News

Robert Chetwyn obituary

Theatre and television director who nurtured stars and dazzled audiences

There are few stage directors whose work, at the highest level, encompasses the plays of Joe Orton and William Douglas-Home, Tom Stoppard, and Hugh and Margaret Williams. Robert Chetwyn, who has died aged 85, embraced them all; he marked them with a gift for casting and an application of dazzling theatrical sheen.

He fired the rocket that was Terence Frisby’s There’s a Girl in My Soup (1966); it ran for six and a half years, establishing Michael Codron as a commercial producer, and was eclipsed in longevity only by No Sex Please, We’re British (1971) and Ray Cooney’s Run for Your Wife (1983). It was an ebullient farce inspired by one of the first television chefs – Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet from Down Under – and starring Donald Sinden, Barbara Ferris and Jon Pertwee. Chetwyn even provided the play’s title
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Herbert Lom obituary

Czech-born actor best known as Inspector Clouseau's crazed boss in the Pink Panther films

Herbert Lom, who has died aged 95, spent more than 50 years in dramatic roles, playing mostly smooth villains, but he was best known for his portrayal of Charles Dreyfus, the hysterically twitching boss of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) in the series of slapstick Pink Panther comedies. "Give me 10 men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world," blurts out the bewildered Dreyfus in A Shot in the Dark (1964).

Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru was born into an impoverished aristocratic family in Prague. He studied philosophy at Prague University, where he organised student theatre. In 1939, on the eve of the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, he arrived in Britain with his Jewish girlfriend, Didi, but she was sent back at Dover because she did not have the correct papers. Her subsequent death in a concentration
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

James Grout obituary

Stage and screen actor best known for his role as Chief Superintendent Strange in Inspector Morse

James Grout, who has died aged 84, was a supporting actor of authority and distinction best known on television for playing Inspector Morse's boss, Chief Superintendent Strange, as well as a gallery of prominent characters in other much-loved series. He was the flustered party whip in Yes Minister; a blunt-speaking judge, Ollie Oliphant, in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey; and an affluent, slightly dodgy businessman, Mr McAllister, in Alan Plater's The Beiderbecke Affair.

Tall and increasingly rotund as he grew older, Grout had an immensely wide-ranging career on stage, radio and television for more than 50 years. He was renowned for having a great voice, noted by the critic Harold Hobson in 1950 when, as a graduating Rada student, Grout recited from Don Marquis's The Dark Hours – words, said Hobson, that "seemed
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

From the archive, 27 April 1982: Celia Johnson's exquisite artistry

Nicholas de Jongh pays tribute to the Brief Encounter star

Celia Johnson died in her prime - at the age of 73. There was no other actress on the English stage whose career reached its zenith, a luminous Indian summer on both stage and television, in middle and old age. She defined to perfection a social type occupying the entrenched territories of middle and upper-middle class gentility, whose crisp, understated manners and stringent lack of sentimentality she conveyed to the manner born.

Yet she did not simply serve as a comprehensive guide-book to or map of a contracting portion of England. She incarnated qualities both of restraint and of passion; she knew everything about high English comedy whose airs of distraction and self-absorbed remoteness she conveyed so sharply in Coward's Hay Fever and Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking; more surprisingly she was able in old age to act indelibly roles of high tragic velocity and pathos,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Richard Pearson obituary

Distinctive actor often cast as harassed establishment figures

It was the destiny of the actor Richard Pearson, who has died aged 93, to be remembered for his role in one of the most famous theatrical failures of modern times: what you might call a flop d'estime. In 1958, he was the original Stanley in Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party. After a short, highly successful provincial tour, the play was critically slaughtered when it opened at the Lyric Hammersmith in London in May 1958. In all, Pearson enjoyed a fruitful career spanning around 70 years, often playing harassed establishment figures, but it was Stanley that he always listed as one of his favourite parts. He reprised the role in an ITV production in 1960.

With his high-pitched voice and crestfallen features, Pearson conveyed Stanley's baffled vulnerability. As Harold Hobson, the play's sole critical champion in 1958, wrote in the Sunday Times: "Pearson's Stanley, excellent throughout, is
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Anna Massey obituary

Award-winning actor with a fastidious intelligence and a hint of inner steel

Anna Massey, who has died of cancer aged 73, made her name on the stage as a teenager in French-window froth. She then graduated, with effortless and extraordinary ease, to the classics and to the work of Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and David Hare. In later years, she became best known for her award-winning work in television and film. What constantly impressed was her fastidious intelligence and capacity for stillness: always the mark of a first-rate actor.

Born in Thakeham, West Sussex, she was bred into show business although, in personal terms, that proved something of a mixed blessing. Her father was Raymond Massey, a Canadian actor who achieved success in Hollywood; her mother was Adrianne Allen who had appeared in the original production of Noël Coward's Private Lives. Anna's godfather was the film director John Ford.

Since
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Anna Massey obituary

Award-winning actor with a fastidious intelligence and a hint of inner steel

Anna Massey, who has died of cancer aged 73, made her name on the stage as a teenager in French-window froth. She then graduated, with effortless and extraordinary ease, to the classics and to the work of Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and David Hare. In later years, she became best known for her award-winning work in television and film. What constantly impressed was her fastidious intelligence and capacity for stillness: always the mark of a first-rate actor.

Born in Thakeham, West Sussex, she was bred into show business although, in personal terms, that proved something of a mixed blessing. Her father was Raymond Massey, a Canadian actor who achieved success in Hollywood; her mother was Adrianne Allen who had appeared in the original production of Noël Coward's Private Lives. Anna's godfather was the film director John Ford.

Since
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Nicholas Selby obituary

A familiar face on TV and a stage actor at the cutting edge

Nicholas Selby, who has died aged 85, was, in many ways, the archetypal supporting actor: dependable, grave and imposing while emitting a sense of authoritarian decency, courtesy and old school charm. And yet, although he was a familiar face on television, playing majors, judges and elderly peers – and a chief constable in the long-running late-1960s police series Softly Softly – he was linked with radical theatre work at the Royal Court and the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was one of the earliest associate artists.

Selby was, in fact, an old-fashioned socialist, hailing from a working-class family in Holborn, central London, where his father worked for a rubber company. The family lived above a cinema, where young James (he later changed his name at the behest of Equity), the youngest of three, watched all the new releases free of charge.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Is the age of the critic over?

Critics reflect on how social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and myDigg, fit into the perennial debate on cultural elitism

Miranda Sawyer, broadcaster and Observer radio critic: 'Twitter has made it easier for critics to hear other people's opinions. Even then, though, you tend to hear similar views to your own'

When I was writing for the Face, during the 1990s, I went to interview some boy racers: young lads who spent all their money souping up their cars in order to screech around mini roundabouts or rev their engines in supermarket car parks until their tyres smoked. The kids asked me who I was writing for. When I said the Face – a magazine that prided itself on representing all aspects of British youth interests – every single one of them replied: "Never heard of it."

The point is that most people – especially those outside the high-culture capital of London – are
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

See also

Credited With | External Sites