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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Don’t Panic, Don’t Panic: Clive Dunn’s Wonderful Legacy

The world of showbiz was in mourning when the news broke that entertainment legend, Clive Dunn, had passed away at the grand age of 92. He may have been known primarily for his acting, but Dunn was also a talented author, artist, musician and singer – having had a number one hit Grandad, back in 1971 which he performed on Top of the Pops an amazing four times! The actor had showbusiness genuinely in his blood as he was born into a family of entertainers (one of whom was the actress who went on to become loved by millions as Ethel Skinner in Eastenders, Gretchen Franklin) and although he had trod the boards and graced the big screen since his teenage years, it was his role as Lance-Corporal Jack Jones in BBC’s Dad’s Army that made him a household name.

Dad’s Army was always on in our house when it was being shown by the Beeb as it was a firm favourite with my father and grandfather. As a child, I was less impressed because it seemed drab and dull… and about war which definitely didn’t appeal to my ‘Barbie pink’ six year old self! However I watched repeats as I got older and definitely had more respect for the humour and comedic timing than I previously had done. Just thinking about Dad’s Army brings back memories of Dad’s raucous laughter which I’m sure must have alarmed the neighbours!

Even before the role of Lance-Corporal Jones, Dunn perfected the art of playing doddering old men, which became his trademark. Therefore it may come as a huge surprise to know that Dunn was not as old as people may have thought – and he was actually one of the younger cast members of Dad’s Army! That in itself is evidence of Dunn’s huge acting ability and expertise (the excellent make up and wardrobe department need to get a mention too!) He is also well known for the character Charlie Quick in the late 1970s series Grandad (this brings back very vague memories so I really have to look this up.)

Today, we live in a world which celebrates celebrity rather than talent. Where young girls aspire to be WAGs and where you’re considered a star if you’ve slapped someone senseless on a tacky reality TV show. However Dunn came from an era where in order to be an entertainer you had to have skill, talent and be dedicated to continually improving your craft. Let’s hope that there will come a time in the future where talent counts for more than celebrity.

R.I.P Clive Dunn. Thanks for the laughter.

 

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Gone Too Soon

 

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Dear John: Unforgettable… But Sadly Forgotten!

IDF ever there was a prize for the most underrated TV sitcom of all time, never mind gold, Dear John, would win platinum every time! Despite being the brainchild of the legendary John Sullivan, Dear John is something of a forgotten gem. Today, Dear John conjures up images of Channing Tatum’s bare torso but back in 1986 before anyone had even glimpsed such delights, it was compulsive Sunday evening viewing with a catchy, bittersweet theme tune.

 

                                                        

The show’s title refers to break-up letters sent by girls to their soon-to-.be ex-boyfriends – although for years, I thought ‘Dear John’ letters got their name from the show! Middle aged and recently divorced school teacher, John Lacey, is the show’s reluctant hero forced to start his life over again after his wife runs off with his best friend. With his love rival taking residence in the former marital home with his family, John is forced to find lodgings in a dingy bedsit, where his encounters with his eccentric, elderly landlady, Mrs. Lemenski lead to moments of great hilarity.

However John’s unlikely saviour arrives in the form of a group for the divorced and separated: The 1-2-1 Club. Chaired by the overbearing Louise “Were there ever any sexual problems?” Williams, the club consists of a group of unhappy, lonely misfits: The frosty, thrice married Kate; geeky Ralph with the runaway wife; insecure Eric /Kirk St. Moritz; Sylvia with the irritating laugh and transvestite ex husband and quiet, dowdy Mrs. Arnott.

 
                                        

It’s understandable why viewers warmed to this comedy masterpiece from it’s very first episode. Sullivan incorporated the themes of loss, heartbreak and middle aged loneliness with great sensitivity and humour. There are many touching and poignant moments where we see the characters evolve and bond, being supportive of one another despite their flaws and differences. Ralph Bates was outstanding in his realistic portrayal as the too-damn-nice yet downtrodden John. There was something about his hangdog expression that made viewers feel genuine sympathy for his character’s plight. Viewers lived in hope of John overcoming his adversities and adversaries but sadly it was not to be as the sitcom was cancelled after two series due to Bates’ untimely death – although the American version endured a lot longer.

Watching episodes of the show in my adulthood has brought back a barrage of great memories and has been a real revelation of how great this sitcom is. Fashion aside, there is nothing dated about this show: the jokes are still funny; the characters are believable and the sensitive social issues are still in existence today. This comedy is proof of what great writing can achieve. Such a shame they don’t make sitcoms like this any more.

And yes, I will be splashing out on the DVD collection!

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Comedy Shows

 

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