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That’s My Boy!

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TITLE: That’s My Boy

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United Kingdom

GENRE: Sit-com

CHANNEL: ITV

YEARS: 1981

NUMBER OF SERIES: 5 including Christmas specials

WRITTEN AND CREATED BY: Pam Valentine and Michael Ashton

  • Molly Sugden- Ida Willis
  • Christopher Blake – Dr Robert Price
  • Jennifer Lonsdale – Angie Price
  • Clare Richards – Mrs Price
  • Harold Goodwin- Wilfred Willis
  • Deddie Davis – Miss Parfitt
  • Thelma Whiteley – Mrs Cross

PLOT: No-nonsense housekeeper goes to work for a young doctor and his wife. The doctor and housekeeper have an instant dislike towards each other – until the housekeeper discovers that the doctor is the baby she gave up for adoption almost twenty eight years ago…

There are some comedies that stand the test of time and are repeated over and over again to be enjoyed by new generations of viewers. Then there are comedies that fade into obscurity and are never mentioned again. Eighties sit-com That’s My Boy is an example of a comedy show that fits into the latter category. But if anyone thinks that’s a sign that it wasn’t very good or watchable – think again!

Over the years, I was vaguely able to recall a comedy show from my childhood that featured a young married couple with an older lady, who I guessed was some kind of live-in housekeeper. However, I could never remember the name of the show, and moreover,  I’d never seen it on TV since it was first shown, and I don’t remember anyone even mentioning it. I was beginning to wonder if I’d imagined it (like so many things from my childhood!)

A few of the things that I could recall were the appearance of the married couple’s flat; that the older lady looked like  Mollie Sugden;  the husband was very handsome, and whenever I thought of this comedy, I always associated it with the colour blue! I later realised that the older lady was indeed Molly Sugden, and that the blue association was because the opening and closing credits of series one to three featured a sketch of the apartment building where the trio lived with a sky blue background and also because Mollie Sugden’s character, Ida, often wore blue.

Despite there having been five series of That’s My Boy, my memories of this sit-com were a little on the hazy side but I did think about the sit-com over the years and was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down and spend some very pleasant evenings (and weekend mornings!) watching this show all over again. I was amazed to learn that I was actually able to recall certain scenes and episodes, although I didn’t remember Wilfred or Mrs. Price, and neither did I remember the move to Yorkshire. I was also surprised to hear that it was shown on Friday nights, as for some reason, I remember That’s My Boy being shown on Sunday afternoons (?)

THE STORY SO FAR…

When Yorkshire-born Ida Willis turns up at the Muswell Hill flat belonging to Dr Robert Price and his wife Angie, a model, to work as their new housekeeper, she and Angie instantly become friends. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Ida and Robert who appear to loathe each other on sight. However all that changes one afternoon when Ida confides in Angie about the baby boy she gave up for adoption called Shane. After showing each other baby photos of Shane and Robert, Angie and Ida are dumbstruck by the realisation that the baby is one and the same – meaning that Robert is Ida’s long-lost son, Shane!

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Had this been a soap opera, this storyline would have been drawn out for several months (or years) with plenty of tears, tantrums, sobbing into bottles of wine, with shrieks of ‘you ain’t my muvva!’ once the secret was revealed but comedy handles such a heavy topic in an altogether light-hearted manner with much hilarity that doesn’t see Robert scarred of life or going on a killing spree! The realisation that they are mother and son doesn’t make them become best friends overnight. Ida tries hard to be a mother to Robert, but she still grates on him, especially when she insists on calling him by his birth-name Shane. And Ida isn’t afraid to give Robert/Shane a piece of her mind when she thinks it’s called for.

Much of the humour is provided by Ida’s wayward brother Wilfred and the power struggle between Ida and Robert’s ‘other mummy’ – his adoptive mother, Mrs Price, an upmarket widow who is as far removed from Ida as you can get. The two naturally don’t get on as they battle to become the number one  ‘mummy’ in Robert’s life, but there are times when the two have to form an alliance, especially when it’s in the best interests of their son.

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But Robert and Ida do indeed bond and it is delightful to watch their relationship develop. Robert becomes very protective of Ida and when attending the wedding of Ida’s niece, it’s really heart warming to see Robert affectionately declare Ida as his mother. What was probably slightly unusual was the relationship between Ida and her daughter-in-law, Angie. A typical situation would have seen glamorous model and actress Angie, snobby and aloof who seriously clashes with her newfound mother-in-law. But then Angie doesn’t get on with her other mother-in-law Mrs. Price so I think it was clever of the writers to create a different scenario where instead of being the archetypal interfering mother-in-law, Ida is a friend and an ally to Angie.

And later on in the fourth series, when the family leave Muswell Hill and move to Little Birchmarch in Yorkshire after Robert secures the post of village doctor, we meet the dithering Miss Parfitt, Robert’s mousy receptionist.

WHY I LOVE IT:

One thing that’s dawned on me after watching That’s My Boy! is that I seem to be a fan of sit-coms that are not considered ‘classics’ or that most people might have forgotten. Fawlty Towers, Only Fools And Horses, Open All Hours etc. are firm favourites with me and my family and are undeniably terrific, but I really do think that there’s something good and a lot of fun to be had in watching the lesser repeated comedies.

That’s My Boy is  a wonderfully pleasant comedy and one of the reasons why I think it works is because of Mollie Sugden’s immensely likable and highly amusing performance. Mollie is in good form and relies on her genius for visual expression and excellent timing. She is a wonderful actress with great screen presence and her portrayal of Ida is no exception. For most people, Sugden will always be best remembered for her role in  Are You Being Served? but it’s very easy to forget the other great roles she played with Ida being a good example with her witty one-lines and hilarious put-downs – this is a lady who has an answer for everything!

Another reason why I think That’s My Boy is fantastic is because of the rapport that Mollie Sugden has with the supporting cast and the likeable characters they play. All the characters work brilliantly together, with the supporting cast acting as a backdrop for Ida to bounce off.

I enjoyed the  warm yet amusing storylines that kept the audience laughing throughout.. I found each episode to be hilarious and enjoyable to watch.  watch them you won’t get them any more today. The theme tune may consist solely of the lyrics “that’s my boy, that’s my boy. Lalalalalalala…” the upbeat tune somehow suits the show well, and after hearing it just a couple of times, the tune will never leave your head. That could either be a great thing or an annoyance – for me it was a great thing.

I found That’s My Boy to be a very pleasant comedy but wondered how it would be received today. Certain quotes and the play on stereotypes would not be acceptable today as it would be considered racist or homophobic. And I did wonder if That’s My Boy could be considered light-hearted family entertainment with all of Robert and Angie’s saucy antics – but then again, I think today’s kids are exposed to a great deal more!

I do think it’s quite a shame that That’s My Boy never reached the great heights I feel it should have and has more or less disappeared. I also can’t understand why it was hardly ever repeated after it was first shown on TV. But I’m so glad that I discovered this little nugget of TV gold – definitely what I call comfort food television and I will most definitely be watching it again.

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Ten British TV Comedy Theme Songs We Sang Along To

The first post of 2015! yay! I hope everyone’s new year has got off to an amazing start.

One of the best things about growing up in Britain is the multitude of comedy shows that this country has produced over the years, many of which have gone on to become classics and are well known all over the world. As much as I enjoy sitcoms, comedy shows, and stand-up from any country – just as long as it’s funny – nothing beats the British sense of humour, which explains why I love so many of our sitcoms. Only Fools And Horses, Fawlty Towers, One Foot In The Grave, Keeping Up Appearances – all fantastic!

However with many shows, it’s not just the show, the characters and the actors that are memorable, but most come complete with intros, opening and closing credits and theme tunes that stick in your mind. They’ll having you singing along with the beginning and end of each show, and it’ll probably have you singing the theme song for days. I still can’t get some of these theme songs out of my head years later!

So I’ve compiled a list of ten of the most memorable theme songs from British comedy series. There are a few comedies here that have been locked away in the ‘long lost’ vault but they’ve thankfully been found and I’m sure they’ll have you going, “Oh yeah! I remember that!” And for those of you who noticed that some of your favourite theme tunes were not mentioned in Ten TV Show Theme Tunes We Loved Singing Along To, just remember there’ll be plenty more lists cropping up in the future!

1. Dear John

TITLE: Dear John

COMPOSED BY: John Sullivan (show’s writer) and Ronnie Hazelhurst

SUNG BY: Joan Baxter

YEAR: 1986

No, not the film with the delicious Channing Tatum, but the seriously underrated BBC sitcom of the 1980’s starring the late Ralph Bates as a divorcé who joins a club for the divorced and separated in the hope of making friends and finding love. Much of the humour comes from the bunch of oddballs he befriends. The Americans did a remake of this series which lasted four series but I much prefer the British version. Sorry!

Dear John is a comedy which is very dear to my heart and brings back lots of memories, not just of the show but of my childhood and the eighties in general. I recently came across some comments which stated that the theme song for Dear John was probably the most depressing and dreary of all the theme songs out there. Well now that they mention it, I suppose it is. But then when you think that the show is about a divorced man who has lost everything to his ex-wife after she ran off with his best friend and now has to live in a tiny bedsit, well we couldn’t have a theme tune that got us up and dancing now, could we? The song fits in with the ethos of the show. Because it has a 1920s feel to it, I assumed that it was a really old song but it was actually written by the show’s creator John ‘Only Fools’ Sullivan.

Fantastic song!

2. The Vicar Of Dibley

TITLE: The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)

COMPOSED BY: Howard Goodall

SUNG BY: Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

YEAR: 1994

How I love this comedy! Beginning in 1994, Dawn French is amazing as the female vicar who takes over a parish church in the heart of a rural community – and finds that many of her new parishioners have more than a few eccentricities between them. I watched the trailer for the show and thought it looked quite funny – I wasn’t wrong and I wasn’t disappointed!

When you think about The Vicar of Dibley, you think about three things: the stunning countryside; the barmy characters, and that distinctive theme tune, The Lord is my Shepherd by Howard Goodall, who has also worked on the themes for Blackadder, The Borrowers, Red Dwarf, and Mr Bean among many others. The theme song was based around Psalm 23 and was performed by the choir of Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral. Originally Goodall had composed this song as a serious piece of church choral music – it hadn’t initially been intended for use as the theme of a hit comedy show. But more than twenty years later, viewers can see that the enchanting theme song fits in beautifully with the series.

Oh, just remembered a fourth thing: the joke between Alice and Geraldine at the end of every episode!

3. Butterflies

TITLE: Love Is Like A Butterfly

SUNG BY: Clare Torry

LYRICS: Dolly Parton

YEAR: 1974

This show was a bit before my time so I don’t remember it the first time round but I do remember watching Butterflies when it was repeated. It starred Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer who were familiar faces to me, but then I saw a very young Nicholas Lyndhurst who was more than just a little familiar – he was ‘Rodders’ from Only Fools And Horses! Carla Lane’s classic sitcom focuses on a frustrated housewife and her male companion, whose friendship borders on romance, and their will-they-won’t- they antics had viewers gripped.

I had already heard the song Love Is Like A Butterfly before I realised that it was also used as the theme song for Butterflies as it happens to be one of my mother’s favourite songs and she used to sing it all the time. It was a hit in 1974 for American country music legend Dolly Parton, although the version that was used for the opening credits was recorded by British singer Clare Torry, especially for Butterflies. This version was recorded with a band conducted by well-known BBC TV composer Ronnie Hazelhurst.

4. Birds Of A Feather

TITLE: What’ll I Do?

COMPOSED BY: Irving Berlin

SUNG BY:  Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke (from third series onwards)

LYRICS: Irving Berlin

YEAR: 1923

Twenty first century kids will know Birds Of A Feather as an ITV sitcom that’s in its second series. But of course old-timers like myself will remember when the show was first shown on the BBC back in the 1980s and continued until the late nineties. Sisters Sharon and Tracy live in Tracy’s rather luxurious home in Essex while both their husbands are in prison for armed robbery. Tracy’s devastated to be separated from her Darrell, while Sharon couldn’t care less that she’s away from her errant husband Chris. It might sound like all doom and gloom but it is actually hilarious – with the girls’ man-mad neighbour providing much of the entertainment. I never missed an episode of this sitcom when I was growing up.

The show used Irving Berlin’s wonderfully moving What’ll I Do as the theme tune for the first two series. From the third series onwards, a version sung by Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson, who play Sharon and Tracy, was used.

5. Bread

TITLE: Bread Theme Song

COMPOSED BY: David Mackay

SUNG BY: The Bread Cast

LYRICS: David Mackay

Carla Lane had another hit on her hands with this classic sitcom from the 1980s. This used to be on Sunday evenings but I’m pretty certain that some series may also have been broadcast during weekday nights.

The sit-com focuses on the trials and tribulations of the Boswell family and their efforts to muddle through life with very little money – which often resulted in underhand tactics. I thought Grandad was hilarious, and the contempt of the lady from the DSS for the Boswell family was amusing

The theme song was composed by David Mackay and featured the vocals of the cast of Bread.

6. Desmond’s

TITLE: Don’t Scratch My Soca

COMPOSED BY: John Collins

SUNG BY: Norman Beaton

LYRICS: Trix Worrell

This seriously funny comedy was set in a barber shop in Peckham, owned by a Caribbean family, the Ambroses. The shop was a place for many of the local. lively and interesting characters in the show to congregate and share stories. It reminds me of the area of North-West London where I grew up. The local barber shops seemed to be the meeting point for many of the menfolk in our town, and it was very evident that there were more friends and relatives in the  shop than paying customers and it was a place where many of the male members of the community gathered together, and it had something of a social club vibe.

The theme tune was very familiar to us when we were growing up – some of my classmates knew all the words to the song. It had a soca vibe which reflected the Ambrose family’s Trinidadian roots. It was very upbeat and uplifting which reflected the liveliness of the characters and the business of the shop. There was never a dull moment at Desmond’s!

7. Streets Apart

TITLE: Streets Apart

COMPOSED BY: David Mackay

SUNG BY: Neil Lockwood

LYRICS: David Mackay

YEAR: 1988

Sylvie and Bernie were childhood sweethearts who dated and drifted apart, taking different directions in life. They meet almost twenty years later and try to pick up where they left off… but it’s not easy when you’re now different people each with a different set of circumstances.

I love this comedy written by Adrienne Conway. Almost thirty years on, it’s still very watchable – but it makes me yearn for the 1980s! It had been a long time since I first watched the show, but as soon as I heard those opening bars of the theme, it was instantly recognizable and transported me back to my childhood. The lyrics for this tender theme tune are full of longing, wistfulness and second chances. And Neil Lockwood’s amazing vocals do this song justice.

8. Just Good Friends

TITLE: Just Good Friends

COMPOSED BY: Ronnie Hazelhurst

SUNG BY: Paul Nicholas

LYRICS: John Sullivan

YEAR: 1983

Would you seriously consider being friends with your ex? Especially after he jilted you at the alter? Well that’s exactly what Penny Warrender does after her former fiancé Vince Pinner comes back into her life again. The two decide to put the past behind them and become ‘just good friends’ – but the question is, can they ever be just that?

Another one of John Sullivan’s masterpieces, it starred Jan Francis and Paul Nicholas who were huge stars in England back in the 1980s. This sitcom was a firm favourite with my parents so they would regularly tune in, and I do have memories of watching the final ever episode. Nicholas was already an established theatre actor and agreed to do the vocals for the track, written by Sullivan.

9. Watching

TITLE: What Does He see In Me?

COMPOSED BY: Charles Hart

SUNG BY: Emma Wray

LYRICS: Charles Hart

YEAR: 1987

Merseyside couple Brenda and Malcolm are very much chalk and cheese. They come from different backgrounds, have different interests, and completely different personalities. The only thing they have in common is watching: Brenda watches people; Malcolm watches people. It’s no wonder their relationship is more off than on.

I loved watching (scuse the pun!) this sitcom back in the nineties and loved the theme tune which my sister and I used to sing (quite badly!) I think the lyrics are quite fitting for the show. It sums up the fact that Brenda and Malcolm are very different, aren’t exactly consumed with lust and passion, but love each other and belong together.

 

10. Chef

TITLE: Serious Profession

COMPOSED BY: Omar

SUNG BY: Omar

LYRICS: Omar

Now here’s a sitcom I used to watch but totally forgot about! If you think Gordon Ramsay’s got a mouth on him, wait til you meet acclaimed chef, Gareth Blackstock, who struggling to balance his home life with his wife Janice and the demands of running a top restaurant, often gives in to temper tantrums in the kitchen.

The theme tune to Chef! has got to be the coolest theme tune I’ve ever heard to accompany a television show. Funky and upbeat, it’s guaranteed to get you up and dancing, not just singing along. Although of course when it features the smooth vocals of soul superstar Omar, how could it be anything other than cool?

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Comedy Shows, Name That Tune!, TV Shows

 

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OMG! 20 Years Of Friends

Genre: Sitcom
Started: 22nd September 1994
Ended: 6th May 2004
Created by: David Crane and Marta Kauffman
Series: 10
Episodes: 236
Main Cast: David Schwimmer – Ross Geller
Courtney Cox – Monica Geller
Matt LeBlanc – Joey Tribbiani
Jennifer Aniston – Rachel Green
Matthew Perry – Chandler Bing
Lisa Kudrow – Phoebe Buffay

Guest Stars: Elliot Gould – Jack Geller
Christina Pickles – Judy Geller
James Michael Tyler – Gunther
Maggie Wheeler – Janice Litman
Helen Baxendale – Emily Waltham
Tom Selleck – Richard Burke
Paul Rudd – Mike Hannigan
Jane Sibbett – Carol
Jessica Hecht – Susan

Plot: A group of six from New York who are very different in terms of personality but are firm friends nonetheless. They live in the same neighbourhood and are known for always hanging out at the same coffee shop, Central Perk. When they are not there they can usually be found at Monica’s apartment. The show focuses on the group’s strong friendship, as well as their romantic and career escapades with hilarious results.

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So no one told you life was gonna be this way…

I really, really cannot believe that this year marks twenty years since the first episode of Friends was aired. That’s right, the hit American sit-com about the lives of a close-knit gang of six New Yorkers first hit American screens in September 1994. That’s right – twenty years!!!! My goodness where has the time gone? Since then we’ve been glued to the antics of Joey, Rachel, Phoebe and co. And incidentally it’s been over ten years since the last episode aired in May 1994.

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I can’t put into words how special Friends is to me. Some might even think that’s weird. I mean it’s a television sit-com. Who gets sentimental over a television sit-com? Well, I do! Friends brings back great memories of school days, teenage years, and family moments. Plus it’s as funny as hell! What’s there not to like?

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I first started watching Friends when I was in my mid -teens. Thursday night was treat night, so after a hard night hitting the books, I’d grab a ready meal and settle down in front of the telly to watch my fave show… Channel 4’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?  But before Whose Line began, I’d manage to catch the last few minutes of a new American comedy. It wasn’t long before I started taking my study breaks a little earlier on a Thursday night so I could watch this new American comedy from the beginning of each episode. It was really funny and thoroughly enjoyable… but even then I didn’t realise just how huge it was going to become.

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It wasn’t long before the rest of my family got in on the act. By then Friends had gone from the near-enough graveyard slot to become prime time viewing on a Friday evening. So Friday evenings were spent with us gathered around the telly after dinner, laughing our heads off. Apart from me, my little brother was the biggest Friends fan in our house. We never missed an episode, and it in fact became known as ‘our tradition.’ And every Christmas, my brother would get a new Friends video (yes, it was videos back then) which he would practically watch on repeat. It wasn’t long before we knew practically every line of the script – and used to quote the characters to the point where it both amused and annoyed our sisters.

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Over the last twenty years, we’ve all lost count of how many times Friends has been repeated on the telly. But the thing is that it never gets old. Every time you tune in to each episode, you laugh like you’ve never heard the gags before – and I guess that’s the beauty of the show. In all these years, I’ve only met three people who have said that they can’t stand Friends. That’s just left me wondering what’s wrong with them!

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So in honour of Friends’ twentieth year, we’re taking a look at twenty things closely associated with the show that have made Friends so unique; this includes our favourite memories and things about the show that – without wanting to be dramatic – actually changed our lives.

1. COFFEE SHOP CULTURE

Today, teenagers hang out in coffee shops up and down the country. And right here in England they have plenty to choose from: Starbucks, Café Nero, Costa, as well as millions of independent coffee shops. Yep, word has gotten out that coffee is big business!

When I was a teenager, we hung out at either McDonalds or the local chippy. If we really wanted to push the boat out, then we had Pizza Hut. But Friends changed all that once we saw how much fun the Friends gang were having at Central Perk. We decided that coffee shops were the only place to lounge around in too. And it seems that we’re not the only ones who thought it was a great idea, as coffee shop culture has now taken off all over the world.

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2. SOFAS IN COFFEE SHOPS

The sofa at Central Perk was very much the gang’s domain. Remember the gang’s dismay when another group took over the sofa?

I’d never seen a sofa in a coffee shop until I started watching Friends. We certainly didn’t have them here in UK coffee shops. But I thought it was a super cool idea. There’s nothing like getting comfy on the sofa with a steaming cup of coffee whilst having a natter to make yourself feel really at home. Now you can find a comfy, cosy sofa in just about every coffee shop – and I’m willing to bet that that’s mostly thanks to Friends.

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3. JENNIFER ANISTON: HAIR ICON

When Jennifer Aniston accepted the role of Rachel Green, I bet she didn’t think that her hair would become just a tad bit more famous than her. The ‘Rachel’ cut was the Farrah Flick of it’s day, and the most requested hairstyle in salons worldwide.

I sported a similar do for a while but it was probably not as fab as Jennifer’s. Her hairdo was a layered, longer length bob but it was the savvy way she wore it that made it such a hit. This particular style paved the way for Ms. Aniston to enter into hair icon territory, because even though the numerous great hairstyles she sported throughout the series never quite eclipsed the success of the ‘Rachel,’ Jennifer inevitably became known as ‘the one with the great hair.’

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4. SMELLY CAT

Phoebe may have known how to rock a guitar but when it came to songwriting, she was known for some rather dubious lyrics. But despite this fact, Smelly Cat became something of a classic – and proof to aspiring musicians everywhere that inspiration for a hit can come from the most unlikeliest of topics!

5. MONICA’S APARTMENT

Who wouldn’t want a spacious yet cosy apartment as inviting as Monica’s. There was criticism that a waitress (Rachel) and a just-starting- caterer (Monica) could never have afforded an apartment in NYC as cool as that in real-life but who cares? It was nice just to dream about it! And even though Monica and hubby Chandler eventually bought a house in the suburbs to raise their family, I think it’s definitely Monica’s apartment that’s the place to be.

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6. RACHEL’S AMBITION

Rachel Green may have started out as something of a rich, spoilt brat but she eventually learned to stand on her own two feet when Gunther hired her as a waitress at Central Perk. However Rachel’s real dream was to work in fashion – a career she’d pursued once she’d found the confidence to do so.

This resonates well with me because I’ve been there too (no, not the rich, spoilt brat bit!). We’ve all had to abandon our dreams at some point in our lives because real life got in the way. But Rachel showed us that with a little perseverance and dedication, it’s possible to get there in the end.

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7. WE WERE ON A BREAK!

Rachel wanted a break from her relationship with Ross. Ross thought that meant he could date other people – so he did. This didn’t go down too well with Rachel when she found out, so she decided that their temporary break should become a more permanent one.

This Ross and Rachel saga struck fear into the hearts of most people who were going through a rough patch in their relationships causing them to spell out exactly what ‘being on a break’ meant!

8. NEW YORK BECAME THE PLACE TO BE

OK, so even before Friends, New York was hardly on the bottom of everyone’s ‘must visit’ list. In fact for many people it was at the top of their ‘must live there’ list! But Friends – along with Sex And The City – was a great advert for New York City and made those who didn’t live there want to take an even bigger bite out of the Big Apple (even though the show was filmed in California!)

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9. ROSS: THE PATRON SAINT OF GEEKS

Straight-laced, socially-awkward brainiac Ross Gellar who revelled in his staus as ‘Dr.Gellar,’ was overly-enthusiastic about science and loved his career as a palaeontologist, was the saviour of academics, and dare I say it, geeks everywhere! He proved that you didn’t have to be the coolest kid on the block to land the hottest girl.

10. THOSE CATCHPHRASES

Oh…My…God! How you doin’? Could you be any more stupid? We were on a break!

If you’re a Friends fan, those catchphrases will need no explanation!

11. THE ONE WITH THE…

Friends writers knew that even if they gave episodes an actual name, that viewers would refer to these episodes as ‘The one with the eggplant,’ or ‘The one where Rachel finds out.’ So that’s exactly what they called these episodes with the title beginning with the words ‘The One…’. No other TV show has done this and I think it’s quite clever really!

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12. EVERYONE HAD A FRIEND WITH THE WORD ‘FUN’ IN THEIR NAME

Remember Monica’s ex-boyfriend, Fun Bobby? He was the life and soul of the party… until everyone discovered that without alcohol, he really wasn’t that much fun!

Nonetheless some of us took to prefixing the name of our loudest and wildest friend with the word ‘Fun’ so that it became a part of their name. I know I did and I have to say that hanging out with Fun Lucy was always a barrel of laughs!

13. IT’S OK TO GET WITH YOUR FRIENDS

So serial divorcé Ross got with Rachel, while his sister Monica cured his commitment phobic friend Chandler. Both couples highlighted the pitfalls of dating a good friend – but in the end, it all worked out for the best. And Friends’ fans cheered when these couples got together – and probably plucked up the courage to ask their best friend of ten years who they’d secretly admired from afar out for a drink.

We all waited for Phoebe and Joey to hook up but the scriptwriters had other ideas. Perhaps they didn’t want to be too predictable. Perhaps they thought Mike Hannigan was better for Phoebe. Perhaps they wanted to give Joey his own show…

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14. SIMILAR SHOWS

To say Friends was huge is like saying that water is a little bit wet. It was a phenomenon – and still is! It wasn’t long before other program makers the world over got in on the act and tried to recreate the show’s winning formula: a group of close friends who are almost like family in an apartment/coffee shop/bar setting, who support each other through trials and tribulations especially romantic disasters. Unlike soap operas were friends could stab each other in the back, in these types of shows, friends had each other’s back.

Some of these shows popped up even before Friends had finished its run, and not all of them were sitcoms, but the ones that were injected the same kind of wit and humour that made Friends so popular. So before we knew it, we were settling down to watch Cold Feet, Coupling, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Sex And The City, and That 70s Show.

But of course, as awesome as these shows are, and I do enjoy watching them too, there can only ever be one Friends.

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15. THE CAST BECAME MEGA STARS

The cast of Friends were all established actors before they played our favourite group of New Yorkers. But they hadn’t reached the dizzying heights of stardom with any of their previous work (although I remember Matt LeBlanc’s Heinz ketchup commercial very well!) But Friends changed all that for the six actors who went on to become household names. And ten years after the show ended, they’re still very much in the spotlight.

I also think that it’s fantastic that all six actors wanted to remain in the show through the course of its ten year run. Nobody chose to quit the series to concentrate on other projects which meant that all six of our favourite characters appeared in every series and were played by the same actors during the course of ten years which I think is amazing and quite unusual.

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16. IT BROUGHT THE WORLD CLOSER TOGETHER

I’m wondering if there’s a country in the world which hasn’t broadcast a single episode of Friends… no, I didn’t think so! Maggie Wheeler who played Chandler’s ex-girlfriend, Janice, expressed her surprise when a fan from India approached her to say how much she loved Friends, proving just how much of a world-wide phenomenon the show had become. Despite the hit comedy being dubbed in multiple languages, everyone understand the language of friendship, and it’s great to know that you can go anywhere in the world and you’re bound to bump into someone who knows who the Friends gang are.

I wonder how you translate, “How you doin’?” in Cantonese…

friends

17. TACKLING SOCIAL ISSUES WITH HUMOUR

Looking back, it amazes me that my brother was allowed to watch Friends at such a young age because as funny as it is, it did deal with some pretty adult themes: divorce; infertility; surrogacy; adoption; single motherhood; casual sex; alcoholism… not exactly a barrel of laughs. But despite the heavy content, each issue was handled with humour and sensitivity so you didn’t feel as though you were watching the most depressing show on earth.

Eastenders, take note!

Ross with his son Ben - who lives with his two mums

Ross with his son Ben – who lives with his two mums

 

18. WE WANTED OUR OWN FRIENDS GANG

I had a friend at university who explained that his posse were “just like Friends from off the telly.”

“There’s six of us as well. And we all hang out at a coffee shop too. And each one of us are just like one of the characters.”

Well he ‘s not the only one who thought that way. The truth is we all wanted our own little Friends gang, and we could relate to at least one of the characters. Me? I’m a strange mix of Phoebe and Rachel!

freinds

19. THEME TUNE

There can’t be a single person on the planet who doesn’t know the words to that famous theme tune or who wouldn’t be able to recognise the melody. Performed by The Rembrandts, it is without a doubt their biggest hit and the one they’ll always be remembered for.

The lyrics fit the concept of the show perfectly and furthermore illustrates the meaning of friendship.

20. FRAMILY

Most of us were brought up on the mantra that family comes first – and for the most part that’s how it should be. But the show taught us that it was possible to love your friends like family. It’s not always about blood, genetics or DNA – it’s about the strong bond of genuine love, respect and friendship. Even the friends cast have said that they’ve become like family which is most inspiring.

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So there you have it – all the things that makes Friends so fantasically unique and one of a kind. I’m so glad that Friends is as relevant today as it was when it began twenty years ago. Whereas a lot of once popular comedies now appear dated, I really do believe that Friends will remain a classic.

Here’s to the next twenty years.

 

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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Comedy Shows, TV Shows

 

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Lynda Bellingham: A Real Class Act

 

Like most of the nation, I am shocked and saddened by the sad news that the lovely Lynda Bellingham has lost her battle against cancer. Even though the sixty-six year old had announced just a couple of weeks ago that she was in the terminal stages of the illness and had made the brave decision to stop having chemotherapy treatment, nobody expected her to slip away so quickly. The Canadian-born actress passed away last Sunday in the arms of her beloved husband Michael Pattemore – who she affectionately nicknamed Mr. Spain. Lynda had recently announced that her dearest wish was to have just one last Christmas with her husband and her sons, Michael and Robert, and it’s heart-breaking that her final wish won’t be fulfilled.

As expected, tributes came flooding in from the world of showbiz. Lynda had had an extensive TV and stage career and had worked and become friends with many well known people in the entertainment industry. Her colleagues from Loose Women, where she had been a panellist,  opened up Monday’s show with a tribute to their dear friend which saw Colleen Nolan become tearful though she did her best to keep it together, as the Loose Women team wanted it to be a celebration of Lynda’s extraordinary life, and they even admitted that Lynda would just want them to ‘get on with it.’

Members of the public took  to social media to express their sadness at the loss of the much-loved star. It goes to show that whether you knew her or not, Lynda made a big impact on everyone. Actress and presenter, Nadia Sawalha, said that Lynda loved the fame aspect of her job and liked the fact that she was appreciated the public, but she never milked her celebrity status, and behaved with the grace and class that we love her for. Indeed many of today’s so-called celebrities – many of whom are famous for being famous – could learn a thing or two from her.

Like many people of my generation, I first saw Lynda when she appeared as the mum in the series of OXO commercials which began in the 1980s and ran for sixteen years. She was apparently chosen from thousands of actresses who auditioned for the part, and I don’t think any of us could ever imagine that role being played by anyone other than Lynda. Despite epitomizing the perfect mother in those ads – warm, wholesome, content at being at the heart of the family, and bringing everyone together with delicious home cooking – her Loose Women co-presenters revealed that she hated people telling her that they wanted her to be their ‘Mum’ and she was concerned that she’d only ever be remembered for those OXO ads. Although she played matriarchal roles on many occasions, the real-life Lynda was far from ‘mumsy.’ As well as being incredibly beautiful, Lynda came across as energetic, vivacious, opinionated, feisty and very funny, and that’s something that came through in many of the parts she played.

So while, yes, us kids of the eighties will think of her as the OXO mum – a role that gave Lynda a platform to become one of our best-known actresses – we also remember the other work she’s famous for including BBC’s All Creatures Great And Small, At Home With The Braithwaites, Martin Chuzzelwit, Doctor Who, Angels, Couples , The Sweeny, theatre production of Calendar Girls and even The Bill, where she played villainess, Irene Radford – a role as far removed from the OXO mum as you can get. And the list most definitely goes on! And let’s not forget that Lynda was also an accomplished broadcaster, author and columnist. But one of Lynda’s roles which is most memorable for me was that of Faith Grayshot, the character she played in ITV’s nineties sit-com Second Thoughts; a divorced  mother of two teens who embarks on a new romance. There are some real laugh out loud moments in Second Thoughts, and although the character of Faith Grayshot isn’t that much of a departure from the OXO mum, she’s a little edgier and feistier, and tries to put her own needs first occasionally. When Second Thoughts ended, Lynda starred in the spin-off Faith In The Future which saw Faith start the next phase of her life as a single woman.

Lynda had started acting long before I was born, and she was on our screens right up until she passed away. I’ve grown up watching her and I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t on the telly or giving an interview in a magazine. There really are no words to describe her loss – a loss that is felt the hardest by her family and friends. Even though we will remember her for her talent, mesmerising screen presence and her generous smile, the tributes and lovely things that have been said about her in the last couple of days prove that her greatest roles were the one that wasn’t scripted  – and that’s the roles of wife. mother and friend.

 

Lynda Bellingham, you will be sorely missed.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Gone Too Soon

 

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10 TV Show Theme Tunes We Loved Singing Along To

I grew up watching a lot of TV and I do mean a lot! It’s strange because now, in comparison to my childhood years, I hardly watch TV at all. I put that down the fact that most shows today just aren’t as top quality as the programs I grew up. Yeah, I know – I’ve been accused of being biased many times!

However it’s not just the shows themselves that are memorable – the theme tunes and opening credits of many of this shows have made an impact and are equally unforgettable. So here’s my list of the TV theme tunes that we didn’t just like listening to but we sang along with as well.

1. NEIGHBOURS

Title:Neighbours

Composed By: Tony Hatch

Lyrics: Jackie Trent

Performed by: Barry Crocker

Year: 1985

I don’t care what anyone says – the Neighbours theme tune may have been revamped and jazzed up a million times, but for me, the original theme tune is undoubtedly the best.

Even now I get all nostalgic when I hear it. It reminds me of my childhood years; the early days of the Aussie soap, and a time when Neighbours was extremely addictive. Whether it sounds dated or not is debateable, but I think it has a certain charm and quality that the current one just doesn’t have. Sorry! Barry Crocker’s vocals suit the song perfectly. It makes you want to be good neighbours with your, er, neighbours!

The song was created by the legendary Hatch and Trent. Jackie Trent explained that the soap was originally going to be called Ramsay Street, but it was a little too close to Coronation street, which at the time 9and still is) Britain’s longest running soap. The song Jackie penned with her husband Tony was called Neighbours – which was the name that they eventually settled on for the soap. So the theme really did have a huge impact on the actual soap.

2.HOME AND AWAY

Title: Home And Away

Composed By: Mike Perjanic

Lyrics: Mike Perjanic

Performed by: Mark Williams and Karen Boddington

Year: 1987

Neighbours’ rival Aussie soap also had a fantastic theme song. It was a show about foster families and second chances, and the lyrics of the song fit in perfectly with the show’s concept. I stopped watching Home and Away a long time ago, mainly because it just wasn’t the same without Bobby, Pippa, Fisher and co. What I loved about the original were the vocals of Mark and Karen which were extremely powerful and full of emotion.

3. DIFFERENT STROKES

Title: It takes Diff’rent Strokes

Composed By: Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton

Performed by: Alan Thicke

Year: 1978

This American sit-com was a huge family favourite, and was very popular when I was growing up. It was on television a lot when I was a child but I wasn’;t old enough to fully appreciate it. But I began watching Different Strokes again about a decade a go, and Arnold’s capers had me howling. And I fell in  love with that theme song all over again. Incidentally Alan Thicke, who composed the theme song, is the father of singer Robin Thicke.

What? You don’t like the song?

What you talking about, Willis?

4. ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES

Title: Only Fools And Horses and Hooky Street

Composed By: John Sullivan

Lyrics: John Sullivan

Performed by: John Sullivan

Year: 1982

It’s not just the show that’s iconic – the theme song is too. Well theme songs I should say as the opening and closing credits featured different songs. Only Fools And Horses was used for the opening credits, while Hooky Street was used for the closing.  The Beeb insisted on using a saxophone instrumental by Ronnie Hazelhurst for the credits of the first series. But when it came to the second series, the show’s creator, John Sullivan, put his foot down and told the BBC to use the theme songs he had created. And he was right to do so as both songs totally capture what the show’s about: Cockney wide-boys, wheeling and dealing, the market trade and selling hookey gear. For years I was convinced that it was Nicholas Lyndhurst -aka Rodders – who was singing the show’s theme songs but it wasn’t. Both songs feature the show’s creator, John Sullivan’s vocals. But the two sounded so similar, I was sure that there was a mistake in the credits and it really was Nicholas Lyndhurst.

5. FRIENDS

Title: I’ll Be There For You

Composed By: David Crane, Marta Kauffman, Michael Skloff, Allee Willis, Phil Solem, and David Wild

Performed by: The Rembrandts

Year:

Probably the most famous theme song in the world. It took six people to write this song, and it’s the only hit that The Rembrandts are famous for which seems a little sad, but then that’s their fault for co-creating a song so amazing that it was all the fans wanted to hear. The theme song was just under a minute long but a year later it was released as a three minute pop song. The video for the song features hilarious antics from the Friends cast.

6. GLADIATORS

Composed By: Muff Murfin

Year: 1992

Everyone at school was Gladiators crazy – and this was long before Russell Crowe came along! This contest which tested competitors sporting abilities was massive back in the early ’90s. We didn’t have X-Factor then – this was our Saturday night viewing. And the theme song did just the right job in getting you hyped up.

7. SURPRISE, SURPRISE

Title: Surprise, Surprise (original) and Life Is Full Of Surprises

Composed By:

Lyrics:

Performed by:

Year:

A show hosted by Cilla Black which was all about… surprises! It was a show in which ordinary, unsuspecting people were reunited with long-lost friends or relative, or were rewarded for some kind deed. I remember in one episode, I spotted an acquaintance in the audience as a member of her family was there to be ‘surprised.’ Cilla used to open and close the show by singing the theme songs. There were two theme tunes as I recall. The original one was slower and was written by Kate Robbins.There was a more fast paced one and a much slower one. After series eight, there was a new more up-tempo theme tune. I remember how kids at school used to change the lyrics of the slower theme song:

“Surprise, Surprise… you’ve got tomato ketchup between your eyes…” Oh those were the days!


8. THE GENERATION GAME

Composed By: Ronnie Hazlehurst

Performed by: Bruce Forsythe

Year: 1971-77, 1990-94

Oh how I loved this show! And how I miss it. Back in the early ’90s, Friday nights were Generation Game nights. I never got to watch The Generation Game when it was hosted by Bruce Forsythe and Anthea Redfern, or by Larry Grayson and Isla St. Clair. Bruce Forsythe was at the helm again with Rosemarie Ford when I started watching it. The theme tune as I knew it was a revamped version of the original tune. I know that I liked it, but I’m sure that viewers who watched the show first time around probably preferred the original.  I’ve  heard that it’s making a comeback with Miranda Hart as the host. I just hope that they keep that fantastic theme song.

9. BAYWATCH

Title: I’m Always Here

Composed By: Jimi Jamison, Cory Lerios, John D’Andrea and Joe Henry

Performed by: Jimi Jamison

Year: 1989

I’m sure that this theme is as familiar as the red swim wear that featured on the show. It’s probably up there with the Friends theme as the most easily recognised and well-known – even after all this time. The vocals were by Jimi Jamison of legendary rock outfit, Survivor.  At my friend’s hen party last year, the DJ actually played the Baywatch theme – cue much hilarious beach running antics!

10. THE LITTLEST HOBO

Title: maybe Tomorrow

Composed By: Terry Bush

Lyrics by: John Crossen

Performed by: Terry Bush

Year: 1979

I loved this Canadian show when I was growing up. It was about a dog who travelled from place to place, having adventures, and helping those in need. Great family entertainment. My mate Dave aka Pancake Lady, posted the lyrics from the theme on Facebook recently so I have her to thank for jogging my memory.

 

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The World Cup Dream May Be Over… But The Music Lives On

In just a matter of hours, World Cup 2014 will be over. Who will emerge victorious – Argentina or Germany? It won’t be England, that’s for sure! And the irony of two of England’s biggest sporting nemeses battling it out in the final isn’t lost on me.

Argentina-vs-Germany

I recently announced that I’ve accepted that I will never see England win the World Cup in my lifetime – which makes me wish that I’d been born before 1966! However, as this was the first time in fifty six years that England crashed out in the group stages, at least I can say I witnessed a piece of sporting history. That’s me – definitely a glass half full kind of girl!

keep-calm-and-rewind-to-1966

However, despite almost fifty years of hurt (and shame) I’ve decided to give England one last chance. No, not to win the World Cup. I know I’m never going to see that happen, but to play much better than they did this year and to go much further in the tournament. We have four years to get over this setback, come up with a better strategy and a better team.

So, in a bid to cheer up disappointed England fans and to instil a sense of hope, I thought I’d share with you my four favourite awe-inspiring England World Cup songs. I remember there was always a great deal of excitement when the official England World Cup songs were released. Us kids would eagerly watch Top Of The Pops to check out the new tune and the feelings of anticipation and excitement were infectious – could this really be England’s year?

The tradition of the England World Cup songs began in 1966. The songs were released with the approval of the Football Association to coincide with the England national football team’s participation in the finals of the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship. Some of the official songs were surprisingly overshadowed by unofficial songs released around the same time. This year’s offering, Noble England was sung by the late Rik Mayall, who sadly passed away this year, making the song all the more poignant.

There are four songs that really stand out for me, and for which I feel there is probably no need for any more England World Cup.

1. Vindaloo, Fat Les

Released in 1998, this actually eclipsed the official song (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World, written by Ian McCulloch and performed by England United (Echo and the Bunnymen, Space, Spice Girls, Simon Fowler.) To be honest it wasn’t really much of a surprise as although the England United song is a great tune, it lacked that special something. Whereas Fat Les’s Vindaloo was humourous and is exactly the kind of thing you’d sing in the pub after a few pints. Performed by British band Fat Les, the music was written by Blur bassist Alex James while the lyrics were written by Keith Allen (lilly and Alfie’s dad!) Although it’s mainly just a series of chants and “nah-nah-nahs”, the song has remained a cult classic.

2. Three Lions, The Lightning Seeds/Baddiel & Skinner

Believe it or not, Fat Les’s anthem wasn’t the only unofficial tune that year to outdo the official England World Cup song. Three Lions, written by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, was originally released in 1996 as the official song for UEFA European Championship. It was such a hit, it was brought out again two years later for the World Cup, though not as the official song. Not that it mattered too much because everyone thought it was! And to be honest it’s pretty much remained England’s anthem for every tournament – the lyrics say it all. It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming – football’s coming home… OK so it never does, but we can always hope!

3. World In Motion, New Order feat. The England Squad

I don’t care what anyone says; this should be the song the players sing before the start of the match not the national anthem (no disrespect.) If ever there was an upbeat number to get you fired up and cause some damage on the pitch, this would be it. The only problem would be that the players would squabble over who should do Barnesy’s rap! Released in 1990 for the FIFA World Cup, it was written by New Order and Keith Allen, and topped the charts. This tune is my joint fave along with Three Lions, and brings back so many wonderful memories. How I long for it to be 1990 again!

4. Goldenballs (Mr. Beckham To You) Bell and Spurling

OK, so this wasn’t actually an official or unofficial song for any football tournament, but rather an ode to David Beckham, who was a fantastic footballer and icon, and the George Best of my generation (but without the excess!) by comedy duo Martin Bell and Johnny Spurling. It was released in 2002 and only got as far as number 25 in the charts, but I still reckon it’s a great tune. My then twelve year old brother could not stop singing the chorus which drove us all mad but as I said – top tune!

And now – let the finals begin!

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Goodbye Gran: Edna Doré Passes Away At 92

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She may have been ninety two years old but it was still a shock to hear about the sad passing of actress Edna Doré  who died peacefully in her sleep just before Easter. Those who knew the Kent-born actress have revealed that she was as tough and as fun as the characters she was known for playing, and to her audience, she gave the impression who would live forever. And through her vast amount of acting work on stage, screen and radio, she will.

In Open All Hours

In Open All Hours

Born Edna Lillian Gorring,  Doré entered the world of showbiz as a dancer in the 1940s. After a long and successful career in theatre, she then turned to television acting in 1960 while still continuing to act in theatre. Over the years the actress had roles in many well known TV shows such as The Liver Birds, Tenko, Terry and June, Open All Hours, The Bill, Casualty, A Year In Provence, Love Hurts, Eyes Down, and Gavin and Stacey. And that’s not even a fraction of the talented actress’s work!

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

In Eastenders with Pat Coombs

 

However for many, Doré  will always be best known for her role in Eastenders as Mo Butcher, Frank Butcher’s battle-axe mother who really knew how to put the fear of God into her family. This was the first time I’d seen Doré on screen and she played Mo from 1988 until 1990 and funnily enough, she’d trained to be an actress along with the late Anna Wing, who played the legendary Lou Beale. A harsh, bad tempered, old lady with an intense hatred for her daughter-in-law, Pat, not to mention a dislike for her grandson Ricky’s Asian girlfriend, Shireen, Mo was initially not a likeable character.

Even though I was only a little girl at the time, I knew that Mo was not a nice lady, and she was often horrid to Pat – I remember Mo once giving Pat a whack across her face. However, after a while, Mo started to soften a little; she was less sharp although she never lost her toughness. She was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and went to live with her daughter, thus marking Doré’s departure  from the show. The character eventually died off-screen in 1992. It was a storyline for which Doré received acclaim and prior to this, she had also played another character suffering from Alzheimer’s, Mrs. Bender in Mike Leigh’s 1988 film, High Hopes.

As Eastenders' Mo Butcher

As Eastenders’ Mo Butcher

 

Doré went on to star in other films including Nil By Mouth, Tube Tales, Weak At Denise and All Or Nothing and also acted in radio, performing in a number of plays, one of which, Bringing Eddie Home by John Peacock featured ex-EastEnders actors Bill Treacher, Tilly Vosburgh, Todd Carty and Joe Absolom. It seems as though there wasn’t anything that this talented lady couldn’t do.

 

One of her roles which I don’t think is spoken of enough, is her role as Gran in the 1980s BBC comedy series Streets Apart, written by Adrienne Conway. Once again Doré played a tough-talking, no-nonsense lady who did as she pleased but was definitely more likeable than Mo Butcher. Gran raised her granddaughter Sylvia from the time she was a little girl, and even though Sylvia went on to become a huge success as a literary agent and moved a world away from her East End roots, the two characters have a very special bond, despite the differences, which is lovely to see. In fact, it is these very differences between Gran and Sylvia which created a lot of the humour in the show: Gran is very feisty and direct with absolutely no heirs and graces and her antics often annoy or embarrass Sylvia. To most people, Edna Doré will always be Mo Butcher, But to me, she will also always be Gran from Streets Apart. And if ever I’m fortunate to be a gran, I know exactly what kind of gran I’d like to be – a very mischievous one with a great sense of fun!

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Her personal life seemed to be as successful as her professional life. Doré married  the actor, stage director and writer Alexander Doré in 1946 and they remained married until Alexander’s death in 2002 – a feat virtually unheard of in today’s showbiz world. The marriage produced a son, Michael and Edna later became a grandmother of four.

A young Edna Dore

A young Edna Dore

Edna Doré’s agent, Belinda Wright paid tribute to the actress, saying, “I’d known her for more than 30 years and she was a wonderful actress and great fun.”

Paul O’Grady, her co-star in BBC sit-com Eyes Down, also paid tribute, describing Doré as “a remarkable lady” and “a bundle of fun.”

“We got sent home from rehearsals one day for laughing,” began Paul, “I won’t tell you why but Edna said: ‘In my 70 years in the business, I’ve never been sent out of rehearsals’.

“She had a remarkable career. She might be gone but she’s not forgotten by me. I had a ball with Edna, what a laugh she was.”

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Those of us who were not fortunate to have met her can believe that because her sense of fun came through in many of the roles she played. What a lovely way in which to remember her.

Rest in peace, Edna.

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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Gone Too Soon

 

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