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Hazel Douglas obituary

Actor whose best known role in a seven-decade career came in a Harry Potter film in her 80s

The actor Hazel Douglas, who has died aged 92, landed her most prominent role in her 80s, when she joined the starry cast of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010), as Bathilda Bagshot, the author of A History of Magic, a textbook used at Hogwarts school, and great-aunt of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. And there were more performances to come in a stage and screen career that altogether spanned seven decades.

In the ITV series Vicious, Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi played Freddie and Stuart, a longstanding and quarrelsome couple. Hazel joined them in 2013 as Mildred, Stuart’s no-nonsense mother, failing to understand the relationship between the two men. In Elephants Can Remember, an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot from the same year with David Suchet, Zoë Wanamaker and Greta Scacchi,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Butterflies review – Carla Lane’s midlife-crisis masterpiece

Just as Lane was one of the few women to crack the male-dominated world of 70s comedy, so Butterflies gave rare subversive voice to a mature suburban woman

News of screenwriter Carla Lane’s death this week sent TV viewers of a certain age scurrying to the sitcom queen’s back catalogue: The Liver Birds, Bless This House, Bread and especially Butterflies – not just Lane’s masterpiece, but the work which has aged best by far.

Butterflies mined rare subject matter for primetime comedy: a middle-aged woman, trapped in a stale marriage, daydreaming about adultery and a more fulfilling life. Unlike its scouse creator’s other hits, it wasn’t set in gritty Liverpool, but suburban Cheltenham. It took Lane three years to convince the BBC that this unpromising “sit” could be played for laughs. Eventually she did and a winningly wistful “com” was fashioned.

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Carla Lane created funny women – because that was the norm in the 80s | Viv Groskop

In the world of 1980s television, female characters and writers were everywhere. What’s gone wrong?

The first thing you think of in Carla Lane’s work? The characters. Beryl and Sandra in The Liver Birds with their massive, thatched-roof fringes and false eyelashes and puffy baker boy hats (Polly James and Nerys Hughes). Ma Nellie Boswell (Jean Boht) and our Aveline (Melanie Hill) in Bread, with voices that could strip paint and withering looks that could castrate a man at 20 paces. Wendy Craig as the stifled housewife Ria in Butterflies, simmering underneath a page-boy haircut that was so smooth it looked as if it had been polished like a billiard ball. These characters all happen to be women. All Carla Lane’s comedies put the women at the centre of things, and no one particularly mentioned it, or not that you’d notice. Quite right, too.

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Carla Lane obituary: celebrated writer of TV sitcoms

Comedy writer known as much for her animal rights activism as for television hits including The Liver Birds, Butterflies and Bread

One day Carla Lane saw her cleaner run the Hoover over a wasp that was crawling across the carpet of her Liverpool home. She was scandalised. “How could you?” she exploded. In her 2006 autobiography, Someday I’ll Find Me, Lane recounted what happened next.

She emptied the vacuum cleaner bag on to some newspaper. “And there it was, alive and well – a little blob of dust with legs. I brushed it down and set it on the floor and let it go into a dark corner to recover.” She was so moved by the episode that she wrote an article for the local radio station called Love Me, Love My Wasp. It was one of her first published works. Lane, who has died aged 87, went on to become one
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Former Brookside actor to be Thomas the Tank Engine narrator

Brookside actor Mark Moraghan is to become the next famous Liverpudlian to narrate the popular children's TV show

Thomas the Tank Engine has a new narrator as the former Brookside actor Mark Moraghan becomes the voice of the show. He follows Ringo Starr and Michael Angelis and continues the programme's association with a Liverpudlian accent.

Moraghan, 50, who has also appeared in Heartbeat and Holby City as well as Celebrity MasterChef, will be heard when Thomas and Friends begins a new series on Channel 5 on 3 June. He has become the voice of the programme in all English language territories including the Us.

The first series of 26 stories premiered in September 1984 on ITV in the UK, with Starr as storyteller and Mr Conductor in the first and second season. From 1991 to 1993 George Carlin replaced Starr as both the storyteller and as Mr Conductor for the American version of the show. He continued
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Pauline Collins: from Shirley Valentine to Dustin Hoffman

Pauline Collins has just had another big break – playing an ex-opera singer with dementia in Dustin Hoffman's directing debut. She talks to Simon Hattenstone about her mother, escaping Shirley Valentine – and the baby she gave up

"Surprises," says Pauline Collins. "That's what I love about this business. Even at my age, you can get surprises." The surprise in question was a request from Dustin Hoffman to star in Quartet, his debut as a director. "I thought, he doesn't even know me." And actually he didn't. But Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay had recommended her, and Hoffman watched her give an interview on the red carpet for some movie event and decided he wanted her.

He phoned her and they chatted for two hours, and then he offered her the part. Collins plays Cissy, a former opera singer with vascular dementia living in a home for retired musicians, in this gentle,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Pauline Collins: from Shirley Valentine to Dustin Hoffman

Pauline Collins has just had another big break – playing an ex-opera singer with dementia in Dustin Hoffman's directing debut. She talks to Simon Hattenstone about her mother, escaping Shirley Valentine – and the baby she gave up

"Surprises," says Pauline Collins. "That's what I love about this business. Even at my age, you can get surprises." The surprise in question was a request from Dustin Hoffman to star in Quartet, his debut as a director. "I thought, he doesn't even know me." And actually he didn't. But Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay had recommended her, and Hoffman watched her give an interview on the red carpet for some movie event and decided he wanted her.

He phoned her and they chatted for two hours, and then he offered her the part. Collins plays Cissy, a former opera singer with vascular dementia living in a home for retired musicians, in this gentle,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Putting the accent on comedy: why the BBC is going regional

Fired by the success of such sitcoms as Gavin & Stacey, the corporation is launching a new wave of regional comedy

Comedy shows such as The Likely LadsThe Liver Birds, Bread, Rab C Nesbitt and The Royle Family are all widely regarded as popular television classics. Character-based and filmed traditionally in the studio, they let the strong regional voices of British humour into the nation's living rooms.

Now, prompted by the success of the Anglo-Welsh sitcom Gavin & Stacey and the Dublin-set ratings hit Mrs Brown's Boys, the BBC is heralding a return to this kind of regional sitcom as a series of brand new comedy shows set in the north of England and in Scotland go into production.

Last week the corporation announced the commissioning of Hebburn, a show created by the standup comedian Jason Cook and set in the north-east. The sitcom, which will revolve around a cast
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Douglas Argent obituary

Television comedy director and producer known for Fawlty Towers, Steptoe and Son and Till Death Us Do Part

Douglas Argent, who has died aged 89, was a prolific producer and director who scored hits with Till Death Us Do Part, Steptoe and Son, Fawlty Towers and Spike Milligan's Q8 and Q9 series – all with humour that pushed the boundaries of TV comedy.

He was gifted the second series of Fawlty Towers to produce in 1979. The creation of John Cleese and Connie Booth – who had divorced since the first run, four years earlier – went on to top a British Film Institute list of the 100 best TV programmes, as voted for by industry professionals. Argent modestly insisted that its success lay in the writing. However, producers guide all those working on their programmes and his track record was impressive, particularly in the field of comedy.

Argent was born in Bexleyheath, Kent, and his parents ran ironmonger's shops.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Douglas Argent obituary

Television comedy director and producer known for Fawlty Towers, Steptoe and Son and Till Death Us Do Part

Douglas Argent, who has died aged 89, was a prolific producer and director who scored hits with Till Death Us Do Part, Steptoe and Son, Fawlty Towers and Spike Milligan's Q8 and Q9 series – all with humour that pushed the boundaries of TV comedy.

He was gifted the second series of Fawlty Towers to produce in 1979. The creation of John Cleese and Connie Booth – who had divorced since the first run, four years earlier – went on to top a British Film Institute list of the 100 best TV programmes, as voted for by industry professionals. Argent modestly insisted that its success lay in the writing. However, producers guide all those working on their programmes and his track record was impressive, particularly in the field of comedy.

Argent was born in Bexleyheath, Kent, and his parents ran ironmonger's shops.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

DS Icon: Nerys Hughes

DS Icon: Nerys Hughes
When we are deciding who should be our weekly Digital Spy Icon, sometimes we are shocked by the stars, actors and all-round entertainers that we have so far failed to honour. This week's Icon is no exception, with several members of the team gasping in horror that she hasn't already been included in our unique hall of fame. "Who is this person that has caused such drama?" I hear you ask. Her name... is Nerys Hughes! Best known for her long run in Scouse sitcom The Liver Birds with Mollie Sugden and Polly James, Nerys (more)
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

DS Icon: Mollie Sugden

Sitcom legend Mollie Sugden passed away yesterday, following a long battle with illness. The Yorkshire-born star first found fame in Liverpool-based comedy The Liver Birds as Mrs Hutchinson, but it wasn't until she took the role of snooty purple-rinsed Mrs Slocombe in 1972 that she really captured the public's imagination. Thanks to a seemingly never-ending list of double entendre gags about her "pussy" Tiddles, she provided comedy gold for millions of viewers of Are You Being Served? for 13 years. Double-teaming with camp co-star John Inman, she turned a dreary '70s British sitcom into a saucy delight. During her pomp, Sugden starred in pretty (more)
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

British Actress Sugden Dies

Beloved British TV actress Mollie Sugden has died, aged 86.

The TV star passed away in hospital in Surrey, England on Wednesday after a long running illness, according to her agent.

Her twin sons Robin and Simon were by her bedside.

Sugden shot to fame in Brit sitcom Are You Being Served? in 1972 and appeared in a string of other television shows, including The Liver Birds and long-running soap opera Coronation Street.

David Croft, one of the Are You Being Served? writers, remembers the actress as a "marvellous character" who loved to make people laugh.

He says, "She would never refuse any sort of comedy situation, no matter how undignified it was she would always go along with it. She was marvellously funny."

Sugden is survived by her two sons and several grandchildren.

Dad's Army Star Bean Dies

Dad's Army Star Bean Dies
Dad's Army star Colin Bean has died at the age of 82.

The British actor played Private Sponge in the long running wartime sitcom, appearing in every episode between 1968 and 1977.

The star spent the last years of his life at a care home in Springfield, England and passed away at an infirmary in Wigan on Saturday.

Bean's career also included appearances in other British shows such as The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served? and Hi-de-Hi!

His last public appearance came at a meeting of the Dad's Army Appreciation Society last year.

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