Tag Archives: Doctor Who actor Obituaries

Peter Thomas RIP – Hartnell villain passes away

Peter Thomas – actor from missing William Hartnell story The Savages – dies.

Peter Thomas as Captain Edal in The Savages
Peter Thomas as Captain Edal in The Savages

Peter Thomas, who played Captain Edal in The Savages, has died at the age of 80. He had worked with Christopher Barry prior to the making of the story and so was in the director’s mind when it came to casting the chief of the security forces on the unnamed planet where all is not what it seems. With Frederick Jaegar, ostensibly the story’s lead villain, spending much of the action impersonating William Hartnell’s Doctor it is Thomas  who provides most of the thuggishness. He’s the enforcer and easily the story’s most unpleasant character – and unusually, he survives at the end, in a story which has no fatalities. Thomas had to undergo golden facial make-up but that wasn’t his biggest problem on the show: “Bill Hartnell and I did not get on that well in The Army Game – I fell out with him during rehearsals. He used to shout, and if you forgot a line or miscued him he would tell you! Literally in our last episode of Doctor Who I think he forgave me: in the final scene, owing to the pressure of work instead of “Grab him and strap him to the trolley”  I said “Strab him and grap him to the trolley” – but it did get a laugh even from Bill Hartnell.” The finished result wss good though – the audience research report for The Savages finds the viewers singling out the performances of Hartnell and Thomas for the most praise.

Thomas trained at LAMDA from 1952 and upon graduation did a short stint in rep at Lancaster before National Service (the RAF) intervened. Having done his duty (and performed onstage in RAF variety shows and stage productions while he was doing so) he returned to the theatre and then broke into television where he made something of a career of playing bad guys. His TV roles included Probation Officer (1959), Walk A Crooked Mile (1961), Z-Cars (1962),  No Hiding Place (4 different characters 1962/65), The Plane Makers (1963), No Cloak, No Dagger (1963), The Avengers (three times – 1966/67/68) and Big Breadwinner Hog (1969) with Peter Egan, whom he had encouraged to become an actor when Egan was a young lad. In this excellent but very violent series Thomas is unmissable as a leather clad thug with a teddy boy quiff and a flick knife.

In Tales From The Crypt (1972), one of his last roles before leaving the business for 30 years
In Tales From The Crypt (1972), one of his last roles before leaving the business for 30 years

After the film Tales From The Crypt (1972) and an episode of Crown Court (1976) he disappeared from the acting profession for about thirty years due to the unfortunate illness of his wife. Having established himself as an onstage comedy stooge (he worked with Hancock, Benny Hill, Graham Stark and Jimmy Jewel) he had to turn down 35 weeks touring alongside Bob Monkhouse – such a commitment was impractical with two young children and a terminally ill partner and so he made the difficult decision  to sever ties with his agent and accept no more offers.

In the early 80s he started a production company, and he kept his hand in the performance side of things when he provided the voice overs and the occasional presentation spot for the corporate videos that they made. Approaching the age at which most people retire, and with his children now grown up, he began to work professionally as an actor again and was very proactive in getting his own work – doing short films and modelling shoots whenever he could, and creating a character called Mr Grumpy.

Peter in a recent advertising campaign
Peter in a recent advertising campaign

In 2013 his face adorned the London underground as part of the Turn2US charity campaign, one of many posters he featured on in recent years (he also showed up for the NHS carers recruitment  campaign and the Oxford Hearing Centre). He also contributed to advertising campaigns for Heineken (a James Bond/Skyfall tie in) and French Netflix. This sort of work was a callback to the 60s when he had a high old time appearing in adverts for all sorts including Don Carlos Cigars, Remington Razors, Rich Tea Biscuits, Black & Greens Tea, Guinness and Bilslands Bread. He was also an able guitarist and folk singer.

714694_8204319He was happy to be associated with Doctor Who, and kept up with it over the years: “It was caught the atmosphere of the 60s – and when they brought it back years later it was an instant success. One of my favourite Doctor Whos was Jon Pertwee and in the newer versions it has to be David Tennant. It was a good show”. Peter recently joined me and Kay Patrick to discuss The Savages for one of Fantom Films’ forthcoming Who Talk releases: he was sprightly and full of memories so the news of his passing was as surprising as it was saddening..

With thanks to Paul Dunn.

Peter Thomas took part in a Who’s Round which you can listen to here.

Kay Patrick an myself with the late Peter Thomas on 23rd November 2016. just two months before his death. Photo: Simeon Carter/Fantom Films.
Kay Patrick an myself with the late Peter Thomas on 23rd November 2016, just two months before his death. Photo: Simeon Carter/Fantom Films.

You can see my video of the Doctor Who names we lost in 2016 here.

Philip Bond RIP – The Daleks guest star dies aged 82

EARLY DOCTOR WHO GUEST STAR DIES.

Philip Bond as Ganatus in The Daleks
Philip Bond as Ganatus in The Daleks

The actor Philip Bond has died suddenly whilst on holiday on the island of Madeira. He was 82.

He will be known to Doctor Who fans for his important guest role in the second ever story, The Daleks (1963/4). He played Ganatus, who accompanies Ian and Barbara on their deadly mission through the perilous environs of Skaro in order to defeat the Daleks. During the mission he witnesses the death of his brother Antodus (Marcus Hammond) and develops a soft spot for Barbara. Bond, who was cast late in the day after original choice Dinsdale Landen became unavailable, gives a great performance. Whilst some of the members of his tribe have an element of mannered, misty eyed 60s-ness about them, Bond capers about gamely and is clearly the “one to watch”. He has an energy and vitality which make his very naturalistic performance work 50 years later and his character is certainly the perkiest and most likeable of those encountered by the TARDIS crew during this groundbreaking 7 part story. More recently he lent his vocal talents to the Torchwood audio adventure Forgotten Lives (2015) meaning that he hold the record for the longest amount of time between performances in the series and/or its spin offs.

He told me in 2012 that he had accepted the part (whilst appearing at the Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre) without looking at the script  and that he “enjoyed many a pint with William Hartnell during lock-ins at The Black Prince after recording”. As for Jacqueline Hill – “loved her” which might explain their chemistry on screen and they, along with William Russell (whom he had known since 1955) and Verity Lambert socialised together a lot. “We knew we were at the start of something after the Daleks first appeared,” he remembered. We discussed his doing a Who’s Round recently but geography – he spent his latter years based in a remote village in Wales – was making it tricky. He had, however, agreed to come and do a Who Talk commentary over some of his episodes when he returned from holiday later this month and indeed only recently did a signing for Fantom Films (who produce them).

Born in Burton-on-Trent to Welsh parents, he attended Burton Boys’ grammar school which he where he got his first taste of the stage. He studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama and one of his early theatre roles was playing Jean to the Miss Julie of Sonia Dresdel in Edinburgh in 1956.

Philip Bond was still working.
Philip Bond was still working.

He never returned to Doctor Who on but carved himself an impressive television career including regular roles in 199 Park Lane (1965), The Onedin Line ((1972, as Albert Frazer), The Main Chance (1970 as Peter Findon). He also cropped up in everything from Peter Cushing’s TV Hound of the Baskervilles (1968, as Stapleton) to Midsomer Murders (2007), taking in such varied fare as The Avengers (1969), Doomwatch  (as Inspector Drew in The Human Time Bomb, 1971), The Children of the New Forest (1977), Diana Rigg’s Hedda Gabler (as Lovborg, 1981), Only Fools and Horses (1985), Shakespeare : The Animated Tales (1994), Fever Pitch (1997) and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2001) along the way.

The BBC cameraman Roger Bunce worked with Bond often and remembers him as “a really nice, humorous guy – and a classic actor. A likeable hero in the The Onedin Line, a dastardly villain in The Hound of the Baskervilles. I think I first worked with him on a TV play called The Pistol Shot in which he played a callous cad – so different from the real person. A great character range.”

Philip's daughter Samantha in The Sarah Jane Adventures
Philip’s daughter Samantha in The Sarah Jane Adventures

Philip Bond died surrounded by his children Matthew, Samantha (known in the Doctor Who universe as Miss Wormwood in The Sarah Jane Adventures) and Abigail and his long standing partner Elizabeth. They survive him, as do his grandchildren Molly, Tom, Nancy, Bill and Ivan.

Philip George William Bond, born 1st November 1934 – died 17th January 2017

There’s a more detailed article about Mr Bond on the superb Avengers Forever website here. Thanks to Gavin Gaughan.

Thanks To Roger Bunce.

You can see my tribute video to those from Doctor Who who died in 2016 here.

Doctor Who In Memoriam 2016

Doctor Who In Memoriam Video 2016

_76881435_yeti13At the end of the year I always to a video tribute to those people from the Doctor Who universe who have left us. I had trouble uploading this so it didn’t go up on New Year’s Eve as hoped. Anyway, it is here now, and I hope it does its job.

 

 

FRANCES PIDGEON RIP – actress and Lennie Mayne’s widow dies.

tumblr_nhjr4x6Lp91qf6o97o1_500
Frances Pidgeon photographed by Ken Russell in 1956, the year she married Doctor Who director Lennie Mayne (© Topfoto)

The actress Frances Pidgeon who appeared twice in Doctor Who has died at the age of 84. Her first role was an uncredited one, as the non speaking handmaiden of Queen Thalira in The Monster Of Peladon (1974). Her second role was more substantial, as Miss Jackson, the assistant to Professor Watkins in The Hand Of Fear (1976). The uniting factor of these two stories was director Lennie Mayne, to whom Pigeon was married until he was lost at sea in an accident in 1977.

Born in Epsom in May 1931, the tall, athletic and beautiful Pidgeon was a ballerina and dancer in musicals : an early appearance was in 1947-48 in Alice In Wonderland at the Shakespeare Memorial theatre (later the Royal Shakespeare Company) at Stratford-Upon-Avon. Mayne was an Australian who also began his career as a dancer and the pair worked together on stage, notably in 364 performances of Cole Porter’s musical Can-Can at the Coliseum in the West End in 1954/55. They married in 1956 and had twin girls in 1964.

Ken-Russell-photo-of-Ball-005
Pidgeon demonstrates an “Alternative Use For A Hip Bath” in another of Russell’s experiments in still photography (© Topfoto).

In 1956 she was picked by Ken Russell to be the subject of various photographs he took which showcased her beauty and married it with surrealistic props – in one her bare legs emerge from beneath a tin hip bath, in another she wears a lampshade as a skirt. She and Russell had danced together at the London Theatre Ballet and hung out together at the Troubadour coffee bar.

On screen she danced in Love From Judy (1953), many episodes of On The Bright Side (1959) with Stanley Baxter and Betty Marsden, This Is Bobby Darin (1959), Die Kleinste Show Der Welt (1960), Up Jumped A Swagman (1963)  Were Those Days (1969) and and episode of Omnibus about the waltz (1969). She also choreographed a sequence for an episode of Are You Being Served? (1976) and an Alan Plater penned Play Of The Week in 1978 called Night People (1978).

She was one of the supporting ensemble in the Mike Yarwood and Lulu vehicle, the series Three Of A Kind (1967) and gradually began to take small roles on television, often in productions directed by her husband such as Doomwatch (1971/72) and The Brothers (1975).

Jackson_hand_of_fear
Pidgeon as Miss Jackson in Doctor Who’s The Hand Of Fear.

There is no particular of nepotism here because Mayne – a universally adored figure – surrounded himself by people he knew when he was working, whether he was married to them or not. The number of productions in which Pidgeon and Mayne’s names also intersect with those of Denys Palmer, Rex and Pat Robinson (Patricia Prior) or Laurie Webb (all of whom appeared in Mayne’s The Three Doctors) are numerous and comprised a mutually supportive and respectful unit of artists and friends. The Robinsons and the Webbs lived very close to Mayne family as well and helped to provide a support network for Pidgeon after Mayne’s tragic death.

She had been in ill health for some time and passed away earlier this month. The twins survive her.

FRANCES PIDGEON 1931-2016

Obituaries Round Up

OBITUARIES ROUND UP

Here is how it works – if I haven’t been asked to do an obituary of someone for a paper I will try to do a good one here. Even if I have been asked, I still might blog about them, but giving a more personal or Doctor Who flavoured slant to the piece. I was very flattered when I was asked by the Herald Scotland newspaper if they might use some of the work here and publish it in their pages. I was delighted to agree and so I tweaked my obituary of Kenneth Gilbert and it appeared in the hard copy of the paper last week. That version (different from the one on this blog) and can be found on the Herald’s website here.

This week I have been rather busy becoming a kind of literary Hayley Joel Osment: a sad duty, maybe sign of a morbid disposition, but I like to think I’m giving proper their due. And so I am pleased that Doctor Who Magazine have commissioned a lengthy piece from me about Derek Ware which will be appearing in a forthcoming issue. 

Anthony Read-2The Guardian asked me to write a piece on Anthony Read, Doctor Who writer and script editor, BBC producer, and prolific contributor of scripts to loads of memorable series. Also a very lovely fellow. He was interviewed for Who’s Round, briefly, and the results are here. His family, especially his daughter Emma, were incredible helpful and patient at a very difficult time but it has really helped the piece so my thanks to them.

He was never in Doctor Who and I didn’t know him so I am incredibly flattered to have been entrusted with the obituary of an actor I greatly admired, Anthony Valentine, and his piece came out in today’s paper and is online here. As a general note, Richard Bignell and Rob Fairclough are the sort of unsung heroes one goes to when one wants a bit of help with these things and they are always unfailingly and speedily on hand with assistance. Richard, for example, delves into his database at all hours of the day for the kind of information that is essential but often difficult to access. So thanks to them.

108693-2In related news, prolific Doctor Who extra Terence Denville, who had a pretty busy career as a character actor on stage and played small roles on TV (he received his only onscreen credit on Doctor Who as a Cyberman in The Invasion but was also an Ice Warrior in The Monster Of Peladon amongst other non-speaking bits) passed away in October.  Those of you fascinated by the political affiliations of minor Doctor Who actors may be interested to know that he stood for parliament for the National Front a few times. A friend who worked with him said that he had never mentioned it on the many times they had spent together in dressing rooms but there we go.

P1320684Finally, I was sad to find out about the death – aged 79 – of stuntman Roy Street who worked on a few Doctor Whos (Terror Of The Autons, The Curse Of Peladon, The Masque Of Mandragora) but whose impressive list of credits outshine Saturday teatime television and bestride the movie industry. I use “bestride” advisedly as he was an excellent rider and could steer two horses at once – standing with one foot on the saddle of each one and taking both pairs of reins. He could also be relied on to do driving and motorcycling and his impressive list of credits includes lots of James Bonds (including as recently as Skyfall), lots of Sharpes and comes right up to date with Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

His old buddy Derek Martin – Charlie Slater in Eastenders no less – told me: “He taught me riding, he taught me how to pull horses over. He was great. He went to Italy to film The Borgias to do his horse trick down a hill. Anyway, he got there and it turned out they wanted him to ride two horses who were shod, bear back, on cobbles. And – typical of Roy – he did it.

“Funny with Roy – whatever job he was on the first thing he’d ask about was “What about laundry money?”. Say it was even two grand a week he’d say “Does that include laundry money”. Laundry money! It’d only be about 7’6″ but he’d still want to know if it was included. Ha! He was a good man though, a good man.”

Thanks to Derek for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his stories with me.