Tag Archives: Nicholas Courtney

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.

Interview, Wit, A Vampire

Well now, I haven’t posted much for a while as I’ve been frightfully busy at the keyboard as it is. I’m a reluctant writer, having to grind stuff out in between coming up with everything I can think of  to provide maximum procrastination value; eating, aphabeticising my CDs, watching – God help me – V, and now … well, I’m only doing this to avoid the myriad of pressing things that are on deadline.

Anyway, Now I Know My BBC is hitting the road in April – I may have to see how much of it I can remember. Visitors to the forthcoming gigs in Leeds and Bath, make sure you look out for the number of dramatic pauses with which I augment my latest magnum opus. It’ll have absolutely nothing to do with not having done the show since August, honest guv. I’ve added a few more topical jokes to it in the past few weeks though, so it should be fresh and fun.

I’ve really settled into compering The 99 Club in Leicester Square every Wednesday. The mighty Jack Dee has popped down a couple of times to try some new stuff for a forthcoming tour, which has been rather exciting. XS Malarkey is still settling into its new venue, though numbers are a little down. Seeing as we’ve had Alun Cochrane and Sarah Millican as surprise guests and Dave Johns, Jason Cook and Paul Tonkinson as official ones, hopefully we’ll get into the comedy groove properly as punters realise what a fantastic gig is on their doorstep. Fallowfield seems to be having the life sucked out of it : we’re doing to ensure it isn’t allowed to die. Or become a vampire.

Losses this month have included the legndary Nicholas Courtney, well known to fans the world over as Doctor Who’s Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. I had the privilege of working with Nick a few times and he was always a courteous, charming man whose quintessential good manners and utmost decency endeared him to generations who knew him either on or off screen (or, for the lucky ones like me, both). Michael Gough also passed away having been a stalwart of screens both big and small for decades. I was very flattered to be asked to supply the obituaries for both men in The Guradian.

This month sees the release of Revisitations 2 on DVD. Special Editions of three Doctor Who classics, I feature on all of them. There’s a little sliver of narration from me on the “Making Of” documentary of the Troughton story The Seeds Of Death, a heftier vocal in the best commentary track I’ve been involved on to date, on Carnival Of Monsters, and (be warned) in the flesh presenting Ed Stradling’s Casting Far And Wide documentary where it was my pleasure to interview five actors (Roger Davenport, Del Henney, Leslie Grantham, Jim Findley and William Sleigh) about not just Doctor Who, but their careers as a whole. This latter piece is on Disc One of the Resurrection Of The Daleks Special Edition.

Add to that BBC 7’s forthcoming adaptation of Elidor, two performances for Big Finish, and loads of editing on Running Through Corridors Vol 2 and I’ve barely had a moment. So excuse the lack of links on this blog – further details on anything here that may be of interest can be found on the website proper (which has had a bit of an update and tidy).

In the meantime, here’s a lengthy interview I did plugging the tour of Now I Know My BBC on Radio Teesdale thanks to excellent presenter Peter Dixon, who seems adept at getting me tongue wagging.

Interview

Oh, and a website interview here:

The Peverett Phile

Happy Times And Places.

Got to dash, loads of writing to do … after I’ve made a cuppa, then checked my e-mails, then, um … hoovered the lawn and descaled the kettle … and made a To Do list … downloaded Masterchef … successfully practiced alchemy whilst finding the Dead Sea Scrolls …