Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Kenneth Gilbert 1931-2015 : Douglas Camfield regular dies

KENNETH GILBERT DIES AGED 84

Kenneth Gilbert as Richard Dunbar in The Seeds Of Doom.
Kenneth Gilbert as Richard Dunbar in The Seeds Of Doom.

Kenneth Gilbert, who played World Ecology Bureau official Richard Dunbar in the Tom Baker classic The Seeds Of Doom (1976) has died at the age of 84. Prematurely grey and with distinguished granite features, he often played authority figures, although the one he portrayed in Doctor Who found himself on the wrong side of the fence. Dissatisfied with seeing “non-entities” promoted in his place he sells the location of the Krynoid seed pod to eccentric millionaire Harrison Chase and so initiates a chain of events which nearly results in mankind’s consumption by lethal alien vegetation. He has an attack of conscience and tries to remedy the situation, leading to Chase’s famous instruction to his underling – “Scorby – get Dunbar”. Scorby doesn’t get him but the Krynoid does, and the civil servant perishes in the climax of episode four. It’s a strong performance from Gilbert who maintains a stoical dignity even when selling his soul: he had a gift for subtle underplaying which lent his characters a touch of class and made him such an essential actor for character parts.

Born in Devon in 1931, Gilbert’s early stage work included a 1957/58 stint with what was to become the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre playing (amongst others) Balthazar in Romeo And Juliet (with Richard Johnson and Dorothy Tutin), Valentine in Twelfth Night and the Priest to Michael Redgrave’s Hamlet. He stayed at Stratford for the following season playing opposite Charles Laughton’s King Lear and Paul Robeson’s Othello.

He was the principal actor at Pitlochry’s 1975 season playing Solness in The Master Builder and Richard in On Approval. For the Old Vic he  toured in Henry VI Parts I and II and Henry V (1974-1975) and played the key role of Enobarbus opposite Alec McCowen’s Antony in their 1977-1978 Antony And Cleopatra (Derek Jacobi was Caesar). Other theatre work included St Joan  with Eileen Atkins (Prospect Theatre 1977), Judge Brack to Joanna Lumley’s Hedda Gabler (Dundee 1985), Boyet in Love’s Labours Lost (Ipswich, 1992) and the title role in The Wizard Of Oz (for the RSC at the Theatre Royal, Bath 1994-1995).

Gilbert was often seen in uniform, including in this episode of The Sweeeney.
Gilbert was often seen in uniform, including in this episode of The Sweeeney.

He was a familiar face on television, appearing on the small screen as early as 1953 in The Heir Of Skipton. He kept busy throughout the 1950s and by 1961 was playing opposite William Russell’s Hamlet. Prominent roles included Friar Tuck in Wolfshead: The Legend Of Robin Hood (1969) and Harold Earle in House Of Cards and To Play The King (1990/93) and these were augmented by countless guest parts in everything from No Hiding Place (1963) to Hustle (2011) via Callan (1969), The Mind Of Mr JG Reader (1971), Crown Court (1973),  Edward VII (1975), The Changes (1975), The New Avengers (1976), Testament Of Youth (1979), Enemy At the Door (1980),  The Gentle Touch (1981), Cracker (1995) and Midsommer Murders (2003) often playing policemen, doctors or authority figures. He could consider himself to be one of Douglas Camfield’s rep of actors and worked with the acclaimed director many times including on The Sweeney (1976) and Ivanhoe (1982) : Camfield liked casting actors he knew could do the job and wouldn’t need too much direction, so his continued use of Gilbert can be taken as a mark of his quality. Gilbert also had an underused gift for comedy as well as a natural authority which mad him so useful to at bringing presence and watchability to potentially dull roles.

Kenneth Gilbert recalling The Seeds Of Doom for the BBC DVD release.
Kenneth Gilbert recalling The Seeds Of Doom for the BBC DVD release.

He almost didn’t make it into Doctor Who. As he recalled many years later “I rang the production office and said ‘Look, I think I’ve caught my daughter’s chicken pox.'” He thought this would involve taking a couple of days off but under doctor’s orders was out of action for several weeks. He could easily have lost the job but instead the studio schedule was altered to accommodate his absence – a great deal of trouble and expense in order to retain the services of an actor deemed vital to the success of the production.

He married the actress Beth Harris in 1966 and the couple lived in East Anglia for many years. She predeceased him, passing away in 2012. Kenneth Gilbert died on October 29th.

Who’s Round episode 143

TOBY HADOKE’S WHO’S ROUND EPISODE 143

imageI am a bit pleased with myself about this one. I had done a DVD documentary about this particular story which brought me into contact with many of its first cast. It would have been easy for me to call one of them. But the thing is, the interviews I had done were already in the Who’s Round mould. Time was running out though, and bizarrely there were three consecutive stories from this period that I had failed to cover.

But…

I thought I’d give it a go and instead of calling one of those actors I knew and whom I could access because they were based in London I’d instead contact someone who didn’t know me from Adam and who lived in a different continent.

And he presto – this is the result. Enjoy it here:

http://www.bigfinish.com/podcasts/v/toby-hadoke-s-who-s-round-142-october-03

 

 

 

 

Neville Jason RIP – “Androids Of Tara” actor dies

Neville Jason, who died recently.
Neville Jason, who died recently.

Neville Jason, the actor who played Prince Reynart in the 1978  Tom Baker story The Androids Of Tara has died. His good looks and bearing had an old fashioned and regal quality that made him perfect casting for the prince, a part that also required him to perform as an occasionally malfunctioning android. The serial is rather splendidly acted and whilst the likes of Peter Jeffrey and Declan Mulholland have all the fun, Jason does a fine job of giving lustre to a potentially dull part: and his innate poise and effortless charm are spot on, fulfilling exactly the needs of director Michael Hayes.

The Androids Of Tara was written to ape The Prisoner Of Zenda, which had first been adapted for film in 1937 “Michael cast me as Prince Reynart because The Prisoner Of Zenda starred Ronald Colman and Michael thought if I put on a pencil moustache I’d look like Ronald Colman,” he recalled years later. His role required that he share the screen with Mary Tamm’s as Romana. “Neville was very good in the part,” she felt “because he had that romantic hero look which was essential. He was lovely, very nice to work with.”

As Prince Reynart in The Androids Of Tara.
As Prince Reynart in The Androids Of Tara.

Co-star Paul Lavers who played his bodyguard swordsman Farrah remembered him with great affection. “He was a gentlemen: he was like a breed of actor that I’d read about – terribly, terribly well spoken, effete and very well read. He was just a joy to be with.”

Jason trained at RADA where his voice work was noted early and he received the diction prize from Sir John Gielgud: this was to stand him in good stead throughout his career. He has walk-on roles during the 1957/58 season at the RSC, carrying spears for the likes of John Neville’s Hamlet and touring with Laurence Olivier’s Titus Andronicus before joining Birmingham Rep. Other theatre roles included such romantic leads as John Worthing in The Importance of Being Ernest, Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, and Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac. He also appeared in a number of musicals.

On television he was Horatio to Barry Foster’s Hamlet (1961) and played regular roles such as Lapointe opposite Rupert Davies as Maigret (1960-63 – on which he first met Michael Hayes) and Mr Bob Turner in Emergency Ward 10 (1965). Hefty roles after Doctor Who included and Malcolm Penny in Goodbye Darling (1981) and hitman Constant Delangre in Skorpion (1983).  Other TV work included Dixon Of Dock Green (1966), Barlow (1974/75), Churchill’s People (1975), Warship (1976), Armchair Thriller: Rachel In Danger (1978), Minder (1984), The Tripods (1985) and Adrain Shergold’s TV film Ahead Of The Class (2005) with Julie Walters. He also appeared on the big screen in the Bond film From Russia With Love (1963) and Ridley Scott’s big screen debut The Duellists (1977).

A2006He had great success as an audiobook narrator. He recorded the whole of War And Peace, an epic which came in at 70 hours upon completion. The Washington Post described him as “the audiobook world’s unofficial marathon man”. And no wonder: he was a huge aficionado of Proust and abridged and recorded the whole of the massive Remembrance Of Things Past, even translating the last volume himself. The result is a 150 hour long recording available on 120 CDs. His credits as an audiobook reader were extensive and award winning, and some of those that he directed won Talkie Awards. His voice was also put to good use as a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company on three occasions and latterly he lent his tones to computer games as well.

He also co-wrote The Sculpture of Frank Dobson: his wife Gillian had opened a gallery in their Camden home in the early 1980s and still works selling modern British art and advising galleries. She survives him.

Neville Jason 1934-2015

With thanks to Malcolm Franks.

Duncan Brown 1941-2015 RIP – Doctor Who lighting man dies

TOM BAKER ERA LIGHTING DESIGNER AND MUCH ADMIRED “GENIUS” PASSES AWAY AT HOME.

Lighting man Duncan Brown who has died.
Lighting man Duncan Brown who has died.

Duncan Brown, the highly respected BBC studio lighting designer who worked on four Doctor Who stories has died – this news comes just after the airing of a new series episode that could be seen as a sequel to his very first credit  on the show, the hugely acclaimed Genesis Of the Daleks (1975).

Brown was one of the finest lighting directors to have worked on the series. Genesis Of The Daleks benefits hugely from his creation of an alien battlefield sky for the studio rendered exteriors and his use of shadowy corridors for the Daleks to advance through. His final story, The Leisure Hive (1980), is one of the most remarkable looking stories in the entire classic run, the hive itself a mixture of eerie greens and soft pinks depending on the exact location, and Brown makes great use of shadow again as the duplicitous Stimson stumbles about blindly as he is stalked by a half glimpsed Foamasi. He also lent his expertise to The Android Invasion (1975) and The Robots Of Death (1977) and features on the DVD documentary Genesis Of A Classic in which producer Philip Hinchcliffe singles his work out for special attention. Describing the production’s aim of having the Daleks emerge from the gloom and shadows Hinchcliffe reflected that “that takes a very good lighting director because that means there’s more work to be done in the studio recording time. It needs someone with an artistic sensitivity but also someone that can work quickly and do it.”

Looking back on his work, Brown admitted that “I was surprised just how good it looked. [It] stood up well”. With characteristic modesty he described his job as being one of physics and engineering and that if there was anything artistic about what he did then it came from interpreting the script. “If the writer’s pleased – that’s the most important bit.”

Duncan Brown (left) collecting a BAFTA in 1993.
Duncan Brown (left) collecting a BAFTA in 1993.

Margot Hayhoe, who worked with Brown many times over the years in her capacity as Assistant Floor Manager and Production Manager paid tribute to him today saying  “I always enjoyed working with him, he had a great sense of humour and always lit with great artistry, quickly and with no fuss. Among other shows, I mostly remember him from To Serve Them All My Days. He had a mischievous twinkle. He carried a portfolio of screen shots of his work compared with prints of Old Masters which he used as reference. As the saying in lighting went for many LD’s ‘Everyone a Rembrandt’. One of my great regrets when most of the Dramas I worked on became all film productions was the fact that I was unable to work with such a delightful person.”

Producer Albert Barber (Grange Hill) who first worked with Brown on Playschool recalls: “Duncan was always kind, helpful and had a smile of encouragement whether you were green and inexperienced or older and perhaps wiser. Always a joy to work with as you knew it would be one area that you wouldn’t have to worry about and that quiet, confident style would in turn make for a good team production. He was a terrific man, mentor and professional. I liked him very much.’

Duncan Brown and Roy Gould on Oh, Doctor Beeching! : "We stood like this many times quietly contemplating a shot," says Gould.
Duncan Brown and Roy Gould on Oh, Doctor Beeching! : “We stood like this many times quietly contemplating a shot,” says Gould.

Roy Gould, director of the Brown lit Oh, Doctor Beeching! (1995-97), had worked with him many times over the years when he was AFM and production manager on many David Croft comedies : “One week he came into the David Croft’s office when I was the PM and asked me if he could try something out on the next recording of Hi-De-Hi – I said that David and I trusted him completely and to go for it. When I arrived in the studio that Friday, I looked up at the staffroom set and saw 3 or 4 bits of poly[styrene] clipped to the top of the set at various angles and some Bacofoil stapled on some of the flats. I looked at the lighting grid and noticed that he had hung just one light. When he saw me he asked his assistant to turn off the Workers and bring up the staffroom lighting – the one light came on and and its beam bounced from the Bacofoil to one bit of poly to another: the set was lit perfectly. With one lamp! Genius. Adored the man.”

The Leisure Hive - the alien nature of David Haig's Pangol is augmented the green hue of Duncan Brown's lighting.
The Leisure Hive – the alien nature of David Haig’s Pangol is augmented the green hue of Duncan Brown’s lighting.

Brown’s many other credits included Madame Bovary (1975), When The Boat Comes In (1976), The Duchess Of Duke Street (1976/77), Pinocchio (1978), Top Of The Pops (1978), Are You Being Served (1983), Eastenders (1986), Johnny Briggs (1987), Bread (1988), A Bit Of Fry And Laurie (1989), ‘Allo ‘Allo (1989), You Rang M’Lud (1988-90), The Legacy Of Reginald Perrin (1996) and Death Of A Salesman (1996).

Duncan Brown died at his Surrey home on September 14th. He is survived by his wife Kaye, their daughter, and grandchildren.

Who’s Round 136

Milton Johns Who's RoundIf Carlsberg made Afternoons Designed Specifically For Toby then I suspect they would involve collar and tie, the Garrick Club and one of the finest character players ever to grace our screens : which he has done without ever sounding a duff note in over five decades. Here he talks about his three encounters with Doctor Who and so much more, including an important stint in a key role with the actor’s union Equity which, you know, involved nipping round to Andre Morell’s house and facing down Margaret Thatcher. As you do. Part one of two is out now, here, and (as ever) totally free.

 

Toby Hadoke’s Who’s Round episode 135

And so it’s part two of my interview with fantastic production designer Roger Murray-Leach whose work I have long admired: it was a real thrill to be able to talk to him about his work on the show and – of course – his illustrious career beyond time and space. His charity is Hope & Homes For Children. As ever it is not mandatory but if everyone who listened gave a quid on behalf of this free podcast then a lot of good causes would benefit substantially without anyone having to dig too deep.

http://www.bigfinish.com/podcasts/v/toby-hadoke-s-who-s-round-135-august-05image