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Tony Grist

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An Actor's Life [Nov. 13th, 2009|10:54 am]
Tony Grist
Mr Pettigrew turned up in my dreams the other night. I forget what he was doing there. Mr Pettigrew was the wimpish, dithery stooge in the Jimmy Edwards sit-com, Whack-O- which ran from 1956 to 61. I used to love Whack-O. I have no idea at this distance in time whether it was any good- and there's no way of refreshing my memory because the BBC has wiped the tapes.

I did some research. Mr Pettigrew was played by Arthur Howard. Howard (born Steiner) was the brother of the film star Leslie Howard and the father of the Shakespearean actor Alan Howard. He was a busy actor, routinely cast in supporting roles as vicars, schoolmasters and civil servants. He was in Passport to Pimlico. He was in Moonraker. In 1961 he spent a week in prison for "soliciting for immoral purposes". He died in 1995.

His performance as Pettigrew survives in the spin-off feature film Bottoms Up- which I haven't seen. When the show was briefly revived in the early 70s (those tapes still exist) Howard had been replaced in the role by Julian Orchard.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-11-13 11:25 am (UTC)
Interesting that the Times Online Archive on the importuning incident seems to be saying that those standing surety for him were one Mr Frank Muir and one Mr Dennis Norden.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-13 11:45 am (UTC)
Yes, indeed. They were also, of course, the writers of Whack-O. It's nice to know they were prepared to do the decent thing.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2009-11-14 12:15 am (UTC)
In his autobiography Muir said the BBC were worried about him interacting with boys even though Howard wasn't a pedophile. He also remarked that Howard was actually rather innocent.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-14 10:26 am (UTC)
Is that why he wasn't re-employed in 1971?

Jimmy Edwards was gay too. Did that not worry the BBC?
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2009-11-14 11:47 am (UTC)
I imagine so, and I think Edwards was a lot more discreet about it. He was furious with Howard because Wacko was doing well and his activities got it cancelled.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-18 08:58 pm (UTC)
Good gracious, I didn't know that.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2009-11-20 08:19 am (UTC)
I'd read a kentish lad, it's good for that sort of info.
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[User Picture]From: baritonejeff
2009-11-13 03:48 pm (UTC)

Whack-O- which

In my early morning fog, I read that as "Whack-O-Witch", which briefly sounded like a very interesting program indeed! ;)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-13 05:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Whack-O- which

A bit like Whack-a-Mole- only with witches?

Whack-O was show about a corrupt headmaster who enjoyed beating small boys. It's remarkable what passed for family entertainment a mere half century ago.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2009-11-13 05:50 pm (UTC)
Mr Pettigrew was played by Arthur Howard. Howard (born Steiner) was the brother of the film star Leslie Howard and the father of the Shakespearean actor Alan Howard.

Neat! Then I have certainly seen him here and there, without any idea of who he was. I have had no luck with Alan Howard as yet, unless the voice of the One Ring counts; he seems to work mostly onstage, although The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover is on my list.

I have no idea at this distance in time whether it was any good- and there's no way of refreshing my memory because the BBC has wiped the tapes.

Fragments survive. The second one has Mr. Pettigrew.

Edited at 2009-11-13 05:56 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-13 05:57 pm (UTC)
Alan Howard was a lead actor with the RSC for many years- and played all the big Shakespearean roles. He's never done much on screen- mainly guest appearances here and there. He's a very good and well-respected actor who has never quite stepped up into stardom.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-11-13 06:12 pm (UTC)
P.S. Thanks for the clips. I'm happy to say they made me laugh. Jimmy Edwards was a funny guy.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2009-11-14 11:55 am (UTC)
Muir and Nordon were funny writers. Pity they are not still celebrated.
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