuity announcer, has died aged 90 (26 July 2016)
Sylvia Peters, who has died aged 90, was one of the faces of BBC Television during the 1950s; having introduced the historic broadcast of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, she later helped to teach the Queen the skills she needed for the annual royal Christmas message.
As well as becoming the youngest of three in-vision announcers (Mary Malcolm and McDonald Hobley were the others), she presented Come Dancing between 1954 and 1958. She also fronted the BBC Television programme For Deaf Children in 1956. With her refined accent and crisp, elegant manner, she became one of Britain’s first big television stars.
The turning point for television came in 1953 with the Coronation. At 10?am on Coronation Day, Sylvia Peters went on the air live and continued to provide linking material until 11.30 that night.
In 1954, Peters was chosen to host Come Dancing and was also the compere for Television Dancing Club, which featured the bandleader Victor Silvester.
After leaving the staff of the BBC in 1958, she became a freelance, and covered such events as Lady's Day at Royal Ascot and Come Dancing, and made less frequent appearances on screen and fronted Jim’s Inn, an advertisement magazine for the ITV.
William Lucas, television actor, has died aged 91 (8 July 2016)
William Lucas' big television break came with the part of the blackmailing car dealer Reg Dorking in Portrait of Alison (1955), a crime thriller serial written by Francis Durbridge.
He was a regular as David Graham in The Strange World of Planet X (1956), Charlton Bradbury in The Crime of the Century (1956-57), Jim Pereira in the second series (1958) of the hotel saga The Royalty, Jonathan Briggs in the serialisation of Frank Tilsley’s novel Champion Road (1958) and Durea in the London underworld thriller Solo for Canary (1958).
He starred in The Infamous John Friend (1959), in the title role of the smuggler and spy for Napoleon, and was Detective Inspector Mitchell in the crime dramas The Days of Vengeance (1960) and Flower of Evil (1961), and Eddie Prior in the thriller serial The Prior Commitment (1969).
He even took the title role in a TV production of Rigoletto (1958), recalling: “Happily, the singing was dubbed.”
Ray Lakeland, outside broadcasting pioneer, has died aged 95 (8 July 2016)
After the war Ray lakeland joined the British Forces Network, and on demobilisation transferred to BBC North, initially as a freelance reporter. He joined its radio studios in Newcastle full-time in 1947.
It was with his move to television in 1956 that Ray found his natural creative home, producing a wide range of programmes, including the first televised coverage of the launching of a liner – RMS Windsor Castle, named in 1959 by the Queen Mother – a broadcast from Blackpool illuminations, the BBC’s first pop programme, Six-Five Special, and the ballroom contest Come Dancing.
He is perhaps best remembered for his innovative coverage of the 1960 Grand National, for which he developed the system, still used today, of attaching a camera to the top of a vehicle to keep pace with the runners and riders and give viewers a greater sense of the speed and noise of the race.
Noel Neill, actress, has died aged 95 (5 July 2016)
Neill was the original big screen Lois Lane, the crack investigative reporter on the Metropolis Daily Planet who never quite figures out that that the “Man of Steel” who keeps rescuing her from the jaws of death – or worse – is really her slightly nerdy colleague Clark Kent. She took the role in two movie serials and 78 episodes of the hit television series, between 1948 and 1958.
Neill remained with Superman until the programme was cancelled in 1958 after Reeves’s death.
Her last film role was in Lawless Rider (1954), and she played in many of the early TV programmes that were extensions of the B-movie and serial factories, including The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid.
Gordon Murray, producer and puppeteer, has died aged 95 (1 July 2016)
Gordon Murray created Camberwick Green, Chigley and Trumpton, three of the best-loved series for younger children on BBC Television, first screened in the 1960s.
In 1953 he launched his own professional puppet company, Murray Marionettes in Broadstairs.
Audiences were disappointingly small but he invited Freda Lingstrom, head of BBC children’s television, to see the show and so impressed her that she offered him a job pulling the strings of Spotty Dog in a new series for toddlers called The Woodentops.
In 1955, Murray took a BBC production course and was officially taken on as a contract producer in children’s television. As well as The Woodentops he worked on The Flowerpot Men before creating a television version of the radio series Toytown.
Initially his shows were broadcast live, but Murray became frustrated by the hazards of live transmission and he developed his own film studio to record his films. In 1958 he created The Rubovian Legends, an early collaboration with Bura and Hardwick.
Murray devised new puppet techniques for television, wrote scripts, built puppets and trained a team of puppeteers to use rod and glove puppets as well as marionettes worked by strings. He worked with John Ryan on the popular Captain Pugwash series, and also produced the Sketch Club series with the artist Adrian Hill.
Ronnie Corbett, comedian, has died aged 85 (1 April 2016)
Ronnie Corbett achieved such fame as one of the Two Ronnies that his solo career was often eclipsed; as his fans knew well, he worked on his own for many years, exploiting to the full both his lack of height – he was only 5ft 1in – and his undoubted talent as a comic performer.
After National Service with the RAF, Corbett moved to London, he endured eight lean years, taking occasional engagements but mostly living on his earnings as a caretaker, house-sitter, tennis-court superintendent and advertising salesman.
For some years he lived in grimy digs, working in nightclubs or on the halls, and teamed up with Anne Hart, a singer whom he met at a club, who became his stooge and whom he later married.
He appeared with Eamonn Andrews on the children's TV programme, Crackerjack, as its resident comedian for many episodes.
But Corbett's big chance came when he was spotted by David Frost at Winston's, Danny La Rue's West End night club, and cast in his BBC show The Frost Report (1966-67), followed by Frost on Sunday for ITV (1968-69).
It was with Frost that he first teamed up with Ronnie Barker. Television extended Corbett’s appeal. Although he had become a star in his own right before meeting Ronnie Barker, The Two Ronnies (1971-1987) remained the zenith of a television career that lasted more than 40 years.
Adrienne Corri, actress, has died aged 85 (28 March 2016)
Adrienne Corri was an actor of considerable range and versatility whose career ranged from the high – with Shakespearean roles alongside Ralph Richardson and Alec Guinness – to the decidedly low, including appearances in many quota quickies and low-budget horror movies that showcased her striking red-haired beauty.
Among her dozens of television parts were Milady de Winter in the BBC series of The Three Musketeers (1954) and various appearances in episodes of ABC’s Armchair Theatre (1956-60). She featured in several BBC Plays of the Month, in one of which she was Violet in George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman (1968), alongside Maggie Smith, and she played Olivia in ITV’s Twelfth Night (1969). In Measure for Measure (1979) she was the cheroot-smoking bawdy-house keeper Mistress Overdone, and she was last seen in two episodes of Lovejoy (1992).
Robert Horton, star of the Wagon Train western series, has died aged 91 (20 March 2016)
Robert Horton won legions of female fans in the role of frontier scout Flint McCullough on Wagon Train (1957-65), a television western series that became a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 1945 a chance encounter with a talent scout led to an uncredited part in the Second World War film A Walk in the Sun. After taking a degree in Theatre Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles, he appeared in (among others) Apache War Smoke (1952) and on television shows such as The Lone Ranger and The Public Defender before winning his part on Wagon Train.
The role turned him into an international idol and he was especially popular in Britain, where Wagon Train was shown on ITV’s Monday teatime slot. When he appeared at the London Palladium, a reviewer reported that he had drawn “squeals and shrieks’’ from his mainly female audience.
Cliff Michelmore, television and radio broadcaster, has died aged 96 (17 March 2016)
Cliff Michelmore was one of the most familiar faces on British television in the 1950s and 1960s, notably as presenter of Tonight, which ran for some 1,800 editions between 1957 and 1965. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was appearing in as many as 300 programmes a year and on screen he invariably appeared confident, calm, unhurried and unflappable.
In 1935 he joined the RAF and underwent initial training at RAF Halton, in Buckinghamshire. Having survived the war and on the strength of having done some radio commentaries on inter-service games, he was sent to Hamburg as Officer Commanding Royal Airforce Element, the British Forces Network in Germany. His rank was, by now, squadron leader.
When the regular Hamburg presenter of Two-Way Family Favourites, the Sunday lunchtime link between the forces in Germany and their families in Britain, was taken ill, Michelmore was drafted in to replace him. Before the programme began he used to chat on the closed line to the presenter at the London end, Jean Metcalfe, in whom he detected a distinctly flirtatious tone. She helped him through the early programmes, and when, in the spring of 1949, he came to London and met her, romance immediately blossomed. They married in 1950.
Michelmore’s breakthrough to evening television came in 1955 when Donald Baverstock asked him to join his topical programme Highlight, which pioneered a grittier style of interviewing. Michelmore also worked for Panorama and as a reporter on Saturday Sport. He had therefore served a thorough apprenticeship by time he was offered his big chance on Tonight.
In no time, Michelmore was rivalling Richard Dimbleby as the BBC’s leading current affairs specialist, less heavyweight no doubt, but still scrupulously well informed, and a good deal less pompous.

Sylvia Anderson, co-creator of Thunderbirds, has died aged 88 (16 March 2016)
With her then husband, Gerry, Sylvia Anderson brought to television some of the best-loved children’s puppet series of the 1960s, remembered for their groundbreaking animation and spectacular special effects. While he produced the programmes, she was responsible for character development, storylines, costume design, providing voices and directing other voice actors’ dialogue. Her most famous creation was Lady Penelope, International Rescue’s London agent in Thunderbirds (1965-66), whom she gave “not only the daring and panache of a secret agent, but also the poise of a cool and beautiful aristocrat”.
They had established AP Films in 1957, with Sylvia as a company director and production assistant, and were commissioned by ITV to make The Adventures of Twizzle (1957-59), from Roberta Leigh’s children’s stories, followed by the first run of Leigh’s Torchy the Battery Boy (1958-59). Both featured traditional marionettes, but Gerry devised innovative filming and puppetry techniques.
Sylvia and Gerry married in 1960 while making the western puppet series Four Feather Falls. Supermarionation began with Supercar (1961-62) and Fireball XL5 (1962-63), then Stingray, the Andersons’ first effort to be filmed in colour.
Vlasta Dalibor, puppeteer, has died aged 94 (21 February 2016)
Vlasta Dalibor, who has died aged 94, was the co-creator, with her husband Jan, of the unmelodious porcine puppets Pinky and Perky.
The couple began performing during the 1956 summer season at Heysham, for £25 a week. Trevor Hill (producer of The Sooty Show) saw them there and gave them their own BBC television series, featuring the pigs in both string and glove puppet form, manipulated by Jan and Vlasta.
Their debut was in “Pinky and Perky’s Pop Parade” in October 1958, set in the mythical radio station POP (later “PPC TV”), with Roger Moffat as the station announcer.
The BBC granted the Dalibors the light entertainment slot before the six o’clock news, and grown-up audiences warmed to the pigs’ gently subversive humour and high-pitched renditions of speeded-up pop songs (with opening theme We Belong Together).
Pinky and Perky joined The Beatles and Marlene Dietrich onstage for the 1963 Royal Variety performance, and the following year they appeared in America on The Ed Sullivan Show alongside Morecambe and Wise.
In 1968 the Dalibors accepted an offer from Thames Television, but in the event only two more series made it to air, though they were frequently repeated. The Dalibors retired from the small screen in 1973.
Conrad Phillips, stage and screen actor, has died aged 90 (13 January 2016)
One of ITV’s first action heroes, notable for his expertise with a crossbow, was William Tell, played by Conrad Phillips. Swashbucklers were hugely popular in ITV’s early years and William Tell (1958-59), set in 14th-century Switzerland under the tyrannical rule of Emperor Rudolph of Austria, was one of the most memorable series.
He had worked in repertory theatre, and acted in more than 30 films, including The Battle of the River Plate (1956), Sons and Lovers (1960) and Heavens Above! (1963). Phillips was often cast as police officers and military types.
The role of Tell came after the actor made guest appearances in other swashbuckling television series, such as The Scarlet Pimpernel (1956), The Count of Monte Cristo (1956), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1957) and The Buccaneers (1957). Apart from the detectives he played in the crime dramas Silent Evidence (1962) and A Game of Murder (1966), most of his subsequent television roles were one-offs. However, Phillips had runs as Robert Malcolm in the final year of the BBC soap opera The Newcomers (1969) and the NY Estates managing director Christopher Meadows in Emmerdale Farm (on and off between 1981 and 1986).
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