Archive for February, 2009

Cleggy At The Customs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2009 by Andrew T. Smith

Today I fulfilled a bit of a dream of mine and got to meet Clegg from Last of the Summer Wine! That is to say I met the very talented and charmingly modest Peter Sallis. The occasion was An Audience With Peter Sallis at South Shield’s Customs House. Along with me was the cravat-wearing bohemian, Bob Fischer who poses with me in the photo below.


Despite being famous mainly for two roles – Norman Clegg from Last of the Summer Wine and Wallace from the animated Wallace and Gromit films – Sallis has had an amazingly varied career and was able to regale the theatre audience with tales of Orson Welles, Patrick McGoohan, Sir John Gieldgud and Dame Edith Evans amongst others. The second half of the show was given over to audience questions and so Bob and I, being the sad, sad people that we are, had to ask about his appearance in the 1960s Doctor Who story, The Ice Warriors. In response he told a very funny story about having to work with, and feign terror at, a baby bear when the scripted adult Grizzley proved too dangerous and expensive to have in the studio. 

After a two hour show the 88 year old still had enough energy to do a signing. Upon meeting him Bob and I were outed as the strange men who asked the Doctor Who question. I’ve known Sallis on television since I was very little so it was fantastic to have a chance to see him in person and find out he’s a very nice man.


All Quiet on the Home Front

Posted in Ramblings, Sites of Interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by Andrew T. Smith

Despite the amazing longevity of  Dad’s Army it is still easy to forget just how popular the series was during the mid 1970s. Nine television series, a radio series, children’s annuals, comic strips, jigsaws and even a feature film were available to keen audiences during the sitcom’s heyday. But perhaps the crowning achievement for the cast and the writing team of Perry and Croft, was the stage show which toured Britain during 1975 and ’76.  

I can only imagine the thrill of sitting in a packed theatre and seeing my favourite television characters appear for real in front of me. Fortunately for those of us who weren’t around for this run an LP was produced by Warner Records in 1975 featuring the full original cast. I have only just got around to listening to the recording and although an oddly disjointed beast it captures the spirit of the series with broader strokes than were ever possible on television.

One scene that particularly interested me was this introduction the show’s closing number. Set just after VE day it sees Captain Mainwaring and the platoon reflecting on their years of service. The final episode of the television series had no such closure, ending on a charmingly low key note with the wedding of Corporal Jones. It made historical sense to close the series before the end of the war as Britain’s Home Guard were disbanded in 1944 following the successful D-Day landings. Because of this the scene answers a question the series never did – How did Mainwaring and platoon react to the dissolution of the home guard? The answer would seem to be that they kept watching over their sleepy sea-side town in an unofficial capacity until the moment the allied troops captures Berlin. It may seem silly at first but somehow it feels right.


Have You Ever Seen A Wild Boar?

Posted in Marx Brothers with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2009 by Andrew T. Smith

Here is a clip from the television show The Hollywood Palace hosted by Groucho Marx. Margaret Dumont guests and together they re-stage one of their earliest outings from the stage show Animal Crackers. Dumont died shortly after recording this performance lending the performance an extra layer of unintended pathos. With this in mind it’s very gratifying to see her clearly enjoying herself and being afforded such a warm round of applause from the audience. Groucho too is on top form here, it’s just a shame he didn’t don the greasepaint mustache.