Digressions in British comedy and acting and a sad death in Los Angeles

I went to Hastings on Friday for the first of Vivienne and Martin Soan’s monthly Pull the Other One comedy shows there. They now have monthly Pull The Other One shows in Peckham, Herne Hill and Hastings. One laughing audience member came out at the end saying:

“I haven’t seen so many naked men since… well, I don’t think I ever have…”

I guess that will inevitably happen when you have Martin Soan, Bob Slayer and Dr Brown in among fully-clothed Simon MunnerySol Bernstein and Charmian Hughes, who tells me she is not (as I thought) giving up her sand dance just at the very point when she is thinking of performing next year in Australia – a land not short of sand.

Australia has sand the way my blogs can sometimes have digressions.

Nay. Nay. Thrice nay. Charmian tells me she is not giving up her sand dance but will be “rationing it due to the erotic pandemonium in unleashes on unsuspecting audience ‘members’.”

She will instead occasionally replace it in her stage routine with the ‘dance of the seven cardigans’.

The real highlight for me of trekking through Friday night traffic to get to Pull The Other One, though, was chatting off-stage to actor and now film-maker Robin Hayter, a man of inexhaustible and fascinating anecdotes.

His ubiquitous father James Hayter starred in BBC TV’s first ever sitcom Pinwright’s Progress in 1946-1947, seemed to be in every British feature film of my childhood and is perhaps most fondly remembered as the definitive on-screen Mr Pickwick in The Pickwick Papers and as the original actor who declared in TV ad voice-overs that “Mr Kipling make exceedingly fine cakes”.

I had not known that James Hayter appeared in a regular role in BBC TV sitcom Are You Being Served? nor that the Mr Kipling cake people paid him a very large sum of money indeed to drop out of the show because they felt it was too down-market a series and his appearances in it might devalue his dignified voice-overs in what they saw as their up-market cakes’ ads.

It also turned out that Robin Hayter and I had both worked with the wonderful David Rappaport. Robin was a fan of ‘Green Nigel’, the character David performed as a piss-take of children’s TV show Blue Peter when I worked on the final series of anarchic TV show Tiswas.

David Rappaport was a very highly intelligent man; a friendly, kind person and a charismatic actor who appeared in Time Bandits and many other movies. I never saw his appearances in his own US TV series The Wizard but, apparently, he was wonderful.

Like Robin Hayter, I was very shocked and very sad, when I heard that he had shot himself, depressed, in Los Angeles in 1990.

Very sad.


Robin Hayter’s video ‘pitch’ for a proposed documentary movie is HERE.


Filed under Ad industry, Comedy, Movies, Television, Theatre

7 responses to “Digressions in British comedy and acting and a sad death in Los Angeles

  1. Oddly, dear Mr Fleming, for tis He, was so keen to ‘cast’ me as Mr Pickwick in some fangled thingmebob tthat he was thinking about at the time, that it never crossed my mind that Mr Kipling and co might come to my rescue, sort of thing.. Ha well!

  2. Many years ago, during local carnivals in Northamptonshire, we used to do a version of the Wilson, Kepple & Betty sand dance around the streets as the parade’s went – we used a track on an old amplifier of dear Clinton Ford singing his ‘Old Bazzar in Cairo’ and this went down a storm – who said sand? – and every so often, we stopped and go the bag of sand off the float we used and stopped the parade as we sprinkled sand across the road and did the ‘dance’, dressed in nightshirts and fez’s made from plastic flower pots ( oh the fun each time we went into the local garden centre and stand in the flower pot section measuring our heads to see which was the best fit! – happy daze indeed..) but our surprise gag was the bit where we walked along the road carry a golf course flag an a bag of clubs and after sussing out which was ‘ideal’, we lifted a manhole cover and hit a ball down the manhole as in using the hole as our ’18th hole’, much to everybody’s amusemant and amazement ( I had gone out late at night and measured the size of the manhole key slots along the road from where we lived and made a set of our own manhole lifting keys as it was eot the sort of thing you could buy in the local hardware shop..) but do bear in mind this was in the mid 1960’s and we did it over a course, on and off, four or five times and it always went down a storm each time with the public at large watching and we even repeated the Sand Dance i assorted wroking mens’ clubs for a donation to charity on the Friday nights before the Saturday parade in assorted towns..

    • Hemmingford Stanley Barnes

      Yes indeed no proper punctuation as pointed out and then when people comment Mr John Ward gets a little awkward and rather touchy. People are entitled to have their say and opinions in a supposedly democratic society.

  3. Winston Davids

    And not even a false stop Wardswurds anywhere, who ever you may be!! Sorry never heard of you whoever you are, but clearly a crash course in punctuation strongly needed. And what is it you are trying to say anyway, sorry its beyond me…..

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