Category Archives: Old TV (and stuff)

Quatermass and the Pit on Blu-Ray (commentary details and restoration pictures)

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT ON BLU-RAY

Good things comes to those who wait.

When the Quatermass serials were released on DVD some years ago, I got in touch with Steve Roberts at the Restoration Team – wizards who have done so much for archive TV releases, not least Doctor Who – to offer my services. I didn’t know Steve at all, and he didn’t know me (nor did anybody in the world of archive TV – I had yet to start talking about Doctor Who in my stand-up and so my anorak was not, at that moment in time, tax deductible). My social and professional circle then (hard to believe) was pretty Doctor Who/science-fiction far free bar a couple of notable exceptions. Life was very different. But I harboured a hope that one day my vast storehouse of Quatermass documents and interviews would find a wider audience in a professional release.

Anyway, Steve was very polite and, I am pleased to say, ensured that the photos I had offered him (which had been given to me by the actor Cec Linder and the designer Clifford Hatts) were put onto the disc and into its accompanying booklet (written by that doyen of archival arcana Andrew Pixley). There was no time or money to do the commentaries I had – in a moment of uncharacteristic boldness – suggested, but I was still grateful that I had had some minor input into what I figured would be the only release of this kind that these programmes would get. It niggled that the promised credit for handing over my treasured and unpublished photos didn’t appear (an omission that took place down the line from Steve) and that we wouldn’t have commentaries with some of the surviving cast and crew with whom I was in touch – but I understood the various practicalities and that the release we got was far more impressive than the time and budget it had been allocated dictated it should have been. On a more personal note it was my first encounter with Steve – who was a gateway drug to his colleagues all of whom I now consider very good friends, and whose input into my personal and professional life has been far more important to me than any such relative trivialities.

What terror lurks within these sealed containers? Photo (c) Charles Norton

Fast forward to 2018 and Charles Norton, another crusader in the cause of cowbwebbed classics of the cathode ray, mentioned that he had pitched a Quatermass Blu-Ray release. Knowing he is receptive to stupid ideas and that there was time to get them acted upon, I got giddy and started pushing ideas his way. He was, as ever, receptive and keen, but also realistic about the budget (if any) we would have. We ultimately looked at doing a commentary on selected episodes of Quatermass and the Pit, at one location and all on the same day. That was the only way we could really afford to do it.

We eventually did all six episodes and every single element was recorded on a different day and at a different location.

Best laid plans and all that.

Luck was on our side in some respects. One of the few (three – we think) cast members still with us, Mark Eden, is married to Sue Nicholls who is a work colleague of my partner so I knew they lived literally up the road and that we had an “in”. By a weird coincidence, many years ago I made a reference to Quatermass at a comedy gig (largely for my own amusement) on the one night Andy Murray, Nigel Kneale’s biographer-to-be, was in the crowd. He introduced himself and we’ve been mates ever since. He also lives five minutes from my house (there must be some sort of Kneale Ley line running underneath south Manchester and causing his acolytes to gather here). So that was two contributors we could nobble off without too many practical problems.

The delightful Sue Nicholls and her husband Mark Eden, who played a journalist in Quatermass and the Pit at the start of his illustrious career.

Except… neither Andy nor Mark were available on the same day. Oh well, an extra day is fine – it just meant Charles having to travel to Manchester twice but was no skin off my nose (though I shouldn’t really be taking extra days off – I could only really afford to do one day on this project. But it’s Quatermass so I’m not going to say no am I? This is why I can’t afford socks). Andy brought Hobnobs to the recording of his episode which was delightfully apposite and is a measure of the man. It’s a good job we weren’t doing the other serials as we’d have been munching on cacti and drinking black, ammoniac slime. Hobnobs are much nicer.

It was such a big budget that some of the commentary was recorded at my house. The Hobnobs aren’t mine. The Martian is.

I had just tracked down another surviving actor, Keith Banks (the third, John Hamblin, is in Tasmania : so we drew a line there although I wouldn’t have put it past Charles to jump on a plane, trailing his microphone and dropping his mobile as he did so, in order to get five minutes with him). Keith and I had exchanged letters earlier in the year and even though he is in his 90s he was an engaged correspondent and I was confident he’d participate. He was happy to but didn’t want to travel. That’s OK, one more extra day wouldn’t be a problem. Would it? Oh, but then visual effects assistant Peter Day was also happy to help but he too needed a different day at yet another location that would take some getting to (at one point Charles and I crossed a motorway roundabout with no pavement and blind corners and I realised that much as I love the serial,  if doing a seven hour round trip wasn’t a bit of a silly thing to do in its name, then perishing in the path on an articulated lorry really was).

With actor Keith Banks who played Nuttal in Quatermass and the Pit.

Rounding off the track were two people we were confident we could get on the same day and at the BBC. One of my drinking buddies in London is TV legend Clive Doig who I knew had been a cable basher on Quatermass and the Pit (“What’s a cable basher?” asked Charles and only then did I realise I had no idea). I hoped Clive would be game because he’s an entertaining fellow possessed of a sharp wit and a good memory. Ditto Dick Mills (sound assistant). Both were more than happy to oblige and I knew would give us excellent value. But neither was available to play on the same day. Sigh. So we went to Clive’s house when he was back from his holidays and, before he went on his,  did a separate recording day with Dick at Television Centre (which was the day and place that all of the recordings were originally intended to be done when the commentary plans were being laid by mice and men).

But hey, we had an eclectic line up and enough for each episode. Judith Kerr, Nigel Kneale’s widow, was also keen to take part but ultimately the dates let us down (in her early 90s, she still has an extremely full calendar and works at a rate that shames this 44 year old). A near miss and one I know Judith was disappointed about because she loves talking about Quatermass and her late husband of whom she is so proud. It wasn’t for want of trying on the part of Charles, Judith and Judith’s wonderfully helpful agent Philippa though.

Restoring the Pit (c) Charles Norton

So much for the living, what about those sadly no longer with us? Well, over the years I had corresponded with several people from the serials and three key contributors – designer Clifford Hatts, visual effects wizard Jack Kine and Production Assistant Paddy Russell – had, for various reasons, elected to record their memories for me on cassette tape. These archive interviews have now been interspersed in the commentaries with the more recently recorded conversations and so these fabulous people are represented, on the Blu-ray, by themselves. As someone so grateful to them for indulging a geeky teenager all of those years ago it touches me that they’re preserved on tape and that their voices can echo through time and speak to us today. It’s a living record of the kindness they showed a young stranger and of my enduring gratitude to them.

Add to that a bit of Nigel Kneale from a BBC interview and Peter Crocker telling us about the restoration and we have a track with various first-hand perspectives and mostly never-before-heard recollections. Only Charles’s dogged flexing of budgets and resources and his ambition to make this as definitive as possible could have made this happen. It was knackering process that eventually took us all over the country, sometimes for an interview that only lasts ten minutes – but it’s the sort of commentary I, as a consumer, would like to hear, which is the only rule one can follow when doing these things. I do a bit more of a proactive presenting job than on many commentaries though – there were various gaps which I have plugged with (I hope) interesting facts and observations which I have gathered from decades of interviews, letters, archives, paperwork and, I hope, informed insight.

I recently uncovered a stash of photos which I would have loved to have had as exclusives for my book, but the geek in me couldn’t have a definitive Blu-ray out there with a photo gallery which was incomplete because I had held stuff back for my own gain (even though I’m essentially giving away stuff I went to great time and personal expense to find). I’d even forgotten scan one picture which I had found in Paddy Russell’s things, but a delay with the authoring meant we could squeeze that in at the last minute (a little part of me – if I am honest – had hoped that my genuine mistake would have left me at least one exclusive for the book but when I remembered it and Charles mentioned the delay my conscience wouldn’t let me hold it back. Ah well. I’ve never been what you’d call commercially savvy. Buy the book anyway!).

Thanks to producer Rudolph Cartier reinserting the original film into the repeat compilation of Quatermass and the Pit, we still have the beautiful film negatives for this release. Photo (c) Charles Norton

I’ve told all this from my point of view but I’m just one – very minor – cog in the wheel (and Charles Norton has been the driver all the way – this release wouldn’t have happened nor would it have been as ambitious without his tenacity and chutzpah). In terms of the episodes themselves, Peter Crocker has done an amazing job on the restoration. Click on this link below for a before and after comparison which you might enjoy (I tried embedding it but I have no idea, I’m sorry – I find old actors, other people do clever things when pressing buttons!):

Quatermass and the Pit titles before and after restoration.

Yes, good things come to those who wait.

But do you know what? I do get a credit on the photo gallery for this, something I’ve been waiting for for many years, and looking at it, I don’t think anyone will really notice or care. And does it make me any happier deep down? Not really. A salutary lesson it not sweating the small stuff.  

I’m proud of this Blu-ray. It’s the sort of thing I’ve dreamed of but thought impossible. We have managed to store in it special memories that will now be preserved forever. It’s a sort of time capsule – maybe it it can be unleashed on the humans of the future in, say, … five million years? it’s such a powerful piece, I’m sure its effects will be undiminished.

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT WILL BE RELEASED ON BLU-RAY ON 5th NOVEMBER 2018.

The first volume of my Quatermass book will be out soon, from Miwk Publishing. It’d be out sooner if I didn’t spend a morning doing this sort of thing.

Thanks to Charles Norton for the pics and before and after comparison. All the photos copyright © Toby Hadoke.

Toby Hadoke – October Updates

LATEST UPDATES (October 2018)

I am still performing regularly at The Comedy Store (every second and last Sunday of the month), XS Malarkey (Tuesdays) and the 99 Club  Leicester square (Wednesdays – but I have opted to do the gig fortnightly from now on). I can’t fit many other gigs in because…

My play Going, Going Goon – part of the the I Told You I Was Ill umbrella, marking the centenary of the birth of Spike Milligan – was performed in front of a live audience in Hull on Saturday 29th September. It will be broadcast on Radio 3 on October 7th at 7.30pm.  It stars Mark Heap (Green Wing, Spaced), Pippa Haywood (Green Wing, Bodyguard, The Brittas Empire), Jonathan Keeble (amazing radio actor with hundreds of credits), Stephen Wight (Olivier nominee for Dealer’s Choice, also starred in McQueen on stage) and, um, me (he knows the writer). The two other plays in the strand were written by Lee Mattinson and Jessica Hynes (who stars in her own piece). The audience loved the show, which is hosted by John Hegley, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I hope you give it a listen (as it clashes with Doctor Who perhaps I should point out that it’ll be on iPlayer for a month!).

With Jonathan Keeble, John Hegley and Mark Heap after a successful evening of Spike Milligan plays.

My adaptation of Nigel Kneale’s lost television play The Road will be broadcast on Radio 4 on October 27th. It was recorded at Maida Vale studios and stars Mark Gatiss and Adrian Scarborough who play, respectively,  a philosopher and an inventor who are investigating reports of a haunting in a wood in the late 18th century. It’s a spooky piece with a sting in the tale (don’t read up on it – avoid spoilers) and I know it is eagerly awaited in some quarters (many have tried and failed to get a remake off the ground in the past). We used some sound effects from the original production (which were themselves recorded ay Maida Vale) and the stellar cast is completed by Hattie Morahan (whose father directed the original), Colin McFarlane, Susan Wokoma, Francis Magee, and Ralph Ineson. I will be hosting a listening event at Home in Manchester which will play the broadcast as it goes out (start time, 2.30pm) and will take part in a Q and A afterwards. Tickets are free (but you need to have come to another event at home in their Film Fear season): details here.

Adrian Scarborough and Mark Gatiss star in The Road on Radio 4. They’re not alone in the woods…

 

I am going to be one of the guests on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (except this edition is being recorded at the Manchester Dancehouse) on October 5th. The podcast has an illustrious roster of past guests s I’m extremely flattered to have been asked. The recording is sold out, but it will, of course, be available online afterwards if you go here.

Quatermass and the Pit comes to Blu-Ray soon, and I have been working on the release, donating a large amount of photographic and audio material, as well as presenting the commentaries on all six episodes. Not many cast and crew survive, but if they do, we got them, and they have been spliced in with some recordings of my chats with those who are no longer with us. The film sequences have been remastered and they look extraordinary. It’s going to be a terrific release considering the age of the source material and is well worth a look.

I filmed a role in the Eddie Izzard/Judi Dench/Jim Broadbent film 6 Minutes to Midnight at the end of last month: it’s directed by The Next Doctor‘s Andy Goddard. Most details are still under wraps but you can read a little bit about what I got up to on it here. 

The Quatermass book grows by the day. It’s pretty much my sole focus between now and Christmas. These past few months have found my securing contributions form David Tennant, John Carpenter, Barbara Kellermann, Indira Varma and Toyah Willcox. So it’s going to be pretty detailed! More info soon…

 XS Malarkey is now 21. What a run, and it continues this month with appearances from Chris Lynam and Danny McLoughlin amongst others.  More details are available at  the XS Malarkey Website.

I have had the sad duty of writing two obituaries this month. Both have been published by The Guardian and are for Jacqueline Pearce and Zienia Merton.

I have also made another documentary for the Doctor Who Blu-Ray range. More news soon…

Performing on stage in Hull with Pippa Haywood, Mark Heap, Jonathan Keeble and Stephen Wight.
With fellow writer Jessica Hynes

 

 

Toby Hadoke – August Updates

LATEST UPDATES (August 2018)

I am still gigging regularly at The Comedy Store and XS Malarkey   (and the 99 Club, Leicester Square – this month the 22nd and 29th only) – I can’t fit any other gigs in because…

I will be  playing Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet for Feelgood Theatre until August 12th. The reviews have been very positive:

“adds enough new ideas and makes clever use of the park’s striking locations to make you experience the Bard’s oft-performed tale of doomed love with fresh eyes.” – The Stage

“if you fancy taking the family with a picnic to the park for evening out in the warm weather (*not guaranteed) with some well-performed Shakespeare, this is your ideal ticket.” – British Theatre Guide

Details and tickets here

Getting a bit tasty in Romeo and Juliet

I filmed a role in the Eddie Izzard/Judi Dench/Jim Broadbent film 6 Minutes to Midnight at the end of last month: it’s directed by The Next Doctor‘s Andy Goddard. Most details are still under wraps but you can read a little bit about what I got up to on it here.

I have been commissioned to write a mini-play about Spike Milligan for Radio 3 which will be performed in front of a live audience and broadcast at the end of September.

I’m back presenting The 7th Dimension on Radio 4 Extra for three weekends at the beginning of September. 

I was on BBC Breakfast last week talking about the internet. Sadly the segment is unavailable now, but here’s a picture:

The Quatermass book grows by the day. I’m hoping to meet my deadline but even if I don’t it’s going to be out sooner rather than later. I’ve found photos,  facts and folk all of which/whom offer fascinating new insights into those classic productions. The first volume is due by the end of the year. More info soon…

The brilliant David Trent!

This month at XS Malarkey there are some great comedians – our headliners include Caroline Mabey, David Trent, and Bobby Mair and there is plenty of heft in the supporting line-ups too. More details are available now at the XS Malarkey Website.

I’m doing some more work (documentary and commentary related) on BBC Blu-Ray releases – not just Doctor Who. And very exciting (if you like that sort of thing – which, fortunately, I do!)…

Ongoing news but good news …

My dramatisation of Nigel Kneale’s famous lost television play, The Road, for Radio 4 was recorded in Maida Vale at the beginning of February. The cast is phenomenal : Mark Gatiss, Adrian Scarborough, Hattie Morahan, Colin McFarlane, Susan Wokoma, Francis Magee and Ralph Ineson.  It will be the Halloween Fright Night production for BBC Radio 4 on October 27th.  It is one of my proudest achievements.      

STOP PRESS: There will be a tie in event on the night (I’ll say it again – October 27th) in Manchester – so don’t go making any plans! More details to follow… STOP STOP PRESS – the play, intended for a late night broadcast, has been promoted – it will now go out in the busier afternoon slot because it has got the thumbs up from on high. Not sure how this affects the Home Q and A … more news when I have it.

With Judith Kerr at the recording of The Road.

OLAF POOLEY RIP

olaf-pooley-06Olaf Pooley was Doctor Who’s oldest surviving actor until he passed away yesterday at the grand old age of 101.

As ever with people who have crossed paths with the famous Time Lord, there was much more to him than his 7 weeks as the obstinate Professor Stahlman in the Jon Pertwee classic Inferno (1970). That said, it’s a terrific turn – a plausible villain whose motivation is utterly believable and who never strays into caractature. Pooley was reluctant to don the make-up required to transform him into one of the monsters of the piece – a Primord (basically Lemmy from Moorhead after being bitten by a werewolf member of ZZ Top) – but this didn’t stop him from delivering an entirely committed and serious performance as the testy and driven scientist impatient to crack the Earth’s core. When the Doctor is transported to a parallel world Stahlman’s alternative counterpart is crueller and more powerful, not afraid to have pesky, interfering time traveller erased by the military regime in charge of the totalitarian state. Inferno is indisputably one of the show’s true classics and Pooley is an essential part of it’s dark, gritty and tense DNA.

Born in Dorset during the First World War he spent much of the Second in Rep at the Liverpool Playhouse and Theatre Royal, Bristol and also appeared in the very first UK production of Twelve Angry Men at the Queen’s Theatre, London. He had, though, originally studied architecture and painting and enjoyed much success as an artist, exhibiting all over the world and spending his final days, still wielding his brush, in Santa Monica.

Olaf Pooley interviewed by US TV News on the event of his 100th birthday.

He is one of a small but illustrious bevy of actors to have appeared in both Doctor Who and Star Trek (the Voyager episode Blink Of An Eye). He had emigrated to the USA in the 1980s and so much of his CV is taken up with the likes of MacGyver (1985), Hill Street Blues (1986), LA Law (1992) and Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman (1996).

His TV work in the UK began in the late 1940s and included HG Wells’ The Invisible Man (1959), Maigret (1961), The Plane Makers (1964), sherlock holmes (1965), the expert (1968), Doomwatch (1971), Jason King (1971), The Zoo Gang (1974) and The Sandbaggers (1978) amongst many others. He wrote the screenplay to the film Crucible Of Horror starring his good friend Michael Gough – with whom Pooley lived for a time, gaining the affection and admiration of Gough’s then wife Anneke Wills, aka Polly for Doctor Who, who remembered him very fondly and told me : “My dear old Ola. 101! Up in the clouds, having a drink with Mick Gough – chuckling that he made seven years more than him: both of them completely compos mentis right to the end. So it’s not sad, it’s a triumph. May we all live to be 101 and keep our marbles”.

Ben Jolly, a UK based Doctor Who fan who visited Pooley at home in April, remembers, “He was a great guy to chat to – the conversation just flowed. His son-in-law Brian said after the visit that it had been a great tonic for Olaf who couldn’t believe that three chaps from London would have an interest in him. Apparently it gave him a real lift after a period of not being terribly well.”

There is a great interview with him here – there’s a Star Trek influence on it but it’s got plenty of intersesting detail and a sense of the man’s fascinating character.

Cleric
As the cleric in Star Trek: Voyager.

 

Thanks to Paul Ballard of Fantom Films and Lori Morris.

MICHAEL HAWKINS RIP

Michael Hawkins as General Williams in Frontier In Space (1972)

News has reached me, via his widow Julia, that Michael Hawkins – who played General Williams in the 1972 Doctor Who adventure Frontier In Space – died late last year. Julia is happy for the information to appear online so I thought I’d do a quick post for the actor best known among visitors to this parish for his dignified turn as the human soldier responsible for starting a deadly war between Earth and Draconia. Mr Hawkins was also interviewed about his role on the Making Of… documentary on the Dalek War DVD box set.

A handsome actor with a refined air about him, he was more versatile than the parts he usually got suggested – note his turn as Beavis, the beleaguered subject of cruel mental conditioning in the Doomwatch episode Hair Trigger (1972). He had previously appeared in the very first episode of that series, The Plastic Eaters (1970), and his other genre roles included an aristocrat in the early scenes of Hammer’s Hound Of the Baskervilles (1959), The Avengers (3 roles from 1961), Out Of This World (1962), as a regular in R3 (1965), Thirteen Against Fate (1966), The Baron (1967), Man In A Suitcase (1968), and another military type in Survivors (1977).

He enjoyed a busy time of it on television all through the 60s and 70s in everything from Z-Cars to George And Mildred, via I,Claudius and Crown Court, with decent stints in Brett (1971), season one of The Brothers (1972), The Scobie Man (1972), King Cinder (1977) and The Devil’s Crown (1978) propping up a hefty roster of one-off guest stints.

He is often mistakenly referred to as the father of Christian Slater – there is indeed a similar hawkish profile shared by both men, and the Hollywood star’s father was indeed an actor called Michael Hawkins, but this is not he. Like many details on certain famous websites, this is incorrect, so I have not used any other information here (such as dates) given by them either – not until I am satisfied they are correct. At present I am happier to leave that information blank than propagate a mistake, though I believe Mr Hawkins was in his mid 80s at the time of his death on the 26th October last year.

This short article may be updated in due course.

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Thanks to Paul Ballard of Fantom Films.

I Know The Face But … (# 2 Ronald Pickup)

RONALD PICKUP

 

If I’d started writing something of this ilk ten years ago, I don’t think Pickup would have been included, but society at large seems able to recognise even our finest thespians with increasing infrequency these days. Despite not being huge theatregoers, my Mum and Grandad would both have been able to identify the likes of Victor Maddern, Cyril Shaps or Michael Bryant without pause. Nowadays our papers and screens seem to have less interest in fine character actors than reality stars, so I am choosing (for this edition of this semi-regular blog) to profile someone whose stature is such that his name is as well-known as his face, but to an increasingly smaller circle of people. This is no disrespect to him, but every disrespect to the coverage of arts and popular culture in this country. Pickup is one of the most respected actors of his generation, with a string of huge stage credits to his name (latterly playing Lucky to the Vladimir and Estragon of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart). He first made a splash working his way up at the National Theatre in the late 1960s, including playing Rosalind in As You Like It. There’s an old fashioned poise and delicacy about Pickup – he is one of those actors whose merest flicker can suggest a chasm of suppressed emotion. He’s proved adaptable as well, mixing classical theatre, popular television and sitcom with equal skill.  A quite brilliant actor: leading man and character player, always lending class to anything he graces with his talent.

Five Pickup performances worth chasing down (a purely personal and not remotely definitive selection):

Prince Yakimov in Fortunes Of War:

Prince Yaki informs mighty character actors Vernon Dobtcheff and James Villiers that they'll have to wait their turn to be featured in I Know The Face But ...

Quite simply one of the greatest television performances I have ever seen. Yaki is at turns dishonest, snivelling, thoughtless and conniving, and yet he remains entirely loveable throughout Alan Plater’s adaptation of Olivia Manning’s Fortunes Of War (custom should dictate I mention the director James Cellan-Jones at this juncture as well, as his work is sublime). It may have given us an early sight of Branagh and Thompson in action, but the performance you remember is Pickup’s. Yaki has a dishevelled charm, an unkempt dignity and an ill-fitting English-toffness that betrays a man who has adopted the mores of the gentry with slightly more affectation than he should (he is a Russian émigré you see, who has learned his Britishisms by rote – slightly too well). This makes the character’s eccentricity genuine and amusing but offbeat and original. It’s a charming, delightful and rather moving performance, and I urge everyone who thinks they are a good actor to watch it, and then think again.

George Orwell in The Crystal Spirit – Orwell On Jura (not online or commercially available I’m afraid). When it was aired in 1985 this created a huge impression upon me. The sight of the consumptive Orwell on a landscape as bleak as both his prospects of a long life and his postulation of the future, is indelible. Alan Plater’s (again) piece vividly draws a picture of a creative talent both blighted and driven by illness, and showed that great masterpieces are wrought at a cost to their creators. Pickup, as ever, fizzes with intelligence and insight, whilst an innate decency washing through him at all times. He shows the human Orwell though: this is no tortured artist cliché, but a story of a man and the dignity of a great mind expressing its creativity to the very end. Orwell was difficult and ill but loved by his loyal friends and family, and in Pickup’s portrayal you can see why.

Fraser in The Worst Week Of My Life. One of our finest classical thesps being brilliant in a sitcom just emphasises how impossible it is to be pigeon-holed when you’re a proper actor. The Worst Week Of My Life is a rare thing: a brilliant television farce. If Geoffrey Whitehead’s terse father-in-law threatens to steal the show with a look, Pickup is on hand as the self-denying Uncle Frazer. He’s a tough, outdoors type, full of military stories and who definitely isn’t gay. And woe betide anyone suggests otherwise. He gets a consort in the shape of the fantastic Terence Hardiman in series two, and the character and situations get even funnier.

The Forger in Day Of The Jackal. It’s all too easy to forget that this veteran of the profession has been gainfully employed, consistently, for about forty years. He doesn’t just do Britishness and nobility, as this early turn as a slimy forger trying to outsmart Edward Fox shows. Pickup has excelled as real people (Orwell, yes, as well as Verdi and Einstein), and brings genuine class to aristocratic roles, but fine actors treat kings and paupers alike, and Pickup can create characters from scratch who are a million miles away from his actual personality.

The Physician in Doctor Who: The Reign Of Terror (the link is to a reconstruction, Pickup appears at 9 mins 31 seconds and it is his TV debut). I mention this only because it is an insignificant role in one episode of a not very well known Doctor Who story, and the episode he’s in doesn’t even exist anymore. Despite that, I suspect he gets more letters about it that he does about everything else he’s ever done put together. I don’t know if that makes me pleased that I’m a Doctor Who fan or ashamed, but I hope it doesn’t annoy the venerable Mr Pickup.

(Addendum: since I wrote this, I have met Mr Pickup and asked him about much of his work, and he was only too happy to talk about it all, including Doctor Who. The latter was his first job: he got it the week he graduated from drama school, and is therefore very grateful to it. What a gent).

 

Fell free to suggest other faces you’d like to get to know the names of.