Category Archives: Rants

There are small parts …

There are no small parts, only small actors they say. “They” usually being your agent or other actors trying to make you feel better because most of the lines you had when you were offered the part have been cut prior to recording.

michael-ansara-667x462
Michael Ansara.
You may know the face, but not the name: and that’s fine. Unless you write about TV for a living.

 

The respected character actor Michael Ansara died recently. Not a household name but certainly someone who my and my parents’ generation would recognise when he cropped up on television (which he did frequently). Yes, being in genre shows like Star Trek (in which he was a Klingon in the original series before reprising the role in both DS9 and Voyager), The Outer Limits (a very memorable turn in Soldier), The Time Tunnel, Buck Rogers and Batman- The Animated Series helps to keep your name alive thanks to geeks like me, but his clout extended beyond the anorak’s purview. His early starring role in Broken Arrow certainly ensured his was a face you’d recognise when it appeared in numerous subsequent TV shows and films.

So when he died and The Times described him as “the undisputed king of bit parts in cult television” I was rather irritated (some would say that that is my natural state: if you’re one of those, suffice to say it made me more irritated than usual). There is a sort of lofty disdain that is dishearteningly prevalent amongst the people being paid good money to conjure appropriate words when writing about genre shows or the acting profession. You shouldn’t be allowed to cover television if the basic nomenclature used in the business is beyond you. A bit part is one assayed by an extra or walk-on who has been chucked a couple of lines. Ansara was always the main guest star whenever he appeared: playing roles of a size and status most members of the profession would kill for. He was a successful actor. That the journalist in question doesn’t know this reflects badly on the journalist not the actor but you’d never know this from the way the denizens of Grub Street conduct themselves.

So often this is the case though. The Guardian did it when trying to undermine the political activities of the eccentric but busy character actor Brian McDermott. No Ansara he nonetheless managed to notch up about 100 TV credits. All told, that’s a good career – and he wasn’t playing “2nd Man” or “Onlooker” but proper, decent, supporting character parts with a name: oh, and he launched the Bush Theatre too. But because he was standing for UKIP in an election, the journlist’s parting shot was a jovial suggestion that McDermott had been an extra in episodes of Bergerac. An extra. This happens more and more – guest parts are described in the media as extra. No, an extra is a non- speaking background artist. There’s nothing wrong with being one, but that is different from playing a featured part. To secure one of those requires rounds of auditions, being seen excelling on the stage, or giving good work elsewhere and so being recommended. That is not the case with extras, for they do a different job.

Edge Of Darkness - Brilliantly Acted, Compelling, Acclaimed. But made in the olden days so barely worth mentioning apparently...
Edge Of Darkness – Brilliantly Acted, Compelling, Acclaimed.
But made in the olden days so barely worth mentioning apparently…

Television coverage is increasingly written by people who seemingly care little for the medium they write about. There’s an assumption that most television is a bit rubbish (especially if it is old) and that what these actors, writers, directors and designers who have tried hard to create something cogent, thought-provoking, tantalising and entertaining really deserve is a thrashing from the glibbest of tongues as opposed to serious, informed scrutiny. The Guardian even did a Top Fifty TV dramas – as compiled by its critics – that didn’t include Secret Army or Edge Of Darkness. Obviously such things are matters of taste but one got the impression that those illustrious productions didn’t make the list not because they’d been considered and rejected but because most of the critics didn’t know what they were. The outrage at the lack of the Edge Of Darkness prompted one of them to blog about his subsequent viewing of it because he’d never seen it. A working TV critic on a aational aewspaper who hasn’t seen Edge Of Darkness! I don’t think you’d be allowed to write about sport if you didn’t know who won the World Cup in 198-whatever.

Again, the uselessness I can cope with, it’s when it is accompanied by arrogance that it sticks in my craw. I remember being listed as a Pick Of The Week in the comedy listings in The Times and it mentioned that I had won the Les Dawson Award for comedy. I did, and am proud to have done so. “Is there a Les Dawson Award then?” added the comedy critic in brackets afterwards: after all, what’s a comedy recommendation without a little pejorative aside? Thing is, if you’re The Times comedy critic and you don’t know of the existence of such an award, then that’s your shortcoming rather than that of the recipient of said award. And if you don’t know, or think the award is negligible (which is reasonable – it was a regional thing based on an internet vote) because it hasn’t appeared on your radar (though it was eminently Google-able), then simply don’t mention it. Revelling in ignorance about the medium you write about seems bizarre – especially when such ignorance is used to recommend somebody but, with a little implicit criticism, keep them in their place at the same time (and to what end – apart from to make the journalist look clever?).

Looking clever feels terrific when you’re reviewing something, and it’s fantastic if you can enliven your prose with a witty barb or sparkly turn of phrase … but these things now seem to have replaced the real reasons someone should be writing about their specialist subject. And what reasons are those? Because they love it! Because they are entertained by entertainers, thrilled by popular culture – inspired to put pen to paper and to place bum on seat.

All of the above examples simply wouldn’t happen in other industries. There are loads of well-informed TV geeks who can turn an apt phrase. Few of them seem to do so for the papers though. The nationals tend to promote sub-editors with other specialisms or people who display shocking ignorance or contempt for the medium … Sam Wollaston anyone?  And as for Ian Hyland – good God! I shouldn’t think either of them could talk about Herbert Wise or Allan Prior or David Collings. You wouldn’t pay a food writer who described an aubergine as a “sort of rubbish sausage” so why is popular culture often chronicled and scrutinised by the ill-informed and condescending?

We all breathe air, but I wouldn’t expect someone who hasn’t studied its properties to be entrusted with analysing and describing it. Just because we all consume popular culture and mass entertainment doesn’t mean any old bod’s scrutiny of it is worth reading. I am just a plucky amateur and am not angling for a job here – I just feel the need for more Matthew Sweets and fewer A A Gills. It is just that knowing what I know about TV and comedy and seeing the great howlers committed in much that is written about both makes me wonder how much ill-informed crap swaggers across the page on subjects of which I am wholly ignorant – like Science and Music and How To Be Sexy (yes, there are small parts …).

 

PSORIASIS BLOG – Defending The NHS

Warning: whilst this blog is never especially funny, this entry is especially not especially funny. It does have a slight dig at someone from the telly though, in an attempt to prove how hip and relevant I am.

The NHS is getting a lot of gyp at the moment, from the usual suspects. I am sure it is not perfect and I have had bad experiences at its hands, but the critics are hardly agenda free and so I feel compelled to redress the balance in my own humble corner of the internet.

 

Wayne Deakin - excellent Aussie comic and fellow dermatological disaster area
Wayne Deakin – excellent Aussie comic and fellow dermatological disaster area

Having met psoriasis sufferers from  other countries I’ve benefitted from several reminders of just how damned lucky I am to live in this fair isle. Helen – The Flaky Fashionista – is from Ireland as has hand to fork out for every cream and every UV session. The latter were over 40 quid a time – I had to have it three days a week for about three months. I have to tell a lot of jokes to earn that kind of money. Talking of jokes, my fellow comedian Wayne Deakin and I bonded over our shared assignations with this red mistress of the skin – I worked with him this weekend in Liverpool and we compared patches. In Australia he spends about $240 (about £120) a time on tubes of cream to treat an outbreak. You’ve seen the coverage on my body. In his position I’d need to get a bigger boat on which to tell and awful lot of jokes to a group of lottery winners with money to burn.

The most moving encounter I had in this regard was at a Doctor Who convention in Chicago last year when a gentleman left my show – My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver – because he hadn’t know about its psoriatic content and it messed with his head a bit. He came to apologise (which wasn’t necessary) and told me his story. His partner clearly loved him but there was a lot of pain there for both of them. Whilst she and my wife shared their experiences I listened as he explained how the condition had led to him losing work and so his medical insurance no longer covered him and so he couldn’t treat his severe condition. The doctors under whose care we was under stopped looking after him when he no longer had the requisite resources. And I thought Leah from The Apprentice was as cold a doctor as you could find. As a result this poor fellow was now scarred physically and emotionally and was not in a position to secure much work. A ridiculous, callous self perpetuating situation which left him feeling helpless and in a huge amount of pain.

 

 

The NHS, like the BBC, is generally envied trhoughout the world: those that seek to dismantle either have an alarming agenda.
The NHS, like the BBC, is generally envied trhoughout the world: those that seek to dismantle either have an alarming agenda.

And me, here in the UK? I pay prescription charges – a fraction of the money paid by anyone above for the huge variety of treatments that I have outlined in this blog. I am a self-emplyed itinerant player, the kind of figure I would need to match what my fellow flakies have to fork out is beyond my reach. The extensive and dogged campaign my condition has waged on my skin for the past 25 years would have required a serious finanacial investment, just so I could not endure excruciating pain and emotional shame every day. I’m surely a better citizen when I’m not like that? Had I had to practically bankrupt myself to maintain my treatment I probably would have given up – not because the condition is bearable, but because psoriasis sufferers allow themselves to go through much more than they actually should because what we have isn’t life threatening. For many years I endured an unecessary level of physical and mental discomfort because I thought that was my lot in life – it was only when the specialists at the Royal Free told me that I absolutely didn’t have to live like that that I was made aware that there was much that could be done and treatments which could have an effect I had hitherto only dreamed of (and that I didn’t have to pay for them).

Had that not happened, and had I neglected my treatment for financial comfort, I almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to work, so would have been a drain in the state rather than a taxpaying contributor to it. And to be perfectly honest, the level of agony that would have resulted from a cessation of my treatment, and the anguish that would have accompanied that … I’d have probably topped myself. And I don’t mean that metaphorically.

And that wouldn’t have made anyone laugh.  I know I don’t contribute much to society, but I like to think that my continued presence on this Earth is worth something to some people.

And if that is the case, I have the NHS to thank.

Ten Things That Will Be Illegal When I Am King

.

Warning: This blog contains signs of the wear and tear of middle age.

1.       Listening to music on public transport loudly. This is includes using those useless headphones that seem designed to leak whatever racket you’re numbing your aural and neural pathways with, just enough to give everyone else in the vehicle/carriage a sort of hip-hop tinnitus. Then there’s not even bothering with headphones and just playing it loudly with a swagger that suggests you’ve got a knife or have no fear about administering a punch to a remonstrator. This shows that consideration for others in this country is about as popular as brushing your teeth with a chainsaw or drinking a syphilis milkshake. It’s also a sort of challenge, daring the timid commuter to ask you to desist just so you can give them lip or bust theirs. You may like your music, and fair play to you. You’re welcome to listen to it – so long as you use headphones that actually do the job headphones were designed to do. Lest we forget, they are the key component of something called a personal stereo – personal, as in for your own, private use. Otherwise it would’ve been called a Bus Disco, Tube Rave, or Pendolino Glastonbury.  There are things I enjoy doing that it might not be appropriate for me to do every time I would like to, and certainly not on the bus in the presence of other people. Like say, playing Twister, pretending to be a soldier in a film, or making love to my wife. And are any of these ear rapists listening to Suzanne Vega, Showaddywaddy or Daniel O’Donnell? I think not. My point is made.

 

2.       Saying “yourself” when you mean “you”, and “myself” when you mean “me”. Using words of unnecessary length makes proceedings appear neither more formal nor more intelligent. It just makes yourself sound thick.

 

3.       Shrinking TV credits. That our major national broadcasters think that the sudden appearance of the English Language on our screens will have us reaching for our remotes insults us. Yes, there are some people who do that, but in my kingdom those people will not exist. They will never have existed. Readable credits are a conduit behind the scenes, and a good theme tune stays with you forever and gives you a comforting shroud of nostalgia on a lonely night. They are essential elements of the viewing experience, not to be used as nests for the advertising cuckoo. If I want to watch what’s coming next, I will, but not because you’ve just shouted at me to do so and thus mucked up the ending of something into which I’d happily immersed myself. Would the Mona Lisa really be improved by having sticker in the corner with “Look, over there, it’s the Venus de Milo, she’s ‘armless!”? (the answer to that, by the way, is no). As punishment, any TV exec who sanctions this will have someone shout in their ear, every time they make love, “Coming soon, a melancholy feeling of at worst shame, and at best inadequacy – stay tuned” just at the moment of orgasm.

 

"You couldn't make it up," he says. And then does.

4.       Treating the opinions of Richard Littlejohn with any seriousness whatsoever. This will be redefined as a hate crime and awarded the maximum possible sentence.

 

5.       Dropping litter. I sometimes pick up discarded things like cigarette packets and say “you dropped this” and when they reply “oh, it’s empty”, I put it in the nearby bin and say “Oh, look, that was difficult wasn’t it?” This will, one day, get me killed. If you’re a grown-up who can’t use a bin, you don’t deserve democracy, frankly.

 

6.       Sitting on a train where one of the few plug sockets is but not using the plug socket for anything. This will be a capital offence. With no right to appeal.

 

7.       Tabloid newspapers quoting “a friend” of whomever they’re doing a hack job on, who speaks in apposite puns. You know the sort of thing, a friend of a cricketing cuckold’s mistress quoted saying that “after a short first innings his middle stump wouldn’t stay up for a second one” or the friend of a woman having an affair with a World War 1 veteran saying that when they first saw each other it was “The Phwoar To End All Phwoars”. It’s bad enough that they use something as precious as freedom of the press and abuse it to reduce national discourse to childish tittering. But to parade such dishonesty about using the weakest humour available to humanity on one page and then assuming the umbrage of the morally affronted on the next is worse than stabbing a sleeping child’s head with a pin whilst its mother isn’t looking.

 

"Did you see the game last night? Yes, me too. OMG - What a goal. ... Oh, hang on, my patient seems to have exploded"

8.       Talking on the phone when you serve me in a shop. Can I take a call when I’m at work? No. Halfway through a set I’d be rightly pelted with eggs if I said to the audience “Hang on, this is more important than you” and answered my mobile. Bus drivers don’t do it either. Or teachers. I’ve never seen a judge dial out for pizza during a trial. I’m sure not even the most bargain basement lady of the night would break of her servicing of whichever inadequate requires a siphoning to book a holiday or ask about improved broadband services. So, shopkeep, nor should you when I’m purchasing a Wagon Wheel, crucifix or lingerie magazine.

 

9.       Not tipping your waiter, who’s given you good service because “well, it’s optional innit.” Yes, you have the option not to tip if the service wasn’t very good, but not just because you’re not in the giving vein today. It’s optional for me not to batter your face with a cactus mallet or scythe your baby, but I doubt you’d take that as an excuse. If you had decent service and you don’t tip you’re a twat. Simple. Don’t try to intellectualise it by saying – well, I don’t tip person in x,y and z job, either. Waiters’ wages are kept low because of the tipping system. You’re not bucking that system or campaigning for higher wages by not playing ball, you’re simply denying the person who has worked for you all night what they might reasonably expect for doing a good job.

 

10.   Being anonymous on the internet. This would suddenly emasculate the world’s keyboard warriors pretty quickly. Imagine having your name and address flash up every time you fancy yourself as a cyberspace Oscar Wilde (if Wilde was a witless hobgoblin who only developed a pair when cloaked in anonymity and protected by a monitor screen that serves as a vileness amplifier). They’d also, in true Bullseye! style, be shown all the real life girls they could have touched if they hadn’t spent their lives articulating their own crushing lack of self-esteem and achievement through a conduit of bile pixels that contribute precisely nothing of value to anyone or anything, anywhere, ever.

 

Oooh, what’s that sensation? Oh yes, my chest feels much lighter now.

See you at the coronation.

Ten Things That Annoy Me More Than I Think They Would If I Were A Reasonable Human Being

Warning : This blog’s initial draft contained a reference to Jedward that was replaced with something marginally less predictable.

I’ve been supposed to be blogging every day this week as a test of discipline and to see if I can be remotely interesting, but haven’t posted yesterday’s up as it needs some cosmetic surgery and doesn’t quite make sense yet. I’d left myself plenty of time but I’d had a bit of travel hassle that led to my train journey and subsequent gig being cancelled. Then Doctor Who was on, I drank some Chablis and then the evening disappeared in a blur brought on by mind boggling continuity developments and Bacchus’s brain-fug juice. So I may post yesterday’s blog up later tonight or even tomorrow, which isn’t quite blogging every day but I could get away with it by saying it’s a clever timey-wimey manipulation, or, for the more down to earth, argue that it’s a bank holiday weekend and so one of the days somehow doesn’t count. Or, like the Sinclair C5, the coalition government or Cheryl Cole on X-Factor USA, you could just deem the “blogging every day for a week” thing a failed experiment and gloat.

Whatever.

Anyway, there are a number of things that annoy me that I’m perfectly happy annoy me. I am supposed to be annoyed by things like shrinking TV credits, that little evil plastic hair shard bit from a trainer that sometimes sticks into your foot and itches that you can never quite find or prise out or work out what it’s bloody doing there in the first place, and genocide. Being miffed about those shows that I am a righteous, frail and reasoned human being. But despite the fact that I think I’m generally quite benign, and pretty easygoing if you get to meet me, there are some things that annoy bat-shit out of my brain-cave that in my more contemplative moments lead me to think I have some kind of personality disorder. This isn’t that contrived “grumpy old man” oo-isn’t-Ikea-irritating nonsense. That’s been done to death. I’m actually worried that being irked by the following might just mean I’m evil.

I do hope not, it would be most inconvenient.

The following is best read in a voice of slightly strangulated indignation:

1.       Finsbury Park Tube station has a tunnel that leads to and from the tubes. There is a barrier in the middle so people all have to walk in the same direction (decided by which side they’re on) and so not bash into each other. So far so good. However, the whole design is rendered useless when people walk three abreast on one side (making those behind them unable to overtake) and amble, chatting,

Looks Innocent Enough Now, But Just Add People And It Becomes Worse Than A Big War

oblivious to the fact that people behind them might – what with all the tube trains and things lying about – be in something of a hurry (see also people who stand side by side on escalators and people who stop walking to chat or look at a map in a fucking doorway).

 

2.       “There’s millions said Henry* all under one roof.” There may be Henry, but the backward R in Toys R (no, I’m not doing it on a point of principle … and because I can’t with this keyboard) Us isn’t the worst of your evils. There are millions Henry, not there’s millions, and it’d still scan if you said it correctly. You benefit neither your ditty nor your target audience by your slapdash approach, Henry. People make spelling and grammatical mistakes all the time – I’m no lexicographical fascist and can forgive this. To perpetrate such felonies on purpose to be either cool or branded makes you Satan’s fluffer here on Earth, Henry, you giraffe-bastard. No wonder our children are feral.

 

3.       People texting or calling me when Doctor Who is on (I should put it on silent, sure, but I expect people to know and leave it on deliberately so that I can get annoyed).

 

4.       I like to cook because I hope I’m quite good at it, I get a great feeling when people enjoy my creations, and like to think the whole process is creative, cathartic and rewarding. Speak to me whilst I’m doing it however, and I’m about as pleasant as a chlamydia sandwich at Jeremy Clarkson’s house.

 

5.       My eldest son remembers the minutiae of television episodes and describes them in detail, without pause, recalling dialogue, jokes, and situations. I find myself getting grumpy with him for doing so despite the fact that it’s what I do for a living and what I did when I was his age (and probably to a greater extent).

 

6.       The fact that the makers of Appletise bowed to public ignorance and renamed it Appletiser. Why? The public were wrong. Just because everyone pronounced it incorrectly wasn’t a reason to change the name. Especially as the people who did it will now think they were right all along. That’s like God ironing the Earth just to make the ignoramuses who thought it was flat feel good about themselves. Or Wendy Richard changing her name by deed-poll to Wendy Richards. Or the word “ask” deciding to spell itself “arks” because some cockneys can’t talk properly.

Correct
Evil

 

7.       Fussy eaters. I hated loads of food as a kid. My Mum made me eat it. I learned to like it. Anyone else that can’t be bothered to go through that process deserves at best starvation and at worst, some sort of extreme food camp where desperately middle class fascists like me force feed them asparagus and wean them off Big Macs. A bit like those courses where batty Christians try to cure people of being gay, except morally right. “I don’t like any vegetables” I hear people say. As if vegetables all taste the same. That’s like me saying “I don’t like any people” just because some people – like you – can’t be bothered to see if your taste buds might have matured since you were six.

 

8.       The fact that for about 7 years I didn’t realise that Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny wasn’t live. When I found out the truth it was, of course, so obvious  – why would those high end celebs (no Big Brother winners here ) all give up their family New Year’s Eve to sit in a BBC studio to listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo doing covers of Kajagoogoo’s back catalogue? Yet I was still crushingly disappointed when I found out. And I don’t even care about music. Or know who any of the people on it are. Except Jools Holland.

 

9.       When I was a kid I did amateur dramatics with a woman called Glenys. That’s right, Glenys. Except my Mum always pronounced it Glynis, even when I’d corrected her more times than Keith Allen’s come across as a bit of a knob in interviews. When I hear her say it in my head, now, as I type, it bothers me so much that I’ve gritted my teeth enough to give me lockjaw. It’s like the mispronunciation equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard. She probably hasn’t done it for twenty years, but I know, deep down, that I can never forgive her.

 

10.   I still haven’t thought of a reasonable excuse for not having done yesterday’s blog, and even though it’s up to me whether or not I do it and it doesn’t really matter, it still really annoys me, and it annoys me even more that I’m explaining it and justifying it in a massively uninteresting way but nonetheless feel the need to clarify my position even though I don’t know what that position is.

 

There you go. I never said they had to be enlightening.

XX

 

* Before you both write in, the Giraffe Grammar Pervert is called Geoffrey (of course, alliteration is your friend when luring children into your den of imminent parent poverty) not Henry. I let my initial mistake stand because (a) I’m not afraid to admit to mine and (b) Glenys Barber (very good) who points out the mistake in the comments below does so in an extremely witty way and deserves credit for doing so.

Memoriam Cheats

In addition to my (occasionally disjointed, sorry, I just wanted to get it out) post below called Memoriam Loss (which I’d advise you to read before this), here is the reply I received from BAFTA when I informed them that I was appalled by Nicholas Courtney’s absence from this year’s In Memoriam section during yesterday’s ceremony.

Dear Toby

Thank you for your message regarding the absence of Nicholas Courtney from the Obituaries segment in Sunday’s Television Awards broadcast and please accept our apologies for any distress this may have caused.

Nicholas Courtney was on the list of over 170 names considered for inclusion. Every loss is equally important, but the time restriction of the Obituaries section in the broadcast forces us to make a small and necessarily subjective selection, which sadly meant that he could not be included.

You may not be aware that Nicholas Courtney is featured in our online Obituaries area – – which aims to maintain a year-round, public acknowledgement of those in our industries who have passed away.  He was also included in the In Memoriam section of the souvenir brochure that was given to all attendees yesterday evening.

We do hope this recognition by BAFTA provides at least some acknowledgement, however small, of Nicholas Courtney’s wonderful career.

All best wishes,

Kemuel

My reply went like this:

Dear Kemuel Solomon,

Thanks for your reply, which I am aware is the cut and paste job you use for all such complaints and doesn’t really get to the nub of the issue. Not only Courtney, but others including the actor Gerard Kelly, and scriptwriters Jeremy Paul and Bob Block, could only expect due credit and remembrance from the Academy. Names who did feature in the awards ceremony video like Tom Bosley, Gary Coleman and Henry Cooper could expect to be remembered elsewhere and will doubtless be so: Cooper was a sportsman, and for the BRITISH Academy to prioritise American performers – whose own academy will rightly give them their dues – over those I mention is appalling.

I’m not someone fighting a corner over a particular performer who appealed to my particular tastes – I am someone pointing out an inherent flaw in an at best misguided and at worst insultingly slapdash approach to what should and could be a reflective tribute section and well earned memorial. It shouldn’t be too much to expect a public acknowledgement to those who gave much to the industry, by those who actually care about it. And are you really telling me viewers would object to an extra minute to find space for people (like the four I mention here) whose work would be known to even the most casual viewer?

Thanks for your reply, but I’m afraid it fails to address the issue in any way satisfactorially.

Best wishes,
Toby Hadoke

 

As an addititional addendum (from your apoplectic addressee of annoying alliteration) I would like to point out that I actually understand why Mr Courtney didn’t get a caption on any recent Doctor Who episodes. Now before you get angry with me, I understand and empathise with all of the arguments that say Mr Courtney should have got one (which would have been my personal preference). I also, on the other hand, understand why it didn’t happen.

I’m certain it was a diffcult decision to make, and I’m glad I didn’t fall to me to have to make it.

I won’t be joining the chorus of those getting angry about it, though, sorry. I think BAFTA’s omission is a different matter.

Memoriam Loss

Warning : This has a swear word in it.

I remember it quite well – it was an afternoon, a Sunday I think (it has that lazy, family-round-the-box Sunday afternoon feel as I picture it) – watching an episode of It Ain’t ‘Alf ‘Ot Mum, and just at the end they showed a still of Dino Shafeek who played Char Wallah Muhammed in the series. Not the star, not a major role, and the show itself was no longer being made. But still, someone at good old Auntie Beeb had the thoughtfulness to put up a picture of Mr Shafeek and announce, with regret, that he had recently passed away in hospital. “Awww” we chorused as a family – we’d let him into our homes, were happy that he’d been there, and sadly noted that he was off to sit in the corner of that great living room in the sky.

A few seconds was all it took, but those seconds, which allowed Sunday afternoon TV watchers to spare a thought for a man, stuck in my mind as a decent thing to do.

And as with most decent things, it was the right thing.

Thereafter, I always noted these little nods to deceased entertainers – the protocol was generally that if it was an as yet unseen piece and a contributor had died betwixt its production and its broadcast, then something should be said (not always though – Shafeek’s programme had died three years before he did, but they still found the time to pay their dues). When Roy Kinnear was tragically killed filming abroad, the episode of Casualty in which he featured that week was pulled as a mark of “respect to the family” (that’s what they said in the voiceover explaining why tonight’s episode wasn’t the advertised one). A mark of respect.

As with most respectful things, it was the right thing.

Then there was Harold Innocent, whose death was commented on in the newspapers prior to his final TV role in Heartbeat (I never saw the broadcast so don’t know if he got an acknowledgement, but suspect he did, as at around the same time the actress Noel Dyson rightly got a voiceover on the same show under similar circumstances and Innocent was definitely a better known face). The BBC certainly paid their dues on the broadcast of Doctor Who – The Paradise Of Death, which was airing on the radio that same week.

Fast forward some years later and the character actor George Raistrick died. Raistrick was never a household name – not even a minor one like Shafeek (“Oh him, off that”), or indeed, instantly recognisable face like Innocent (“Oh him, off, umm, I’m not sure, but him”) – but he featured heavily in an episode of The Vet shortly after his death, and I noted glumly that the protocol on such things had clearly changed.  Not a mention – not even out of respect to the family.

Not long after, Comedy Connections featured John Barron (definitely a “him off that”) who died the very week they broadcast him remembering his iconic role as CJ in The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. The end credits flew by as they are prone to do nowadays lest the viewing public be confused by the words of the English language those programme makers of old had the naivety to expect people to be able to actually read – and neither a voiceover or a caption appeared. I would have thought that someone who made that programme, who’d been lucky enough to secure Barron’s talents and enjoy the privilege of working with him, would have made sure something happened. Out of, say, respect. But no.

Nowadays, unless it’s someone hugely famous, we’re not expected to be interested in acknowledging someone’s life now it’s gone. We’re no longer expected to respect the wishes of the family. We’re no longer expected to do the decent thing. There are too many advertisements for what’s coming up next to cram in, too many idents and logos and DOGs to fill the screen to expect a tiny sliver of humanity to be allowed into our living rooms.

This week, when Yesterday provided a caption for Edward Hardwicke after one of their timely repeats of Colditz I found myself impressed that a minor repeat channel had someone there with enough nous to give him due credit. It almost made up for the Telgarph obituary describing his Dr Watson as “bumbling”, thus proving that you are allowed to write about things in newspapers even if you know precisely nothing about them. But then of course, that’s the newspapers. TV people obviously know better. Obviously.

BAFTA would know better wouldn’t they? Television is actually one fifth of the acronym that BAFTA actually is. Television is the T in BAFTA. For fuck’s sake.

And so tonight’s ceremony came to the specific, this-is-the-moment- where-we-do-it, orchestrated, researched, lovingly, caringly put together acknowledgement, respectful, decent thing to do.

The “In Memoriam” section.

And Nicholas Courtney, the man who played Brigadier Lethbridge- Stewart, the most enduring character in one of TVs most recognisable, iconic programmes, one that currently resides in peak form at the very forefront of the small screen (that’s Doctor Who, in case you’ve temporarily forgotten whose blog you’re reading), was left off. He’s not the only person to have suffered that ignominy in recent years, as it happens, or even tonight. Lest you think this is disproportionate Whovian fulmination I’ll drop Gerard Kelly’s name into this diatribe. When his post mortem episode of Casualty aired there was ne’er a mention nor postponement despite the fact that his face and name were well enough known in England (“oh him, off Extras”) and definitely household in Scotland (“Oh, Gerard Kelly, off City Lights. And Extras. And, well, … Gerard Kelly!”). In case you’re confused BAFTA, Scotland and England are both bits that make up the B part of the acronym that is your name!

The very best television at the moment is made by people who have a love and knowledge of the medium (and I note with pride that Doctor Who has, in recent years, featured In Memoriam captions for a number of cast and crew – some from days gone by even) and it’s no accident that the men in charge – Davies and Moffat – are self-proclaimed geeks. See that’s what you are if you know and love television, a geek. The same level of love and understanding in any other area and you’d be called an expert.

TV may be disposable, and much of it may be simple, trivial entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place in it for a modicum of decency and respect, and if you don’t show those things to the people that came before you, then don’t bother to work in the medium. Find something else.

It’d be the right thing to do.