British Iconic Music, Authors, Fashion, Design and Arts

26/09/2012 15:39

*Please Click on above underlined Link and then Scroll Down Page to read my British Iconic articles"*


  • Swinging Sixties – British Fashion Designers
  • Swinging Sixties  ( London ) – British Iconic Music
  • The New Romantics – 1980's London Music
  • 7th Century to Swinging Naughties - British Icons
  • Sir Henry Wood – The Last Night Of The Proms
  • World's First Football Chant – by Edward Elgar
  • English Poet Laureates- History
  • English Morris Dancing – History
  • English Christmas Traditions – History
  • Super - Group Queen and Freddie Mercury – History
  • Marc Bolan - T Rex his last UK Gig
  • Lewis Carroll (1832 to1898) author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • Charles Kingsley (1819 to 1875) Author of The Water Babies
  • James Herbert – English Iconic Horror Author
  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley– English Iconic Author of Frankenstein
  • Sir Terry Pratchett – Fantasy and Discworld Genius Author
  • Samuel Johnson (1709 to 1784) an English icon
  • Charles Dickens (1812 to 1870) Famous Novelist
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 to 1930) Famous Novelist
  • Rudyard Kipling (1865 to 1936) Famous Novelist
  • Herbert George Wells (1866 – 1946), known as H.G. Wells
  • Neville Shute (1899 to 1960) Famous Author
  • John Constable (1776 to 1837) and his Life and Quotes
  • Thomas Gainsborough (1727 to 1788)
  • William Hogarth (1697 to 1764)
  • Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 to 1851) Artist and Father of Impressionism
  • Life Story Of Louis Wain (1860 to 1939) And His Funny Animal Art
  • William Shakespeare and The Globe Theatre
  • History of English Theatres
  • History of English Variety and Music Hall
  • Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London from 1397
  • Thomas Chippendale (1718 to 1779) Designer and Cabinet Maker
  • Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Maker
  • The History of Television - England 1924
  • British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC History
  • Dr. Who - A British TV Icon
  • English Pantomines – Their History
  • Dads Army – The Funny TV Series
  • History of the Funny Carry On Film Series
  • Tommy Steele – Iconic English Performer
  • David Niven – Iconic British Actor
  • Cary Grant – Iconic British Actor
  • Sir Charlie Chaplin – Iconic British Comic Actor and Director
  • Sir Laurence Olivier ( Lord Larry ) – Iconic Theatre Actor
  • Dame Margarat Rutherford – That Funny English Actress
  • Sir Michael Caine - English Iconic Actor
  • Sir Henry Irving – Actor Manager and Inspiration for Dracula
  • James Bond 007 – British Icon
  • Sir Roger Moore – British Iconic Actor
  • Peter Sellers –  English Comic Actor
  • Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov –  Renaissance Funny Man
  • Les Dawson – English iconic Comic, Writer and Actor
  • Benny Hill – Chaplin's Favourite Comedian
  • Ken Dodd – English iconic Comic, Writer and Actor
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus – British TV Icon
  • The Goodies – 1970s TV Icon
  • The Smash Alien Robots – The Funniest British TV Advert of the 20th Century
  • Bob Monkhouse The Life of an English Comedian (1928 to 2003)
  • Sir Rex Harrison - English Iconic Actor
  • Sir John Mills - English Iconic Actor
  • Sir Norman Wisdom – Comic Actor and Singer
  • History of English Nursery Rhymes
  • The Freemasons – It's English Origins and History
  • History of British Cat and Kitten Shows from 1871
  • History of British Dog Breeds from 63 BC to 1886 AD
  • Crufts the Iconic Dog Show and its British History
  • The Supreme Cat Show and its Iconic British History
  • The Union Jack – Iconic British Flag
  • The Great and Good of Britain Buried at Westminster Abbey
  • Sir Winston Churchill – War Leader, Artist and Writer
  • Whitefriars Glass – 17th Century History
  • British Comic Publications and Their History


Swinging Sixties – British Fashion Designers


As the swinging sixties is famous worldwide for many things British including Fashion I thought I would tell its history and mention some of the most famous names in British fashion. At the start of the 60's, skirts were knee-length, but steadily became shorter and shorter until the mini-skirt emerged in 1965. By the end of the decade they had shot well above the stocking top, making the transition to tights inevitable.

Many of the radical changes in fashion developed in the streets of London, with such gifted designers as Mary Quant (known for launching the mini skirt) and Barbara Hulanicki (the founder of the legendary boutique Biba). After designer Mary Quant introduced the mini-skirt in 1964, fashions in the 1960s were changed forever. The mini skirt was eventually to be worn by nearly every stylish young female in the western world.

The main outlets for these new young fashion designers were small boutiques, selling outfits that were not exactly 'one-offs', but were made in small quantities in a limited range of sizes and colors. However, not all designers took well to the new style and mood.

The basic shape and style of the time was simple, neat, clean cut, and young. Synthetic fabrics were very widely-used during the Sixties. They took dyes easily and well, giving rise to colors that were both clear and bright, very much mirroring the mood of the period. Hats suffered a great decline and by the end of the decade they were relegated to special occasions only. Lower kitten heels were a pretty substitute to stilettos. Pointed toes gave way to chisel shaped toes in 1961 and to an almond toe in 1963. Flat boots also became popular with very short dresses in 1965 and eventually they rose up the leg and reached the knee.

The principal change in menswear in the '60s was in the weight of the fabric used. The choice of materials and the method of manufacture produced a suit that, because it was lighter in weight, had a totally different look, with a line that was closer to the natural shape of the body, causing men to look at their figures more critically. The spread of jeans served to accelerate a radical change in the male wardrobe. Young men grew their hair down to their collars and added a touch of color, and even floral motifs, to their shirts.

The polo neck never succeeded in replacing the tie, but the adoption of the workman's jacket in rough corduroy. As the suits drifted away from pale, toned shades, menswear was now bright and colourful. It included frills and cravats, wide ties and trouser straps, leather boots and even collarless jackets. Ties were worn even five inches wide, with crazy prints, stripes and patterns. Casual dress consisted of plaid button down shirts with comfortable slacks.

The hippie movement late in the decade also exerted a strong influence on ladies' clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.

In the early to mid-1960s, the London Modernists known as the Mods were shaping and defining popular fashion for young British men while the trends for both sexes changed more frequently than ever before in the history of fashion and would continue to do so throughout the decade. The leaders of  1960s style were the British. The Mods were characterized by their choice of style different from the 1950s and revealed new fads that would be imitated by many young people. As a level of the middle social class known as the Mods, controlled the ins and outs of fashion in London, 1960s fashion set the mode for the rest of the century as it became marketed mainly to youth. Modernists formed their own way of life creating television shows and magazines that focused directly on the lifestyles of Mods.

British rock bands such as The Who, The Small Faces and The Kinks emerged from the Mod subculture. The Mods were known for the Modern Jazz they listened to as they showed their new styles off at local cafes. They worked at the lower end of the work force, usually nine to five jobs leaving time for clothes, music, and clubbing. It was not until 1964 when the Modernists were truly recognized by the public that women really were accepted in the group. Girls had short, clean haircuts and often dressed in similar styles to the male Mods. The Mods' lifestyle and musical tastes were the exact opposite of their rival group known as the.

The rockers liked 1950s rock-and roll, wore black leather jackets, greased, pompadour hairstyles, and rode motorbikes. The look of the Mods was classy; they mimicked the clothing and hairstyles of high fashion designers in France and Italy; opting for tailored suits, which were topped by anoraks that became their trademark. They rode on scooters, usually Vespas or Lambrettas. The Mods dress style was often called the City Gent look. Shirts were slim, with a necessary button down collar accompanied by slim fitted pants. Levi's were the only type of jeans worn by Modernists. Flared trousers and bellbottoms led the way to the hippie stage introduced in the 1960s. Variations of polyester were worn along with acrylics.

Carnaby Street and Chelsea's Kings Road were virtual fashion parades. In 1966, the space age was gradually replaced by the Edwardian, with the men wearing double-breasted suits of crushed velvet or striped patterns, brocade waistcoats, shirts with frilled collars, and their hair worn below the collar bone.

Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones epitomised this "dandified" look. Women were inspired by the top models of the day which included Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Colleen Corby, Penelope Tree and Veruschka. Velvet mini dresses with lace-collars and matching cuffs, wide tent dresses and culottes had pushed aside the geometric shift.

False eyelashes were in vogue, as was pale lipstick. Hemlines kept rising, and by 1968 they had reached well above mid-thigh. These were known as "micro-minis". This was when the "angel dress" made its appearance on the fashion scene. A micro-mini dress with a flared skirt and long, wide trumpet sleeves, it was usually worn with patterned tights, and was often made of crocheted lace, velvet, chiffon or sometimes cotton with a psychedelic print.

The cowled-neck "monk dress" was another religion-inspired alternative; the cowl could be pulled up to be worn over the head. For evening wear, skimpy chiffon baby-doll dresses with spaghetti-straps were the mode as well as the "cocktail dress", which was a close-fitting sheath, usually covered in lace with matching long sleeves. Feather boas were occasionally worn.

By 1968, the androgynous hippie look was in style. Both men and women wore frayed bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed shirts, workshirts, and headbands. Wearing sandals was also part of the hippie look for both men and women. Women would often go barefoot, and some even went braless.

Fringed buck-skin vests, flowing caftans, Mexican peasant blouses, gypsy-style skirts, scarves, and bangles were also worn by teenage girls and young women. Indian prints, batik and paisley were the fabrics preferred. For more conservative women, there were the "lounging" or "hostess" pyjamas. These consisted of a tunic top over floor-length culottes, and were usually made of polyester or chiffon.

Another popular look for women and girls which lasted well into the early 1970s was the suede mini-skirt worn with a French polo-neck top, square-toed boots and Newsboy Cap or beret. Long maxi coats, often belted and lined in sheepskin, appeared at the close of the decade. Animal Prints were also popular for women in the autumn and winter of 1969. Women's shirts often had transparent sleeves. Psychedelic prints, hemp and the look of "Woodstock" came about in this generation.

The late 1960 produced a style categorized of people whom promoted sexual liberation and favored a type of politics reflecting "peace, love and freedom". Ponchos, mocassins, love beads, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and long, puffed "bubble" sleeves were additional trends in the late 1960s.

New materials other than cloth (such as polyester and PVC) started to become more popular as well.

Starting in 1967, the Mod culture began to embrace reggae music and its working class roots. The new urban fashion known as Skinhead was born.


Swinging Sixties  ( London ) – British Iconic Music


At the start of the 60's, British Music was just emerging from obscurity with Cliff Richard, Billy Fury, Adam Faith beginning to become known worldwide. By the end of the decade British Music dominated the world with The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones etc. One of the stories told by George Harrison was the story that when the Beatles were first in the USA they visited “Elvis” at his home and which ended with Elvis and the Beatles Jamming together. That must have been one of the coolest musical sessions ever.

As the swinging sixties London is famous worldwide for many things British including Music I thought I would tell its history and list some of the most famous names in British Music.

Swinging London was underway by the mid-1960s, and included music by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Small Faces and other artists from what was known by America as the “British Invasion” as well as the growing popularity of Psychedelic Rock as Jimi Hendrick being represented as a cultural icon, supported by British bands like Cream and early Pink Floyd. This music was heard in the United Kingdom over pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline, Wonderful Radio London and Swinging Radio England.

On December 10th , 1963 the Walter Cronkite ran a story about the Beatlemania phenomenon in the United Kingdom. After seeing the report, 15 year old Marsha Albert of Maryland wrote a letter the following day to disc jockey Carroll James at radio station WWDC asking "why can't we have music like that here in America?".

On December 17th  James had Albert introduce “I Want to Hold Your Hand" live on the air, the first airing of a Beatles song in the United States. WWDC's phones lit up and Washington, D.C. area record stores were flooded with requests for a record they did not have in stock.

On December 26th Capitol Records released the record three weeks ahead of schedule. The release of the record during a time when teenagers were on vacation helped spread Beatlemania in America.

On January 18th , 1964, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” reached number one on the cash Box chart, the following week it did the same on Billboard.

On February 7th  the CBS Evening News ran a story about The Beatles' United States arrival that afternoon in which the correspondent said "The British Invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania". Two days later (Sunday, February 9th ) they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Seventy five percent of Americans watching television that night viewed their appearance.

On April 4th  the Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, the only time to date that any act has accomplished this. The group's massive chart success continued until they broke up in 1970.

Dusty Springfield, having launched a solo career, became the first non-Beatle act during the invasion to have a major U.S. hit with “I only Want to be With You”. She followed with several other hits and has been described by Allmusic as the finest white soul music singer of her era.

During the next two years, Chad & Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and The Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mind-benders, Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Troggs and Donovan would have one or more number one singles. Other acts that were part of the invasion included The Kinks and The dave Clark Five. British Invasion acts also dominated the music charts at home in the United Kingdom.

The Dave Clark Five was the first British Invasion group to formally tour the United States (in the Spring of 1964). The group was considered the main competitor to The Beatles.

The DC5 made its first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on March 8, 1964, shortly after The Beatles. The DC5 made more appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show than any other British Invasion band.

British Invasion artists played in styles now categorized either as blues-based rock music or as guitar-driven rock/pop. A second wave of the invasion occurred featuring acts such as The Who and The Zombies which were influenced by the invasion's pop side and American rock music.

The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night and fashions from Carnaby Street led American media to proclaim England as the center of the music and fashion world.

The emergence of a relatively homogeneous worldwide "rock" music style about 1967 marked the end of the "invasion".

A Second Invasion occurred during the 1980s consisting of acts primarily popularized by the cable music channel MTV which was dominated by British Music video's by Queen, Duran Duran etc. While acts with a wide variety of styles were part of the invasion, New Wave and New Wave-influenced acts predominated.


The New Romantics – 1980's London Music


During the late 1970's Punk Rock became popular and those of us who were fans of Disco ignored punk rock as a passing fad.  In the late 1970's and early 1980's as an alternative to Punk a new type of music appeared in London called The New Romantics. They could be identified by their Big hair and make up – both Men and Women. It was often associated with the New Wave music scene that had become popular during that time. It has seen several revivals since then, and continues to influence popular culture.


Developing in London nightclubs such as Billy's and The Blitz, the movement was associated with bands such as Visage, Culture Club, Adam and the Ants, Ultravox, Duran Duran, Japan and Spandau Ballet.


Other artists, such as Brian Eno and Roxy Music had significant influence on the movement. The term New Romantic was coined by Richard James Burgess in an interview with reference to Spandau Ballet.


As a whole, the movement was largely a response to the ethos and style of early punk rock, which had been enjoying widespread popularity around this time. Although punk initially had great appeal as a vehicle of self-expression and entertainment, by the final days of the 1970s, some had felt that it had lost its original excitement and degenerated into an overly political and bland movement instead. The New Romantic image ultimately sought to contrast with the austerity of punk as a whole by celebrating artifice in music and culture as opposed to rejecting it.


New Romantic music is influenced by many genres such as Disco, Rock, R&B and early  electronic pop music. Since the New Romantic movement began in and was largely based in nightclubs, a great amount of the music associated with the movement was meant to be suitable for dancing. Glam rock acts of the 1970s such as David Bowie (whose 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes" was influenced by and considered a New Romantic anthem Roxy Music and Brian Eno have been cited as major influences on the music and image the bands. Kraftwork, a German band pioneering electronic music, also heavily impacted many of the artists.

Since each of the bands associated with the movement took a different approach to their music, it is difficult to define what constitutes New Romantic music. Contrasting with the punk rock which was popular at the peak of the movement, New Romantic music tends to be elaborate and highly stylized. The musical structures are usually consistent with those of pop music, as are the lyrics, which are often very emotional, which deal with themes such as love, dancing, history, the future and technology. The lyrics of New Romantic music also tend to be far more apolitical than those of punk rock or other songs written in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Many of the bands featured synthesizers and electronic drums or drum machines in their music, often alongside bass and lead guitar. While some bands such as Ultravox or Duran Duran consciously synthesized rock and electronic elements, others such as Culture Club or Spandau Ballet drew greater influence from R&B and soul music while still employing electronic instrumentation, albeit to a lesser extent.

Some bands, such as Visage, made music that was almost entirely electronic; often many early British electronic bands such as the Human League and Depeche Mode have been connected to the New Romantic movement, although some sources, sometimes including the individual members of such bands, deny the association.

During the last 25 years the New Romantic's music scene has been active and in the charts on a regular basis – Duran Duran is an example as a group who still release new music.


7th Century to Swinging Naughties - British Icons

England and Britain are famous worldwide for its many British Icons from BoudecaQueen Chief of the Iceni Tribe, Football, Mini Skirt to the Mini Car and I thought I would tell its British history and list some of the most famous Icons from the 7th Century to the present day. British Icon's have dominated the world with British Royalty, British Music, British Fashion, British Movie Stars, British Saints, British Buildings and British Sports.

The UK, Great Britain, Albion, this Sceptred Isle - however you refer to this small island perched up on the north western edge of the European continent, one thing that is undeniable is that nowhere else on Earth, from any country, has there been such a massive global impact.

Whether in the form of symbols of power as with the British Union Flag, in the guise of the person as with W. Churchill or Princess Diana, or in the form of chic design, as with the mini and mini-skirt in the Swinging Sixties, The Beatles, or the simple yet powerful Oasis logo from the Britpop era of the Nineties, British icons have been at both the forefront and in the background of history, decorating the past and how we perceive it.

In taking a closer look at our British Icons and history, hopefully you can gain a better understanding of the United Kingdom, its people, and what makes us tick.

Below is a list of my favourite British Icons:

King Alfred The Great
2) BoudecaQueen Chief of the Iceni Tribe
3) King Edward the Confessor ( I am Related to )
4) Queen Elizabeth the 1st
5) Queen Victoria
6) Queen Elizabeth the 2nd
7) William Shakespeare
8) Charles Dickens
9) Agatha Christie ( Author of Miss Marple and Poiret )
10) J.K Rowling ( Author of the Harry Potter Books )
11) Sir Terry Pratchett ( Author of the Disc World Books )
12) James Herbert ( Horror Story writer of many novels including The Rats )
13) Sir Christopher Wren ( I am related to )
13b) Sir Isambard Kingdom Brunel
13c) James Watt ( Inventor of the Steam Engine )
13d) George Stevenson ( Inventor of the Steam Train )
13e) Sir Isaac Newton
13f) Charles Darwin
14) Rudyard Kipling ( Author of the Jungle Book )
14b) H.G. Wells ( Author of The Time Traveller )
14c) Arthur Conan Doyle ( Author of Sherlock Holmes )
14d) Bram Stoker ( Author of Count Dracula )
14e) Mary Shelley ( Author of Frakenstein )
14) Sir Walter Raleigh
15) Sir Francis Drake
16) Duke Of Marlborough
17) Admiral Lord Nelson
18) Duke of Wellington
19) Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
20) Robert Walpole, 1st. Earl of Orford ( Regarded as the first Prime Minister in the modern sense );
21) William The Pit The Younger ( introduced the first Income tax )
22) Charles Grey, The Earl Grey ( restriction of employment of children; reform of the poor Laws, abolition of Slavery )
23) Sir Robert Peel ( Created the first National Police Force )
24) Edward Smith -Stanley, The Earl Derby. ( Father of the Conservative party ).
25) Benjamin Disraeli ( Queen Victoria's favorite Prime Minister )
26) Sir Winston Churchill ( Saviour of the world by defeating Hitler, Mussolini and Japanese Emporer )
27) Lady Margarat Thatcher ( First female prime minister and creator of Privatisation ).
28) The 1966 England World Cup Winning Team
29) The Portsmouth F.Cup Winning Team from 2008
30) Sir Ian Botham
31) David Beckham
32) Lord Sebastian Coe
33) Steve Ovett
34) Virginia Wade
35) David Bedford
36) Johnny Wilkinson
37) Torvil and Dean
38) Jennifer Ennis
39) Dame Kelly Holmes
40) Freddie Mercury
41) Elton John
42) Queen
43) Electric Light Orchestra ( ELO )
44) The Beatles
45) Annie Lennox
45b) Pink Floyd
45c) Genesis
46d) The Spice girls
46) Tom Baker
47) Lord Olivier
48) Sir Roger Moore
49) Cary Grant
50) Peter Davidson
51) John Pertwee

Sir Henry Wood – The Last Night Of The Proms

I thought the last night of the proms is such a English Icon I would tell it's history. The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of over 70 concerts in the Albert Hall, a series of chamber concerts at Cadogan Halll, additional Proms in the Park events across the United Kingdom on the last night of the proms.

Sir Henry Joseph Wood, (3 March 1869 – 19 August 1944) was an English conductor, forever associated with The Proms which he conducted for half a century. Founded in 1895, they became known after his death as the "Henry Wood Promenade Concerts" and are now the "BBC Proms". He had an enormous influence on musical life in Britain: he improved access immensely, and also raised the standard of orchestral playing and nurtured the taste of the public, introducing them to a vast repertoire of music, encouraging especially compositions by British composers. He was knighted in 1911.

The first Proms concert was held on 10th  August 1895 in the Queen's Hall in langham Place under the auspices of impresario Robert newman. Newman's idea was to encourage an audience for concert hall music who, though not normally attending classical concerts, would be attracted by the low ticket prices and more informal atmosphere. In addition to promenading, eating, drinking and smoking were all allowed. He stated his goal as follows:

"I am going to run nightly concerts and train the public by easy stages. Popular at first, gradually raising the standard until I have created a public for classical and modern music."

With financial backing from the otolaryngologist Dr George Cathcart, Newman hired Henry Joseph Wood as the conductor for this series of concerts, called "Mr Robert Newman's Promenade Concerts". Wood built the "Queen's Hall Orchestra" as the ensemble devoted to performing the promenade concerts. Although the concerts gained a popular following and reputation, Newman went bankrupt in 1902, and the banker Edgar Speyer took over the expense of funding the concerts. In 1914 anti-german feeling forced Speyer out of his post. After Speyer, music publishers Chappell & Co. took control of the concerts.

Newman continued to work in the artistic planning of these promenade concerts until his sudden death in November 1926. With time, Wood became the name which was most closely associated with the concerts. As conductor from that first concert, Wood was largely responsible for expanding the repertoire heard in later concerts, such that by the 1920s the concerts had grown from being made up of largely more popular, less demanding works, to presenting music by contemporary composers such as Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss Ralph Vaughan Williams. A bronze bust of Wood, belonging to the Royal Academy of Music is placed in front of the Organ for the whole season. While now known as the BBC Proms, the text on the tickets (along with the headline "BBC Proms" next to the BBC logo), still says "BBC Music presents the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts'".

In 1927, the BBC — later based at Broadcasting House next to the hall—took over the running of the concerts. When the BBC Symhony Orchestra (BBC SO) was formed in 1930, it became the main orchestra for the concerts. At this time the season consisted of nights dedicated to particular composers; Mondays were Wagner, Fridays were Beethoven with other major composers being featured on other days. There were no Sunday performances.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the BBC withdrew its support. The Proms continued though, under private sponsorship, until the Queen's Hall was gutted by an air raid in 1941 (its site is now the St George's Hotel and BBC Henry Wood House). The following year, the Proms moved to their current home, the Royal Albert Hall, and the BBC took over once more. In 1944, however, increased danger to the Royal Albert Hall from bombing meant that the Proms moved again, this time to the Bedford Corn Exchange. This venue had been the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1941 and played host to the Proms until the end of the war. After the war, other orchestras were invited to perform in the Proms, such that the BBC SO was no longer the sole orchestra responsible for all Proms concerts.

Wood continued his work with the Proms until his death in 1944. In the years after the war, Sir Adrian Boult and Basil Cameron look on principal conducting duties for the Proms until the advent of Malcolm Sargent as Proms chief conductor in 1947. Sargent held this post until 1966. He was noted for his immaculate appearance (evening dress carnation) and his witty addresses where he good-naturedly chided the noisy Prommers. Sir Malcolm championed choral music and classical and British composers, especially Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The charity founded in his name, CLC Sargent continues to hold a special Promenade Concert each year shortly after the main season ends. CLIC Sargent, the Musician's Benevolent Fund and further musical charities (chosen each year) also benefit from thousands of pounds in donations from Prommers after most concerts. When asking for donations, Prommers from the Arena regularly announce to the audience the running donations total at concert intervals through the season, or before the concert when there is no interval.

In 2009 the total number of concerts reached 100 for the first time. In the context of classical music festivals. The Proms has been described as "the world's largest and most democratic musical festival".

World's First Football Chant – by Edward Elgar


As football is England's favourite sport and is called England's national game I thought I would write about the World's First Football Chant – by Edward Elgar who was born in the small village of Lower Broadheath outside Worcester, England on 2nd June 1857.


It has recently come to light that Elgar wrote music to the world's first football chant for his favourite football team Wolverhampton Wanderers which was called “He Banged The leather for Goal” ( The Leather was shorthand for the Football which was made of leather and if you tried to head it when wet, it nearly took your head off )!! Elgar went to his first football match in February 1898 and became hooked on the atmosphere and the football and became a fan of Wolves for the rest of his life.


Edward Elgar was an English Composer who was famous for his orchestral works including the “Land of Hope and Glory”, “Enigma Variations”, the “Pomp and Circumstance Marches”, “concertos for violin and cello” and two symphonies. He also composed oratorios, including “The Dream of Gerontius”, chamber music and songs. He was appointed Master of the Kings Musick in 1924.


Despite the fluctuating critical assessment of the various works over the years, Elgar's major works taken as a whole have in the twenty-first century recovered strongly from their neglect in the 1950s.


The Record Guide in 1955 could list only one currently-available recording of the First Symphony, none of the Second, one of the Violin Concerto, two of the Cello Concerto, two of the Enigma Variations, one of Falstaff, and none of The Dream of Gerontius. Since then there have been multiple recordings of all the major works.


More than thirty recordings have been made of the First Symphony since 1955, for example, and more than ten of The Dream of Gerontius. Similarly in the concert hall, Elgar's works, after a period of neglect are once again frequently programmed. The Elgar Society's website, in its diary of forthcoming performances, lists performances of Elgar's works by orchestras, soloists and conductors across Europe, North America and Australia.


Edward Elgar died on the 23rd February 1934.


Elgar's statue at the end of Worcester High Street stands facing the cathedral, only yards from where his father's shop once stood. Another statue of the composer is at the top of Church Street in Malvern, overlooking the town and giving visitors an opportunity to stand next to the composer in the shadow of the Hills that he so often regarded. In September 2005, a third statue sculpted by Jemma Pearson was unveiled near Hereford Cathedral in honour of his many musical and other associations with that city. It features Elgar with his bicycle.


English Poet Laureates- History

The position of Poet Laureate was informally created by Charles I for Ben Jonson in 1617, however, the title did not become an official royal office until it was conferred by letters patent on John Dryden in 1670. The position became the Poet Laureate of Great Britain in 1707, when The Act of Union created "Great Britain" as the political name of England, Scotland, and Wales.

The English Poet Laureate is the realm's official poet.

·       The Poet Laureate is a member of the royal household

·       The Poet Laureate is charged with writing verses for court and national occasions such as the monarch's 
birthday, royal births and marriages, coronations and military victories

·       The Poet Laureate was originally awarded the position for life, however, from 1999 the post is limited to 10 years

·       The Poet Laureate is chosen by the British reigning monarch from a list of nominees that the Prime Minister compiles after the death of a poet laureate

·       It is the Lord Chamberlain who appoints the poet laureate by issuing a warrant to the laureate-elect

·       The life appointment is always announced in the London Gazette.

List Of Poet laureates from the 12th Century to Present Day

Gulielmus Peregrinus assigned by Richard the Lionheart
'Master Henry' assigned by Henry III
Robert Whittington serving Richard II
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) serving Edward III
John Kay in the reign of Edward IV (1461-1483)

Bernard Andre of Toulouse (1450-1522) under Henry VII
John Skelton (1460-1529) was the 'Poet Laureate' under Henry VIII
Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) was the 'Poet Laureate' under Elizabeth I
Samuel Daniel was the 'Poet Laureate' under James I
Ben Jonson was the Poet Laureate under Charles I
Sir William Davenant (a godson of William Shakespeare) was the Poet Laureate under Charles I & Charles II

John Dryden (1668-1688)
Thomas Shadwell (1689-1692)
Naham Tate (1692-1715)
Nicholas Rowe (1715-1718)
Laurence Eusden (1718-1730)
Colley Cibber (1730-1757)
William Whitehead (1757-1785)
Thomas Warton (1785-1790)
Henry James Pye (1790-1813)
Robert Southey (1813-1843)
William Wordsworth (1843-1850)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1850-1892)
Alfred Austin (1896-1913)
Robert Bridges (1913-1930)
John Masefield (1930-1967)
Cecil Day-Lewis (1968-1972)
Sir John Betjeman (1972-1984)
Ted Hughes (1984-1998)
Andrew Motion (1999 - 2009 ) appointed as Poet Laureate for ten years only

Carol Ann Duffy (2009 – to Present Day).

English Morris Dancing – History

As an Englishman with an interest in English History I thought it would be of interest to tell the History of Morris Dancing which has a long recorded history in England, the earliest reference being from 1448.

By the early 16th century morris dancing had become a fixture of Church festivals. In mediaeval and Renaissance England, the churches brewed and sold ales, including wassail. These ales were sold for many occasions, both seasonal and sacramental - there were christening ales, bride's ales, clerk, wake and Whitsun ales - and were an important means of fund-raising for churches.

Later in the century the morris became attached to village fetes, and the May Day revels; Shakespeare says "as fit as a Morris for May Day" and "a Whitsun Morris Dance".

William Kemp danced a solo morris from London to Norwich in 1600. Morris Dancing was popular in Tudor times. However under Cromwell it fell out of favour and was actively discouraged by many Puritans. The ales were suppressed by the Puritan authorities in the seventeenth century and, when some reappeared in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, they usually had associated dancing.

By the mid 18th century in the South Midlands region, morris dancing was a fixture of the Whitsun ales. Morris Dancing was now in the hands of common folk who couldn't afford the fancy costumes of a couple centuries earlier, and they were resorting to ordinary clothing decorated with ribbons and flowers. There was a separate variety of morris, called bedlam morris, being done in a swath from the Welsh border counties through Warwickshire and Northamptonshire down to Buckinghamshire; the bedlam morris seems to have been mainly or exclusively done with sticks. Whether this ‘bedlam' morris had an alternative origin we cannot say.

During the nineteenth century Morris Dancing declined rapidly. New forms of entertainment, rapid social change and its association with an older unfashionable culture were all contributing factors.

For various reasons, church ales and Whitsun ales survived quite late in the south-west Midlands. Most of the Cotswold Morris tradition comes from this region and many of the Cotswold Morris sides gave dances to Cecil Sharp and other collectors which formed the basis for the dance revival in the early twentieth century. As well as the Cotswold dances other regional versions of the the morris also survived long enough to be collected. These included ‘Border Morris' from the Welsh border counties of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, North West from Lancashire and Cheshire, and Molly dancing from East Anglia. In the north of England long sword dancing was collected from Yorkshire and Rapper sword from the North East. It was widely believed that other regional varieties of the dance had been forgotten and lost. New evidence has recently been unearthed of ‘lost morris' in other areas of the country and that is what Rattlejag are all about.


English Christmas Traditions - History

England is famous for its Traditional Christmas and as a born and bred Englishman, My Christmas involved family reunions, Christmas Dinner and watching the Queens Speech at 3pm.

Queens Christmas Speech

The Sovereign King George V appeared on the radio on Christmas Day 1932. This happened every year until 1957 when Queen Elizabeth II appeared on Television, Christmas Day at 3pm. The Christmas Broadcast is an intrinsic part of Christmas Day festivities and is broadcast UK and Commonwealth wide and In 2003, over 10 million viewers in Britain alone, settled down to watch the Broadcast on Christmas Day.

Christmas Tree

Not the oldest of traditions, the Christmas tree may have originated in Germany, but it is very popular in England, too. The first Christmas tree in England was the one Prince Albert, the spouse of Queen Victoria, placed in their royal home in 1837. There are lots of trees in public places as well, the most famous being the huge one in Trafalgar Square which is given to the UK by Norway as a thank you for our help during WW2.

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are sent off to relatives, friends, loved ones and business contacts at the begining of December. This was invented by us English and dates back to 1840, and every year more than one billion Christmas cards are sent in Great Britain - December is decidedly not the easiest month to be a postman in England.

Advent Calender

The modern advent calendar consists of a carboard surround, usually decorated in some popular culture or chocolate-related theme which has been adjusted to look Christmassy, bearing at least 24 little doors. Behind each door will be a moulded Christmas-related shape, and there may also be small picture on the inside of the door or on the cardboard behind the chocolate. The chocolate will probably sit in a plastic tray, and may be protected by a layer of foil which is best slit open using a fingernail. Advent calendar traditions include the 24th chocolate or door bearing the words 'Santa's Coming' or a depiction of a Nativity scene, and the person opening the calendar guessing which Christmas-related item will be depicted behind each door.

Christmas Holly

It is to be noted that here in England, a strong distinction is made between the 'he holly' and the 'she holly', based on the nature of the leaves. The 'he holly' is characterized by prickly leaves while 'she Holly' is characterized by the smooth surface of the leaves. The Holly, which is strongly linked with Christmas or rather Christmas festival, has a history of its own. Though Christmas Holly history has its roots in Northern Europe, the sanctity of the Holly plant has a pagan origin. The Holly plant is characterized by green leaves that are prickly in nature. It needs a mention here that the Druids adorned their heads with twigs of the Holly plant whenever they went to the forest.

The Holly Man

The Holly Man, the winter guise of the Green Man (a character from pagan myths and folklore), decked in fantastic green garb and evergreen foliage, appears from the River Thames every January. The Green Man is thought to represent life, death, fertility and rebirth. He brings nature and mankind together. The Green Man is usually depicted in carvings with leafy vines growing around his body, from his face, mouth, eyes, nose and ears.


We English don't stop at pine trees: holly and mistletoe are equally essential natural Christmas decorations. Mistletoe's popularity obviously has something to do with the custom of kissing the person with whom you stand underneath it - a tradition that allegedly dates back to Pagan Britain and ancient Roman times, when enemies who met under it were said to have to give up their rivalries.


Wassail is an ale-based drink seasoned with spices and honey. It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter. Wassail comes from an old English term 'waes hael' meaning to be well. In Saxon times the Lord of the Manor would shout this to the crowds and they would all drink an ale based drink. This tradition continued over time as people would go from house to house with the drink and Christmas food. Some parts of the country especially in rural areas still go 'a wassailing' in January - usually the 17th which was the old twelfth night. While it's not called wassailing nowadays you'll also find that people in England will still go visiting neighbours for a glass of mulled wine (or something else alcoholic) and a mince pie. The Wassail bowl would be passed around with the greeting, 'Wassail'. Wassailing has been associated with English Christmas and New Year as far back as the 1400s. It was a way of passing on good wishes among family and friends.

Christmas Carols

The earliest carol was written in 1410. Sadly only a very small fragment of it still exists. The carol was about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem. Most Carols from this time and the Elizabethan period are based on untrue stories, very loosely based on the Christmas story, about the holy family and were seen as entertaining rather than religious songs. They were usually sung in homes rather than in churches! Travelling singers or Minstrels started singing these carols and the words were changed for the local people wherever they were travelling.

Perhaps the most famous carol service, is the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College in Cambridge, UK. This service takes place on Christmas Eve and is broadcast live on BBC Radio (and all over the world). In my house, we listen to it and it means Christmas has really started!! The Service was first performed in 1918 as a way of the college celebrating the end of the First World War. It is always started with a single choir boy singing a solo of the first verse of the Carol 'Once in Royal David's City'.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day officially began in England in the middle of the 19 century under the rule of Queen Victoria. However, many adults and children do not know the true meaning of Boxing Day and its reasons for celebrating. It was a day to thank the community for all their effort throughout the years. The maids, drivers and other service workers were thanked with gifts of food, money, clothing, and other goods. It is important to teach students how they can contribute to society and to understand not all families are able to provide for their families all of the time. The countries that celebrate Boxing Day includes Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth Countries celebrate Boxing Day on December 26th.

Twelth Night – Twelve Days of Christmas and Lights and Decorations

Twelfth Night (5th January) is when all Christmas Lights and Decorations should be removed so as not to bring bad luck upon the home. If decorations are not removed on Twelfth Night, they should stay up all year.

Nativity Play

Another eagerly awaited event in the run-up to Christmas is the nativity play: each year hundreds of thousands of school children act out the story from the Bible about the birth of Christ. They dress up as Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the shepherds and the three Wise Men - and occasionally children get to don ox and donkey costumes.


Pantomimes are cheerful musical interpretations of classic fairy tales that are performed by professional or amateur actors - and the audience: crowd participation is a big part of pantomime fun. Pantomimes became popular in England in the 1500s. There are Pre-Christian roots to the pantomime, most notably the playing of men by women and the other way around. This probably stems back to the pagan winter festivals, where roles were reversed in plays: males would play females; masters, servants and children would play parents.

English Christmas Food

Christmas dinner is very traditional and includes a variety of the following: Turkey, Sage and Onion or Sausage or Chestnut Stuffing, Cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts, roast potato's, English mustard or Mint Sauce and for afters either: Mince pies, chocalate Yule Logs, iced fruit cake, Christmas Pudding,Shortbread or Cheese and Crackers..

Christmas Crackers

The most original English Christmas tradition, however, is the Christmas cracker: the popular small paper tubes with little gifts inside were invented by a baker from London in the mid 19th century and have gone on to conquer the world. It is traditionally opened by two people who each pull on one end of the cracker until it, well, cracks. Merry Christmas!

Father Christmas plus his Sleigh and Reindeers

Father Christmas was originally part of an old English midwinter festival, normally dressed in green, a sign of the returning spring. He was known as 'Sir Christmas', 'Old Father Christmas' or Old Winter'.

In this earliest form, Father Christmas was not the bringer of gifts for small children, nor did he come down the chimney. He simply wandered around from home to home, knocking on doors and feasting with families before moving on to the next house.

The Ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843) is based on Father Christmas. He is described as a large man with a red beard and fur-lined green robe.

Images of Father Christmas (Santa Claus) dressed in red started appearing on Christmas cards in the late Victorian times.

Supergroup Queen and Freddie Mercury – History

I have decided to create this article about the greatest pop group in the world - "Queen" as it's one of the Icons of Britain.

Arguably Britain's and the World's greatest Pop Group.

Queen began life as a glam rock unit in 1972. Brian May (b. 19 July 1947, Twickenham, Middlesex, England; guitar) and Roger Taylor (b. Roger Meddows-Taylor, 26 July 1949, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England; drums) had been playing in a college group called Smile with bassist Tim Staffell. When the latter left to join Humpty Bong (featuring former Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen), May and Taylor elected to form a new band with vocalist Freddie Mercury (b. Frederick Bulsara, 5 September 1946, Zanzibar, Africa, d. 24 November 1991). The name Bulsara was taken from the small Gujarati town in which Bomi Bulsara, Freddie's father, was brought up. Freddie's father was an accountant for the British Colonial Office in Zanzibar. Early in 1971 bassist John Deacon (b. 19 August 1951, Leicester, England) completed the line-up.

Queen were signed to EMI late in 1972 and launched the following spring with a gig at London's Marquee club. Soon after the failed single, Keep Yourself Alive, they issued a self-titled album, which was an interesting fusion of '70s glam and late '60s heavy rock.

After spending his formative years in India, Freddie and his family fled to England because of a revolution in Zanzibar. He was 18 when he arrived in England. There, he pursued a Diploma in Art and Graphic Design at Ealing Art College, following in the footsteps of Pete Townshend. This knowledge was to come in useful when he designed queens famous crest. After a few short years, he fell in love with Britain and consequently he took out British Citezenship.

Queen started using studio overdubs in a serious way with their second album, Queen II, which features Freddie's music on the entire second side of the LP (or, in CD parlance, tracks 6-11). Many listeners identify "Bohemian Rhapsody" as the pinnacle of his musical achievement, but it is possible to find the seeds of this mini-opera in his earlier works.

Queen toured extensively and recorded a second album which fulfilled their early promise by reaching the UK Top 5. Soon after, Seven Seas Of Rhye gave them their first hit single, while SHEER HEART ATTACK consolidated their commercial standing. The title track from the album was also the band's first US hit.

The pomp and circumstance of Queen's recordings and live act were embodied in the outrageously camp theatrics of the satin-clad Mercury, who was swiftly emerging as one of rock's most notable showmen during the mid-'70s.1975 was to prove a watershed in the group's career.

After touring the Far East, they entered the studio with producer Roy Thomas Baker and completed the kitsch epic Bohemian Rhapsody, in which Mercury succeeded in transform ing a seven-minute single into a mini-opera. The track was both startling and unique in pop and dominated the Christmas charts in the UK, remaining at number 1 for an astonishing nine weeks. The power of the single was reinforced by an elaborate video production, highly innovative for its period and later much copied by other acts.

The album, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, was one of the most expensive and expansive albums of its period and lodged at number 1 in the UK, as well as hitting the US Top 5. Queen were now aspiring to the superstar bracket. Their career thereafter was a carefully marketed succession of hit singles, annual albums and extravagantly produced stage shows.

A DAY AT THE RACES continued the bombast, while the catchy Somebody To Love and anthemic We Are The Champions both reached number 2 in the UK. Queen singles output took off with the rockabilly Crazy Little Thing Called Love and disco-influenced Another One Bites The Dust (both US number 1's).

The group's soundtrack for the movie FLASH GORDON was another success, typical of their pretentious approach. By the close of 1981, Queen were back at number 1 in the UK for the first time since Bohemian Rhapsody with Under Pressure (a collaboration with David Bowie).

After a flurry of solo ventures, the group returned in fine form in 1984 with the satiric Radio Gaga, followed by the histrionic I Want To Break Free.

A performance at 1985's Live Aid displayed the group at their most professional and many acclaimed them the stars of the day. Coincidentally, their next single was One Vision, an idealistic song in keeping with the spirit of Live Aid. Queen's recorded output lessened during the late '80s as they concentrated on extra-curricular ventures.

With a wide vocal range and a somewhat operatic technique, Freddie Mercury was one of the most versatile and technically accomplished singers to work in the pop idiom. He was the composer of many of Queen's hits, including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Somebody to Love" and "We Are the Champions". Freddie's songwriting was unique, demonstrating influence from a variety of sources, but a strong individual sense of melody, harmony, and complex orchestration. In several of his most well-crafted and popular tunes he provided all of the vocal tracks, resulting in a smooth controlled sound that was at the time unprecedented.

The space between releases did not effect the group's popularity, however, as was proven in 1991 when INNUENDO entered the UK chart at number 1. After Freddie's death the group re-listened to the last album and realised he had opened his heart with the lyrics and music of INNUENDO and with there powerful harmonies, and faultless musicianship, held together with May's biting guitar virtuosity and the spectacular Freddie Mercury, I think Queen were and still is the greatest complete rock act ever seen.

The career of the group part one ended with the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury on 24 November 1991. Bohemian Rhapsody was immediately reissued to raise money for AIDS research projects, and soared to the top of the British charts.

A memorial concert for Freddie Mercury took place at London's Wembley Stadium in the spring of 1992, featuring an array of stars including Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Guns N' Roses, David Bowie, Annie Lennox and George Michael who at the tribute concert hit the notes that normally only Freddie Mercury could reach – well done George.

He released two solo albums: Mr. Bad Guy (1985) and Barcelona (1988), the latter with Catalan soprano Montserrat Caballé. The collaboration came as surprise to critics, being the first of its kind, but was nonetheless widely acclaimed if not commercially successful.

Freddie possessed a very slight tenor voice, he was able to produce very sharp sounds, but also quite grave sounds. Mercury had an enviable voice range, with the superb extension of three and a half octaves.

One of his hits as a solo artist was a cover of the song "The Great Pretender" (1987), but after his death gained his first solo number 1 hit "Living On My Own", remixed by No More Brothers, which was his biggest UK hit.

Freddie Mercury was bisexual; however, he did not officially come out until his announcement that he had AIDS ( Which he caught when he was living in New York ), one day before he died. He was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery; the wherabouts of his ashes are unknown. The remaining members of Queen founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust and organized The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

He was a fan of Liza Minnelli and Michael Jackson, the latter of whom he collaborated with on some tracks, which were never published including "State Of Shock" which was performed by Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger for the official release. He was well known for his extravagance and hedonism, but also for his kindness and generosity. He adored cats and kept several, even writing a song about his favourite ("Delilah", on the Innuendo album, 1991). He was a heavy smoker, which contributed to a roughening of his voice in the eighties.

He was a Zoroastrian. His famous overbite was caused by the presence of four extra teeth which pushed his incisors out. He commented early in his career that he wished to have work done on his teeth, but regretted that he didn't have time to do it. He also expressed fears that such an operation might damage his voice.

Freddie Mercury appears in the 2002 List of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public).

Solo Albums:

Mr. Bad Guy (1985)
Barcelona (1988) (with Montserrat Caballé)
The Freddie Mercury Album (1992)
The Great Pretender [UK Version Of The Freddie Mercury Album] (1992)

Box set:

The Solo Collection (10 CDs and 2 DVDs) (2000)

Please visit the website where all 372 songs by Queen are listed:

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Marc Bolan - T Rex

The last UK Concert by T-Rex and Marc Bolan was in 1977 at The Guildhall, Portsmouth. As an interesting addendum Marc Bolan's brother worked for many years as a Portsmouth Bus Conductor.

Lewis Carroll 1832-1898 author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

One of the most famous Victorian authors and books is the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I thought it would be of interest to write about his life works.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born on 27th January 1832 and is better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll who was an English author, Mathematician, Logician, Anglican Deacon and Photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through The Looking-Glass.

According to anecdotes, Dodgson was very shy and he even hid his hands continually within a pair of gray-and-black gloves. In 1867 he travelled with his friend and colleague Henry Parry Liddon to Russia, where they visited churches, museums and other places of interest. After this journey, he never again left Britain. Dodgson died on January 14, 1898. He was buried in Guilford Cemetery.

In spite of his stammer, Dodgson spoke easily with children, whom he often photographed, first with their clothes on. From July 1866, Dodgson began to take nude photographs, always with the permission of parents. During the next thirteen years, Dodgson took many nude studies, but before he died, he destroyed most the negatives and prints. Dodgson was careful not to show them to anybody, stating in a letter that "there is really no friend to whom I should wish to give photographs which so entirely defy conventional rules."

Dodgson had seven sisters. Although his attraction to young girls was well-known, he followed in their company the strict Victorian rules of behaviour and morals, even if his feelings were more intense than he acknowledged in his diaries. He also had long friendships with mature women, but remained a bachelor. This side of his life has remained little examined.

During one picnic – on July 4, 1862, on a blazing summer afternoon – Dodgson began to tell a long story to Alice Liddell (died in 1934), his ideal child friend, who was the daughter of Henry George Liddell, the head of his Oxford college. The Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was born from these tales. The friendship with the Liddell family ended abruptly in June 1863, two years before Wonderland was published, and Dodgson turned his attention to other young friends.

According to some Oxford gossips, Dodgson had proposed marriage to Alice, aged eleven; for females the legal age to marry was twelve. However, the cause of the break between Dodgson and the Liddells is a mystery. Dodgson's relationship with the family remained formal, but in 1870 Mrs. Liddell Brough, Alice and her sister Ina to Dodgson's studio to be photographed. When Alice married Reginald Gervis Hargreaves in 1870, he gave the couple a watercolor of Tom Quad, one of the quadrangles of Christ Church in Oxford. Alice was absent from his funeral, no Liddells appeared.

Originally the book appeared under the title Alice's Adventures Under Ground. The story centers on the seven-year-old Alice, who falls asleep in a meadow, and dreams that she plunges down a rabbit hole, where finds herself first too large and then too small. She meets such strange characters as Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the King and Queen of Hearts, and experiences wondrous, often bizarre adventures, trying to reason in numerous discussions that do not follow the usual paths of logic. Finally she totally rejects the dream world and wakes up.

The sequel Through the Looking Class, appeared in 1871. It is perhaps more often quoted than the first, featuring the poems Jabberwocky and The Walrus and the Carpenter. The artist John Tenniel refused to illustrate one chapter in Through the Looking Class because he thought that it was ridiculous. The chapter was published later in 1872 as The Wasp in a Wig. Dodgson himself always wished to be an artist and as a boy he illustrated all the manuscript magazines, which he made for his younger brothers and sisters. Dodgson's original drawings for Alice's Adventures Underground were published in 1961.

He was also well known for his poems “The Hunting of the Snark and “Jabberwocky”, all examples of the genre of Literary nonsense. He is noted for his facility at word play, logic, and fantasy, and there are societies dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of his works and the investigation of his life in many parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and New Zealand.

Life's Work

Literary works;

A Tangled Tale

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)


He thought he saw an elephant

Rhyme? And Reason? (also published as Phantasmagoria)

Pillow Problems

Sylvie and Bruno

Sylvie and Bruno Concluded

The Hunting of the Snark (1876)

Three Sunsets and Other Poems

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (includes "Jabberwocky" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter") (1871).

What the Tortoise Said to Achilles

Mathematical works;

A Syllabus of Plane Algebraic Geometry (1860)

The Fifth Book of Euclid Treated Algebraically (1858 and 1868)

An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations

Euclid and his Modern Rivals (1879), both literary and mathematical in style

Symbolic Logic Part I

Symbolic Logic Part II (published posthumously)

The Game of Logic

Some Popular Fallacies about Vivisection

Curiosa Mathematica I (1888)

Curiosa Mathematica II (1892)

The Theory of Committees and Elections, collected, edited, analyzed, and published in 1958, by Duncan Black

Over the remaining twenty years of his life, throughout his growing wealth and fame, his existence remained little changed. He continued to teach at Christ Church until 1881, and remained in residence there until his death. His last novel, the two-volume Sylvie and Bruno, was published in 1889 and 1893 respectively. It achieved nowhere near the success of the Alice books. Its intricacy was apparently not appreciated by the contemporary readers. The reviews and its sales, only 13,000 copies, were disappointing.

The only occasion on which (as far as is known) he travelled abroad was a trip to Russia in 1867, which he recounts in his "Russian Journal" which was first commercially published in 1935.

He died on 14 January 1898 at his sisters' home, "The Chestnuts" in Guildford of pneumonia following influenza. He was 2 weeks away from turning 66 years old. He is buried in Guildford at the mount cemetary.


Charles Kingsley (12th June 1819 – 23rd January 1875) Author of The Water Babies

One of the most famous Victorian authors and books is the The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. I thought it would be of interest to write about his life works. Charles Kingsley.

was an English clergyman, University Professor, Historian and novelist, particularly associated with the West country and Hampshire. He was the eldest child of Revd. Charles Kingsley and Mary Lucas. Charles Kingsley was born on 12th June 1819 at Holne vicarage, Devonshire, England. After studying at Magdalene College, Cambridge, he was ordained in 1842. In 1844 he became vicar for Eversley in Hampshire. On 10th January 1844 he married Frances Eliza Grenfell with whom he would have four children.

In 1854 Kingsley helped establish Working Men's College. Westward Ho! was published a year later. The Crimean War was raging and England delighted in his adventure/romance on the Spanish Main. Kingsley also wrote fiction for children including The Heroes or; Greek Fairy tales for my Children (1856) and Madam How and Lady Why (1868).

In 1863 Kingsley published his most famous book, The Water Babies. The book, written for his youngest son, tells the story of a young chimney-sweep, who runs away from his brutal employer. In his flight he falls into a river and is transformed into a water baby. Thereafter, in the river and in the seas, he meets all sorts of creatures and learns a series of moral lessons.

In 1859 he was appointed chaplain to the Queen, and a year later became part time professor of modern history at Cambridge until 1869. Hereward the Wake was published in 1866. In 1873 he was appointed canon of Westminster Abbey. Kingsley died at Eversley in 1875.


Saint's Tragedy, a drama

Alton Locke, a novel (1849)

Yeast, a novel (1849)

Twenty-five Village Sermons (1849)

Cheap Clothes and Nasty (1850)

Phaeton, or Loose Thoughts for Loose Thinkers (1852)

Sermons on National Subjects (1st series, 1852)

Hypatia, a novel (1853)

Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore (1855)

Sermons on National Subjects (2nd series, 1854)

Alexandria and her Schools (I854)

Westward Ho!, a novel (1855)

Sermons for the Times (1855)

The Heroes, Greek fairy tales (1856)

Two Years Ago, a novel (1857)

Andromeda and other Poems (1858)

The Good News of God, sermons (1859)

Miscellanies (1859)

Limits of Exact Science applied to History (Inaugural Lectures, 1860)

Town and Country Sermons (1861)

Sermons on the Pentateuch (1863)

The Water-Babies (1863)

The Roman and the Teuton (1864)

David and other Sermons (1866)

Hereward the Wake, a novel (1866)

The Ancient Régime (Lectures at the Royal Institution, 1867)

Water of Life and other Sermons (1867)

The Hermits (1869)

Madam How and Lady Why (1869)

At Last: A Christmas in the West Indies (1871)

Town Geology (1872)

Discipline and other Sermons (1872)

Prose Idylls (1873)

Plays and Puritans (1873)

Health and Education (1874)

Westminster Sermons (1874)

Lectures delivered in America (1875)

Charles Kingsley's novel Westward Ho! led to the founding of a town by the same name—the only place name in England which contains an exclamation mark—and even inspired the construction of a railway, the Bideford, Westward Ho! And Appledore Railway. Few authors can have had such a significant effect upon the area which they eulogised. A hotel in Westward Ho! was named for him and it was also opened by him.

A hotel opened in 1897 in Bloomsbury, London, was named after Kingsley. It still exists, but changed name in 2001 to the Thistle Bloomsbury. The original reasons for the chosen name was that the hotel was opened by teetotallers who admired Kingsley for his political views and his ideas on social reform. Charles Kingsley died on January 23rd 1875.

James Herbert OBE – English Iconic Horror Author

I am a great fan of James Herbert who has written some great pieces of Horror including my favourite – The “Rats” which I brought in 1974. As a teenager every time James Herbert released a new horror book I would be joining the queue at my local W H Smiths. James Herbert was born on the 8th April 1943 and has sold over 40 million books worldwide. All through my life I can remember reading the newest James Herbert book at certain special events of my life.  I remember buying “The Fluke” in 1977 when I first started work and reading “The Jonah” when I had just got engaged in 1981.

During my lifetime I have had many Supernatural experiences which I have written about in my many articles which can be found at my website. I recommend to  any “Horror Story” fan to go out and buy any of James Herbert's books (They are so much better than Stephen king's) but don't forget to read his books with plenty of lights on and not in a spooky haunted house.

List of James Herbert Books:

1974: The Rats           1975: The Fog 1976: The Survivor     1977: Fluke     1978: The Spear

1979: Lair                    1980: The Dark           1981: The Jonah         1983: Shrine    1984: Domain

1985: Moon                 1986: The Magic Cottage       1987: Sepulchre          1988: Haunted

1990: Creed                1992: Portent              1992: By Horror Haunted       1993: The City

1993: Dark Places      1994: The Ghosts Of Sleath   1996: '48         1999: Others

2001: Once     2003: Nobody True     2003: Devil In The Dark          2006: The Secret Of Crickley Hall

2010: Ash

James Herbert was awarded the Order Of The British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours list.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley– English Iconic Author of Frakenstein

Mary Shelley will forever be remembered for her novel “Frankenstein” one of the scariest books you will ever read. Mary was born on the 30th August 1797 in Somers Town, England to well-known parents: author and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and philosopher William Godwin. Mary was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer and travel writer who was best known for her Gothic Novel Frankenstein and The Modern Prometheus.

She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic Poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley who she had married in 1816 after the death of his wife Harriet.

In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelley's left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence.

In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish Percy Shelley's works and for her novelFrankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements.

Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels “Valperga” (1823) and “Perkin Warbeck” (1830), the apocalyptic novel “The Last Man” (1826), and her final two novels, “Lodore (1835) and “Falkner” (1837).

Studies of her lesser-known works such as the travel book “Rambles in Germany and italy” (1844) and the biographical articles for “Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia” (1829–46) support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life.

Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.

In the mid-1840s, Mary Shelley found herself the target of three separate blackmailers. In 1845, an Italian political exile called Gatteschi, whom she had met in Paris, threatened to publish letters she had sent him. A friend of her son's bribed a police chief into seizing Gatteschi's papers, including the letters, which were then destroyed. Shortly afterwards, Mary Shelley bought some letters written by herself and Percy Bysshe Shelley from a man calling himself G. Byron and posing as the illegitimate son of the late Lord Byron. Also in 1845, Percy Bysshe Shelley's cousin Thomas Medwin approached her claiming to have written a damaging biography of Percy Shelley. He said he would suppress it in return for £250, but Mary Shelley refused.

The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53 on the 1st February 1851.

Sir Terry Pratchett – Fantasy and Discworld Genius Author

During my many years as a born and bred Englishman, one of the most iconic English authors of comic surreal fantasy writing is Sir Terry Pratchett. As a great fan of his books especially his comic Discworld series I thought I would write about the author and list his many fabulous books. Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE was born on 28th April 1948 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

He is more commonly known as Terry Pratchett, an English novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre. He is best-known for his popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. Terry Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic was published in 1983, he has written two books a year on average.

In 1987 after finishing the fourth Discworld novel,Mort he began to focus fully on and make his living through writing. His sales increased quickly and many of his books occupied top places on the best-seller list. According to The Times, Pratchett was the top selling and highest earning UK author in 1996. Some of his books have been published by Doubleday and another by Transworld imprint.

On 31 December 2008 it was announced that Terry Pratchett was to be knighted in the Queen's 2009 New Years Honour's. He formally received the accolade at Buckingham Palace on 18 February 2009. Afterwards he said, "You can't ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood. You know, for two pins I'd get myself a horse and a sword."

In late 2009, he did make himself a sword, with the help of his friends. He told a “Time's Higher education” interviewer that "'At the end of last year I made my own sword. I dug out the iron ore from a field about 10 miles away - I was helped by interested friends. We lugged 80 kilos of iron ore, used clay from the garden and straw to make a kiln, and lit the kiln with wildfire by making it with a bow.' Colin Smythe, his long-term friend and agent, donated some pieces of meteoric iron - 'thunderbolt iron has a special place in magic and we put that in the smelt, and I remember when we sawed the iron apart it looked like silver. Everything about it I touched, handled and so forth ... And everything was as it should have been, it seemed to me.'"

Although in the past he has written in the sci-fi and horror genres, Pratchett now focuses almost entirely on fantasy, explaining "it is easier to bend the universe around the story".

List of Terry Pratchett books:

  • The Colour of Magic
  • The Light fantastic
  • Mort
  • Sourcery
  • Wyrd Sisters
  • Pyramids
  • Guards! Guards!
  • Eric
  • Moving Pictures
  • Reaper Man
  • Witches Abroad
  • Small Gods
  • Lords and Ladies
  • Men At Arms
  • Soul Music
  • Interesting Times
  • Maskerade
  • Feet of Clay
  • Hogfather
  • Jingo
  • The Last Continent
  • Carpe Jugulum
  • The Fifth Elephant
  • The Truth
  • Thief of Time
  • The Last Hero
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated rodents
  • Night Watch
  • Wee Free Men
  • Monstrous Regiment
  • A Hat Full of Sky
  • Going Postal
  • Thud!
  • Wintersmith
  • Making Money

I Shall Wear Midnight. This is the most recent book by Terry Pratchett – launched in September 2010 and is one of his best books.

Samuel Johnson 1709 to 1784 an English icon


  • Samuel Johnson is one of my favourite English Icons who changed the way way we English looked at ourselves and is often referred to as Dr Johnson. He was a British author who made lasting contributions to English Literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of "the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature": James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson.
  • Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire on 18th September 1709 and attended Pembroke College, Oxford for just over a year, before his lack of funds forced him to leave. After working as a teacher he moved to London, where he began to write miscellaneous pieces for The Gentleman's Magazine. His early works include the biography The Life of Richard Savage the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes and the play Irene.
  • After nine years of work, Johnson's Dictionary of The English Language was published in 1755; it had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship." The Dictionary brought Johnson popularity and success. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson's was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary. His later works included essays, an influential annotated edition of William Shakespeare's Plays and the widely read tale Rasselas.
  • In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson described their travels in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the most Eminent English poets, a collection of biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets.
  • Johnson had a tall and robust figure, but his odd gestures and tics were confusing to some on their first encounter with him. Boswell's Life, along with other biographies documented Johnson's behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome (TS), a condition not defined or diagnosed in the 18th century.

After a series of illnesses he died on the evening of 13th December 1784, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In the years following his death, Johnson began to be recognised as having had a lasting effect on literary criticism, and even as the only great critic of English literature


Charles Dickens ( 1812 – 1870 )

Charles Dickens was born in Landport, Portsmouth in Hampshire, the second of eight children to John Dickens (1786–1851), a clerk in the Navy Pay Office at Portsmouth, and his wife Elizabeth Dickens (née Barrow, 1789–1863). 

When he was five, the family moved to Chatham, Kent. In 1822, when he was ten, the family relocated to 16 Bayham Street, Camden Town in London.

Charles Dickens published over a dozen major novels, a large number of short stories (including a number of Christmas-themed stories), a handful of plays, and several nonfiction books. Dickens's novels were initially serialised in weekly and monthly magazines, then reprinted in standard book formats.
The travelling shows were extremely popular and, after three tours of British Isles, Dickens gave his first public reading in the United States at a New York City theatre on 2 December 1867.

On 9 June 1870, he died at home at Gad's Hill Place after suffering a stroke, after a full, interesting and varied life. He was mourned by all his readers. In 2012 Charles Dickens descendants will be unveiling a statue outside Portsmouth Guildhall to commemorate the 200th anniversary since his birth.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ( 1859-1930 )

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Doyle’s were a prosperous Irish-Catholic family, who had a prominent position in the world of Art. Charles Altamont Doyle, Arthur's father, a chronic alcoholic, was the only member of his family, who apart from fathering a brilliant son, never accomplished anything of note. At the age of twenty-two, Charles had married Mary Foley, a vivacious and very well educated young woman of seventeen.

Mary Doyle had a passion for books and was a master storyteller. Her son Arthur wrote of his mother's gift of "sinking her voice to a horror-stricken whisper" when she reached the culminating point of a story. There was little money in the family and even less harmony on account of his father's excesses and erratic behaviour. Arthur's touching description of his mother's beneficial influence is also poignantly described in his biography, "In my early childhood, as far as I can remember anything at all, the vivid stories she would tell me stand out so clearly that they obscure the real facts of my life."

After Arthur reached his ninth birthday, the wealthy members of the Doyle family offered to pay for his studies. He was in tears all the way to England, where for seven years he had to go to a Jesuit boarding school. Arthur loathed the bigotry surrounding his studies and rebelled at corporal punishment, which was prevalent and incredibly brutal in most English schools of that epoch.

During those gruelling years, Arthur's only moments of happiness were when he wrote to his mother, a regular habit that lasted for the rest of her life, and also when he practiced sports, mainly cricket, at which he was very good.

The young medical student met a number of future authors who were also attending the university, such as for instance James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson. But the man who most impressed and influenced him, was without a doubt, one of his teachers, Dr. Joseph Bell. The good doctor was a master at observation, logic, deduction, and diagnosis. All these qualities were later to be found in the persona of the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes.

A couple of years into his studies, Arthur decided to try his pen at writing a short story. Although the result called The Mystery of Sasassa Valley was very evocative of the works of Edgar Alan Poe and Bret Harte, his favourite authors at the time, it was accepted in an Edinburgh magazine called Chamber's Journal, which had published Thomas Hardy's first work.

Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle's first gainful employment after his graduation was as a medical officer on the steamer Mayumba, a battered old vessel navigating between Liverpool and the west coast of Africa. Unfortunately he found Africa as detestable as he had found the Arctic seductive, so he gave-up that position as soon as the boat landed back in England. Then came a short but quite dramatic stint with an unscrupulous doctor in Plymouth of which Conan Doyle gave a vivid account of forty years later in The Stark Munro Letters. After that debacle, and on the verge of bankruptcy, Conan Doyle left for Portsmouth, to open his first practice.

He rented a house but was only able to furnish the two rooms his patients would see. The rest of the house was almost bare and his practice was off to a rocky start. But he was compassionate and hardworking, so that by the end of the third year, his practice started to earn him a comfortable income.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also became one of the first goalkeepers of Portsmouth Football club in the 1880s.

Arthur Conan Doyle died on Monday, July 7, 1930, surrounded by his family. His last words before departing for "the greatest and most glorious adventure of all," were addressed to his wife. He whispered, "You are wonderful."

Rudyard Kipling ( 1865-1936 )

Who lived in Portsmouth and also attended School in Portsmouth.
Kipling's days of "strong light and darkness" in Bombay were to end when he was six years old. As was the custom in British India, he and his three-year-old sister, Alice ("Trix"), were taken to England—in their case to Southsea (Portsmouth), to be cared for by a couple that took in children of British nationals living in India. The two children would live with the couple, Captain and Mrs Holloway, at their house, Lorne Lodge, for the next six years. In his autobiography, written some 65 years later, Kipling would recall this time with horror, and wonder ironically if the combination of cruelty and neglect he experienced there at the hands of Mrs Holloway might not have hastened the onset of his literary life.
Kipling kept writing until the early 1930s, but at a slower pace and with much less success than before. He died of a haemorrhage from a perforated duodenal ulcer on 18 January 1936, two days before George V, at the age of 70.

Herbert George Wells (1866 – 1946), known as H.G. Wells

Saint Paul's Road, Southsea where HG Wells used to work at a Draper's Shop 1881-1883

was an English writer best known for such science fiction novels as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon and The Island of Doctor Moreau. He was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and produced works in many different genres, including contemporary novels, history, and social commentary. He was also an outspoken socialist. His later works become increasingly political and didactic, and only his early science fiction novels are widely read today. Both Wells and Jules Verne are sometimes referred to as "The Father of Science Fiction".

No longer able to support themselves financially, the family instead sought to place their boys as apprentices to various professions. From 1881 to 1883 Wells had an unhappy apprenticeship as a draper at the Southsea Drapery Emporium. His experiences were later used as inspiration for his novels The Wheels of Chance and Kipps, which describe the life of a draper's apprentice as well as being a critique of the world's distribution of wealth.

In 1883, Wells's employer dismissed him, claiming to be dissatisfied with him. The young man was reportedly not displeased with this ending to his apprenticeship. Later that year, he became an assistant teacher at Midhurst Grammar School, in West Sussex (teaching students such as A.A. Milne, until he won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science (later the Royal College of Science, now part of Imperial College London), studying biology under T. H. Huxley. As an alumnus, he later helped to set up the Royal College of Science Association, of which he became the first president in 1909


Neville Shute (1899-1960) Famous Author

Famous Author/Aero-Engineer who worked in Portsmouth.
Born in Somerset Road, Ealing, London, he was educated at the Dragon School, Shrewsbury School and Balliol College, Oxford. Shute's father, Arthur Hamilton Norway, was the head of the post office in Dublin in 1916 and Shute was commended for his role as a stretcher bearer during the Easter Rising. Shute attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich but because of his stammer was unable to take up a commission in the Royal Flying Corps, instead serving in World War I as a soldier in the Suffolk Regiment. An aeronautical engineer as well as a pilot, he began his engineering career with de Havilland Aircraft Company but, dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities for advancement, took a position in 1924 with Vickers Ltd., where he was involved with the development of airships. Shute worked as Chief Calculator (stress engineer) on the R100 Airship project for the subsidiary Airship Guarantee Company. In 1929, he was promoted to Deputy Chief Engineer of the R100 project under Sir Barnes Wallis.

John Constable 1776 to 1837 and his Life and Quotes

Another one of my favourite artists is John Constable who is famous for his English Country Scenes. John Constable was born in East Bergholt a village on the River Stour in Suffolk to Golding and Ann (Watts) Constable on 11th June 1776. He is principally best known for his Landscape Paintings of Dedham Vale the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection. "I should paint my own places best", he wrote to his friend John Fisher in 1821, "painting is but another word for feeling". His most famous paintings include Dedham Vale of 1802 and The Hay Wain of 1821.

Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable in British art, he was never financially successful and did not become a member of the establishment until he was elected to the Royal Academy at the age of 52. During his lifetime he sold more paintings in France than here in his native England.

List of John Constables Quotes:

Letter to John Dunthorne on his drawing: 'Helmingham Dell,' 1800.

Here I am quite alone amongst the Oaks and solitudes of Helmingham Park. I have taken quiet possession of the parsonage finding it quite empty. A woman comes up from the farm house (where I eat) and makes the bed; and I am left at liberty to wander were I please during the day. There are abundance of fine trees of all sort; through the place upon the whole affords good objects [rather] than fine scenery, but I can badly judge yet what I may have to shew You. I have made one of two... drawing that may be usefull. I shall not come home yet.

Letter to John Dunthorne, 1801;

I paint by all the daylight we have and that is little enough, less perhaps than you have by much... imagine to yourself how a purl must look through a burnt glass.

1st Letter to John Dunthorne (29-05-1802), from John Constable's Correspondence,

And however one's mind may be elevated, and kept us to what is excellent, by the works of the Great Masters — still Nature is the fountain's head, the source from whence all originally must spring — and should an artist continue his practice without referring to nature he must soon form a manner, & be reduced to the same deplorable situation as the French painter mentioned by Sir Joshua Reynolds who told him that he had long ceased to look at nature for she only put him out. For the last two years I have been running after pictures, and seeking the truth at second hand. I have not endeavoured to represent nature with the same elevation of mind — but have neither endeavoured to make my performances look as if really executed by other men.I am come to a determination to make no idle visits this summer, nor to give up my time to common-place people. I shall return to Bergholt, where I shall make some laborious studies from nature — and I shall endeavour to get a pure and unaffected manner of representing the scenes that may employ me.

2nd Letter to John Dunthorne (29-05-1802)

There is room enough for a natural painture. The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth. In endeavouring to do something better than well, they do what in reality is good for nothing. Fashion always had, & will have, its day — but truth (in all things) only will last, and can only have just claims on posterity.

Letter to his future wife, Maria Bicknell (22-09-1802)

But You know Landscape is my mistress — 'tis to her that I look for fame — and all that the warmth of the imagination renders dear to Man.

Letter to Rev. John Fisher (22-07-1812)

I have been living a hermit-life, though always with my pencil in my hand... How much real delight have I had with the study of landscape this summer! Either I am myself improved in the art of seeing nature, which Sir Joshua call painting, or nature has unveiled her beauties to me less fastidiously. Perhaps there is something of both, so we will divide the compliment.

Letter to John Dunthorne (14-02-1814)

I have added some ploughmen to the landscape form the park pales which is a great help, but I must try and warm the picture a little more if I can... but I look to do a great deal better in future. I am determined to finish a small picture in the spot for every one I intend to make in future. But this I have always talked about but never yet done – I think however my mind is more settled and determined than ever on this point.

Letter to his future wife, Maria Bicknell (26-08-1816)

I am going on very well with my pictures... the park (Wivenhoe Park) is the most forward — the great difficulty has been to get so much in as they wanted to make them acquainted with the scene — on my left is a grotto with some elms — at the head of a piece of water — in the centre is the house over a beautifull wood and very far to the right is a Deer House — what it was necessary to add. So that my view comprehended to many degrees — but to day I got over the difficulty and I begin to like it 'myself'... I live in the park and mrs Rebow says I am very unsociable.

Letter to his wife, Marian (20-04-1821)

How sweet and beautifull is every place & I visit my old Haunts with renewed delight... nothing can exceed the beautiful green of the meadows which are beginning to fill with butter Cups — & various flowers — the birds are singing from morning trill night but most of all the Sky larks — How delightfull is the Country.

Letter to Rev. John Fisher (23-10-1821)

I know very well what I am about, & that my skies have not been neglected, though they often failed in execution — and often, no doubt, from an over-anxiety about them — which will alone destroy that easy appearance which nature always has — in all her movements.

But the sound of water escaping from mill-dams, &c., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork, I love such things. Shakespeare could make everything poetical; he tells us of poor Tom's haunts among "sheep cotes and mills." As long as I do paint, I shall never cease to paint such places. They have always been my delight.

Still I should paint my own places best; painting is with me but another word for feeling, and I associate "my careless boyhood" with all that lies on the banks of the Stour; those scenes made me a painter, and I am grateful; that is, I had often thought of pictures of them before ever I touched a pencil, and your picture ['The White Horse'] is one of the strongest instance I can recollect of it.

I am most anxious to get into my London painting-room, for I do not consider myself at work unless I am before a six-foot canvas. I have done a good deal of skying for I am determined to conquer all difficulties, and that among the rest.

That landscape painter who does not make his skies a very material part of his composition, neglects to avail himself of one of his greatest aids. Sir Joshua Reynolds speaking of the "Landscape" of Titian & Salvator & Claude says 'Even their skies seem to sympathise with the Subject.' I have often been advised to consider my sky as a 'hite Sheet thrown behind the Objects'. Certainly, if the sky is 'obtrusive,' (as mine are) it is bad, but if they are 'evaded' (as mine are not) it is worse, they must and always shall with me make an effectual part of the composition. It will be difficult to name a class of landscape in which the sky is not the 'key note,' the 'standard of Scale' and the chief 'Organ of sentiment.' You may conceive, then, what a "white sheet" would do for me, impressed as I am with these notions.

The sky is the 'source of light' in nature, and governs every thing. Even our common observations on the weather of every day, are suggested by them, but it does not occur to us. Their difficulty in painting both as to composition and execution is very great, because, with all their brilliancy and consequence, they ought not to come forward, or be hardly thought about in a picture... I know very well what I am about, and that my skies have not been neglected, though they have often failed in execution, no doubt, from an over-anxiety about them, which will alone destroy that easy appearance which nature always has in all her movements.

Letter to Rev. John Fisher, 1824,

They [French critics of the Paris Salon of 1824, where his painting 'the Hay Wain' received a gold medal] are very amusing and acute — but very shallow and feeble. Thus one — after saying: "'it is but justice to admire the truth — 'the color' — and 'general vivacity' & richness —" – yet they want the objects more formed and defined &c, and say they are like the rich preludes in musick, and the full harmonious warblings of the Aeolian lyre, which means 'nothing,' and they call them orations — and harangues — and high-flown conversations affecting a careless ease — &c &v &c - Is not some of this 'blame' the highest 'praise' – what is poetry? – What is Coleridge's Ancient Mariner (the very best modern poem) but something like this?

Letter to Rev. John Fisher, 1824

My picture [A Boat Passing a Lock, 1823-6] is liked at the [Royal] Academy, indeed it forms a decided feature and its light can not be put out. Because it is the light of nature — the Mother of all that is valuable in poetry — painting or anything else... my execution annoys most of them and all the scholastic ones – perhaps the scarifies I make for 'lightness' and 'brightness' is too much but these things are the essence of Landscape.

Letter to Rev. John Fisher (26-08-1827)

Our little drawing Room commands a view unequalled in Europe — from Westminster Abbey to Gravesend — the dome of St Paul's in the Air — realizes Michael Angelo's Idea on seeing that of the Partheon — 'I will build such a thing in the Sky.'

Letter to Rev. John Fisher (02-04-1833)

I had on Friday a long visit from Mr. --- alone; but my pictures do not come into his rules of whims of the art, and he said I had "lost my way." I told him that I had, perhaps other notions of art than picture admirers have in general. I looked on pictures as 'things to be avoided,' connoisseurs looked on them as things to be 'mitated'; and that, too, with such a defence and humbleness of submission, amounting to a total prostration of mind and original feeling, as must serve only to fill the world with abortions... But he was very agreeable, and endured the visit, I trust, without the usual courtesies of life being violated. What a sad thing it is that his lovely art is 'so wrested to its own destruction!' Used only to blind our eyes, and to prevent us from seeing the sub shine — the fields bloom — the tree blossom — and from hearing the foliage rustle; while old — black — rubbed out and dirty canvases take the place of God's own works.

Letter to Rev. John Fisher (20-12-1833)

My friend Bonner has just set off to Charlotte Street to pack your picture (an old painting) and forward it; it is a beautiful representation of a summer’s evening; calm, warm and delicious; the colour on the man’s face is perfect sunshine. The liquid pencil of this school is replete with a beauty peculiar to itself. Nevertheless, I don’t believe they had any 'nostrums,' but plain linseed oil; 'honest linseed' as old Wilson called it. But it is always right to remember that the ordinary painters of that day used, as now, the same vehicle as their betters, and also that their works have all received the hardening and enamelling effects of time, so that we must not judge of originality by these signs always.

Letter to C.R. Leslie (March 1833)

I ought to respect myself for my friends' sake, and my children's. It is time, at fifty-six, to begin, at least, to know oneself, — and I do know what I am not, and your regard for me has at least awakened me to believe in the possibility that I may yet make some impression with my "light" — my "dews" — my "breezes" — my bloom and freshness, — no one of which qualities has yet been perfected on the canvas of any painter in the world.

Letter to C.R. Leslie (1834)

My canvas soothes me into forgetfulness of the scene of turmoil and folly — and worse — of the scene around me. Every gleam of sunshine is blighted to me in the art at least. Can it therefore be wondered at that I paint continual storms? "Tempest o'er tempest roll'd" — still the "darkness" is majestic.

"The History of Landscape Painting," first lecture, Royal Institution (26-05-1836) from notes taken by C.R. Leslie.

I am anxious that the world should be inclined to look to painters for information about painting. I hope to show that ours is a regularly taught profession; that it is scientific as well as poetic; that imagination alone never did, and never can, produce works that are to stand by a comparison with realities.

from notes taken by C.R. Leslie (25-07-1836)

The first impression and a natural one is, that the fine arts have risen or declined in proportion as patronage has been given to them or withdrawn, but it will be found that there has often been more money lavished on them in their worst periods than in their best, and that the highest honours have frequently been bestowed on artists whose names are scarcely now known.

From Notes taken by C.R. Leslie (1836)

The climax of absurdity to which the art may be carried, when led away from nature by fashion, may be best seen in the works of Boucher... His landscape, of which he was evidently fond, is pastoral; and such pastorality! the pastoral of the Opera house.

Text for the 'Old Sarum', print in 'English Landscape' 1835/36

He [the artist] ought to have 'these powerful organs of expression' — colour and chiaroscuro — entirely at his command, that he may use them in every possible form, as well as that he may do with the most perfect freedom; therefore, whether he wishes to make the subject of a joyous, solemn, or meditative character, by flinging over it the cheerful aspect which the sun bestows, by a proper disposition of shade, or by the appearances that beautify its arising or its setting, a true "General Effect" should never be lost sight of.

Letter to William Purton (06-02-1836)

I am glad you encouraged me with the 'Stoke' [his painting 'Stoke-by-Nayland', circa 1835] What say you to a summer morning? July or August, at eight or nine o’clock, after a slight shower during the night, to enhance the dews in the shadowed part of the picture, under 'Hedge row elms and hillocks green.' Then the plough, cart, horse, gate, cows, donkey, &c. are all good paintable material for the foreground, and the size of the canvas sufficient to try one’s strength, and keep one at full collar.

Lecture, given at Hamptstead (July 1836),

Many of my Hamptstead friends may remember this 'young lady' [an ash tree] at the entrance to the village. Her fate was distressing, for it is scarcely too much to say that she died of a broken heart. I made this drawing [Study of Trees, pencil on paper, circa 1821] when she was in full health and beauty; on passing some times afterwards, I saw, to my grief, that a wretched board had been nailed to her side, on which was written in large letters: 'All vagrants and beggars will be dealt with according to law.' The tree seemed to have felt the disgrace, for even then some of the top branches had withered. Two long spike nails had been driven far into her side. In another year one half became paralysed, and not long after the other shared the same fate, and this beautiful creature was cut down to a stump, just high enough to hold the board.

Letter to David Lucas (15-02-1836),

We must bear in recollection that the sentiment of the picture is that of solemnity, not gaiety & nothing garish, but the contrary — yet it must be bright, clear, alive fresh, and all the front seen on the mezzo print of the 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows'.

William Hogarth Nov. 10th 1697 to Oct. 26th 1764

One of England's greatest artists was William Hogarth who was born in London on November 10th 1697 to Richard Hogarth, a poor Latin school teacher and textbook writer and Anne Gibbons . He was most famous for selling prints of his work throughout London and showing the social history of London Folk during the 18th. Century. It was because Hogarth wanted to protect his art prints from copiers that he helped create the World's first Copyright law.

His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects". Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian."

In his youth he was apprenticed to the engraver Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields where he learned to engrave trade cards and similar products. Young Hogarth also took a lively interest in the street life of the metropolis and the London fairs, and amused himself by sketching the characters he saw. Around the same time, his father, who had opened an unsuccessful Latin-speaking coffee house at St. John's Gate was imprisoned for debt in Fleet prison for five years. Hogarth never spoke of his father's imprisonment.

Early satirical works included an Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme 1721 about the disastrous stock market crash of 1720 known as the South Sea Bubble in which many English people lost a great deal of money.

On 23 March 1729 Hogarth married Jane Thornhill, daughter of artist Sir James Thornhill. Hogarth was initiated as a Freemason some time before 1728 in the Lodge at the Hand and Apple Tree Tavern, Little Queen Street, and later belonged to the Carrier Stone Lodge and the Grand Stewards' Lodge; the latter still possesses the 'Hogarth Jewel' which Hogarth designed for the Lodge's Master to wear. Today the original is in storage and a replica is worn by the Master of the Lodge. Freemasonry was a theme in some of Hogarth's work, most notably 'Night', the fourth in the quartet of paintings (later released as engravings) collectively entitled the Four times of The Day.

One of his masterpieces is the depiction of an amateur performance of John Dryden's The Indian Emperor, or The Conquest of Mexico (1732–1735) at the home of John Conduitt master of the Mint, in St. George's Street, Hanover Square, London.

Hogarth's other works in the 1730s include A Midnight Modern Conversation (1733), Southwark Fair (1733), The Sleeping Congregation (1736), Before and After (1736), Scholars at a Lecture (1736), The Company of Undertakers (Consultation of Quacks) (1736), The Distrest Poet (1736), The Four Times of The Day (1738), and The Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn (1738). He may also have printed Burlington Gate (1731), evoked by Alexander Pope's Epistle to Lord Burlington and defending Lord Chandos, who is therein satirized. This print gave great offence, and was suppressed (some modern authorities no longer attribute this to Hogarth).

In 1743–1745 Hogarth painted the six pictures of Marriage-a-la-mode (National Gallery, London) a pointed skewering of upper class 18th century society. This moralistic warning shows the miserable tragedy of an ill-considered marriage for money. This is regarded by many as his finest project, certainly the best piece of his serially-planned story cycles.

The series, which are set in a Classical interior, shows the story of the fashionable marriage of the son of bankrupt Earl Squanderfield to the daughter of a wealthy but miserly city merchant, starting with the signing of a marriage contract at the Earl's mansion and ending with the murder of the son by his wife's lover and the suicide of the daughter after her lover is hanged at Tyburn for murdering her husband.

William Makepeace Thackary wrote:

This famous set of pictures contains the most important and highly wrought of the Hogarth comedies. The care and method with which the moral grounds of these pictures are laid is as remarkable as the wit and skill of the observing and dexterous artist. He has to describe the negotiations for a marriage pending between the daughter of a rich citizen Alderman and young Lord Viscount Squanderfield, the dissipated son of a gouty old Earl ... The dismal end is known. My lord draws upon the counselor, who kills him, and is apprehended while endeavouring to escape. My lady goes back perforce to the Alderman of the City, and faints upon reading Counsellor Silvertongue’s dying speech at Tyburn (place of execution in old London), where the counselor has been executed for sending his lordship out of the world. Moral: don’t listen to evil silver-tongued counselors; don’t marry a man for his rank, or a woman for her money; don’t frequent foolish auctions and masquerade balls unknown to your husband; don’t have wicked companions abroad and neglect your wife, otherwise you will be run through the body, and ruin will ensue, and disgrace, and Tyburn.

Hogarth died in London on 26th October 1764 and was buried at St. Nicholas's Churchyard, Chiswick Mall, Chiswick, London. His friend, actor David Garrick composed the following inscription for his tombstone:

Farewell great Painter of Mankind

Who reach'd the noblest point of Art

Whose pictur'd Morals charm the Mind

And through the Eye correct the Heart.

If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay,

If Nature touch thee, drop a Tear:

If neither move thee, turn away,

For Hogarth's honour'd dust lies here.

During a long period of his life, Hogarth tried to achieve the status of history Painter, but unsuccessful in his goal.

Letter to his brother George, 1836, referring to J M W Turner

He seems to paint with tinted steam, so evanescent, and so airy.

Quoted in C. R. Leslie, Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, Composed Chiefly of His Letters (1843)

The world is wide; no two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of the world. There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, — light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.

Some of John Constable's Fab Paintings

Dedham Vale (1802) - Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Landscape: Two Boys Fishing (1813) -Anglesey Abbey, Cambs, NT

Landscape: Ploughing Scene in Suffolk (1814, revised c.1816 and 1831) - Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT

The Stour Valley And Dedham Village (1814–1815) - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston[24]

Boat-building near Flatford Mill (1815) - Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Golding Constable's Flower Garden (1815) - Ipswich Museum, Ipswich

Golding Constable's Kitchen Garden (1815) - Ipswich Museum, Ipswich

Portrait of Maria Bicknell, Mrs. John Constable (1816) - Tate Gallery, London

Wivenhoe Park, Essex (1816) - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Flatford Mill (original title Scene on a Navigable River; 1816–17) - Tate Gallery, London

Weymouth Bay (1816–17) - National Gallery, London

The White Horse (original title A Scene on the river Stour) (1819) - Frick Collection, New York City

Hampstead Heath (1820) - Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Stratford Mill (1820) - National Gallery, London

The Hay Wain (original title Landscape: Noon; 1821) - National Gallery, London

View on the Stour near Dedham (1822) - The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds (1823) - Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Seascape Study with Rain Clouds (1824–25) - Royal Academy of Arts, London

Brighton Beach (c.1824-6) - Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin

The Leaping Horse (1825) - Royal Academy of Arts, London

The Cornfield (1826) - National Gallery, London

Dedham Vale (1828) - National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Hadleigh Castle (1829) - Tate Gallery, London

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831) - Private collection; on loan to National Gallery, London

The Opening of Waterloo Bridge seen from Whitehall Stairs, June 18, 1817 (c.1832) - Tate Britain, London

The Valley Farm (1835) - Tate Gallery, London

Arundel Mill and Castle (c.1836–37) - Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH

In 1835, his last lecture to the students of the RA, in which he praised Raphael and called the R.A. the "cradle of British art", was "cheered most heartily". He died on the night of the 31st March, apparently from indigestion, and was buried with Maria in the graveyard of St John-at-Hampstead, Hampstead. (His children John Charles Constable and Charles Golding Constable are also buried in this family tomb.).

Thomas Gainsborough 14th May 1727 to 2nd August 1788

Another one of my favourite artist is Thomas Gainsborough who was famous for his picvture of “The Blue Boy” and family portraits and rural scenes. He was the son of a schoolteacher and was born on 14th May in Sudbury, Suffolk in 1727.

He was the youngest son of John Gainsborough, a weaver and maker of woolen goods. At the age of thirteen he impressed his father with his penciling skills so that he let him go to London to study art in 1740. As a child he copied famous paintings and at fourteen was sent to London where he trained under Hubert Gravelot. He first trained under engraver Hubert Gravelot.but eventually became associated with William Hogarth and his school. One of his mentors was Francis Hayman in those years he contributed to the decoration of what is now the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children and the supper boxes at Vauxhall Gardens.

n 1745 Gainsborough married Margaret Burr, the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Beaufort who settled a £200 annuity on the couple and established himself as a painter at Ipswich. He developed the subject-matter of small portrait groups, set in a realistic landscape. His most famous painting of this period is Mr and Mrs Andrews (1748). The artist's work, then mainly composed of landscape paintings, was not selling very well.

He returned to Sudbury in 1748–1749 and concentrated on the painting of portraits.

In 1752, he and his family, now including two daughters, moved to Ipswich Commissions for personal portraits increased, but his clientele included mainly local merchants and squires. He had to borrow against his wife's annuity.

In 1759, Gainsborough and his family moved to Bath. There, he studied portraits by Van Dyck and was eventually able to attract a better-paying high society clientele. In 1761, he began to send work to the Society of Arts exhibition in London (now the Royal Society of Arts, of which he was one of the earliest members); and from 1769 on, he submitted works to the Royal Academy's annual exhibitions.

He selected portraits of well-known or notorious clients in order to attract attention. These exhibitions helped him acquire a national reputation, and he was invited to become one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1769. His relationship with the academy, however, was not an easy one and he stopped exhibiting his paintings there in 1773.

In 1774 Gainsborough moved to London's Schomberg House, Pall Mall where he became a foundation member of the Royal Academy. In 1777, he again began to exhibit his paintings at the Royal Academy, including portraits of contemporary celebrities, such as the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland. Exhibitions of his work continued for the next six years.

In 1780, he painted the portraits of King Gorge III and his queen and afterwards received many royal commissions. This gave him some influence with the Academy and allowed him to dictate the manner in which he wished his work to be exhibited. However, in 1783, he removed his paintings from the forthcoming exhibition and transferred them to Schomberg House.

However he had several disagreements with the Academy about the selection of his paintings and refused to exhibit there after 1784.

By the 1780s Gainsborough and his rivals, Joshua Reynolds and Allan Ramsay were considered to be the best portrait painters in England. All three painted George III but it was claimed that the royal family preferred Gainsborough's portraits.

In his later years, Gainsborough often painted relatively simple, ordinary landscapes. With Richard Wilson he was one of the originators of the eighteenth-century British landscape school; though simultaneously, in conjunction with Sir Joshua Reynolds, he was the dominant Britishn portraitist of the second half of the 18th century.

He died of cancer on 2nd August 1788 at the age of 61 and is interred at St. Anne's Church, Kew, Surrey (located on Kew Green). He is buried next to Francis Bauer, the famous botanical illustrator.

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775 to 1851 Artist and Father of Impressionism

One of my favourite artists is that great English artist Joseph Turner who was the Father of Impressionism and the first Impressionist Painter in the world. The following letter explains all: "A group of French painters, united in the same aesthetic aims...applying themselves with passion to the rendering of form in movement as well as the fugitive phenomena of light, cannot forget that they have been preceded in this path by a great master of the English, the illustrious Turner." (from a letter signed by Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, and others). J.M.W. Turner was also an English Romantic landscape painter whose expressionistic studies of light, colour, and atmosphere were unmatched in their range and sublimity.

Turner was the son of a barber. At age 10 he was sent to live with an uncle at Brentford, Middlesex, where he attended school. Several drawings dated as early as 1787 are sufficiently professional to corroborate the tradition that his father sold the boy’s work to his customers. Turner entered the Royal Academy schools in 1789 and soon began exhibiting his watercolours there.

From 1792 he spent his summers touring the country in search of subjects, filling his sketchbooks with drawings to be worked up later into finished watercolours. His early work is topographical (concerned with the accurate depiction of places) in character and traditional in technique, imitating the best English masters of the day.

In 1794 Turner began working for engravers, supplying designs for the Copper Plate Magazine and the Pocket Magazine. He was also employed to make copies or elaborations of unfinished drawings by the recently deceased landscape painter John Robert Cozens. The influence of Cozens and of the Welsh landscape painter Richard Wilson helped broaden Turner’s outlook and revealed to him a more poetic and imaginative approach to landscape, which he would pursue to the end of his career with ever-increasing brilliance.

From 1796 Turner exhibited oil paintings as well as watercolours at the Royal Academy. The first, Fishermen at Sea (1796), is a moonlight scene and was acclaimed by a contemporary critic as the work “of an original mind.” In 1799, at the youngest permitted age (24), Turner was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and in 1802 he became a full academician, a dignity he marked by a series of large pictures in which he emulated the achievements of the Old Masters, especially the 17th-century painters Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Albert Cuyp and Willem van de Velde the Younger. In 1807 he was appointed professor of perspective.

Turner was perhaps the greatest landscapist of the 19th century. Although brought up in the academic traditions of the 18th century, he became a pioneer in the study of light, colour, and atmosphere. He anticipated the French Impressionists in breaking down conventional formulas of representation; but, unlike them, he believed that his works should always express significant historical, mythological, literary, or other narrative themes. A line of development can be traced from his early historical landscapes that form settings for important human subjects to his later concentration on the dramatic aspects of sea and sky.

Even without figures, these late works are expressions of important subjects: the relationship of man to his environment, the power of nature as manifested in the terror of the storm or the beneficence of the sun. Unmatched in his time in the range of his development, Turner was also unrivaled in the breadth of his subject matter and the searching innovation of his stylistic treatment.

Turner died in Chelsea in 1851 and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. By his will he intended to leave most of his fortune of £140,000 to found a charity for “decayed artists,” and he bequeathed his finished paintings to the National Gallery, on condition that a separate gallery be built to exhibit them. As a result of protracted litigation with his rather distant relatives, most of the money reverted to them, while both finished and unfinished paintings and drawings became national property as the Turner Bequest. It was not until 1908 that a special gallery was built by Sir Joseph Duveen to house some of the oil paintings at the Tate Gallery. All the drawings and watercolours were transferred to the British Museum for safety after the River Thames flood of 1928, when the storerooms at the Tate Gallery were inundated, but they were returned to the Tate Gallery on the opening of the Clore Gallery, an addition designed by James Stirling expressly for that purpose, in 1987. A few of the oil paintings still remain at the National Gallery.

In 2005, Turner's The Fighting Temeraire was voted Britain's "greatest painting" in a public poll organised by the BBC.

Life Story Of Louis Wain 1860-1939 And His Funny Animal Art

Louis William Wain was born in the London district of Clerkenwell in London on 5th. August 1860 and in his early years was interested in music, authorship, chemistry and art. Music was his first career choice but he was not sufficiently dedicated and turned to the world of art as an alternative.

In his early years he was a sickly child and often skipped school. He attended his early schooling at The Orchard Street Foundation school in Hackney and at The Saint Joseph's Academy, Kennington.

Wain was born with a Cleft Lip and the doctor gave his parents the orders that he should not be sent to school or taught until he was ten years old. As a teenage youth, he was often truant from school, and spent much of his childhood wandering around London. Following this period, Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher for a short period. At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and sisters after his father's death.

With reference to his family, Louis Wain's father had moved to London from Leek in Staffordshire where he met Julie Felice Boiteux (Anglo-French) who attended the same Roman Catholic church. They married in 1859. He had 5 younger sisters (two of whom became competent artists) and his father worked as a textile salesman and his mother designed Church fabrics and carpets.

At the age of 17 he attempted to become a musician though no evidence of any success exists today. Louis Wain then decided to study and trained at The West London School of Art ( 1877- 1882 ) and remained as an assistant teacher until he left in 1882.

After his Father - William Wain's death in 1880 he had to support his mother - Julie Wain and five younger sisters.

To help to support his family he became a freelance illustrator ( initially influenced by Caldecott and May ).

He began to make his name with Dog and Animal drawings at various Dog and Country Shows including the early British National Dog show at Crystal palace in 1882 ( which later became known as Crufts ).

In 1884 Louis Wain married Emily Richardson ( His youngest sister's governess ). Shortly after he married her she contracted Breast cancer. He brought Emily a Kitten which they called Peter and to entertain her he started drawing Peter in humorous situations and poses.

She wanted him to show his cat drawings to some editors to which some comments were - ‘whoever would want to see a picture of a cat.'

The break he had been waiting for came in 1886 when he drew several kitten illustrations for a children's book. After this, Sir William Ingram, Proprietor of the Illustrated London News, commissioned a narrative drawing of a ‘Kitten's Christmas Party'. It contained 200 cats, took 11 days to complete and according to Wain brought him ‘overnight fame.' With the success of his funny cat pictures they started to make his reputation here in Britain and in America where his humorous cat pictures were seen in Comics, newspapers and magazines. These pictures were so successful that his life would never be the same again. Alas, this was tinged with sadness as his wife died shortly afterwards, but knowing that Louis Wain had become a great success.

In the period from 1880's up to the start of the first world war he ruled supreme in cat and animal humour especially the 'Louis Wain Cat' which was recognised worldwide. The Louis Wain cats appeared in Art Prints, Comics, Newspapers, Books, Magazines, Post Cards and Annuals. The Wain cats are to be found in every human activity - from playing golf and other sports, digging up roads, Playing music, Ascot fashions, Driving cats plus lots more.

In 1886 he joined the staff of The Illustrated London News. He was the first illustrator to work consistently within the convention of depicting clothed and standing animals.

He contributed to "Comical Customers at our Fine New Store of Comical Rhymes and Pictures" in 1896 and to "Jingles. Jokes and Funny Folks" in 1898. 1902 saw the word "Catland" commonly associated with Wain's illustrations, and the publication of "Pa Cats, Ma Cats and their Kittens."
His anthropomorphic vision of the world soon brought him fame and as a result he was elected President of the British National Cat Club in 1898 and 1911.

In 1904 Louis Wain wrote a book entitled 'In Animal land with Louis Wain' which was a great success. During 1907 he invested all his savings into various Ceramic's with pictures based on his funny cats and sent most of them to America. Alas, while crossing the Atlantic, the ship capsized and all Louis Wain ceramics went to the bottom of the sea. Due to this misfortune Louis Wain went bankrupt and decided on a temporary move to the United States. He produced strip cartoons for the New York American ( 1907-1910 ) and many other American comics, newspapers and magazines.

After the death of his mother, In 1910, he returned to England and over the next few years he continued to produce books and supply pictures to various comics, newspapers and magazines.

He continued drawing fanciful cats for various newspapers and comics near the end of the first world war. During this time in 1917 he was thinking of experimenting in animation and the film was to be called 'Pussyfoot'. Alas, he decided not to persue this project and so the world lost the chance of a genius of comic cat art moving into animation. This year was a turning point in the history of Louis Wain's cats. His sister Caroline died and he fell off an Omnibus and hit his head.

After he recovered from these set backs his cats became more frenzied, surreal, jagged and pointy. During 1917 he was also diagnosed as a schizophrenic which alas, stayed with him for the rest of his life. During the onset of his disease at 57, Wain continued to Paint, Draw and Sketch cats.

In 1924 due to the economic climate and the slow recovery of GB after WW1 Louis Wain Art became less popular and he fell into poverty when his mental health deteriorated and finally his family had him certified Insane and he was committed to a pauper ward at Springfield Hospital ( Previously Surrey County Asylum ) at Tooting, London on June 16th 1924. During 1925 he was discovered by a visitor to the hospital painting his funny cat pictures. The visitor exclaimed that the artist pictures reminded him of Louis Wain's famous cats. Imagine his surprise when the Artist turned to the visitor and exclaimed he was indeed Louis Wain.  After the visitor told the world of Louis Wain's hospitalization, his admirers started a campaign which included prime minister Ramsey Macdonald, HG Wells and King George who helped set up a foundation which was set up to enable Wain to spend the last few years of his life in comfort in private asylums including Bethlehem Hospital in a private room where his treatment continued. H. G. Wells best portrays Louis Wain when he said in a 1925 broadcast, in an attempt to raise money for the impoverished artist, that three generations had been brought up on Louis Wain's cats and few nurseries were without his pictures. He made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves.

Some time in the late 1920's he was sent to Saint James  Fields, Southwark where he continued to paint and draw his cats.

In 1930 he was transferred to Napsbury Hospital near Saint Albans where he continued to paint and sketch until the end of his days. Exhibitions of his work were held in London in 1931 and 1937. On 4th. July Louis Wain died at Napsbury hospital. He is buried at Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery, Harrow Road, London NW10 ( next to Kensal Green Cemetery, London ) next to the same burial plots as his 5 sisters and parents.

He is probably best remembered through a quote from H.G. Wells "He has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves."

Louis often gave lectures on the welfare of cats and encouraged people to take in stray cats, not just purebred cats. He was elected as President and Chairman of the National Cat Club, which he served for many years, and the logo he designed for the National Cat Club is still used to this very day. He was also involved in many other animal (mainly cat) charities and groups.

I am a collector and seller of Louis Wain 1860-1939 Funny Cats, Birds, Pigs, Owls and Dogs on Art prints, so please feel free to visit my Louis Wain art prints at my Animal Gallery Page.

William Shakespeare and The Globe Theatre.

William Shakespeare is one of Britain's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide. I thought it would be interesting to write the history of this famous icon from his early cloudy beginnings.


William Shakespeare was born to John Shakespeare and mother Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. There is no record of his birth, but his baptism was recorded by the church, thus his birthday is assumed to be the 23rd  of April. His father, John Shakespeare, was a whittawer by profession and held several important town offices. His father was also a prominent and prosperous alderman in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and was later granted a coat of arms by the College of Heralds.

His mother, Mary Arden, was from a fairly wealthy family. In all the Shakespeares had eight children, and William was their first son.  

All that is known of Shakespeare's youth is that he presumably attended the Stratford Grammar School, and did not proceed to Oxford or Cambridge.

The next record we have of him is his marriage to Anne Hathaway in 1582. The next year she bore a daughter for him, Susanna, followed by the twins Judith and Hamnet two years later.

Seven years later in 1589 Shakespeare is recognized as an actor, poet and playwright, when a rival playwright, Robert Greene, refers to him as "an upstart crow" in A Groatsworth of Wit.

Between 1590 and 1592 no records of Shakespeare were found, and that period of his life is usually referred to as "The Lost Years". Some have speculated that he either became a school teacher, became a butcher's apprentice, or was running from the law during this time. 

The first evidence of Shakespeare after 1592 was in London. Here he had established himself as a playwright and actor and had found a sponsor, Henry Wriothsley. However, Shakespeare's work in the theatres came to a halt in January of 1593 when the theatres closed because of the plague. The company that Shakespeare worked for was called "Lord Chamberlain's Men" and changed their name to "The King's Men" after King James I took over in 1603. Because Shakespeare worked and performed for them, this company became the biggest and most famous acting company. Shakespeare became very wealthy as a director, writer, actor, and stockholder in "The King's Men".

In 1596 Hamnet died at the age of eleven.

When, in 1599, the troupe lost the lease of the theatre where they performed, (appropriately called The Theatre) they were wealthy enough to build their own theatre across the Thames, south of London, which they called "The Globe." The new theatre opened in July of 1599, built from the timbers of The Theatre, with the motto "Totus mundus agit histrionem" (A whole world of players) When James I came to the throne (1603) the troupe was designated by the new king as the King's Men (or King's Company). The Letters Patent of the company specifically charged Shakespeare and eight others "freely to use and exercise the art and faculty of playing Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Inerludes, Morals, Pastorals, stage plays ... as well for recreation of our loving subjects as for our solace and pleasure."

Shakespeare entertained the king and the people for another ten years until June 19th , 1613, when a canon fired from the roof of the theatre for a gala performance of Henry VIII set fire to the thatch roof and burned the theatre to the ground. The audience ignored the smoke from the roof at first, being to absorbed in the play, until the flames caught the walls and the fabric of the curtains. Amazingly there were no casualties, and the next spring the company had the theatre "new builded in a far fairer manner than before." Although Shakespeare invested in the rebuilding, he retired from the stage to the Great House of New Place in Statford that he had purchased in 1597, and some considerable land holdings where he continued to write until his death in 1616 on the day of his 52nd  birthday.

·       1556 - Anne Hathaway is born.

·       1564 - Shakespeare's baptism is recorded in the parish church of Stratford-upon-Avon dated April 26, 1564. The usual delay between birth and baptism was 3-4 days, making the date of birth most likely April 22 or 23. Since Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, and the engraving on his monument lists him as aged 53, it is assumed he was born on April 23. At least, that is how scholars in the absence of any other information have been willing to leave it. April 23 is also St. George's day, an appropriate day for the birth of the national poet.  (94 miles from London.)

·       1582 - Marries Anne Hathaway on November 27.  Worcester was 21 miles west of Stratford, and the consistory court there the place where a marriage license, issued to a local parish priest, might be obtained. Whitgift's register for the date November 27nd , 1582 indicates the issuance of a license for marriage between William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. At the time, Shakespeare would have been 18 years old.

·       1583 - Susanna Shakespeare is born.

·       1585 - The twins Judith and Hamnet Shakespeare are born.

·       1592 - After leaving Stratford for London, William was recognized as a successful actor, as well as a leading poet. He was a member of 'The Chamberlain's Men'.

·       1596 - Hamnet dies at the age of eleven. Shakespeare becomes a "gentleman" when the College of Heralds grants his father a coat of arms.

·       1597- He bought a large house called "The Great House of New Place".

·       1599 - The 'Globe Theater' is built from the pieces of 'The Theater' in July.

·       1603 - 'The Lord Chamberlain's Men' became 'The King's Men' on May 19.

·       1613 - The 'Globe Theatre' burns during a performance of Henry VII when a canon fired on the roof sets fire to the straw thatch. The theatre is rebuilt, but Shakespeare retires.

·       1616 - April 23, in Stratford, on his 52nd birthday he died.


In 1611 Shakespeare retired and left London. He made a will on March 25, 1616, and died on April 23, 1616. He was fifty two years old. The cause of Shakespeare's death is not known. Shakespeare also wrote his own epitaph because during his time, when the graveyard was full, people would dig up someone's corpse and burn it so that another could be buried in that person's place. This disgusted Shakespeare, and he didn't want this type of disrespect after his death. His epitaph reads as follows:

"Good Friends, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the bones enclosed here!
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones."

To this day no one has disturbed Shakespeare's grave.


The Globe Theatre – London Icon

I have created this article about The Globe Theatre as it's one of the newly re-built Icons of London.

The Globe Theatreis a reconstruction of the open air playhouse originally designed in 1599. The theatre was in London and associated with William Shakespeare. It was built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company and the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

The Globe was owned by actors who were also shareholders. Two of the six Globe shareholders, Richard Burbage and his brother Cuthbert Burbage owned double shares of the whole, or 25% each; the other four men, Shakespeare, John Hemmings, Augustine Phillips and Thomas Pope owned a single share, or 12.5%. (Originally William Kempe was intended to be the seventh partner, but he sold out his share to the four minority shareholders leaving them with more than the originally planned 10%). These initial proportions changed over time as new sharers were added. Shakespeare's share diminished from 1/8 to 1/14, or roughly 7%, over the course of his career.

The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre which had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 21-year lease of the site on which The Theatre was built but owned the building outright. However, the landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street's waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. With the onset of more favourable weather in the following spring, the material was ferried over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark.

On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry The Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale. It was rebuilt in the following year.

Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was pulled down in 1644, or slightly later—the commonly cited document dating the act to 15 April 1644 has been identified as a probable forgery—to make room for tenements.

A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named "Shakespeare Globe", opened in 1997 approximately 230 metres (750 ft) from the site of the original theatre. Open-air performances are held May -September. The Globe Exhibition, situated beneath the theater itself, offers a fascinating glimpse of Elizabethan theater and audiences and the design and reconstruction of the new Globe.

The Globe was owned by actors who were also shareholders in Lord Chamberlain's Men.

Two of the six Globe shareholders, Richard Burbage and his brother CuthbertBurbage, owned double shares of the whole, or 25% each; the other four men, Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, and Thomas Pope, owned a single share, or 12.5%. (Originally William Kempe was intended to be the seventh partner, but he sold out his share to the four minority sharers, leaving them with more than the originally planned 10%). These initial proportions changed over time as new sharers were added. Shakespeare's share diminished from 1/8 to 1/14, or roughly 7%, over the course of his career.

The Globe was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre, The Theatre, which had been built by Richard Burbage's father, James Burbage, in Shoreditch in 1576. The Burbages originally had a 21-year lease of the site on which The Theatre was built but owned the building outright. However, the landlord, Giles Allen, claimed that the building had become his with the expiry of the lease. On 28 December 1598, while Allen was celebrating Christmas at his country home, carpenter Peter Street, supported by the players and their friends, dismantled The Theatre beam by beam and transported it to Street's waterfront warehouse near Bridewell. With the onset of more favourable weather in the following spring, the material was ferried over the Thames to reconstruct it as The Globe on some marshy gardens to the south of Maiden Lane, Southwark.

On 29 June 1613 the Globe Theatre went up in flames during a performance of Henry the Eighth. A theatrical cannon, set off during the performance, misfired, igniting the wooden beams and thatching. According to one of the few surviving documents of the event, no one was hurt except a man whose burning breeches were put out with a bottle of ale.It was rebuilt in the following year.

Like all the other theatres in London, the Globe was closed down by the Puritans in 1642. It was pulled down in 1644 to make room for tenements.





History of English Theatres

As a child my first memory of visiting a theatre was at the Kings Theatre, Southsea in 1969 to see a Christmas Pantomine called Puss N' Boots. This opened up a whole new world and since, I have been to the theatre many times. One of the best shows I have seen was in London's West end to see a Musical play about Sir Winston Churchill. The Special effects and drama was brilliant and Robert Hardy who played Winnie was excellent.

Several hundred years after the Romans left England, towns re-emerged. The Church dominated religion, education and often politics. Theatre was reborn as liturgical dramas performed by priests or church members.

Then came vernacular drama spoken in the vulgar tongues (i.e the language of the people as opposed to Church Latin); this was a more elaborate series of one-act dramas enacted in town squares or other parts of the city. There were three types of vernacular dramas. Mystery or cycle plays, like the York Mystery Plays or Wakefield Cycle were series of short dramas based on the Old Testament and New Testament organized into historical cycles. Miracle plays dealt with the lives of saints. Morality plays taught a lesson through allegorical characters representing virtues or faults. Secular plays in this period existed, but medieval religious drama is most remembered today.

Plays were set up in individual scenic units called mansions or in wagon stages which were platforms mounted on wheels used to move scenery. Often providing their own costumes, amateur performers in England were only men, but other countries had female performers. The platform stage allowed for abrupt changes in location which was an unidentified space and not a specific locale.

Among the more notable religious plays were "The Summoning of Everyman" (an allegory designed to teach the faithful that acts of Christian charity are necessary for entry into heaven), passion plays (such as the later Oberammergau Passion Play, which is still performed every ten years), and the great cycle plays (massive, festive wagon-mounted processions involving hundreds of actors, and drawing pilgrims, tourists, and entrepreneurs) York Corpus Christi Play Simulator. The morality play and mystery play (as they are known in English) were two distinct genres.

Since many of the more theatrically successful medieval religious plays were designed to teach Catholic doctrine, the Protestant Reformation targeted the English Renaissance theatre, in an effort to stamp out allegiance to Rome.

During the 1580's a group of men formed a group called "The University Wits." These were men who were interested in writing for the public stage. The "wits" included Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, and Robert Greene.

Thomas Kyd wrote The Spanish Tragedy, the most popular play of the 16th century. He constructed a well-planned plot which made for a very interesting play. The Cambridge-educated Christopher Marlowe was important in the development of chronicle plays such as Edward II. He also wrote the well-known play Doctor Faustus.

John Lyly was another member of the University Wits who wrote primarily pastoral comedies in which he used mythology along with English subjects. Campaspe, Endimion, and Love's Metamorphosis are just a few examples of Lyly's work.

Yet another University Wit, Robert Greene, wrote pastoral and romantic comedies. Greene took many different aspects and pieces and combined them into a single play. Two of his adventurous works are Friar Bacon & Friar Bungay and James IV.

History of English Variety and Music Hall

As a child my first memory of visiting a theatre was at the Kings Theatre, Southsea in 1969 to see a Christmas Pantomine called Puss N' Boots. This opened up a whole new world and since, I have been to the theatre many times. One of the best shows I have seen was in London's West end to see a Musical play about Sir Winston Churchill. The Special effects and drama was brilliant and Robert Hardy who played Winnie was excellent.

Music hall and Variety Theatre was popular entertainment that featured successive acts by singers, comedians, dancers, and actors. The form derived from the taproom concerts given in city taverns in England in the 18th–19th centuries.

To meet the demand for entertainment for the working class, tavern owners often annexed nearby buildings as music halls, where drinking and smoking were permitted. The originator of the English music hall as such was Charles Morton, who built Morton's Canterbury Hall (1852) and Oxford Hall (1861) in London. Leading performers included Lillie Langtry, Harry Lauder (1870–1950), and Gracie Fields. Music halls evolved into larger, more respectable variety theatres, such as London's Hippodrome and the Coliseum. Variety acts combined music, comedy acts, and one-act plays and featured celebrities such as Sarah Bernhardt and Herbert Tree.

Before Music Hall was given its name, similar types of entertainment would have been going on for many centuries. In essence, Music Hall brought together a variety of different acts which together formed an evening of light hearted entertainment.

The origins of Music Hall are found in a number of institutions which provided entertainment in the populous towns and cities of Britain in the 1830s. These were:

- The backroom of the pub, where simple sing-songs gave way to the singing saloon concert.

- Popular theatre, sometimes in pub saloons but mainly at travelling fairs.

- Song & Supper Rooms, where more affluent middle class men would enjoy a night out on the town.

- The Pleasure Gardens, where entertainment became more low brow as the years passed.

By the 1850s, the tavern landlords had moved the entertainment function of pubs into purpose built halls; these new premises still retaining the traditional ambience of the inn. The format of the evening was unchanged: a chairman would introduce song and dance acts onto a simple stage, whilst trying to keep order with a gavel. In all cases, eating, drinking and smoking continued throughout the performances.

The audience, often exuberant with alcohol, both heckled and joined in with their favourite songs and performers.The growth of the Halls was rapid and spread across Britain with the first great boom in the 1860s, so that by 1870, 31 large halls were listed in London and 384 in the rest of the country. This growth was not only in the number of halls, but also in the amenities and catering facilities. In addition, performers now became a professional workforce, appearing in London at several Halls each night and making frequent provincial tours.

At its peak, music hall was the television of its day. Its stars were enormously popular in a way it is hard to believe nowadays. They had their songs specially written for them, and permission would have to be sought if other performers wanted to sing them in public.

After consolidation during the 1870s, music hall then started another period of expansion. The London Pavilion was restyled in 1885 and incorporated much from traditional theatre's ideas of house and stage design. This lead to the era of the de-luxe hall or Variety theatre. Now there was fixed seating in the stalls and the performer was more distant from the audience. With the increase in costs from the introduction of safety regulations and the inflation of the star's fees, the music hall industry began to combine into a number of Syndicates. A number of nationwide chains such as Moss, Stoll and Thornton with their "Empires" and "Palaces" started to dominate the business.

Changes to licensing laws made a music and dancing licence a requirement. This allowed moral and social reformers the opportunity to challenge the style and operation of the halls; most notable in this respect was Mrs Ormiston Chant who campaigned against lax morals in the Empire, Leicester Square. Later, there was the prohibition of drink in all new halls such that by 1909, of the 29 halls belonging to Stoll, only 8 held a drinks licence.

With just a few proprietors controlling the majority of the halls, the owners attempted to extract the maximum work for minimum pay from the performers. This lead to the formation of the Variety Artists' Federation, which in 1907 organised the first music hall strike. In 1912, music hall gained a level of respectability with the first Royal Command Performance.

The London County Council, after a series of fires in theatres and music halls finally banned eating and drinking in the auditorium in 1914. From that time, the music halls simply had to be run on the same lines as theatres. After this, music hall became known by its earlier name of Variety and, with the coming of cinema and later radio, became extinct by the time of World War II.

As far as sound recording goes, a convenient watershed is the year 1925 when the electrical recording process was first commercially introduced, making obsolete the previous mechanical "acoustic" recordings. In W. Macqueen-Pope's book The Melody lingers on he attempts to give the difference between Music Hall and Variety. "Music Hall", he states, "was Variety (although Variety is not Music Hall)." This shows the difficulty of any definition, although one can understand what he means. On this site, we have used the term "Variety" for recordings made after 1925, and Music Hall where Artists bridged both methods of recording.

Although generally regarded as a particularly British institution,one other countriy namely the USA, also have a music hall tradition. In America vaudeville developed on parallel lines to music hall in Britain.

Attempts have been made at revival in Britain on British television in the 1960's to 1970's with "The Good Old Days" which has been something of a pastiche. Unfortunately, sound recording came too late for most of very first generation of artists, for example George Leybourne. However, at the turn of the 19th/20th century a number of survivors such as Dan Leno, as well as younger artists, started to make recordings. Initially these were very expensive (typically you could buy twelve of the best seats in the house for the price of one record), but with time, prices fell and these records eventually became more affordable by typical music hall clientele.

Over the first three decades of the 20th century many artists committed their songs and performance to record, and these can still be heard and enjoyed today.

Music hall and variety died in the mid fifties with the arrival of Rock n Roll which attracted the youth of Britain. The previous clientele were the mums and dads which lost the habit of going to Music Hall and Variety shows and by the time of the 1960's the end was nigh.

In the modern era the West End in London is the theatre centre of the world and has become a mixture of acting greats from the Movie World and Theatreland. In 1994 Shakespeare's The Globe Theatre was rebuilt and is now one of the most popular theatres in London.

Dick Whittington - Lord Mayor of London 1397

Dick Whittington and His Cat is a British folk tale that has often been used as the basis for stage pantomines and other adaptations. It tells of a poor boy in the 14th century who becomes a wealthy merchant and eventually the Lord Mayor of London because of the ratting abilities of his cat. The character of the boy is named after a real-life person, Richard Whittington, but the real Whittington did not come from a poor family and there is no evidence that he had a cat.

The first recorded pantomime version of the story was in 1814, starring Joseph Grimaldi as Dame Cecily Suet, the Cook. The pantomime adds another element to the story, rats, and an arch villain, the Pantomime King (or sometimes Queen) Rat, as well as the usual pantomime fairy, the Fairy of the Bells. Other added characters are a captain and his mate and some incompetent pirates. In this version, Dick and his cat "Tommy" travel to Morocco, where the cat rids the country of rats. The Sultan rewards Dick with half of his wealth. Sybil Arundale played Dick in many productions in the early years of the 20th century

The real Richard Whittington ( Dick Whittington ) lived from about 1350-1423. He achieved many things in his life. Now he is known for having a pet cat and 'turning again'.

Richard or 'Dick' Whittington was born during the 1350s. He was the younger son of Sir William Whittington, Lord of the Manor of Pauntley in Gloucestershire. Sir William died in 1358. The oldest son inherited the estate, so Richard travelled to London to find work.

Whittington served an apprenticeship, and eventually became a ‘mercer', dealing in valuable cloth from abroad, such as silks, velvets and cloth of gold. The main market for selling these cloths was the Royal Court. Whittington supplied large quantities to King Richard II (who owed Whittington £1000 when he was deposed in 1399) and to King Henry IV. Whittington became rich. After 1397 he often lent large sums of money to the Crown. In return he was allowed to export wool without paying customs duty on it.

He became a City alderman, or magistrate, in 1393. In 1397 the Mayor, Adam Bamme, died in office and the King chose Whittington to become the new mayor. He was re-elected the following year, and again for 1406-7 and 1419-20. This made him Mayor of London four times.

Whittington died in March 1423. His wife Alice, daughter of Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn (or Fitzwarren) of Dorset, had died before him. They had no children.

The gifts left in Whittington's will originally made him famous. However, Londoners did not know how he first made his money. Stories began about how a poor boy became rich with the help of his cat. There is no evidence that Whittington kept a cat, and as the son of a Lord he was never very poor. Despite being untrue the stories flourished. A play produced in 1606 tells most of the story. There are many different versions, but essentially the tale was:

Dick Whittington was a poor boy from Gloucestershire who walked to London to seek his fortune. He found work in the house of a rich merchant Fitzwarren, and fell in love with Fitzwarren's daughter, Alice. Dick had a cat to keep down the mice in the attic where he slept. Fitzwarren invited his servants to put money into a sailing voyage. Dick had no money, but gave his cat to the captain to sell.

Dick decided there was no future for him in London, and left to go home to Gloucestershire. He stopped on top of Highgate Hill on the way out of London. There he heard the bells of London ringing - they seemed to say: ‘Turn again, Whittington, three times Lord Mayor of London'.

Dick thought this was a good omen and returned to Fitzwarren's house. He learnt that the ship had returned with great news. The sailing party arrived in a foreign land where the king's court was overrun by rats. Dick's cat killed or drove out all the rats. In thanks the king paid a huge sum of gold to buy the cat. Dick was now a very wealthy man. He married Alice Fitzwarren, and eventually became Lord Mayor of London.

Thomas Chippendale 1718 - 1779 Designer and Cabinet Maker

Thomas Chippendale is one of my favourite furniture designers who was a London cabinet maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo and Neoclassical styles. In 1754 he published a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director. The designs are regarded as establishing the fashion for furniture for that period and were used by many other cabinet makers.

The Chippendale family had long been in the wood working trades and so he probably received his basic training from his father, though it is believed that he also was trained by Richard Wood in York, before he moved to London. Wood later ordered eight copies of the Director. On 19 May 1748 he married Catherine Redshaw at St George's Chapel, Mayfair and during there marriage they had five boys and four girls alas his wife, Catherine, died in 1772.

In 1754 he went into partnership with James Rannie, a wealthy Scottish merchant, who put money into the business at the same time as Chippendale brought out the first edition of the Director.

After James Rannie died in 1766, Thomas Haig seems to have borrowed £2,000 from his Rannie's widow, which he used to become Chippendale’s partner. One of Rannie's executors, Henry Ferguson, became a third partner and so the business became Chippendale, Haig and Co. Thomas Chippendale (Junior) took over the business in 1776 allowing his father to retire. He moved to what was then called Lob's Fields (now known as Derry Street) in Kensington. Chippendale married Elizabeth Davis at Fulham Parish Church on 5 August 1777. He fathered three more children.

Chippendale was much more than just a cabinet maker, he was an interior designer who advised on soft furnishings and even the colour a room should be painted. Chippendale often took on large-scale commissions from aristocratic clients. Twenty-six of these commissions have been identified. Here furniture by Chippendale can still be identified, The locations include:

Blair Castle, Perthshire, for the Duke of Atholl (1758);

Wilton House, for Henry, 10th Earl of Pembroke (c 1759-1773);

Nostell Priory, Yorkshire, for Sir Roland Winn, Bt (1766–85);

Mersham Le Hatch, Kent, for Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt (1767–79);

David Garrick both in town and at his villa at Hampton, Middlesex;

Normanton Park, Rutland and other houses for Sir Gilbert Heathcote Bt (1768–78) that included the management of a funeral for Lady Bridget Heathcote, 1772;

Harewood House, Yorkshire, for Edwin Lascelles (1767–78);

Newby Hall, Yorkshire, for William Weddell (c 1772-76);

Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, for Lord Irwin (1774);

Paxton House, Berwickshire, Scotland, for Ninian Home (1774–91);

Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire for William Constable (1768–79);

Petworth House, Sussex and other houses for George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1777–79).

He also collaborated in furnishing interiors designed by Robert Adam and at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, and Melbourne House, London, for Lord Melbourne, with Sir William Chambers (c. 1772-75).

His Director was used by many other cabinet makers. Consequently recognisably "Chippendale" furniture was produced in Dublin, Philadelphia, Lisbon, Copenhagen and Hamburg. Catherine the Great and Louis XVI both possessed copies of the Director in its French edition.

The Director shows four main styles: English with deep carving, elaborate French rococo in the style of Louis XV furniture, Chinese style with latticework and lacquer, and Gothic with pointed arches, quatrefoils and fret-worked legs. His favourite wood was mahogany; in seat furniture he always used solid wood rather than veneers.

His workshop was continued by his son, Thomas Chippendale, the younger (1749–1822), who worked in the later Neoclassical and Regency styles, "the rather slick delicacy of Adam's final phase", as Christopher Gilbert assessed it.[5] A bankruptcy and sale of remaining stock in the St. Martin's Lane premises in 1804 did not conclude the firm's latest phase, as the younger Chippendale supplied furniture to Sir Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead until 1820 (Edwards and Jourdain 1955: 88).

His designs became very popular again during the middle to late 19th century, leading to widespread adoption of his name in revivals of his style. Many of these later designs that attach his name bear little relationship to his original concepts.

In 1779 Chippendale moved to Hoxton where he died of Tuberculosis and was buried at St. Martin-In-The-Fields on 13th November 1779.

There is a Statue and memorial plaque dedicated to Chippendale outside his old school, he Old Prince Henry's Grammer School in Manor Square, in his home town of Otley near Leeds, Yorkshire. There is a full-size sculpted figure of Thomas Chippendale on the façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Robert Thompson – “The Mouseman” Furniture Maker

One of the most famous Furniture makers in England in the last 80 years is the Mouseman - Richard Thompson who was born in Kilburn, Yorkshire, England on the 7th May 1876. If you love beautiful, handmade wooden furniture that's also highly collectible, you should investigate Robert Thompson's Mouseman furniture. On any piece of Robert Thompson Furniture was carved  a mouse – hence his name “The Mouseman”.

The story began when one day in 1919 an offhand remark about being as poor as a church mouse, lead him to carve a mouse on the finished cornice he was working on. In that moment, a famous trademark was born - even though it wasn't registered until the 1930's.

Even though Robert Thompson adopted the mouse as his trademark, not all the furniture created in the early years had it.

The patina of the furniture, the colour and degree of adzing, the use of a specific tool to shape the timber, also aid in identifying the pieces that weren't marked with the mouse.

His mouse has changed also.

Thomson removed the front legs from the mouse design in 1930 because they tended to break off easily.

The facts the mouse has no front legs but clearly recognisable whiskers are important things to look for when you find a piece identified as Mouseman furniture for unfortunately, there are imposters. (If you're worried about fakes, check out The Vintage Mouseman. where a "Rogue's gallery" of known replicas and fakes is maintained.)

Each piece of Mouseman Furniture is truly unique. It's not made by committee. Each craftsman starts a piece of furniture and remains responsible for it from selecting the wood to carving the signature mouse. In fact, just by looking at the pieces, most avid collectors of Robert Thompson's furniture can tell which craftsman made the piece.

Inspired by the medieval oak furnishings at Ripon and York Cathedrals, Robert Thompson became determined to spend his life bringing back the spirit of craftsmanship in English Oak, and set about teaching himself how to use traditional craft tools. He soon developed a technique of finishing the surfaces of his oak furniture with a pronounced “tooled” effect using an adze, a medieval tool which had been much used in the past for roughing out the broad shapes of ships' timbers, etc, and this still remains a feature of today’s items.

Fr Paul Nevill, a former Headmaster of Ampleforth College asked Thompson to make the Ampleforth Abbey's furniture; they liked it so much that Ampleforth kept asking Thompson for more works, including the library and most of the main building. Fr Gabriel Everitt, current Headmaster, has recently asked the Mouseman company for more work. Most of Ampleforth College houses are decorated with Robert Thompson's furniture.

The “Mouseman” style was based on sound construction and a straightforward fitness for purpose, using the three basic materials of English Oak, real cowhide and wrought iron.  During his working life he worked alongside architects such as Sir Giles Scott and J S Syme, who in turn have left their mark on buildings throughout the United Kingdom.

The workshop, which is now being run by his descendants includes a showroom and visitors' centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains "Mouseman" Pews, fittings and other furniture. Please enter into any Search Engine  The company which is now known as "Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd - The Mouseman of Kilburn.". The original Robert Thompson – The Mouseman died on December 8th 1955 and is buried in the small church graveyard at Kilburn overlooking his beloved workshop, which was later extended by his two grandsons and is still in production today.

The History of Television - England 1924

As an Englishman with an interest in English History I thought it would be of interest to tell the History of Television and it's invention by John Logie Baird at Ally Pally in London. The British Broadcasting Company started daily transmissions on November 14th 1922, by which time more than one million ten-shilling (50p) licences had been issued. In 1927 the company was restructured as a public corporation -the BBC that we know today- by its founding father, John (later Lord) Reith, but by this time an even newer technology was being developed -television.

In truth, the Corporation was very interested in the Television invented by John Logie Baird's experiments and wanted them to continue under their sponsorship, and not under that of any other company. Accordingly, Baird's company was offered the use of facilities on London's South Bank. By 1932 the BBC were sufficiently happy to allow regular experimental broadcasting. They now offered Baird a studio in their newly acquired premises in Portland Place, W1. Studio BB, Britain's first dedicated television studio, was housed in the basement of Broadcasting House, and it was from here that Baird continued to experiment and refine the new medium. Competition came from the Electronic and Music Industries (EMI), based in Hayes, Middlesex, where they had been working with the Marconi Company on developing a high definition system.

In May of 1934 the British government appointed a committee, under the guidance of Lord Selsdon, to begin enquiries into the viability of setting up a public television service, with recommendations as to the conditions under which such a service could be offered. The results of the Selsdon Report were issued as a single Government White Paper in January of the following year. The BBC was to be entrusted with the development of television, which had to transmit a definition of not less than 240 lines with a minimum of 25 pictures per second. With the publication of this report the era of the low definition picture came to an end with ballerina Lydia Sokolova being the last artiste in Britain to appear via the old 30-line system.

The committee proposed that the two new high definition systems (Baird's 240 line and Marconi-EMI's 405 line) would be chosen to alternate transmissions by the BBC over a set period, until it was decided which was the better. Looking for a suitable site for the new service, the BBC chose Alexandra Palace in Haringey, Greater London. Its position, high on a hill, made it the ideal place to place a transmitter that would cover all of London and many of its surrounding counties.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the magic of television..."

With those words Leslie Mitchell introduced Britain's first high-definition public television programme from Radiolympia. The date was 26th August 1936. This was the World's first Television broadcast. At the start of the war in 1939 over 80,000 viewers had been watching television 7 days a week.

During September 1st 1939 while Mickey Mouse was being shown on Television, All television's became blank and went off air. This programme returned in 1946 and BBC Television and radio has gone from strength to strength.

Time Line of British Television

1924 Feb

John Logie Baird sends rudimentary pictures over short distance

1925 May

Baird gives first public demonstration of television

1926 Jan 27

Baird demonstrates tv by wireless transmission to the Royal Institution, London

1927 Jan 1

The BBC becomes a public corporation


1932 Aug 22

BBC starts 30-line tests using Baird's system (until Sep 1935)

1936 Nov 2

Start of 405-line high definition service (for a few months alongside Baird's 240-line system)

1937 May 12

First outside broadcast: King George VI's Coronation procession

1939 Sep 1

Suspension of TV service because of WW2

Re - Start of TV Service in 1946.

British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC History

The British Broadcasting Company started daily transmissions on November 14th 1922, by which time more than one million ten-shilling (50p) licences had been issued. In 1927 the company was restructured as a public corporation -the BBC that we know today- by its founding father, John (later Lord) Reith, but by this time an even newer technology was being developed -television.

In truth, the Corporation was very interested in Baird's experiments and wanted them to continue under their sponsorship, and not under that of any other company. Accordingly, Baird's company was offered the use of facilities on London's South Bank. By 1932 the BBC were sufficiently happy to allow regular experimental broadcasting. They now offered Baird a studio in their newly acquired premises in Portland Place, W1. Studio BB, Britain's and the World's first dedicated television studio, was housed in the basement of Broadcasting House, and it was from here that Baird continued to experiment and refine the new medium. Competition came from the Electronic and Music Industries (EMI), based in Hayes, Middlesex, where they had been working with the Marconi Company on developing a high definition system.

In May of 1934 the British government appointed a committee, under the guidance of Lord Selsdon, to begin enquiries into the viability of setting up a public television service, with recommendations as to the conditions under which such a service could be offered. The results of the Selsdon Report were issued as a single Government White Paper in January of the following year. The BBC was to be entrusted with the development of television, which had to transmit a definition of not less than 240 lines with a minimum of 25 pictures per second. With the publication of this report the era of the low definition picture came to an end with ballerina Lydia Sokolova being the last artiste in Britain to appear via the old 30-line system.

The committee proposed that the two new high definition systems (Baird's 240 line and Marconi-EMI's 405 line) would be chosen to alternate transmissions by the BBC over a set period, until it was decided which was the better. Looking for a suitable site for the new service, the BBC chose Alexandra Palace in Haringey, Greater London. Its position, high on a hill, made it the ideal place to place a transmitter that would cover all of London and many of its surrounding counties.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the magic of television..."

With those words Leslie Mitchell introduced Britain's first high-definition public television programme from Radiolympia. The date was 26th August 1936. This was the World's first Television broadcast. At the start of the war in 1939 over 80,000 viewers had been watching television 7 days a week.

During September 1st 1939 while Mickey Mouse was being shown on Television, All television's became blank and went off air. This programme returned in 1946 and BBC Television and radio has since gone from strength to strength.

Dr. Who - A British TV Icon

Dr. Who is the World's longest running Science Fiction television series and as I am a great fan of this BBC show I thought I would write about It's fun history. The programme depicts the adventures of a mysterious and eccentric humanoid alien known as the Doctor who travels through time and space in his spacecraft, the Tardis (an acronym for “Time And Relative Dimensions In Space”), which normally appears from the exterior to be a blue 1950s British Police Box. With his companions, he explores time and space, faces a variety of foes and saves civilizations, helping others and righting wrongs, as well as improving the way people, aliens and robots choose to live their lives.

Some episodes from the 1960s are missing due to the BBC's 1970s junking policy, and thus their serials are incomplete. In the first two seasons and most of the third, each episode of a serial had an individual title; no serial had an overall on-screen title until The Savages. The serial titles are the most common title for the serials as a whole, used in sources such as the Doctor Who Reference Guide and the BBC's classic episode guide, and are generally those used for commercial release. The practice of individually titled episodes resurfaced with the 2005 revival, when Doctor Who's serial nature was abandoned in favour of an episodic format.

The first incarnation of The Doctor was portrayed by William Hartnell for 29 episodes. During Hartnell's tenure, the Doctor visited a mixture of both stories set in the future and historical events that had no extraterrestrial influence, such as fifteenth century MesoAmerica. In his last story, The Tenth Planet, the Doctor gradually grew weaker to the point of collapsing at the end of the fourth episode, leading to his regeneration.

The Second incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Patrick Troughton for 31 episodes and whose serials were more action-oriented. He retained the role until the last episode of The War Games when members of the Doctor's race, the Time Lords, put him on trial for breaking the laws of time.

The Third Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Jon Pertwee for 23 episodes. Sentenced to exile on Earth and forcibly regenerated at the end of The War Games, the Doctor spends his time working for Unit. After The Three Doctors, The Time Lords repeal his exile, however the Doctor still worked closely with UNIT from time to time. The Third Doctor regenerated into his Fourth incarnation, as a result of radiation poisoning, near the end of Planet Of The Spiders.

The Fourth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Tome Baker for 40 episodes and is to date the longest-serving Doctor, having held the role for seven seasons.

The Fifth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Peter Davidson for 19 episodes and who was also famous for his role in “All Creatures Great and Small”.

The Sixth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Colin Baker for 11 episodes.

The Seventh Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Sylvester McCoy for 12  episodes.

The Eighth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Paul McGann for one Movie.

The Ninth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Christopher Ecclestone for 10 episodes.

The tenth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by David Tennant for 36 episodes.

 The eleventh Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Steven Moffat for 29 episodes up to the end of 2012. Hopefully he will continue as Doctor Who after 2012 even though it is not confirmed. Hopefully he will stay in the role for a good five years. 

There have been many Doctor Who radio broadcasts over the years. In addition to a small number of in-house BBC productions, a larger number of radio plays produced by Big Finish began to be broadcast on BBC Radio 7 from 2005, featuring the Eighth Doctor (again played by Paul McGann) with mainstay companions Charley Pollard and later Lucie Miller. All told there were 24 episodes broadcast on BBC radio and later on audio tapes/cd.

English Pantomines – Their History

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were members of various Theatre companies so I have created this article on English Pantomines which I hope is of interest to the reader.

The pantomime first arrived in England as entr'actes between opera pieces, eventually evolving into separate shows. Between 1660 and 1843 only two theatres in London were allowed to put on plays with prose. Other theatres had to put on other forms of entertainment to survive, such as music and dance, circus, and stories told in rhyming couplets and mime. Sometimes these proved more popular than the plays so that it was the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London was one of the licensed theatres, which put on the first performance of an entertainment with pantomime in the title in 1717. ( Which theatre still exists and which shows excellent Pantomines and Plays ).

In Restoration England, pantomime was considered a low form of opera, but without Harlequin. In 1717, actor and manager John Rich introduced Harlequin to the British stage under the name of 'Lun' (for 'lunatic') and began performing wildly popular pantomimes. These pantomimes gradually became more topical and comic, often involving as many special theatrical effects as possible.Colley Cibber and his colleagues competed with Rich and produced their own pantomimes, and pantomime was a substantial (if decried) subgenre. According to some sources, the Lincoln's Inn Field Theatre and the Drury Lane Theatre were the first to stage something like real pantomimes (in the later sense that has become codified with its fairly rigid set of conventions), creating high competition between them to put on the more elaborate show.

William Beverley was responsible for the introduction of the transformation scene into pantomime. In Planche's 'Island of Jewels' in 1849 he designed a scene in which a desert island turned into the Island of Jewels of the title. This was the final act of the performance, whereas today the transformation scene generally occurs in the last scene before the interval.

As manager of Drury Lane in the 1870s, Augustus Harris is now considered the father of modern pantomime.

There seems to be some disagreement among scholars as to exactly when the true modern pantomime genre got started. The first modern Cinderella Pantomime in England was the 1804 production at Drury Lane, dir. Mr. Byrne, with music by Michael Kelly (1762-1826).

The Part of Mother Goose whereby a man dresses up as a woman, began in 1902 , when DAN LENO took the part of Mother Goose and set the standard for subsequent modern pantomime dames.

Dads Army – The Funny TV Series

Dad's Army is a British Sitcom by the BBC about the Home guard during the Second World War. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and broadcast on BBC television between 1968 and 1977. Dads Army the TV Series is one of the funniest series you could watch with It's gentle humour and hilarious situations. As a fan of this British TV Icon I thought I would write the story of the TV series. If you enjoy British comedy can I recommend you get your hands on a DVD and watch an episode of Dad's Army.

Despite the first episode being shown in 1968 the Dad's Army TV Series remain's immensely popular in Britain and the rest of the world. Dad's Army was first shown on British TV on July 31, 1968. There were nine seriestotalling 80 episodes including three Christmas specials and an hour-long special. At its peak, the programme regularly gained audiences of 18.5 million. There were also four short specials broadcast as part of Christmas Night With The Stars in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972 plus a Film. It attracted a weekly audience of between 13 - 18 million and is regularly repeated Worldwide. There were also 67 radio shows produced which can also still be heard on BBC Radio 7.

The Home Guard consisted of local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, usually owing to age, and as such the series starred several veterans of British film, television and stage, including Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Arnold Ridley, Bill Pertwee, Edward Sinclair and John Laurie. Relative youngsters in the regular cast were Ian Lavender, Clive Dunn (who was made-up to play the elderly Jones), Frank Williams, James Beck (who died suddenly during production of the programme's sixth series, despite being one of the youngest cast members) Janet Davies, Wendy Richards and Colin Bean.

The series has had a profound influence on popular culture in the United Kingdom, with the series' catchphrases and characters well known. It is also credited with having highlighted a hitherto forgotten aspect of defence during the Second World War.

Originally intended to be called The Fighting TigersDad’s Army was based partly on co-writer and creator Jimmy Perry’s real-life experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers (later known as the Home Guard). Perry had been 17 years old when he joined the 10th  Hertfordshire Battalion and with a mother who did not like him being out at night and fearing he might catch cold, he bore more than a passing resemblance to the character of Frank Pike.

An elderly lance corporal in the outfit often referred to fighting under Kitchener against the “Fuzzy Wuzzies” and proved to be a perfect model for Jones. Other influences were the film Whiskey Galore! and the work of comedians such as Will hay whose film Oh, Mr. Porter! featured a pompous ass, an old man and a young man which gave him Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike. Another influence was the Lancastrian comedian Robb Wilton who portrayed a work-shy husband who joined the Home Guard in numerous comic sketches during WW2.

Perry wrote the first script and gave it to David Croft while working as a minor actor in the Croft-produced sitcom Hugh and I, originally intending the role of the spiv, Walker, to be his own. Croft was impressed and sent the script to Michael Mills, Head of Comedy at the BBC. After addressing initial concerns that the programme was making fun of the efforts of the Home Guard, the series was commissioned.

In his book, Dad's Army, Graham McCann explained that the show owes a lot to Michael Mills. It was he who renamed the show Dad's Army. He did not like Brightsea-on-Sea so the location was changed to Walmington-on-Sea. He was happy with the names for the characters Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike but not with other names and he made suggestions: Private Jim Duck became Frazer, Joe Fish became Joe Walker and Jim Jones became Jack Jones. He also suggested adding a Scot to the mix. Jimmy Perry had produced the original idea but was in need of an experienced man to see it through. Mills suggested David Croft and so the successful partnership began.

Characters·       Captain George Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe)—the pompous—if essentially brave and unerringly patriotic—local bank manager, Mainwaring appointed himself leader of his town’s contingent of Local Defence Volunteers.

·       Sergeant Arthur Wilson (John Le Mesurier)—a diffident, upper-class bank clerk who would quietly question Mainwaring's judgement ("Do you think that's wise?"). Wilson served as a Captain in the First World Was.

·       Lance-Corporal Jack Jones (Clive Dunn)—born in 1870, Jones who was the local butcher, was an old campaigner who had joined up as a drummer boy aged 14 and participated, as a boy soldier, in the campaign of Kitchener in the Sudan between 1896 and 1898.

·       Private Joe Walker (James Beck)—“a black market spiv”, Walker was the only fit, able-bodied man of military age in Walmington-on-Sea’s Home Guard. His absence from the regular armed forces was due to a corned beef allergy.

·       Private Frank Pike (Ian Lavender)—a cosseted mother’s boy, constantly wearing a thick scarf with his uniform to prevent illness, and often the target of Mainwaring’s derision ("Stupid boy!"). His Uncle Arthur was his mother's boyfriend and unwritten father which Pike never clicked on. He also works under Mainwaring in his day-job as assistant bank clerk.

·       Private James Frazer (John Laurie)—a dour Scottish coffin maker and a Chief Petty Officer on HMS Defiant in the Royal Navy who served at the Battle of Jutland as a ship's cook.

·       Private Charles Godfrey (Arnold Ridley)—he is the platoon’s medical orderly.

·       ARP Warden William Hodges (Bill Pertwee)—the platoon’s major rival and nemesis.

·       Mrs. Mavies Pike (Janet Davies)—Pike’s mother and Sergeant Wilson’s lover.

·       Reverend Timothy Farthing (Frank Williams)—The effete vicar of St. Aldhelm’s Church, he shares his church hall and office with Mainwaring’s platoon.

·       Maurice Yeatman (Edward Sinclair)—Mr. Yeatman was the verger at St. Aldhelm’s Church and head of the Sea Scouts group, and was often hostile to the platoon.

·       Private Sponge (Colin Bean)—Private Sponge had the job of representing those members of the platoon not in Corporal Jones’ first section.

·       Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas)—a Welshman who joined the Walmington-on-Sea platoon during the seventh series to compensate for the death of James Beck who played Private Walker.

In June 2010, a statue of Captain George Mainwaring was erected in the Norfolk town of Thetford where most of the TV series Dad's Army was filmed. The statue features Captain Mainwaring sitting to attention on a simple bench in Home Guard uniform, with his pace stick across his knees. The statue is mounted at the end of winding brick pathway with a Union Flag patterned arrow head to reflect the opening credits of the TV series, and the sculpture has been designed so that members of the public can sit alongside Captain Mainwaring for the purpose of having their photo taken.

Goodbye Forever to Dad's army, which was recorded for the last time at the BBC TV Centre in Shepard's Bush inJuly 1977 and broadcast in November 1977. 

History of the Funny Carry On Film Series

The Carry On Films are some of the funniest films you could watch and as a great fan I thought I would write the history of same. Despite being half a century old, the Carry On films remain immensely popular in Britain and the rest of the world. Twenty-nine original films and one compilation were made between 1958 and 1978 at Pinewood Studios, with an additional movie made in 1992.

Beginning with Carry On Sergeant in 1958, the Carry On films were a long-running series of low-budget British comedy films made at Pinewood Studios. Still often cited as examples of classic British humour, the Carry On films involved fairly simple plots that were then fleshed out with bawdy jokes, farcical situations and slapstick. The Carry On series proved hugely popular with the British public and there were twenty-nine original films and one compilation film made between 1958 and 1978.

As well as spoofing popular films of the time (Carry On Cleo, for example, being a send-up of Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), the Carry On films frequently took inspiration from archetypal British institutions and customs, such as the National Health Service, the monarchy, the empire and the behaviour of Brits abroad. Key to the success of the Carry On films was the roster of actors and actresses who made regular appearances in the films, frequently playing the same kind of character.

The films' humour was in the British comic tradition of the music hall and seaside postcards.. Many of them parodied more serious films — in the case of Carry On Cleo (1964), the Burton and Taylor film Cleopatra (1963).

The stock-in-trade of Carry On humour was innuendo and the sending-up of British institutions and custom. Although the films were very often slated by the critics, they were popular.

The series began with Carry On Sergeant (1958), about a group of recruits on National Service and was sufficiently successful that others followed. A film had appeared the previous year under the title Carry On Admiral although this was a comedy in a similar vein (with Joan Sims in the cast) it has no connection to the series. There was also an unrelated 1937 film Carry On London, starring future Carry On performer Eric Barker.

The cast were poorly paid — around £5,000 per film for a principal performer. In his diaries, Kenneth Williams lamented this and criticised several of the movies despite his declared fondness for the series as a whole. Peter Rogers, the series' producer, acknowledged: "Kenneth was worth taking care of, because while he cost very little he made a very great deal of money for the franchise."

The films1.  Carry On Sergeant (1958)

2.  Carry On Nurse (1959)

3.  Carry On Teacher (1959)

4.  Carry on Constable (1960)

5.  Carry On Regardless (1961)

6.  Carry On Cruising (1962)

7.  Carry on Cabby (1963)

8.  Carry on Jack (1963)

9.  Carry on Spying (1964)

10.                Carry on Cleo (1964)

11.                Carry on Cowboy (1965)

12.                Carry on Screaming (1966)

13.                Don't lose Your Head (1966)

14.                Follow That Camel (1967)

15.                Carry On Doctor (1967)

16.                Carry On Up The Khyber (1968)

17.                Carry On Camping (1969)

18.                Carry On Again Doctor (1969)

19.                Carry On Up The Jungle (1970)

20.                Carry On Loving (1970)

21.                Carry On Henry (1971)

22.                Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)

23.                Carry On Matron (1972)

24.                Carry On Abroad (1972)

25.                Carry on Girls (1973)

26.                Carry on Dick (1974)

27.                Carry on Behind (1975)

28.                Carry on England (1976)

29.                That's Carry On (1977)

30.                Carry On Emmanuel (1978)

31.                Carry On Columbus (1992)

Perhaps the most well-known of the Carry On regulars were:

●      Sid James  Appeared in 19 Films

●      Kenneth Williams Appeared in 26 Films

●      Charles Hawtrey  Appeared in 23 Films

●      Barbara Windsor  Appeared in 10 Films

●      Joan Simms Appeared in 24 Films

●      Kenneth Connor  Appeared in 17 Films

●      Hattie Jacques  Appeared in 14 Films

●      Jim Dale  Appeared in 11 Films

●      Bernard Bresslaw  Appeared in 14 Films

●      Frankie Howard  Appeared in 2 Films

●      Peter Butterworth  Appeared in 16 Films

●      Terry Scott Appeared in 7 Films

●      Peter Gilmore Appeared in 11 Films

●      Patsy Rowlands Appeared in 9 Films

●      Jack Douglas Appeared in 8 Films

●      Jon Pertwee Appeared in 4 Films

The characters and comedy style of the Carry On film series were adapted to a television series titled Carry On Laughing and several Christmas Specials.

The golden era for the Carry On films was from 1963 to 1974 when Talbot Rothwell was acting as screenwriter for the series. It was during this period that classic films such as Carry On Screaming (My personal favourite) , Carry On Camping, Carry On Up the Khyber and Carry On Henry were released. Carry On Camping was the standout success of the series and was the highest grossing film in the UK in 1969.

Tommy Steele – Iconic English Performer

During the late 1967 as a 6 year old My mother took me, my brother and sister to see Tommy Steele in the film 'Half a Sixpence' and ever since I have been interested in his career.Tommy Steele OBE was (born Thomas William Hicks, on the 17th December 1936 in was the eldest of Elizabeth Ellen and Thomas Walter's four children and was born in Mason Street in the South London suburb of Bermondsey, London). Tommy Steele is widely regarded as Britain's first teen idol and Rock 'n' Roll star.

As he is an English Icon who very rarely appears in the newspapers and deserves to be knighted for his services to the entertainment industry I thought I would write about his life.

He was Evacuated during the Blitz and in 1941 he returned to Bermondsey and attendded

Bacon's School for Boys, leaving as soon as the law allowed at the age of fifteen. He joined the merchant navy for a short time and after that he formed his first band, the Skiffle group"The Cavemen", with Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt. He was discovered by his soon-to-be Manager John Kennedy in September 1956 while singing at the famous Two I's coffee bar in Old Compton Street, Soho, London.

In 1956 he made his film debut and his films include "The Tommy Steele Story" (also known as "Rock Around the World") and featured in many films after that. Among his best remembered rock 'n' roll discs are "Rock With The Cavemen", "Give! Give! Give!", "Teenage Party" (also recorded by The Blue Cats in 1980), "Elevator Rock", Rebel Rock" and Two Eyes".

As Tommy Steele he made his stage debut at Sunderland on the 5th November 1957 and had his first experience of a 'book show' in pantomime at Liverpool in 1957. The following Christmas he played Buttons in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" at the London Coliseum and since then his career has followed a varied and ever-developing course, embracing almost all areas of the entertainment world.

His major stage musical was "Half a Sixpence" and his one-man show - "An Evening with Tommy Steele" ran for fourteen months at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1979/80 and is in the Guinness Book of Theatre Facts and Feats as "the longest running one-man show in West End history".

In 1974 he composed and recorded an autobiographical cycle of twelve songs under the title of "My Life, My Song". Another of his talents was shown in the album sleeve for this recording which was illustrated with twelve of his own paintings and these together with other works were shown in a one-man exhibition at the Christopher Wade Gallery. He has also developed a talent as a sculptor and two of his major works are on public display;"Bermondsey Boy" at the Rotherhithe Civic Centre and "Eleanor Rigby" which he gave to the City of Liverpool as a tribute to the Beatles. His talent for writing first manifest as a writer and co-writer of his own television specials which led to the publication of

"Quicy" a story for children, by Heinemann in hardback and Pan/Piccolo in paperback. He also wrote a best-selling novel for adults "The Final Run" published by Collins in hardback and Fontana in paperback.

History Timeline of Music and films by Tommy Steele


With the Steelmen

  • "Rock With the Caveman" / "Rock Around the Town" -#13 (Decca 1956)
  • "Doomsday Rock" / "Elevator Rock" - (Decca 1956)
  • “Singing the Blues” / "Rebel Rock" - UK #1 (Decca 1956)
  • "Knee Deep in the Blues" / "Teenage Party" - UK #15 (Decca 1957)
  • "Butterfingers" / "Cannibal Pot" - UK #8 (Decca 1957)
  • "Water, Water" / "A Handful of Songs" - UK #5 (Decca 1957)
  • "Shiralee" / "Grandad’s Rock" - UK #11 (Decca 1957)
  • "Hey You!" / "Plant a Kiss" - UK #28 (Decca 1957)
  • "Happy Guitar" / "Princess" - UK #20 (Decca 1958)
  • "Nairobi" / "Neon Sign" - UK #3 (Decca 1958)
  • "The Only Man on the Island" / "I Puts the Lightie On" - UK #16 (Decca 1958)


  • "It’s All Happening" / "What Do You Do?" - (Decca 1958 )
  • "Come On, Let’s Go" / "Put a Ring on Her Finger" - UK #10 (Decca 1958)
  • "A Lovely Night" / "Marriage Type Love" - (Decca 1958)
  • "Hiawatha" / "The Trial" - (Decca 1959)
  • "Tallahassee Lassie" / "Give! Give! Give!" - UK #16 (Decca 1959)
  • "Give! Give! Give!" - UK #28 (Decca 1959)
  • "You Were Mine" / "Young Ideas" - (Decca 1959)
  • "Little White Bull" / "Singing Time" - UK #6 (Decca 1959)
  • "What a Mouth (What a North and South)" / "Kookaburra" - UK #5 (Decca 1960)
  • "Happy Go Lucky Blues" / "Girl with the Long Black Hair" - (Decca 1960)
  • "Must Be Santa" / "Boys and Girls" - UK #40 (Decca 1960)
  • "My Big Best Shoes" / "The Dit Dit Song" - (Decca 1961)
  • "The Writing on the Wall" / "Drunken Guitar" - UK #30 (Decca 1961)
  • "Hit Record" / "What a Little Darling" - (Decca 1962)
  • “Where have all the Flowers gone?” / "Butter Wouldn’t Melt in Your Mouth" - (Decca 1963)
  • "He’s Got Love" / "Green Eye" - (Decca 1963)
  • "Flash Bang Wallop" / "She’s Too Far Above Me" - (Decca 1963)
  • "Egg and Chips" / "The Dream Maker" - (Columbia 1963)
  • “Half a Sixpence”/ "If the Rain’s Got to Fall" - (RCA 1965)
  • "Fortuosity" / "I’m a Brass Band" - (Vista 1967)
  • "King’s New Clothes" / "Wonderful Copenhagen" - (Pye 1974)
  • "Half a Sixpence" / "If the Rain’s Got to Fall" - (Safari 1984)
  • "Singing the Blues" / "Come On, Let’s Go" - (Old Gold 1985)


  • Tommy Steele Stage Show-#5 (Decca 1957)
  • The Tommy Steele Story- UK #1 (Decca 1957)
  • The Duke Wore Jeans (Soundtrack)- UK #1 (Decca 1958)


  • The Tommy Steele Story (1957)
  • The Duke wore Jeans (1957)
  • Tommy the Toreador (1957)
  • Light up the Sky 1960) known as Skywatch in the US
  • It's All Happening (1963) known as The Dream Maker in the US
  • Half a Sixpence (1967)
  • the Happiest Millionaire (1967)
  • Finian's Rainbow (1968)
  • Twelfth Night (1969) (made for TV)
  • Where's Jjack? (1969)
  • The Yeoman of the Guard (1978)
  • Quincy's Quest (1979)

For many years it was thought that Elvis Ppressley had never set foot in England, and had only ever spent a few minutes on the tarmac at prestwick airpor in Scotland where his military plane, en route to the United States after completing his military service in West Germany, stopped to re-fuel. However, on 21st April 2008, in a (BBC Radio 2) interview with theatre impresario Bill Kenright, it was claimed that Presley, then 23, had visited England for a day, after striking a phone conversation with Steele in London in 1958. According to Kenwright: "Elvis flew in for a day and Tommy showed him round London. He showed him the Houses of Parliament and spent the day with him". Kenwright admitted on 22nd April 2008 that he was not sure whether he should have told the story.

Tommy Steele said: “It was two young men sharing the same love of their music. I swore never to divulge publicly what took place and I regret that it has found some way of getting into the light. I only hope he can forgive me."

David Niven – Iconic British Actor

David Niven was one of Britain's greatest actors who was famous for his great acting and humour.

David Niven (James David Graham Niven) was born on Monday, March 01, 1909.

The son a well-to-do British Army captain who died in the battle of Gallipoli in 1915, David Niven was shipped off to a succession of boarding schools by his stepfather, who didn't care much for the boy. Young Niven hated the experience and was a poor student, but his late father's reputation helped him get admitted to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and he was later commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry.

Rakishly handsome and naturally charming, Lt. Niven met a number of high society members while stationed in Malta, and, through their auspices, made several important contacts while attending parties. Although he later claimed to have been nothing more than a wastrel-like "professional guest" at this stage of his life, Niven was actually excellent company, a superb raconteur, and a loyal friend, and he paid back his social obligations by giving lavish parties of his own once he become famous. Niven also insisted that he fell into acting without any prior interest, although he had done amateur theatricals in college.

Following his military discharge, Niven wandered the world working odd jobs ranging from a lumberjack to a gunnery instructor for Cuban revolutionaries to (by his own account) a petty thief. He became a Hollywood extra in 1932 and eventually came to the attention of producer Samuel Goldwyn who had been building up a stable of attractive young contract players. Having made his speaking debut in Without Regret (1935), Niven quickly learned how to successfully get through a movie scene. After several secondary roles for Goldwyn he was loaned out for a lead role in the 20th Century Fox feature Thank You Jeeves (1936). The actor formed lasting friendships with several members of Hollywood's British community – notably Errol Flynn with whom he briefly lived -- and was quite popular with the American-born contingent as well, especially the ladies.

Although he worked steadily in the '30s, it was usually in support of bigger stars; he was seldom permitted to carry a film by himself, except for such modest productions as Dinner at the Ritz (1937) and Raffles (1939). Anxious to do something more substantial than act during World War II, Niven re-entered the British service as a Lieutenant Colonel, where he served nobly, if not spectacularly. (His batman, or valet, during the war was a Private. Peter Ustinov, himself an actor of no mean talent.) Married by the end of the war, Niven went back to films but found that he still wasn't getting any important roles; despite ten years experience, he was considered too "lightweight" to be a major name. His life momentarily shattered by the accidental death of his wife in 1946.

Niven's spirit was restored by his second marriage to Swedish model Hjordis Tersmeden, his wife of 37 years until the actor's death. Once again, Niven took a self-deprecating attitude towards his domestic life, claiming to be a poor husband and worse father, but despite the time spent away from his family, they cherished his concern and affection for them.

After his Goldwtn contract ended in 1949, Niven marked time with inconsequential movies before joining Dick Powell,Charles Boyer and Ida Lupino to form Four Star, a television production company. Niven was finally able to choose strong dramatic roles for himself, becoming one of TV's first and most prolific stars, although his public still preferred him as a light comedian. The actor's film career also took an upswing in the '50s with starring performances in the controversial The Moon Is Blue (1953) -- a harmless concoction which was denied a Production Code seal because the word "virgin" was bandied about -- and the mammoth Around the World in 80 Days (1956), in which Niven played his most famous role, erudite 19th century globetrotter Phileas Fogg. When Laurence Olivier dropped out of the 1958 film Separate Tables, Niven stepped in to play an elderly, disgraced British military man. Although he was as flippant about the part as usual -- telling an interviewer, "They gave me very good lines and then cut to Deborah Kerr while I was saying them" -- he won an Oscar for this performance.

Niven continued his career as a high-priced, A-list actor into the '60s, returning to television in the stylish "caper" series The Rogues in 1964. He revisited his hobby of writing in the early '70s; an earlier novel, -Round the Ragged Rocks, didn't sell very well, but gave him pleasure while working on it. But two breezy autobiographies did better: -The Moon's a Balloon (1972) and -Bring on the Empty Horse (1975). Working alone, without help of a ghostwriter (as opposed to many celebrity authors), Niven was able to entertainingly transfer his charm and wit to the printed page (even if he seldom let the facts impede his storytelling).

In 1982, Niven discovered he was suffering from a neurological illness commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which would prove fatal within a year. Courageously keeping up a front with his friends and the public, Niven continued making media appearances, although he was obviously deteriorating.

While appearing in his last film, Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), the actor's speech became so slurred due to his illness that his lines were later dubbed by impressionist Rich Little. Refusing all artificial life-support systems, Niven died in his Switzerland home later that year.

While his career produced a legacy of worthwhile films, and despite his own public attitude that his life had been something of an elaborate fraud, Niven left behind countless friends and family members who adored him.

Filmography·       There Goes the Bride (1932)

·       Eyes of Fate(1933)

·       Cleopatra (1934)

·       Without Regret(1935)

·       Barbary Coast(1935)

·       A Feather in Her Hat (1935)

·       Splendor (1935)

·       "Mutiny On the Bounty" (1935) extra-uncredited

·       Rose-Marie (1936)

·       Palm Springs(1936)

·       Dodsworth (1936)

·       Screen Snapshots Series 16, No. 4(1936)

·       Thank You, Jeeves! (1936)

·       The Charge of the Light Brigade(1936)

·       Beloved Enemy(1936)

·       We Have Our Moments (1937)

·       The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

·       Dinner at the Ritz(1937)

·       Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)

·       Four Men and a Prayer (1938)

·       Three Blind Mice(1938)

·       The Dawn Patrol(1938)

·       Wuthering Heights(1939)

·       Bachelor Mother(1939)

·       The Real Glory(1939)

·       Eternally Yours(1939)

·       Raffles (1939)

·       The First of the Few (1942)

·       The Way Ahead(1944)

·       A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

·       Magnificent Doll(1946)

·       The Perfect Marriage (1947)

·       The Other Love(1947)

·       The Bishop's Wife(1947)

·       Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948)

·       Enchantment(1948)

·       A Kiss in the Dark(1949)

·       A Kiss for Corliss(1949)

·       The Elusive Pimpernel (1950)

·       The Toast of New Orleans (1950)

·       Happy Go Lovely(1951)

·       Soldiers Three(1951)

·       Appointment with Venus (1951)

·       The Lady Says No(1952)

·       The Moon Is Blue(1953)

·       The Love Lottery(1954)

·       Happy Ever After(1954)

·       Carrington V.C.(1955)

·       The King's Thief(1955)

·       The Birds and the Bees (1956)

·       The Silken Affair(1956)

·       Around the World in 80 Days

·       Oh, Men! Oh, Women! (1957)

·       The Little Hut(1957)

·       My Man Godfrey(1957)

·       Screen Snapshots: Glamorous Hollywood (1958)

·       Bonjour Tristesse(1958)

·       Separate Tables(1958)

·       Ask Any Girl (1959)

·       Happy Anniversary(1959)

·       Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)

·       The Guns of Navarone (1961)

·       The Shortest Day(1962)

·       Conquered City(1962)

·       The Best of Enemies (1962)

·       The Road to Hong Kong (1962)

·       Guns of Darkness(1962)

·       55 Days at Peking(1963)

·       The Pink Panther(1963)

·       Bedtime Story(1964)

·       Where the Spies Are (1965)

·       Lady L (1965)

·       Eye of the Devil(1966)

·       All Eyes on Sharon Tate (1967)

·       Casino Royale(1967)

·       Prudence and the Pill (1968)

·       The Impossible Years (1968)

·       The Extraordinary Seaman (1969)

·       The Brain (1969)

·       Before Winter Comes (1969)

·       The Statue (1971)

·       King, Queen, Knave(1972)

·       The Canterville Ghost (1974)

·       Vampira (1974)

·       Old Dracula (1974)

·       Paper Tiger (1975)

·       The Remarkable Rocket (1975)

·       No Deposit, No Return(1976)

·       Murder by Death(1976)

·       Candleshoe (1977)

·       Speed Fever (1978)

·       Death on the Nile(1978)

·       A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square(1979)

·       Escape to Athena(1979)

·       Rough Cut (1980)

·       The Sea Wolves(1980)

·       Better Late Than Never (1982)

·       Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)

·       Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)

Cary Grant – Iconic British Actor

Cary Grant was one of Britain's greatest actors who was famous for his great acting and comic timing.

Archibald Alexander Leach (January 18, 1904 – November 29, 1986), better known by his screen name, Cary Grant, was an English film actor. With his distinctive Mid-Atlantic accent, he was perhaps the foremost exemplar of the debonair leading man, not only handsome, but also witty and charming. He was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.

Archie Leach was born in Horfield, Bristol, England. An only child (before he was born his parents had had another son who died in infancy), Leach had a confused and unhappy childhood. His mother, Elsie, was placed in a mental institution when he was nine. His father (who later had a relationship with another woman, with whom he had a son) never told him the truth, and he only learned in 1935 that she was still alive, in an institution.

This left Leach with an insecurity in his relations with women and a secretiveness about his inner life. These insecurities, by his own admission, led him to crave applause and attention and to create a new persona that would attract it. After being expelled from Fairfield Grammar School in Bristol in 1918 (for investigating the girls' bathroom), he joined the Bob Pender stage troupe. Grant traveled with the troupe to the United States in 1920 for a two-year tour; when the troupe returned to England, Grant decided to stay in the U.S.

Over time, he created a unique accent and persona that mixed working and upper class accents, while supporting himself as, among other things, a hawker.

After some success in light Broadway comedies, he came to Hollywood in 1931, where he acquired the name Cary Grant.

Grant starred in some of the classic screwball comedies, including The Awful Truth with Irene Dunne (the pivotal film in the establishment of Grant's screen persona), Bringing Up Baby with Katharine Hepburn, His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell and Arsenic and Old Lace with Priscilla Lane. These performances solidified his appeal, and The Philadelphia Story, with Hepburn and James Stewart, presented his best-known screen role: the charming if sometimes unreliable man, formerly married to an intelligent and strong-willed woman who first divorced him, then realized that he was — with all his faults — irresistible.

Grant was one of Hollywood's top box-office attractions for several decades. He was a versatile actor, who did demanding physical comedy in movies like Gunga Din with the skills he had learned on the stage. Howard Hawks said that Grant was "so far the best that there is. There isn't anybody to be compared to him".

Grant was a favorite actor of Alfred Hitchcock, notorious for disliking actors, who said that Grant was "the only actor I ever loved in my whole life". Grant appeared in such Hitchcock classics as Suspicion, Notorious, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest.

In the mid-1950s, Grant formed his own production company, Grantley Productions, and produced a number of movies distributed by Universal, such as Operation Petticoat, Indiscreet, That Touch Of Mink (co-starring Doris Day), and Father Goose.

While Grant was nominated for two Academy Awards in the 1940s, he was denied the Oscar throughout his active career as he was considered a maverick by virtue of the fact that he was the first actor to "go independent," effectively bucking the old studio system, which pretty much completely controlled what an actor could or could not do. In this way, Grant was able to control every aspect of his career. The cost was no golden statuette during his active career.

Grant finally received the long overdue honors he so deserved in 1970 with a special Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 1981, he received the Kennedy Centre Honours.

Filmography1)    This Is the Night (1932)

2)    Sinners in the Sun (1932)

3)    Singapore Sue (1932) (short subject)

4)    Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)

5)    Devil and the Deep (1932)

6)    Blonde Venus (1932)

7)    Hot Saturday (1932)

8)    Madame Butterfly (1932)

9)    Hollywood on Parade (1932) (short subject)

10) She Done Him Wrong (1933)

11) Woman Accused (1933)

12) Hollywood on Parade No. 9 (1933) (short subject)

13) The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)

14) Gambling Ship (1933)

15) I'm No Angel (1933)

16) Alice in Wonderland (1933)

17) Thirty Day Princess (1934)

18) Born to Be Bad (1934)

19) Kiss and Make Up (1934)

20) Ladies Should Listen (1934)

21) Enter Madame (1935)

22) Wings in the Dark (1935)

23) The Last Outpost (1935)

24) Pirate Party on Catalina Isle (1935) (short subject)

25) Sylvia Scarlett (1935)

26) The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (1936)

27) Big Brown Eyes (1936)

28) Suzy (1936)

29) Wedding Present (1936)

30) When You're in Love (1937)

31) Topper (1937)

32) The Toast of New York (1937)

33) The Awful Truth (1937)

34) Bringing up Baby (1938)

35) Holiday (1938)

36) Gunga Din (1939)

37) Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

38) In Name Only (1939)

39) His Girl Friday (1940)

40) My Favorite Wife (1940)

41) The Howards of Virginia (1940)

42) The Philadelphia Story (1940)

43) Penny Serenade (1941)

44) Suspicion (1941)

45) The Talk of the Town (1942)

46) Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)

47) Mr. Lucky (1943)

48) Destination Tokyo (1943)

49) Once Upon a Time (1944)

50) Road to Victory (1944) (short subject)

51) None But the Lonely Heart (1944)

52) Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

53) Without Reservations (1946) (Cameo)

54) Night and Day (1946)

55) Notorious (1946)

56) The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

57) The Bishop's Wife (1947)

58) Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

59) Every Girl Should Be Married (1948)

60) I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

61) Crisis (1950)

62) People Will Talk (1951)

63) Room for One More (1952)

64) Monkey Business (1952)

65) Dream Wife (1953)

66) To Catch a Thief (1955)

67) An Affair to Remember (1957)

68) The Pride and the Passion (1957)

69) Kiss Them for Me (1957)

70) Indiscreet (1958)

71) Houseboat (1958)

72) North by Northwest (1959)

73) Operation Petticoat (1959)

74) The Grass Is Greener (1960)

75) That Touch of Mink (1962)

76) Charade (1963)

77) Father Goose (1964)

78) A Tribute to the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital (1965) (short subject)

79) Walk, Don't Run (1966)

80) Elvis: That's the Way It Is (1970) (Documentary Commentary)

In the last few years of his life, Grant undertook tours of the United States with "A Conversation with Cary Grant", in which he would show clips from his films and answer audience questions. It was just before one of these performances, in Davenport, Iowa, on November 29, 1986, that Grant suffered a stroke (November 29, 1986), and died in the hospital a few hours later.

Ian Fleming stated that he partially had Cary Grant in mind when he created his suave super-spy, James Bond. The later Bond, Roger Moore, was selected for sharing Grant's wry sense of humour.

In November 2004 Grant was named "The Greatest Movie Star of All Time" by Premiere Magazine.

Sir Charlie Chaplin – Iconic British Comic Actor and Director

Sir Charlie Chaplin was one of Britain's greatest actors/directors who was famous for his great acting, Directing and genius comic performances.

Sir Charlie Chaplin was born into a poor London family of music hall entertainers on April 16th 1889.

Even as a child he found success as a performer, making his stage debut in 1894.

He played a paper-boy in 'Sherlock Holmes', which ran from 1903-6, after which he worked as a mime in vaudeville theatres, until he left London for America.

In 1910 when Charlie first arrived in the States he joined the Karno pantomime troupe, and toured with them for six years.

He signed his first film deal at the end of 1913, with Keystone pictures. His film debut was called 'Making a Living'. It was in the 1915 film, 'The Tramp', that Chaplin first appeared as the downtrodden, dreamy character for which he is most famous.

By the early 1920's Chaplin was making his own films with actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Having control of his own films lead to classics, such as 'The Kid', 'The Gold Rush', 'City Lights', 'Modern Times' and 'The Great Dictator'. These films made him the most popular and successful film star of his time.

When sound films appeared, Charlie's natural terrain of silent film was eclipsed by the novelty and realism of this new technology.

Chaplin was accused of being a communist by senator McCarthy, and a file was produced that supposedly detailed his subversive political activities since 1922.

In 1952, Chaplin visited Europe and was not allowed to return to the US; he settled in Switzerland. He made a film, 'The King In New York', in 1957, which was full of criticism of McCarthy and American society in general.

He was allowed to return to the US in 1972 to receive an Oscar for his services to film.

Filmography1.   A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) .... An old steward

2.   A King in New York (1957) .... King Shahdov

3.   Limelight (1952) .... Calvero

4.   Monsieur Verdoux (1947) .... Henri Verdoux

5.   The Great Dictator (1940) .... Hynkel - Dictator of Tomania / A Jewish Barber

6.   Modern Times (1936) (as Charlie Chaplin) .... A Factory Worker

7.   City Lights (1931) (as Charlie Chaplin) .... A Tramp
... aka "City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime" - USA (copyright title)

8.   The Circus (1928) (as Charlie Chaplin) .... A Tramp

9.   Camille (1926/II) .... Mike
... aka "The Fate of a Coquette" - USA (subtitle)

10. The Gold Rush (1925) .... The Lone Prospector

11. A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923) (uncredited) .... Station Porter

12. The Pilgrim (1923) .... The Pilgrim

13. Pay Day (1922/I) .... Laborer

14. Nice and Friendly (1922) .... Tramp

15. The Idle Class (1921) .... Tramp and Husband
... aka "Vanity Fair" - USA (alternative title)

16. The Nut (1921/I) (unconfirmed) (uncredited) .... Chaplin impersonator

17. The Kid (1921) (as Charlie Chaplin) .... A Tramp

18. A Day's Pleasure (1919) (as Charlie Chaplin) .... Father
... aka "A Ford Story" - USA (alternative title)

19. Sunnyside (1919) .... Farm handyman

20. The Professor (1919) .... Professor Bosco

21. Shoulder Arms (1918) .... Recruit

22. The Bond (1918) .... Charlie

23. Triple Trouble (1918) .... The Janitor
... aka "Charlie's Triple Trouble" - USA (alternative title)

24. A Dog's Life (1918) (uncredited) .... Tramp

25. The Adventurer (1917/I) .... The Convict

26. The Immigrant (1917) .... Immigrant
... aka "A Modern Columbus" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Broke" - USA (8mm release title (short version))
... aka "Hello U.S.A." - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The New World" - USA (alternative title)

27. The Cure (1917) .... The Inebriate
... aka "The Water Cure" - USA (alternative title)

28. Easy Street (1917) .... The Derelict

29. The Rink (1916) .... A Waiter. Posing as Sir Cecil Seltzer
... aka "Rolling Around" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Waiter" - USA (alternative title)

30. Behind the Screen (1916) .... Goliath's Assistant - David
... aka "The Pride of Hollywood" - USA (alternative title)

31. The Pawnshop (1916) .... Pawnshop assistant
... aka "At the Sign of the Dollar" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "High and Low Finance" - USA (alternative title)

32. The Count (1916) .... Tailor's apprentice
... aka "Almost a Gentleman" - USA (alternative title)

33. One A.M. (1916) .... Drunk
... aka "Solo" - USA (alternative title)

34. The Vagabond (1916) .... Street Musician
... aka "Gipsy Life" - USA (alternative title)

35. The Fireman (1916) .... Fireman
... aka "A Gallant Fireman" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Fiery Circle" - USA (alternative title)

36. The Floorwalker (1916) .... Tramp
... aka "Shop" - USA (alternative title)

37. Burlesque on Carmen (1916) .... Darn Hosiery
... aka "Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on Carmen" - USA (complete title)

38. Police (1916) .... Charlie, Convict 999
... aka "Charlie in the Police" - USA (alternative title)

39. A Burlesque on Carmen (1915) .... Darn Hosiery
... aka "Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on Carmen" - USA (complete title)

40. A Night in the Show (1915) .... Mr. Pest and Mr. Rowdy

41. Shanghaied (1915/I) .... Tramp
... aka "Charlie Shanghaied" - USA (alternative title)

42. The Bank (1915) .... Charlie, a Janitor
... aka "Charlie in the Bank" - USA (alternative title)

43. A Woman (1915) .... Gentleman/'Nora Nettlerash'
... aka "Charlie the Perfect Lady" - USA (alternative title)

44. Work (1915) .... Izzy A. Wake's assistant
... aka "Charlie the Decorator" - USA (alternative title)

45. His Regeneration (1915) (uncredited) .... A customer

46. By the Sea (1915) .... Stroller
... aka "Charlie by the Sea" - USA (alternative title)

47. The Tramp (1915) .... Tramp
... aka "Charlie on the Farm" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Charlie the Tramp" - USA (alternative title)

48. A Jitney Elopement (1915) .... Suitor, the Fake Count

49. In the Park (1915) .... Charlie

50. The Champion (1915) .... Challenger
... aka "Charlie the Champion" - USA (alternative title)

51. A Night Out (1915/I) .... Reveller
... aka "Charlie's Drunken Daze" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Charlie's Night Out" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "His Night Out" - USA (alternative title)

52. His New Job (1915) .... Film Extra

53. His Prehistoric Past (1914) .... Weakchin
... aka "The Hula-Hula Dance" - USA (alternative title)

54. Getting Acquainted (1914) .... Mr. Sniffels

55. Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) .... The City Guy

56. His Trysting Place (1914) .... Clarence, the Husband
... aka "His Trysting Places" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Henpecked Spouse" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Ladies' Man" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Very Much Married" - USA (alternative title)

57. His Musical Career (1914) .... Charlie, Piano Mover
... aka "Charlie as a Piano Mover" - USA (alternative title)

58. Gentlemen of Nerve (1914) .... Mr. Wow-Woe, Track Fanatic

59. Dough and Dynamite (1914) .... Pierre, a Waiter

60. Those Love Pangs (1914) .... Masher
... aka "Oh, You Girls" - USA (alternative title)

61. The New Janitor (1914) .... Janitor

62. The Rounders (1914) .... Reveller
... aka "Going Down" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Oh, What a Night" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Love Thief" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Tip, Tap, Toe" - USA (alternative title)

63. His New Profession (1914) .... Charlie

64. The Masquerader (1914/I) .... Film Actor/Beautiful Stranger
... aka "The Female Impersonator" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Perfumed Lady" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Picnic" - USA (alternative title)

65. Recreation (1914) .... Tramp

66. The Face on the Bar Room Floor (1914) .... Artist

67. The Property Man (1914) .... The Property Man
... aka "Charlie on the Boards" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Hits of the Past" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Props" - USA (alternative title)

68. Laughing Gas (1914) .... Dentist's Assistant
... aka "Busy Little Dentist" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Laffing Gas" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Tuning His Ivories" - USA (alternative title)

69. Mabel's Married Life (1914) .... Mabel's Husband

70. Mabel's Busy Day (1914) .... Tipsy Nuisance

71. The Knockout (1914) .... Referee

72. Her Friend the Bandit (1914) .... Bandit

73. The Fatal Mallet (1914) .... Suitor

74. A Busy Day (1914) .... Wife
... aka "Busy as Can Be" - USA (alternative title)

75. Caught in the Rain (1914) .... Tipsy Hotel Guest
... aka "In the Park" - USA (reissue title)

76. Caught in a Cabaret (1914) .... Waiter
... aka "Charlie the Waiter" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Prime Minister Charlie" - USA (alternative title)

77. Twenty Minutes of Love (1914) .... Pickpocket

78. Mabel at the Wheel (1914) .... Villain
... aka "A Hot Finish" - USA (alternative title)

79. The Star Boarder (1914/II) .... The Star Boarder
... aka "The Fatal Lantern" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Landlady's Pet" - USA (alternative title)

80. Cruel, Cruel Love (1914) .... Lord Helpus/Mr. Dovey

81. His Favorite Pastime (1914) .... Drunken masher
... aka "Charlie Is Thirsty" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "Charlie's Reckless Fling" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Reckless Fling" - USA (alternative title)

82. Tango Tangles (1914) .... Tipsy Dancer

83. Film Johnny (1914) .... The Film Johnnie
... aka "A Film Johnnie"- USA (original title)
... aka "Charlie the Actor" - USA (alternative title)

84. Between Showers (1914) .... Masher
... aka "In Wrong Thunder and Lightning" - USA (alternative title)

85. A Thief Catcher (1914/I) (uncredited) .... Cop

86. Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914) .... Tramp

87. Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) .... Tramp
... aka "The Pest" - USA (alternative title)

88. Making a Living (1914) .... Swindler
... aka "Take My Picture" - USA (alternative title)

Chaplin's robust health began to slowly fail in the late 1960s, after the completion of his final film A Countess from Hong Kong and more rapidly after he received his Academy Award in 1972. By 1977, he had difficulty communicating, and was using a wheelchair. Chaplin died in his sleep in Corsier-Sur-Vevey Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977.
Chaplin was interred Corsier-Sur-Veveyn Cemetery, Vaud, Switzerland. On 1 March 1978, his corpse was stolen by a small group of Swiss mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. The plot failed, the robbers were captured, and the corpse was recovered eleven weeks later near Lake Geneva. His body was reburied under 6 feet (1.8m) of concrete to prevent further attempts.

Sir Laurence Olivier ( Lord Larry ) –  Iconic Theatre Actor

Lord Laurence Olivier was one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the greatest Theatre actors of the 20th Century. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his early beginnings to his present day status as a great English Icon.

Laurence Kerr Olivier was born into an old but modest Anglican family on March 22nd  1907 in Dorking, Surrey, England. His father was a stern minister with a closet fanaticism for plays and literature. So when Master Olivier inherited his fathers mania for the stage it was heartily encouraged and he debuted in a parochial school production of ‘Julius Caesar’ at the age of 9. He was even invited to present a special matinee of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1922.

In preparation for a professional career in acting, Olivier studied at the Central School in London where one of his instructors was Claude Rains. He made his professional London debut in ‘The Suliot Officer’ and joined the Birmingham Repertory in 1926; by the time Olivier was 20 he had played the title role in Chekhov's ‘Uncle Vanya’ (1927). For many years he scorned the ‘silver screen’ actually not appearing in a film until 1930 - ‘Too many crooks’.

His subsequent West End stage triumphs included Journey's End and Private Lives. He married actress Jill Esmond in 1930, and moved with her to America when Private Lives opened on Broadway. They were destined to have just the one son, Tarquin, six years later.
Signed to a Hollywood contract in 1931, Olivier was promoted as "the new Ronald Colman," but he failed to make much of an impression onscreen. By the time Greta Garbo insisted that he be replaced by John Gilbert in her upcoming Queen Christina (1933), Olivier was disenchanted with the movies and vowed to remain on-stage.

This theatre breakthrough came in 1935, when he was cast as Romeo in John Gielgud's London production of Romeo and Juliet. (He also played Mercutio on the nights Gielgud assumed the leading role himself.) He was also becoming disenchanted with Gielguds style of acting Shakespeare and it was around this time that Olivier reportedly became fascinated with the works of Sigmund Freud. This led to his applying a ‘psychological’ approach to all future stage and screen characters. Whatever the reason, Olivier's already superb performances improved dramatically, and, before long, he was being judged on his own merits by critics, and not merely compared (often disparagingly) to Gielgud or Ralph Richardson.

He also made several films at this time without enjoying the medium, though he won some popularity for such films as Fire Over England (1937) and The Divorce of Lady X (1938), but it was William Wyler, directing him as Heathcliff in Hollywood's Wuthering Heights (1939), who taught him how to value film.

When World War II broke out, Olivier intended to join the Royal Air Force, but was still contractually obliged to other parties. He apparently disliked actors such as Charles Laughton and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, who would hold charity cricket matches to help the war effort. Olivier took flying lessons, and racked up over 200 hours. After two years of service, he rose to the rank Lieutenant Olivier RNVR, as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm but was never called to see action.

A new biography of Olivier written by Michael Munn (titled Lord Larry) claims that in 1940, while still in America Olivier was recruited by Special Operations Executive as a agent to build support in the United States for Britian's war with Nazi Germany. According to the book Olivier was recruited by film producer and MI5 operative Alexander Korda on the instructions of Winston Churchill.

According to an article in The Telegraph David Niven, a good friend of Olivier's, is said to have to

d Michael Munn,

'What was dangerous for his country was that (Olivier) could have been accused of being an agent'.

This sounds ludicrous now in the light of history, but before America was brought into the war it didn't tolerate foreign agents. Niven continues...

"So this was a danger for Larry because he could have been arrested. And what was worse, if German agents had realised what Larry was doing, they would, I am sure, have gone after him."

One of this other more conspicuous contributions to the war effort was his joyously jingoistic film production of Henry V (1944), for which he served as producer, director, and star. Like all his future film directorial efforts, Henry V pulled off the difficult trick of retaining its theatricality without ever sacrificing its cinematic values. ‘Henry V’ won Olivier an honorary Oscar, not to mention major prizes from several other corners of the world. The King bestowed a Knighthood upon him in 1947, and he served up another celluloid Shakespeare the next year, producing, directing and starring in Hamlet (1948). This time he won two Oscars: one for his performance, the other for the film itself a feat only once again repeated by Roberto Benigni for ‘Life Is Beautiful’ (1997).

Olivier's stage work took precedence during the 1950s and 1960s, during which time he directed himself in only two other films: the spellbinding Richard III (1955) a film laden with the theatre's acting great (Gielgud is especially moving as Clarence); and ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ (1957).

Among the other British films, there are some razor-sharp character studies, such as the courteous, cautious policeman in ‘The Magic Box’ (1951), the investigating inspector in ‘Bunny Lake Is Missing’ (1965) and the failed teacher in ‘Term of Trial’ (1962). It is also a treat for future generations to have on film his seedy music hall ‘has been’ in ‘The Entertainer’ (1960), the theatrical version of which (1957-58) had marked his induction into the changing drama of the mid-century. His Mahdi in ‘Khartoum’ (1966) is really out acted by the quieter, more cinematic performance of Charlton Heston as General Gordon; this was symptomatic of how Olivier's mesmeric theatricality (and he is by no means alone in this matter in the history of British cinema) could sometimes seem too coarse for the intimacy of the cinema.

His personal life was never personal. He was married to Jill Esmond in 1930 and they finally divorced to allow Olivier to marry Vivien Leigh in 1940. They became one of the cinemas most famous double acts, appearing in both films and plays together. Vivien suffered from depression and during the couples tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1948 she suffered dreadfully from it. Laurence was later to remark he ‘had lost her’ in Australia. They both had affairs in the 1950’s and eventually divorced in 1960.

Larry then married Joan Plowright in 1961, his co-star in ‘The Entertainer’. Together the couple had three children, Richard Kerr, Tamsin Agnes Margaret and Julie-Kate. Both daughters are actresses. The couple were married until his death from cancer in 1989.. He was knighted in 1947 and in 1970, he became Lord Olivier and assumed a seat in the House of Lords the following year. Four years later, suffering from a life-threatening illness, he made his last stage appearance.

Sir Larry continued making two or three films a year well into his seventies and eighties and was nominated twice more for Best Actor and once for Best Supporting Actor (none of them, it should be noted, for Shakespearean films!). He even did some TV, receiving five Emmy Awards, most notably for the delightful "Love Among the Ruins" (1975) in which he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn.

He was involved with Richard Attenborough in ‘A Bridge Too Far’ (1977). His portrayal of the Dutch doctor caught up in the midst of a dreadful conflict was both sensitive and strong. He, by this stage, had both British and Danish Knighthoods. One of his best performances I felt (there are many!) came late in his film career as he played Ezra Lieberman, the Nazi Hunter, in ‘The Boys from Brazil’ (1978). Gregory Peck (brilliant every time) was outshone by Larry as he quietly and thoughtfully went about the task of tracking down Josef Mengele. The following year his ‘Van Helsing’ in the film ‘Dracula’ (1979) was thoughtful and although the film was poor Olivier hid not shame himself in role. By this stage he had established a record of near-unparalleled achievement on stage, screen and TV, and was so heaped with honours that nothing could have diminished him – even if the critics were having a go!

It should also be noted that even with wealth of noble titles, he refused to carry on a conversation with anyone who wouldn't address him as "Larry".

He was nominated 13 times for US Academy Awards and won 4

He was nominated for 8 British Academy Awards and won 2

Along the way he also collected 5 Emmy's, 3 Golden Globes and countless other accolades.

'I'd like people to remember me for a diligent expert workman. I think a poet is a workman. I think Shakespeare was a workman. And God's a workman. I don't think there's anything better than a workman'

'Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms. I said that some time ago, and today I do not think I would add one word'.

Larry Olivier – the stage and screen actor who had nearly every accolade known to man heaped upon him. Undoubtedly the best Shakespearean interpreter of all time perhaps the greatest classical actor of the era and one of the finest cinematic actors of his generation. He died on the11th  July 1989 (aged 82) at Steyning, West Sussex, England.

Dame Margarat Rutherford – That Funny English Actress

I have always been interested in English History and arts and as a fan of Margarat Rutherford the character actress, who was famous for her playing of Miss Marple in the 1950's and her comical parts in films from the 1940's to 1960's.

Margaret Rutherford, the daughter of William Benn and Florence Rutherford, was born on 11th May 1892. Her father was the brother of the politician John Benn. Before her birth, her father had murdered her grandfather, Julius Benn. As a result of this tragedy, Margaret took her mother's name. Margaret's mother then died when she was three years old and she was brought up by her aunt.

At school Rutherford developed an interest in the theatre and her aunt paid for her to have private acting lessons. When her aunt died she left Margaret a small amount of money so she could pursue a career on the stage. Following a number of years spent as a speech and piano teacher, she trained at the Old Vic and debuted onstage in 1925 where she appeared in several small roles.

Her slightly fully shape was unconventional for many female stars at this time and this often lead her to a number of unusual female roles such as spinsters and detectives. She was originally a teacher of elocution, (that's an English word for speaking with the correct pronunciation of words), which meant that in many ways much of her comedy was derived from her extensive vocal ability.

Some of her finest parts actually originated in the theatre – for example she had played both Madame Arcati and Miss Prism on the stage before she repeated the roles in the screen adaptations of Blithe Spirit (1945) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952).

Rutherford made her first appearance in London's West End theatres in 1933 but her talent was not recognised by the critics until her performance as Miss Prism in the play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest' (1939).

In summer 1941, Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" opened on the London stage, with Coward himself directing. She played as Madame Arcati, the fake psychic in a role in which Coward had earlier envisaged for her and which he then especially shaped.

It would be as Madame Arcati in David Lean's 'Blithe Spirit' (1945) that would actually establish her as a big screen success. This would become one of her most memorable performances, with her bicycling about the Kentish countryside, cape fluttering behind her. Interestingly it would also establish the model for portraying that pseudo-soothsayer forever thereafter and there have been about six remakes of the film. As a slight aside - as Noel Coward had Margaret in mind for his Madame Arcati creation, so also did Agatha Christie create Miss Marple for Rutherford a number of years later.
Some of her finest screen work was when she was in fifties. She was superb as Nurse Carey in Miranda (1948) and completely believable in the role of Professor Hatton Jones Passport to Pimlico (1949). More success followed as see starred along Alistir Sim in ‘The Happiest days of your life' (1950).

Then came along the role that she was so destined for, that of Miss Letitia Prism in Anthony Asquiths ‘The Importance of Being Earnest' (1952). Incredibly despite a whole string of very capable and distinguished performances – she had still not won a single film honour. More comic characters followed including Prudence Croquet in ‘An Alligator Named Daisy' (1955), and, quite properly part of those self-conscious celebrations of British cinema, ‘The Magic Box' (1951).

She was then Mrs. Fazackalee in Basil Deardens ‘The smallest show on Earth' (1957) with such notables as Virginia McKenna, Peter Sellers and Leslie Phillips. For much of the 60's she become synonymous with Miss Jane Marple) although a particular favourite of mine is the 1963 film The Mouse on the Moon. She also was awarded an OBE for services to stage and screen in 1861.

She evatually got some recognition from her peers winning the Oscar and Golden Globe for her role as The Duchess of Brighton in ‘The VIPs' (1963) directed by Anthony Asquith. Also that year Agatha Christie dedicated her 1963 novel "The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side" to Rutherford in admiration of her work.

Orson Welles made an art house tribute by casting her as Mistress Quickly in ‘Chimes at Midnight' (1965). Two years later her OBE was elevated to DBE making her a Dame of the British Empire. She finished working a year later although she read a number of stories on the childrens programme Jackanory (BBC1).

She was married to actor Stringer Davis from 1945 to her death – she also appeared in several films with him.

Dame Margaret was a cousin of the radical left-wing Labour politician Tony Benn. Towards the end of her life she started to suffer from Alzheimer's disease, Dame Margaret Rutherford died in 1972 at the ripe old age of 80.


1936                Talk of the Devil          Housekeeper              Dusty Ermine 

Evelyn Summers aka Miss Butterby, old gang moll Troubled Waters Bit role uncredited

1937                Missing, Believed Married      Lady Parke     Catch As Catch Can

Maggie Carberry         Big Fella          Nanny uncredited       Beauty and the Barge Mrs. Baldwin

1941    Spring Meeting            Aunt Bijou        Quiet Wedding            Magistrate

1943    Yellow Canary            Mrs. Towcester           The Demi-Paradise     Rowena Ventnor

1944    English Without Tears            Lady Christabel Beauclerk

1945    Blithe Spirit      Madame Arcati

1947    While the Sun Shines             Dr. Winifred Frye        Meet Me at Dawn        Madame Vernore

1948    Miranda           Nurse Carey

1949    Passport to Pimlico     Professor Hatton-Jones

1950    The Happiest Days of Your Life      Muriel Whitchurch   

uel bandito sono  (UK title: Her Favorite Husband)               Mrs. Dotherington

1951    The Magic Box            Lady Pond      

1952    Curtain Up       Catherine Beckwith/Jeremy St. Claire           Miss Robin Hood        Miss Honey

            The Importance of Being Earnest       Miss Letitia Prism        Castle in the Air          Miss Nicholson

1953    Innocents in Paris       Gwladys Inglott           Trouble in Store          Miss Bacon

1954    The Runaway Bus      Miss Cynthia Beeston Mad About Men           Nurse Carey

Aunt Clara       Clara Hilton

1955    An Alligator Named Daisy      Prudence Croquet

1957    The Smallest Show on Earth              Mrs. Fazackalee         Just My Luck              Mrs. Dooley

1959    I'm All Right Jack        Aunt Dolly

1961    On the Double Lady Vivian     Murder, She Said - Miss Jane Marple

1963    Murder at the Gallop - Miss Jane Marple       The Mouse on the Moon         Grand Duchess

Gloriana XIII                The V.I.P.s     

The Duchess of Brighton        Academy Award for Best  and Supporting Actress   Golden Globe

1964    Murder Most Foul - Miss Jane Marple            Murder Ahoy! - Miss Jane Marple

1965    Chimes at Midnight     Mistress Quickly         The Alphabet Murders - Miss Jane Marple

1967    A Countess from Hong Kong             Miss Gaulswallow       Arabella           Princess Ilaria

The Wacky World of Mother Goose   (Mother Goose voice)

Sir Michael Caine -  English Iconic Actor

Sir  Michael Caine is one of England's greatest iconic actors and is famous for his starring roles from Harry Palmer etc. Michael Caine was born Born Maurice Micklewhite in Rotherhithe, London, on the 14th March 1933. Michael Caine was the son of a fish-market porter and his mother was a cook and housewife. Caine grew up in Camberwell, London, and during the WWII he was evacuated to North Runcton in Norfolk. As a fan, my favourite film would have to be "Zulu" which is shown most christmas's on British TV.

In 1944, he passed his eleven plus exam, winning a scholarship to Hackney Downs Grocers School. After a year there he moved to Wilson's Grammar School in Camberwell (now Wilson's School in Wallington, South London), which he left at sixteen after gaining a School Certificate in six subjects.

He then worked briefly as a filing clerk and messenger for a film company in Victoria Street, London and the film producer Jay Lewis in Wardour Street, London.

In 1952, when he was called up to do his National Service, until 1954, he served in the British Army's Royal Fusiliers, first at the BAOR HQ in Iserlohn, Germany and then on active service during the Korean War. Caine has said he would like to see the return of National Service to help combat youth violence, stating: "I'm just saying, put them in the Army for six months. You're there to learn how to defend your country. You belong to the country. Then when you come out, you have a sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence."

Upon his return to England he gravitated toward the theatre and got a job as an assistant stage manager. He adopted the name of Caine on the advice of his agent, taking it from a marquee that advertised The Caine Mutiny (1954).

In the years that followed he worked in more than 100 television dramas, with repertory companies throughout England and eventually in the stage hit, "The Long and the Short and the Tall." Zulu (1964), the 1964 epic retelling of a historic 19th-century battle in South Africa between British soldiers and Zulu warriors, brought Caine to international attention. Instead of being typecast as a low-ranking Cockney soldier, he played a snobbish, aristocratic officer. Although "Zulu" was a major success, it was the role of Harry Palmer in Ipcress File (1965) and the title role in Alfie (1966) that made Caine a star of the first magnitude.

He epitomized the new breed of actor in mid-'60s England, the working-class bloke with glasses and a down-home accent. However, after initially starring in some excellent films, particularly in the 1960s, including Gambit (1966), Funeral in Berlin (1966), Play Dirty (1969), Battle of Britain (1969), Too late the Hero (1970), The last Valley (1971) and especially Get Carter (1971). He gave a magnificent performance opposite Sean Connery in The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and turned in a solid one as a German colonel in The Eagle has landed (1976). During the 1980's “Educating Rita” (1983) and “Hannah and her Sisters” (1986) (for which he won his first Oscar) were highlights of the 1980s, while more recently Little Voice (1998), The Cider House Rules (1999) (his second Oscar) and Last Orders (2001) have been widely acclaimed.

Films and Actor Credits

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Harry Brown (2010)

Playing the part of Harry Brown

Inception (2010)

Playing the part of Miles

Is Anybody There? (2009)

Playing the part of Clarence

Flawless (2008)

Playing the part of Hobbs

The Dark Knight (2008)

Playing the part of Alfred

Sleuth (2007)

Playing the part of Andrew Wyke

Children of Men (2006)

Playing the part of Jasper

The Prestige (2006)

Playing the part of Cutter

Batman Begins (2005)

Playing the part of Alfred

Bewitched (2005)

Playing the part of Nigel Bigelow

The Weather Man (2005)

Playing the part of Robert Spritz

Around the Bend (2004)

Playing the part of Henry Lair

Secondhand Lions (2003)

Playing the part of Garth

The Actors (2003)

Playing the part of Tom O Malley

The Statement (2003)

Playing the part of Pierre Brossard

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

Playing the part of Nigel Powers

The Quiet American (2002)

Playing the part of Thomas Fowler

Last Orders (2001)

Playing the part of Jack Dodds

Quicksand (2001)

Playing the part of Jake Mellows

Shadow Run (2001)

Get Carter (2000)

Playing the part of Cliff Brumby

Miss Congeniality (2000)

Playing the part of Victor Melling

Quills (2000)

Playing the part of Doctor Royer-Collard

Shiner (2000)

Playing the part of Billy Shiner Simpson

Curtain Call (1999)

Playing the part of Max Gale

The Cider House Rules (1999)

Playing the part of Doctor Wilbur Larch

The Debtors (1999)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1998)

Little Voice (1998)

Playing the part of Ray Say

Blood & Wine (1997)

Playing the part of Victor Spansky

Mandela & de Klerk (1997)

Bullet to Beijing (1995)

Midnight in St. Petersburg (1995)

On Deadly Ground (1994)

Playing the part of Michael Jennings

World War II - When Lions Roared (1994)

On Deadly Ground (1993)

Blue Ice (1992)

laying the part of Harry Anders

Noises Off (1992)

Playing the part of Lloyd Fellowes

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Playing the part of Scrooge

Bullseye! (1990)

Playing the part of Dr Daniel Hicklar/ Sidney Lipton

Mr. Destiny (1990)

Playing the part of Mike

A Shock to the System (1990)

Playing the part of Graham Marshall

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

Playing the part of Lawrence Jamieson

John Huston: The Man, The Movies, The Maverick (1988)

Playing the part of Himself

Without A Clue (1988)

Playing the part of Sherlock Holmes

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Playing the part of Hoagie

Surrender (1987)

Playing the part of Sean Stein

The Fourth Protocol (1987)

Playing the part of John Preston

The Whistle Blower (1987)

Playing the part of Frank Jones

Half Moon Street (1986)

Playing the part of Lord Sam Bulbeck

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Playing the part of Elliot

Mona Lisa (1986)

Playing the part of Mortwell

Sweet Liberty (1986)

Playing the part of Elliot James

Water (1986)

Playing the part of Baxter Thwaites

The Black Windmill (1986)

The Holcroft Covenant (1985)

Playing the part of Noel Holcroft

Blame It on Rio (1984)

Playing the part of Matthew Hollis

The Jigsaw Man (1984)

Playing the part of Sir Philip Kimberley/ Sergeo Kuzminsky

Beyond the Limit (1983)

Playing the part of Charley Fortnum

Educating Rita (1983)

Playing the part of Dr Frank Bryant

Deathtrap (1982)

Playing the part of Sidney Bruhl

Victory (1981)

Playing the part of Captain John Colby

The Hand (1981)

Playing the part of Jon Lansdale

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Playing the part of Dr. Robert Elliott

The Island (1980)

Playing the part of Blair Maynard

Ashanti (1979)

Playing the part of Dr David Linderby

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

Playing the part of Mike Turner

California Suite (1978)

Playing the part of Sidney Cochran

Silver Bears (1978)

Playing the part of Doc Fletcher

The Swarm (1978)

Playing the part of Brad Crane

A Bridge Too Far (1977)

Playing the part of Lieutenant Colonel Joe Vandeleur

Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976)

Playing the part of Adam Worth

Peeper (1976)

Playing the part of Leslie Tucker

The Eagle Has Landed (1976)

Playing the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Kurt Steiner

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)

Playing the part of Peachy Carnehan

The Romantic Englishwoman (1975)

Playing the part of Lewis

The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)

Playing the part of Keogh

The Black Windmill (1974)

Playing the part of Major Tarrant

The Destructors (1974)

Playing the part of Deray

Pulp (1972)

Playing the part of Mickey King

Sleuth (1972)

Playing the part of Milo Tindle

X Y & Zee (1972)

Playing the part of Robert

Get Carter (1971)

Playing the part of Jack Carter

Kidnapped (1971)

Playing the part of Alan Breck

The Last Valley (1971)

Playing the part of Captain

Too Late the Hero (1970)

Playing the part of Private Tosh Hearne

Battle of Britain (1969)

Playing the part of Squadron Leader Canfield

The Italian Job (1969)

Playing the part of Charlie Croker

Deadfall (1968)

Playing the part of Henry Clarke

Play Dirty (1968)

Playing the part of Captain Douglas

The Magus (1968)

Playing the part of Nicholas Urfe

Billion Dollar Brain (1967)

Playing the part of Harry Palmer

Gambit (1967)

Playing the part of Harry

Hurry Sundown (1967)

Playing the part of Henry Warren

Tonite Let s All Make Love in London (1967)

Playing the part of Himself

Woman Times Seven (1967)

Playing the part of Handsome Stranger

Funeral in Berlin (1966)

Playing the part of Harry Palmer

Solo For Sparrow (1966)

Playing the part of Mooney

The Wrong Box (1966)

Playing the part of Michael Finsbury

Alfie (1965)

Playing the part of Alfie

The Ipcress File (1965)

Playing the part of Harry Palmer

Zulu (1964)

Playing the part of Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead

The Wrong Arm of the Law (1962)

The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Carve Her Name With Pride (1958)

How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1958)

Playing the part of Gilrony

The Key (1958)

The Two-Headed Spy (1958)

Playing the part of Gestapo Agent

A Hell in Korea (1956)

Playing the part of Private Lockyer

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Producer Credits

Blue Ice (1992)


The Fourth Protocol (1987)

Executive Producer

There is, in a filmography of over 80 titles (plus TV work) and his own performances seem from 5 out of 10 up to 10 out of 10. When the material was right, as in The Man Who Would Be King (US, d. John Huston, 1975), few can touch him for conviction and subtlety. In the latter film, his second wife, Shakira Baksh, played her last screen role;

Caine now runs his own production company, M & M Productions, with business partner Martin Bregman. He was made a CBE in 1992, knighted and awarded a BAFTA fellowship in 2000.

Sir Henry Irving – Actor Manager and Inspiration for Dracula

One of the most famous English theatrical Actor Manager's in the Victorian era was Sir Henry Irving who was born John Henry Brodribb on Feb. 6th  1838 in Keinton Mandeville, Somerset, England. Irving is thought to have been the inspiration for the title character in Lyceum manager “Bram Stoker's” 1897 novel “Dracula”.

Bram Stoker left Dublin for London in 1878 to take a position managing the Lyceum Theatre for actor manager Sir Henry Irving. During his long career at the Lyceum he wrote many fantastic stories and novels, cementing his fame with Dracula. Stoker's tale made vampires famous, and his creepy Count Dracula based on Sir Henry Irving became the model for the popular movie “Dracula” of the 20th century

He toured for 10 years with a stock company before making his London debut in 1866. With his success in The Bells (1871), he became a leading actor in H.L. Batman's company (1871 – 77).

As actor-manager of the Lyceum Theatre (from 1878), he made it London's most successful theatre. He formed a celebrated acting partnership with Ellen Terry that lasted until the company dissolved in 1902. They were noted for their Shakespearean roles, and their theatrical qualities complemented each other: he the brooding introvert, she the spontaneous charmer.

He was a champion of the star system and produced artistic spectacles that emphasized scenic detail. As an actor he was most successful in the "realistic" melodramas of his day and in Shakespeare's plays, which he liberally abridged. To him acting was movement and emotion; his realistic approach to creating a character, in which he stressed that the actor should incorporate real feelings into his characterization, led to the noted controversy with his French contemporary, Coquelin, who advocated simulated emotion (or representation) in acting. His company frequently toured the United States where he became quite well known.

Irving was knighted in 1895, the first actor to be so honoured.

His acting divided critics; opinions differed as to the extent to which his mannerisms of voice and deportment interfered with or assisted the expression of his ideas. On October 13th 1905, Henry Irving appeared as “Becket” at the Bradford Theatre, he was seized with a stroke just after uttering Becket's dying words 'Into thy hands, O Lord, into thy hands', and though he lived for an hour or so longer he never spoke again. He was brought to the lobby of the Midland Hotel, where he died. The chair that he was sitting in when he died is now at the Garrick Club. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. There is a fabulous statue of Sir Henry Irving behind “The National Portrait Gallery” in London.

James Bond 007 – British Icon

James Bond is one of the most recognisable Movie Characters in the world and was written by Ian Fleming an English writer who was born in London on may 28th, 1908.       As a youngster growing up in Portsmouth, England he was one of my favorite writer's and James Bond one of my favourite characters. I suppose my favorite actor to play James Bond was Roger Moore who I think was the closest to the original character written by Ian Fleming. My favourite baddie has to be Christopher Lee – The man with the Golden Gun. Since the launch of the first film the total box office takings has reached over 8 Billion Pounds.

James Bond 007 is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. The character has also been the longest running and most financially successful English-language film franchise to date, starting in 1962 with Dr. No.

The hero, James Bond, was named after an American Ornithologist who was a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide book “Birds of The West Indies”.

Ian Fleming, a keen birdwatcher had a copy of Bond's field guide at Goldeneye.

With reference to the James Bond name, Fleming once said in a Readers Digest interview, "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, 'James Bond' was much better than something more interesting, like 'Peregrine Carruthers.' Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure — an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department."

Nevertheless, news sources speculated about real spies or other covert agents after whom James Bond might have been modelled or named, such as Sidney Reilly or William Stephenson who was best-known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid.

Although they were similar to Bond, Fleming confirmed none as the source figure, nor did Ian Fleming Publications nor any of Fleming's biographers, such as John Pearson or Andrew Lycett.

Historian Keith Jeffrey speculates in his authorized history of MI6 that Bond may be modeled on Fleming's close friend, Bill Biffy Dunderdale a MI6 agent whose sophisticated persona and penchant for pretty women and fast cars closely matches that of Bond.

After Fleming's death in 1964, subsequent James Bond novels were written by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Sebastian Faulks. Moreover, Christopher Wood novelised two screenplays, Charlie Higson wrote a series on a young James Bond while other writers have authored unofficial versions of the character.

There have been 22 films in the EON Productions Series to date, the most recent of which was Quantum of Solace which was released on 31 October 2008 here in the UK.

There has also been an American television adaptation and two independent feature productions. Apart from movies and television, James Bond has also been adapted for many other media, including radio plays, comic strips and video games.

The EON Produced films are generally termed as "official" films originating with the purchase of the James Bond film rights by producer Harry Saltzman in the late 1950s.

James Bond's association with Aston Martin sports cars has helped further boost the brand's already strong image and popularity since Bond (first played by Sean Connery) who first drove an Aston Martin in Goldfinger in 1964. A poll by Lloyds TSB in September 2010 revealed that Aston Martin was the most desired brand of "dream" car in Britain.

List of James Bond films.

Dr. No 1962

From Russia With Love 1963

Goldfinger 1964

Thunderball 1965

You Only Live Twice 1967

On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969

Diamonds Are For Ever 1971

Live and Let Die 1973

The Man With the Golden Gun 1974

 The Spy Who Loved Me 1977

 Moonraker 1979

 For Your Eyes Only 1981

 Octopussy 1983

 A View To A Kill 1985

 The Living Daylights 1987

 License to Kill 1989

 Goldeneye 1995

 Tomorrow Never Dies 1997

 The World is Not Enough 1999

 Die another Day 2002

 Casino Royale 2006

 Quantum of Solace 2008
Sir Roger Moore – British Iconic Actor

Sir Roger Moore is one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as a great actor.  I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his early  beginnings to his present day status as a great English Icon.

Roger George Moore was born in Stockwell, south London on October 14, 1927, the son of a policeman. At 15, he entered art school with the intention of becoming a painter, and later became an apprentice at an animation studio. He delved into acting as an extra in crowd scenes in the mid 1940's. He studied at the Royal Academy of Drama (RADA) and appeared in some plays in the West End, before being inducted into the British Army. There he served in the rank of 2nd Lieutenant with a Combined Services Entertainment Unit in Germany at the end of World War II. After release from the military, he worked in theatre, radio and television, but also worked as a model and salesman to make ends meet.

Moore came to the U.S. in 1953, where he got a film contract with MGM, playing supporting roles in several films including “Ivanhoe”. His first big TV series was Ivanhoe, followed by Maverick. But it was his role as suave and debonair Simon Templar in the TV series The Saint that catapulted him to stardom. His contract with that show prevented him from being chosen for to play James Bond in 1962.

In 1971 an action/adventure series called The Persuaders!  Was produced by ITC Entertainment for initial broadcast on ITV and ABC.

It starred Tony Curtis as Danny Wilde, and Roger Moore as Lord Brett Sinclair, two international playboys. Much of the humour of the show derived from playful observations about the differences between British and American customs. The show ended after one season, in consequence of failing to make an impact on US TV, thereby releasing Roger Moore to star in the popular Bond Films. Roger Moore had been directly involved in the production of the series, and the need for an American co-star was deemed by all imperative to ensure a television release in the USA.

Tony Curtis agreed to the series project and flew into England in April 1970 to commence location filming, only to create headlines of a different type by way of his arrest at Heathrow Airport for possession of marijuana.

But the Bond role returned to Moore in 1972, when Sean Connery again said for a second time that he was finished as Bond, and Moore was hired as his successor for Live and Let Die.

It has been said that Moore is closer to Ian Fleming's original concept of Bond, as a disenfranchised member of the British Establishment, than Connery's more rough-and-tumble Bond. Indeed, the tone of the series changed under Moore's aegis, with the scripts being tailored to his personality and acting ability. Moore made 7 Bond films [more than Connery's, retiring as 007 after A View to a Kill in 1985.

Moore has acted sporadically since that time, and appears most frequently in European gossip magazines and at charitable events. In 1996 he appeared in a television commercial spoofing James Bond for the conglomerate Hansen's, which was pulled off the air due to litigation with the Bond copyright holders. He succeeded the late Audrey Hepburn in the role of Special Representative for the Film Arts for UNICEF, raising funds for children in underdeveloped countries.

Roger was the first James Bond to be honoured by the British government, receiving a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) award in March 1999. He was awarded a knighthood in June 2003 for his work with UNICEF.

He has been married 4 times: to Doorn Van Steyn, Dorothy Squires, Luisa Mattoli and Kristina Tholstrup (2002) and he has 3 children, Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian, and 2 granddaughters.

Roger Moore wrote his memoirs, My Word is My Bond which was published in 2008.

Peter Sellers – English Comic Actor 

Peter Sellers was one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the greatest comic actors of the 20th Century. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in Southsea to his present day status as a great English Icon.

Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born to a well-off English acting family in Southsea, Portsmouth, England in 1925. His mother and father worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. As a child, Sellers was spoiled, as his parents' first child had died at birth. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force and served during World War II. After the war he met Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine who would become his future workmates on the BBC Radio Show “The Goon Show”.

After the war, he set up a review in London, which was a combination of music (he played the drums) and impressions. Then, all of a sudden, he burst into prominence as the voices of numerous favourites on "The Goon Show" (1951-1960), making his début in films in Penny Points to Paradise (1951) and Down among the Men (1952), before making it big as one of the criminals in The Ladykillers (1955).

These small roles continued throughout the 1950s, but he got his first big break playing the dogmatic union man, Fred Kite, in I'm All Right Jack (1959). The film's success led to starring vehicles into the 1960s that showed off his extreme comic ability to its fullest. In 1962, Sellers was cast in the role of Clare Quilty in the Stanley Kubrick version of the film Lolita (1962) in which his performance as a mentally unbalanced TV writer with multiple personalities landed him another part in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964) in which he played three roles which showed off his comic talent in play-acting in three different accents; British, American, and German.

He is best known for playing the klutzy and bumbling French Inspector Jacques Clouseau in The Pink Panther (1963) which led to him reprising the role in A Shot in the Dark (1964), plus three more Pink Panther movies during the 1970s. But after the relative failure of Whay's New Pussycat (1965), which was Woody Allen;s first film, Sellers embarked on a rapid downfall to "Grade Z" movies during the 1970s, all of which he claimed to have made only because he needed the money.

In 1972, he read the book "Being There" and decided to make it into a film. It took him seven years to finally bring it to the screen, but it earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

The film “Being There” (1979) proved to be somewhat of a last hurray for Sellers, as he died the following year.

In May 1964, at age 38, Sellers suffered a series of heart attacks (13 in total, and all within a few days) because of his recreational smoking, drinking, and drug use. Although he survived, his heart was permanently damaged. Sellers' heart condition slowly deteriorated over the next 16 years because, instead of electing traditional medical treatment, he only consulted with "psychic healers." In late 1977, Sellers barely survived another major heart attack and as a result, he had a pacemaker surgically implanted on his failing heart to help regulate his heartbeat, which caused him even more considerable medical problems.

His last movie, The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu (1980), completed just a few months before his death, proved to be another box office flop. Director Blake Edward's attempt at reviving the Pink Panther series after Sellers' death resulted in two panned 1980s comedies, the first of which, Trail of The Pink Panther (1982), deals with Inspector Clouseau's disappearance and was made from material cut from previous Pink Panther films and includes interviews with the original casts playing their original characters.

A reunion dinner was scheduled in London with his Goon Show partners, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, for July 25, 1980. But on July 22, Sellers collapsed from a massive heart attack in his Dorchester Hotel room and fell into a coma. He died in a London hospital just after midnight on July 24, 1980 at age 54. He was survived by his fourth wife, Lynne Frederick, and three children: Michael, Sarah and Victoria. At the time of his death, he was scheduled to undergo heart surgery in Los Angeles at the very end of that month.

Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov – Renaissance Funny Man

Sir Peter Ustinov was one of Britain's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the greatest comic actors, dramatist, director, writer's of the 20th Century. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in London on April 26th 1921 to his present day status as a great British Icon.

He was born Peter Alexander Freiherr von Ustinov on April 16, 1921, in Swiss Cottage, London, England. Ustinov was of Russian, German, French, Italian and Ethiopian descent, with ancestral connections to Russian nobility as well as the Ethiopian Royal Family. His grandmother, Magdalena, was daughter of a Swiss military engineer and Ethiopian princess. His father, Iona von Ustinov, also known as "Klop" in Russian and Yiddish, was a pilot in Luftwaffe during the First World War. In 1919 he joined his mother and sister in St. Petersburg, Russia. There he met artist Nadia Benois who worked for the Imperial Mariinsky Ballet and Opera House in St. Petersburg. In 1920, in a modest and discrete ceremony at a Russian-German Church in St. Petersburg, Ustinov's father married Nadia Benois. Later, when she was 7 months pregnant with Peter Ustinov, the couple emigrated from Russia in 1921, in the aftermath of the Communist Revolution.

Young Peter Ustinov was brought up in a multi-lingual family, he was fluent in Russian, French, Italian, and German, and also was a native English speaker. He attended the Westminster College in 1934-37, took the drama and acting class under Michel St. Denis at the London Theatre Studio, 1937-39, and made his stage debut in 1938, in a theatre in Surrey. In 1939, he made his London stage debut in a revue sketch, then had regular performances with Aylesbury Repertory Company. In 1940 he made his film debut in Hullo Fame (1940).

From 1942-46 Ustinov served as a private soldier with the British Army's Royal Sussex Regiment, during the Second World War. He was batman for David Niven and the two became life-long friends. Ustinov spent most of his service working with the Army Cinema Unit, where he was involved in making recruitment films, wrote plays, and appeared in three films as actor. At that time he wrote and directed his film, The Way Ahead (1944) (aka.. The Immortal Battalion).

Eventually, Ustinov made a stellar film career as actor, director, and writer, appearing in more than 100 film and television productions. He was awarded two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, one for his role in Spartacus (1960) and one for his role in Topkapi (1964); and received two more Oscar nominations as an actor and writer. During the 1970s he had a slowdown in his career, before making a comeback as Hercule Poirot in Death on The Nile (1978) by director John Guillermin. In the 1980s, Ustinov reprised the Poirot role in several subsequent television movies and theatrical films, such as Evil under the Sun (1982) and Appointment with Death (1988). Later he appeared as a sympathetic doctor in the disease thriller Lorenzo's Oil (1992).

Ustinov's effortless style, his expertise in dialectal and physical comedy made him a regular guest of numerous talk shows and late night comedians. His witty and multi-dimensional humour was legendary, and he later published a collection of his jokes and quotations, summarizing his wide popularity as a raconteur. He was also an internationally acclaimed TV journalist. For one of his projects Ustinov covered over one hundred thousand miles and visited more than 30 Russian cities during the making of his well-received BBC television series 'Peter Ustinov's Russia'.

In his autobiographical books, such as 'Dear Me' (1977) and 'My Russia' (1996), Ustinov revealed a wealth of thoughtful and deep observations about how his life and career was formed by his rich multi-cultural and multi-ethnic background. Ustinov wrote and directed numerous stage plays, having success with presenting his plays in several countries, such as his 'Photofinish' had acclaimed staging in New York, London, and St. Petersburg, Russia, starring Elena Solovey and Petr Shelokhonov among other actors.

Outside of his film and acting professions, Ustinov served as a roving ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund. He was knighted Sir Peter Ustinov in 1990. From 1971 to his death in 2004, Ustinov lived in his own Château in the village of Bursins, Vaud, Switzerland, He died of a heart failure on March 28, 2004, in Genolier, Vaud, Switzerland. His funeral service was held at Geneva's historic cathedral of St. Pierre, and he was laid to rest in the village cemetery of Bursins, Switzerland. He was survived by three daughters, Tamara, Pavla, and Andrea, and son, Igor Ustinov.

"I am an international citizen conceived in Russia, born in England, working in Hollywood, living in Switzerland, and touring the World" said Peter Ustinov.

Les Dawson – English iconic Comic, Writer and Actor

Les Dawson is one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the funniest comedians of the 20thCentury. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in Knotty Ash, Liverpool on the2nd  February 1931 to his present day status as a great English Icon. I recommend to any fan of comedy, please go out and by one of his many DVD's and see what a great comic Les Dawson was.

Raised in the Collyhurst district of Manchester.  Les Dawson began his entertainment career as a pianist in a Parisian brothel (according to his entertaining but factually unreliable autobiography). As a club pianist ("I finally heard some applause from a bald man and said 'thank you for clapping me' and he said 'I'm not clapping - I'm slapping me head to keep awake'"), he was to find that he got laughs by playing wrong notes and complaining to the audience. He made his television debut on the talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1967 and became a prominent comic on British television for the rest of his life.

His most characteristic routines featured Roy Barraclough and Dawson as two elderly women, Cisse Braithwaite and Ada Shufflebotham. Cissie had pretensions of refinement and often corrected Ada's malapropisms or vulgar expressions. As authentic characters of their day, they spoke some words aloud but only mouthed others, particularly those pertaining to bodily functions and sex. At one time, no respectable woman would have said, for instance, "She's having a hysterectomy." Instead they would have mouthed, "She's having women's troubles." (Dawson's character, of course, mistakenly said "hysterical rectomy.") These female characters were based on those Les Dawson knew in real life. He explained that this mouthing of words was a habit of mill workers trying to communicate over the tremendous racket of the looms, and then resorted to in daily life for indelicate subjects. To further portray the reality of northern, working-class women, Cissie and Ada would sit with folded arms, occasionally adjusting their bosoms by a hoist of the forearms. Many of the Cissie and Ada sketches were written by Terry Ravenscroft. This was also typical of Pantomime dame style, an act copied faithfully from his hero, Norman Evans who had made famous his act Over The Garden Wall.

Les Dawson was of portly build and often dressed in the traditional 'John Bull' of England costume. He introduced to his BBC television shows a dancing group of very fat ladies called the Roly Polys.

He loved to undercut his own fondness for high culture. For example, he was a talented pianist but developed a gag where he would begin to play a familiar piece such as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. After he had established the identity of the piece being performed, Dawson would introduce hideously wrong notes (yet not to the extent of destroying the identity of the tune) without appearing to realise that he had done so, meanwhile smiling unctuously and apparently relishing the accuracy and soul of his own performance. He also used a grand piano in a series of sketches where it became animated, for example, trying to walk away from him across the stage, collapsing or shutting its lid.

Les Dawson's style as a comic performer was world-weary, lugubrious and earthy. He was as popular with female as with male audiences, and genuinely loved by the British public. A news reporter from The Sun looking for him after a show to interview him found him backstage joking with some cleaning women and making them laugh.

Before his fame Dawson wrote poetry and kept it secret. It was not expected that someone of his working class background would harbour such literary ambitions. In a BBC TV documentary about his life, he spoke of his love for some canonical figures in English literature, in particular the 19th Century essayist Charles Lamb whose somewhat florid style influenced Dawson's own.

His love of language influenced many of his comedy routines - for example one otherwise fairly routine joke began with the line "I was vouchsafed this vision by a pockmarked Lascar in the arms of a frump in a Huddersfield bordello..." He was also a master of painting a beautiful word picture and then letting the audience down with a bump: "The other day I was gazing up at the night sky, a purple vault fretted with a myriad points of light twinkling in wondrous formation, while shooting stars streaked across the heavens, and I thought: I really must repair the roof on this toilet."

Dawson wrote many novels but was always regarded solely as an entertainer in the public imagination, and this saddened him. He told his second wife, Tracey, "Always remind them - I was a writer too".

Having broken his jaw in a Boxing match, Dawson was able to pull grotesque faces by pulling his jaw over his upper lip. This incident is described in the first volume of Dawson's autobiography A Clown Too Many.

His first wife, Margaret, whom he married on 25 June 1960, died on 15 April 1986 from cancer. They had had three children: Julie, Pamela and Stuart. He later married Tracy on 6 May 1989, despite worries that his show business contemporaries and the public would object, as she was 17 years younger. They had a daughter, Charlotte, who was born on 3 October 1992.

Dawson starred in a radio sketch show Listen to Les, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in the 1970s and 1980s. Television series in which he appeared included Sez Les for Yorkshire Television, The Dawson Watch for the BBC, written by Andy Hamilton and Terry Ravenscroft, The Les Dawson Show, written by Terry Ravenscroft, Dawson's Weekly, Jokers Wild (1969-73) and the quiz show Blankety Blank, which he presented for some years. His final TV appearance was on the LWT series Surprise, Surprise hosted by Cilla Black, when he sang a comical rendition of "I Got You Babe" with a woman from the audience who wanted to fulfill a wish to sing with him.

Dawson was a heavy smoker and drinker throughout his adult life. On 10 June 1993, during a check-up at a hospital in Whalley Range, Manchester, Les Dawson died suddenly after suffering a heart attack. Many comedians and other celebrities attended a memorial service for him at Westminster Abbey on 24 February 1994.

On 23 October 2008, the fifteenth anniversary of his death, a bronze statue of Dawson, by sculptor Graham Ibbeson, was unveiled by his widow Tracy and daughter Charlotte. The statue stands in the ornamental gardens next to St Anne's Pier, in Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire where Dawson had lived for many years.

Benny Hill – Chaplin's Favourite Comedian

Benny Hill was one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the greatest comedians of the 20thCentury. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in Southampton to his present day status as a great English Icon.

He was born Alfred Hawthorn Hill in Southampton in January 21st 1925. It was his grandfather who introduced him to Burlesque Shows and the theatre from where the young Benny Hill was to draw much of his comic inspiration.

Charlie Chaplin who died in 1977, was a fan of Benny Hill's work: Hill had discovered that Chaplin, his childhood idol, was a fan, when he was invited to Chaplin's home in Switzerland by the Chaplin family and discovered that Chaplin had a collection of Benny Hill's work on video. Benny Hill and Denis Kirkland were the first outside the family to be invited into Chaplin's private study. Hill was awarded the Charlie Chaplin International Award for Comedy at the 1991 Festival of Comedy in Vevey, Switzerland.

Which he used to watch all the time. Charlie Chaplin's son explained to Benny that he was his father's favourite comedian, which he said later, was the proudest moment of his life.

After his national service with the army during WW2, Benny came to London, adopted the stage name Benny Hill (in homage to his all time favourite comedian Jack Benny) and began appearing in variety shows. He briefly formed a double act with Reg varney and did radio shows. But it was his talent for impressions and comic timing that were to give him his first big break on TV with the show "Hi There" in 1949.

Benny Hill appeared in the following Shows and Films:

1)    "Ernie The Fastest Milkman In The West". No1 Record for Christmas 1971

2)    The Benny Hill Show” began in (1955)

3)    Who Done it? (1956)

4)    Hill's audio recordings include Gather in the Mushroom (1961),

5)    Pepys Diary (1961),

6)    Transistor Radio (1961),

7)    Harvest of Love (1963),

8)    Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1965).

9)    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

10)  The Italian Job (1969),

11)  a clip-show film spin-off of his early Thames shows (1969–73)

12)  The Best Of Benny Hill (1974).  

13)  In 1979 “The Benny Hill Show” was shown in America for the first time and Benny   went on to become one of the biggest stars on US TV.

14)  He also appeared in the 1986 video of the song “Anything She Does” by the band Genesis.

The Benny Hill show itself has been seen in 109 countries and won a BAFTA as well as Golden Rose Of Montreaux Award.

In 1991 he was awarded the Charlie Chaplin Award for Contributions to Comedy.

Benny Hill's TV career came to an end in 1989, when his show was dropped, but his popularity continued and he completed a US TV special, Benny Hill - Unseen (1991) (TV) shortly before his death in 1992.

When Benny Hill died in April 1992, his estate was worth an estimated £10 million. The only will Hill created left his estate to his parents who both died years ago. Next in line were his brother and sister, neither of whom he had a close relationship with, but like his parents are also dead. As a result, Hill's estate was divided among his seven nieces and nephews.

Ken Dodd – English iconic Comic, Writer and Actor 

Ken Dodd is one of England's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the funniest comedians of the last 100 years. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth in Knotty Ash, Liverpool on the 8th. November 1927 to his present day status as a great English Icon. If you want a good laugh by a genius comedian than please look at one of his DVD's – you won't regret it.

Ken Dodd was the son of a Coal Merchant, Arthur Dodd and his loving Mother, Sarah Dodd. He went to the Knottyash School, and sang in the local church choir of St. Johns Church, Knottyash. At the age of Seven, he was dared by his School chums to ride his bike with his eyes shut..... And he did. For about 10 feet and the bike hit the kerb. As did the young Doddy, open mouthed onto the tarmac. Resulting in his Famous Teeth you see today.

It was around this time he became interested in showbiz. After seeing an advert in a comic, " Fool Your Teachers, Amaze Your Friends - Send 6d in Stamps and Become a Ventriloquist ! " And he Promptly sent off for the book. Not long after, His Father bought him a Ventriloquist's dummy and Doddy called it Charlie Brown. He started entertaining at the local orphanage, then at various other local community functions.

At 14yrs. He Left the High Holt Grammar School, and went into his Dad's Coal business. Though by his early 20's had branched out on his own. Selling Pots, Pans, and Brushes. And invented his own version of Soft soap for the Liverpool Housewives. He worked hard by day, selling his wares round the streets of Liverpool. And by night, became a regular and very popular performer on ' The Club's ' Circuit as " Professor Yaffle Chuckabutty. Operatic Tenor and Sausage-Knotter.

He Got his big break at the age of 27. In September 1954 he appeared at the Nottingham Playhouse. A nervous young man, he sat in a local Milk Bar for most of the Afternoon going over and over his lines before going to the theatre. Although he can't remember much of the actual act of that night. He did recall.,, " Well at least they didn't boo me off. " But there wasn't much fear of that, as Dodd's act went from strength to strength. Eventually Topping the bill at Blackpool in 1958 !

And in the late 1950's came to little guys we all came to love.,,The Diddymen of Knottyash Work the Broken Biscuit Repair Works, the Jam Butty Mines, The Moggy Ranch and the Treacle Wells. A very industrious town indeed.

Ken Also started to work in radio with the BBC. " The Ken Dodd Show " and " Ken Dodd's Laughter Show " Were all extremely popular productions.

Television also beckoned and in the late 50's the Ken Dodd Show was broadcast Live from the Opera House in Blackpool. Other Series followed. The Ken Dodd Show : Doddy's Music Box : The Good Old Days : Ken Dodd's World Of Laughter. and of Course, Ken Dodd and the Diddymen.

Ken entered hit the big time in 1965 with THE longest ever run at the London Palladium. 42 Weeks to be exact. Which broke all box office records. And for which he was awarded a gold watch by the manager.

At the same time Ken began his singing career Before 1964's 'Tears' on EMI's Columbia label, Ken had a big 'hit' in 1960, with his first ever 45 rpm single 'Love is Like a Violin' on EMI's 'rival' label, Decca,and he followed it up with 'Once in Every Lifetime' in 1961. The record numbers are Decca F 11248 and F11355.

His now famous theme tune "Happiness" Was Released in 1964.
However, his biggest hit though was "Tears" also in 1964. Which sold over 2 Million copies, earning Ken Dodd 2 gold discs. And the next year. "Promises, 1966."

It was the 1960's that also saw Ken entered into the Guinness Book of Records for the Longest Joke Telling session EVER. 1,500 jokes in 3 and a half Hours. People were queuing up at the theatre in Liverpool, and going into the theatre in relays to hear him.

Although Ken isn't on the telly as much as he used to be, Ken Still gives marathon performances. All over the U.K. Ken Dodd is currently doing around 4 shows a week at various locations across England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Dr. Who - A British TV Icon

Dr. Who is the World's longest running Science Fiction television series and as I am a great fan of this BBC show I thought I would write about It's fun history. The programme depicts the adventures of a mysterious and eccentric humanoid alien known as the Doctor who travels through time and space in his spacecraft, the Tardis (an acronym for “Time And Relative Dimensions In Space”), which normally appears from the exterior to be a blue 1950s British Police Box. With his companions, he explores time and space, faces a variety of foes and saves civilizations, helping others and righting wrongs, as well as improving the way people, aliens and robots choose to live their lives.

Some episodes from the 1960s are missing due to the BBC's 1970s junking policy, and thus their serials are incomplete. In the first two seasons and most of the third, each episode of a serial had an individual title; no serial had an overall on-screen title until The Savages. The serial titles are the most common title for the serials as a whole, used in sources such as the Doctor Who Reference Guide and the BBC's classic episode guide, and are generally those used for commercial release. The practice of individually titled episodes resurfaced with the 2005 revival, when Doctor Who's serial nature was abandoned in favour of an episodic format.

The first incarnation of The Doctor was portrayed by William Hartnell for 29 episodes. During Hartnell's tenure, the Doctor visited a mixture of both stories set in the future and historical events that had no extraterrestrial influence, such as fifteenth century MesoAmerica. In his last story, The Tenth Planet, the Doctor gradually grew weaker to the point of collapsing at the end of the fourth episode, leading to his regeneration.

The Second incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Patrick Troughton for 31 episodes and whose serials were more action-oriented. He retained the role until the last episode of The War Games when members of the Doctor's race, the Time Lords, put him on trial for breaking the laws of time.

The Third Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Jon Pertwee for 23 episodes. Sentenced to exile on Earth and forcibly regenerated at the end of The War Games, the Doctor spends his time working for Unit. After The Three Doctors, The Time Lords repeal his exile, however the Doctor still worked closely with UNIT from time to time. The Third Doctor regenerated into his Fourth incarnation, as a result of radiation poisoning, near the end of Planet Of The Spiders.

The Fourth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Tome Baker for 40 episodes and is to date the longest-serving Doctor, having held the role for seven seasons.

The Fifth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Peter Davidson for 19 episodes and who was also famous for his role in “All Creatures Great and Small”.

The Sixth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Colin Baker for 11 episodes.

The Seventh Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Sylvester McCoy for 12  episodes.

The Eighth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Paul McGann for one Movie.

The Ninth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Christopher Ecclestone for 10 episodes.

The tenth Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by David Tennant for 36 episodes.

 The eleventh Incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by Steven Moffat for 24 episodes up to the end of 2011. Hopefully he will continue as Doctor Who after 2011 even though it is not confirmed. Hopefully he will stay in the role for a good five years. 

There have been many Doctor Who radio broadcasts over the years. In addition to a small number of in-house BBC productions, a larger number of radio plays produced by Big Finish began to be broadcast on BBC Radio 7 from 2005, featuring the Eighth Doctor (again played by Paul McGann) with mainstay companions Charley Pollard and later Lucie Miller. All told there were 24 episodes broadcast on BBC radio and later on audio tapes/cd.

Monty Python's Flying Circus – British TV Icon


During the late 1960's and early 70's one of my favourite tv shows was Monty Python's Flying Circus. This comedy show was a ground breaking show which was based on surreal and silly concepts which we English just loved. The television series, broadcast by the BBC from 1969 to 1974, was conceived, written and performed by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Loosely structured as a sketch show but with an innovative surreal approach (aided by Gilliam's animation). If the reader has never seen Monty Python then can I suggest you buy one of films on DVD - you won't be disappointed.


The Pythons' creative control allowed them to experiment with form and content, discarding rules of television comedy. Their influence on British comedy has been apparent for years, while in North America it has coloured the work of cult performers from the early editions of Saturday Night Live through to more recent absurdist trends in television comedy. 'Pythonesque' has entered the English lexicon as a result.


List of various Shows, Films etc.



  • Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969–1974)

The show that started the Python phenomenon. See also List of Monty Python's Flying Circus episodes

  • Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus (1972)

Two 45-minute specials made by WDR for West German television. The first was recorded in German, while the second was in English with German dubbing.

  • Monty Python's Personal Best (2006)

Six one-hour specials, each episode presenting the best of one member's work.


There were five Monty Python productions released as theatrical films:

  • And Now for Something Completely Different (1971)

A collection of sketches from the first and second TV series of Monty Python's Flying Circus purposely re-enacted and shot for film.

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering humorous obstacles along the way. Some of these turned into standalone sketches.

  • Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Brian is born on the first Christmas, in the stable next to Jesus'. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.

  • Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)

A videotape recording directed by Ian MacNaughton of a live performance of sketches. Originally intended for a TV/video special. Transferred to 35mm and given a limited theatrical release in the US.

  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)

An examination of the meaning of life in a series of sketches from conception to death and beyond, from the uniquely Python perspective.

  • Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) (2009)

This film features interviews with all the surviving Python members, along with archive representation for the late Graham Chapman. The Pythons will tell their life story and reveal deeper truths alongside the more tried and tested Python history lessons. “This is the documentary I always hoped that would be made – something so complete and so faithful to the truth that I don't need to watch it,” said Terry Jones.


  • Monty Python's Flying Circus (1970)
  • Another Monty Python Record (1971)
  • Monty Python's Previous Record (1972)
  • The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief (1973)
  • Monty Python Live at Drury Lane (1974)
  • The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
  • Monty Python Live at City Center (1976)
  • The Monty Python Instant Record Collection (1977)
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
  • Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album (1980)
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • The Final Rip Off (1988)
  • Monty Python Sings (1989)
  • The Monty Python Instant Record Collection, Volume 2 (1991)
  • The Ultimate Monty Python Rip Off (1994)
  • The Instant Monty Python CD Collection (1994)
  • Spamalot (Broadway version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Tim Curry as King Arthur) (2005)
  • The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album (unreleased)


  • Monty Python's Flying Circus — Between 1974 and 1980 (Live at the Hollywood Bowl was released in 1982, but was performed in 1980) the Pythons made three sketch-based stage shows, comprising mainly material from the original television series.
  • Monty Python's Spamalot — Written by Idle directed by Mike Nichols, with music and lyrics by John Du Prez and Idle, and starring Hank Azaria, Tim Curry, and David Hyde Pierce, Spamalot is a musical adaptation of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It ran in Chicago from 21 December 2004 to 23 January 2005, and began performances on Broadway on 17 March 2005. It won three Tonys.
  • Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy) — The Toronto Symphony Orchestra commissioned Idle and John Du Prez to write the music and lyrics of an oratorio based on Monty Python's Life of Brian. Entitled Not the Messiah, it had its world premiere as part of Luminato, a "festival of arts and creativity" taking place June 1–10, 2007 in Toronto. Not the Messiah was conducted by Peter Oundjian, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who is Idle’s cousin. It was performed by a narrator, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with guest soloists and choir. According to Idle, "It will be funnier than Handel, though not as good".


  • Monty Python's Big Red Book
  • The Brand New Monty Python Bok
  • The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus Volumes 1 & 2
  • Michael Palin Diaries 1969–1979
  • The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons


  • Monty Python's Flying Circus (1990) a computer game released by Virgin Games for 8-bit systems such as the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum[43]
  • Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time (1994) released by 7th Level for PC / DOS
  • Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail (1996), official game released by 7th Level. It used footage and imagery from the film, as well as audio clips (some new) and featured an animated version of a scene never filmed entitled "King Brian The Wild".
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1997), also released by 7th Level. According to the jewel case description, it's based on the film by the same name, but it's really something completely similar yet entirely different.
  • Python-opoly (2007), a Monty Python-themed property game released by Toy Vault Inc.[44]
  • Monty Python Fluxx (2008), a card game released by Looney Labs[45]
  • Blazing Dragons

See also

  • Beyond the Fringe
  • List of Monty Python's Flying Circus episodes
  • List of recurring characters in Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time
  • Python (Monty) Pictures
  • Spamalot
  • The Goodies
  • The Goon Show

On England's National Day - St George's Day, Monday, 23 April 2007 the cast and creators of Spamalot gathered in Trafalgar Square under the tutelage of the two Terrys (Jones and Gilliam) to set a new record for the world's largest coconut orchestra. They led 5,567 people "clip-clopping" in time to the Python classic "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" for the Guinness World Records attempt.


The Goodies – 1970s TV Icon


Growing up in England during the 1970's one of the funniest and most hilarious comedy shows on the BBC was the “The Goodies” which starred Tim Brooke Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graham Gardner. An early title which was considered for the series was “Narrow Your Mind” and prior to this it had the working title “Super Chaps Three”. The show mixed surreal madness with genius comedy to create one of the funniest shows on British TV.


The Goodies was a ground breaking 1970 British comedy series, not nearly as well-known outside of Great Britain as its contemporary, Monty Python's Flying Circus. (Some view it as the Beatles to the Python's Rolling Stones.) Born from the same generation of comic talents that infused British TV in the 1960s and 1970s with such innovative work, The Goodies was far more plot-oriented than Python (it was nominally a Situation Comedy when it premièred), but at the same time it was also far more anarchic and surreal.


The Goodies basic structure revolved around the trio, always short of money, offering themselves for hire — with the tag line "We Do Anything, Anywhere, Any time" — to perform all sorts of ridiculous but generally benevolent tasks. The BBC's own historical reference for the show describes it as a "live action version of a typical Warner Brothers cartoon", which is quite accurate, although sidestepping completely much of the thinly veiled social satire the show was inclined towards. Entire episodes were devoted to poking fun at topical subjects as diverse as TV censorship, Mary Whitehouse, Nuclear testing, Saturday Night Fever and Black Puddings.

Central to the show were the exaggerated versions of themselves that the leads played — conservative royalist Tim, twisted Inventor Graeme and Hippy Bill. The intersection of these three personalities generated as much comedy as the increasingly-bizarre situations that they found themselves in. Their trademark was the "Tandem" — a bicycle-built-for-three which they invariably mounted and fell off of once per episode before riding to their next adventure.

Many episodes parodied current events, such as an episode where the entire black population of South Africa emigrates to Great Britain to escape apartheid. As this means that the white South Africans no longer have anyone to exploit and oppress, they introduce a new system called "apart-height", where short people (Bill and a number of jockeys) are discriminated against.

Other story lines were more abstractly philosophical, such as an episode in which the trio spend Christmas Eve together waiting for the Earth to be blown up by prior arrangement of the world's governments. The "Christmas Eve" episode titled "Earthanasia" was one of the two episodes which took place entirely in one room. The other episode called, “The End” Where Graeme accidentally had their office encased in an enormous block of concrete.

These episodes were made when the entire location budget for the season had been spent, forcing the trio to come up with a script shot entirely on the set that relied entirely on character interaction. These enclosed episodes often worked particularly well.

The Goodies have won many prizes including A special episode, which was based on the original 1971 Goodies' - “Kitten Kong” episode, which was called "Kitten Kong: Montreux '72 Edition", and was first broadcast in 1972. The Goodies won the Silver Rose in 1972 for this special episode at the Festival Rose d'or which was held in Montreux, Switzerland.

The Goodies also won the Silver Rose in 1975 at the Festival Rose d'Or for their episode The Movies.

More inclined to British Variety like humour than the Pythons, the Goodies never quite got the respect they deserved — despite the fact that they lasted at least three times as long on the air.

All told 74 episodes from the television series were produced: Series 1–8 — (1970–1980) Which were shown on BBC2. The last Series 9 — (1981–1982) — was made by LWT for ITV.

The series can be found regularly on Australian TV ( Which has continually been shown since the 1970's) as well as on You Tube. One of their recordings "The Funky Gibbon" has just been re-released as a charity record for Christmas 2010.

The Smash Alien Robots – The Funniest British TV Advert of the 20th Century


In the 1970's watching British TV one of the funniest adverts was the first Smash Alien Robots advert. It became so popular that it won many awards and many follow on 'smash robot adverts'. All told there was some very funny 'Smash Robot adverts' made over the years and each one very funny. The first advert I have described below which when watched is just hilarious. The robots would laugh at the silly earth people discussing how they would cut up potatoes and then smash them up before eating them (how old fashioned)!!!.


The catchphrase 'For Mash Get Smash' is still an iconic and memorable advertising slogan in the UK. The adverts featuring the Smash Martians were voted TV ad of the century by Campaign Magazine.


The Martians' behaviour and personalties were initially developed while the puppeteers were messing around on set.


The Smash Martians were designed for the advertising agency Boase Massimi Pollitt by Sian Vickers and Chris Wilkins.


Smash Mash Potatoes Advert


The story starts with the robots standing around a table.


One of the Robots has a potatoe in his hands.


One of the robots turned to him and asks “did you discover what the humans eat”?.


'First they peel the it with their metal knifes'.


'Then they boil them in hot water for 20 minutes'.


'Then they smash them all to bits. As this is announced the robots start falling about with laughter'. The vision of seeing these robots falling over in laughter is just hilarious.


List of All Smash Alien Adverts


Smash Mash Potatoes Advert 1976

Cadbury's Smash ( for mash get smash) 1980's

Cadbury's Smash Advert 1970's

Smash Baby Robot Advert

Smash Alien UFO mash Potatoes TV Ad

If you would like to see all the funny 'Smash Robot Adverts' Please click here.


My hope is one day to see the return of these funny adverts on our TV's and maybe updated and new adverts.

Bob Monkhouse The Life of an English Comedian 1928 to 2003

During my early years in England during the 1960's and 1970's one of the funniest and best entertainers was Bob Monkhouse who I watched on The Golden Shot - a hilarious games show. He was a successful Comedy writer, Comedian and actor and was also well known on British television as a Presenter and Game Show Host. Bob Monkhouse was famous for his one liner jokes. As he died in 2003 I thought I would write about his entertaining history.

Bob Monkhouse was born at 1st June 1928 at 168 Bromley Road, Beckenham, Kent the son of Wilfred Adrian Monkhouse, (1894-1957), and Dorothy Muriel Monkhouse née Hansard, (1895-1971). Monkhouse had an elder brother, John, born 1922. Monkhouse's father was a prosperous Methodist businessman who owned Monk and Glass, which made custard powder.

While a schoolboy at Dulwich College, from which he was later expelled, Monkhouse wrote for the comics The Beano and The Dandy and subsequently drew for Hotdpur, Wizard and Adventure comics. Among other writing, he wrote more than 100 Harlem Hotspots erotic novelettes.

Monkhouse completed his National Service with the Royal Air force (RAF) in 1948. He won a contract with the BBC after his unwitting group captain signed a letter Monkhouse had written telling the BBC he was a war hero and that it should give him an audition.

Writing and Acting success

Bob Monkhouse's adult career began as a scriptwriter for radio comedy in partnership with Denis Goodwin, a fellow Old Alleynian with whom he also compèred Smash Hits on Radio Luxembourg. Alongside performing as a double act, Monkhouse and Goodwin wrote for comedians such as Arthur Askey, Jimmy Edwards, Ted Ray and Max Miller.[3][6] In addition, Monkhouse was a gag-writer for American comedians including Bob Hope when they wanted jokes for British tours.

In 1956, Monkhouse was the host of Do You Trust Your Wife?, the British version of an American gameshow. He went on to host more than 30 different quiz shows on British television.[3] His public profile growing, Monkhouse also began appearing in comedy films, including the first of the Carry On film series, Carry On Sergeant in 1958. He appeared in films and television programmes throughout his career, making guest appearances particularly in later years. Other presenting jobs in the 1960s included hosting Candid Camera and compèring Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Around 1969 he was a partner, with Henry Howard, in the London Agency Mitchell Monkhouse. In 1979 he starred in a sketch comedy television series called Bonkers! with the Hudson Brothers.

In the early 1970s he appeared on BBC Radio in Mostly Monkhouse with Josephine Tewson and David Jason.

Stand Up Comedy

Monkhouse was a respected stand up comedian. Known for his talent at ad-lib, he became a sought-after speaker for dinners and similar events. In 1976 he was the speaker at the Mars, Incorporated sales conference at the Excelsior Hotel on Bath Road opposite Heathrow Airport. He had been in a television advert for Polaroid cameras, and he told the joke, 'I am the only man ever allowed to say on television "you take it out and hold it in your hand, and in only 20 seconds it develops - or a minute if you want it in colour."'

Game Shows

Bob Monkhouse was well known for hosting television quiz shows. One of his biggest successes was The Golden Shot during the late 1960s which as a child I used to watch avidly every Sunday. This was broadcast live for 52 weeks a year and drew in up to 17 million viewers.[6] The dozens of other shows Monkhouse presented included Celebrity Squares, Bob's Full House and Family Fortunes. Audiences regularly topped 15 million.[2] In the late 1980s he hosted two series of the revival of the talent show Opportunity Knocks which aired as Bob Says Opportunity Knocks. He then moved to ITV to front two more gameshows, Bob's Your Uncle and the $64,000 Dollar Question, neither of which were popular successes.

In 1996, Monkhouse presented the National Lottery show on Saturday evenings on BBC One. The opening to each show would see him deliver several minutes of topical jokes, and on one occasion where his Autocue failed, he improvised a new and still topical routine. This talent was used in Bob Monkhouse On The Spot, a return to pure television comedy, in which audience members suggested topics and Monkhouse came up with a routine. Monkhouse returned to quizzes in 1998 when he took over hosting duties on Wipeout from Paul Daniels.

Chat Shows

In the 1980's he had his own chat show on the BBC called The Bob Monkhouse Show. The show lasted two series and featured many guests from the world of movies and comedians of every age. Monkhouse was known among young comedians as a keen supporter of new comedy, and he used the show to introduce older audiences to new comedians, and vice versa. The format of the interviews varied between "true" chat and analysis of comedy, to scripted routines in which Monkhouse would willingly play the role of the guest's stooge.

The most notable guest was the comedienne Pamela Stephenson who, after prior arrangement with the show's producer, appeared in a series of fake plaster casts, apparently the result of accidents whilst at home. During the interview she produced a handgun and fired it on several occasions, destroying a plant pot on the set and a series of lights in the studio roof. She then presented a rocket launcher which she promptly 'fired' destroying a television camera. The gun, launcher and camera were replicas. None of this arrangement was known to Monkhouse (although the production crew were aware) who appeared genuinely frightened.

Personal Life

Bob Monkhouse was married twice, to Elizabeth Thompson on 5 November 1949 (divorced in 1972), and then to Jacqueline Harding on 4 October 1973. He had three children from his first marriage, but only his daughter Abigail survived him. His son Gary Alan and his other son Simon died before him.

In July 1995, Monkhouse appealed for the return of a ring binder that constituted one of his 'joke books', offering a £15,000 reward. The book, which contained notes on sketches and one-liners, for which Monkhouse was most famous, was returned after 18 months.

Monkhouse was a vocal supporter of the British Conservative party for many years, regularly attending the annual conference.He was appointed an OBE in 1993.

Career Summary:

Television - As a performer:

Bob's Your Uncle UK 1990s

Fast and Loose UK 1954 (with Denis Goodwin)

Christmas Box UK 1955

The Bob Monkhouse Show UK 1956

Beat Up The Town UK 1957

My Pal Bob UK 1957

The Bob Monkhouse Hour UK 1958

The Big Noise UK 1964

Thirty Minute Theatre:The Flip Side (BBC2 Drama as Jerry Janus)UK 1966

Mad Movies UK 1966

The Golden Shot UK 1967

Friends In High Places UK 1969

The Bob Monkhouse Comedy Hour UK 1972

I'm Bob, He's Dickie UK 1977

Bonkers! UK 1979

The Bob Monkhouse Show UK 1983

An Audience With Bob Monkhouse UK 1994

Bob Monkhouse On The Spot UK 1995

Bob Monkhouse - Over The Limit UK 1998

Bob Monkhouse On Campus UK 1998

Rex the Runt (1998, cameo)

BBC New Comedy Awards UK 1999

Aaagh! It's the Mr. Hell Show UK/Canada 2001

$64,000 Question (UK version of The 64,000 Dollar Question)

All or Nothing

Celebrity Squares (UK version of Hollywood Squares)

Family Fortunes (UK version of Family Feud)

Wipeout (1998–2002)

Bob's Full House (later remade as Lucky Numbers in the UK and Trump Card in the US)

Opportunity Knocks

As a writer

Fast And Loose UK 1954

Cyril's Saga UK 1957

Early To Braden UK 1957

My Pal Bob UK 1957

The Bob Monkhouse Hour UK 1958

The Big Noise UK 1964

The Bob Monkhouse Comedy Hour UK 1972

I'm Bob, He's Dickie UK 1977

Marti UK 1977

Bonkers! UK 1979

An Audience With Bob Monkhouse UK 1994

Bob Monkhouse On The Spot UK 1995

Bob Monkhouse - Over The Limit UK 1998


As an author

Book of Days, 1981, ISBN 0099271508

Crying with Laughter: My Life Story 1994 ISBN 0099255812

Over the Limit: My Secret Diaries 1993-98, 1999 ISBN 0099799812

The World of Jonathan Creek with Steve Clark, 1999, ISBN 0563551356

Just Say a Few Words 2004 ISBN 0753509083

As a singer

You Rang, M'Lord? 1988

As a voice actor

Rex the Runt 1998 (Johnny Saveloy in "Johnny Saveloy's Undoing")

"Aaagh! It's the Mr. Hell Show 2001" (Mr. Hell in all 13 episodes)

As a TV Presenter

" Comedy Playhouse" 2002 - 2003 (?)


Mostly Monkhouse

I Think I've Got a Problem


The Secret People 1952

Carry On Sergeant 1958

Dentist in the Chair 1960

Dentist on the Job 1961

A Weekend with Lulu 1962

She'll Have to Go 1962

Thunderbirds Are Go 1966

The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom 1968

Simon, Simon 1970

Funny Quotes and Jokes

Notable one-liners;

"They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. They're not laughing now.

"Personally, I don't think there's intelligent life on other planets. Why should other planets be any different from this one?"

"Silence is not only golden, it is seldom misquoted.

"Marriage is an investment which pays dividends if you pay interest.

"I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my father. Not screaming and terrified like his passengers." (Said on the advert which was broadcast after he had died).

"Growing old is compulsory - growing up is optional."

"As a comic, you need every wrinkle. Having a facelift would be like asking a tap dancer to have his feet lopped off."

"I came home and found that my son was taking drugs - my very best ones too!" (on Have I Got News For You).

"I'm rather relaxed about death. From quite an early age I've regarded it as part of the deal, the unwritten guarantee that comes with your birth certificate."

"So you are half Welsh and half Hungarian, that means you are well-hung!" (on V Graham Norton).

(on stage as a veteran comic)"You'll be glad to hear, I can still enjoy sex at 74 which is great because I live at 76."[

"I can remember when safe sex meant a padded headboard."

"It got up to 94 degrees today - that's pretty good at my age."

"People often think I'm from Kent. I hear them whisper it as I walk past."

On his visits to Princess Grace Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with prostate cancer--"I've been in and out of Princess Grace more often than Prince Rainier."

"With my wife it was sex, sex, sex...Yes, three times in 35 years."

"Should you wish to piss...." (an infamous blooper when presenting The $64,000 Question in which he mispronounced the word "pass").

"Dulwich College takes me back after seventy years: My Mum must have written one hell of a sick note!".

"The Doctor said have you heard of faecal impaction? I said, I think I saw that with Glenn Close" Joking about his cancer battle on Parkinson in 2003.

Game show catchphrases

"Bernie.... the bolt!" - catchphrase on The Golden Shot.

"In Bingo lingo clickety-clicks, it's time to take your pick of the six"- catchphrase on Bob's Full House.

Stand-Up videos

Exposes Himself (17 October 1994).

Live And Forbidden (23 October 1995).

Way Over The Limit (23 November 1998).

He succumbed to Prostate cancer and died on 29th December 2003.

Posthumous Advert

On 12 June 2007, Monkhouse posthumously appeared on a British TV advertisement promoting awareness of prostrate canacer for Male Cancer Awareness Week. Using reanimation techniques, Monkhouse was seen in a graveyard next to his own grave (though in reality he was cremated) talking about the disease seriously, interspersed with humorous asides to another camera ("What killed me kills one man per hour in Britain. That's even more than my wife's cooking."). He ended by saying, "As a comedian, I've died many deaths. Prostate cancer, I don't recommend. I'd have paid good money to stay out of here. What's it worth to you?" before walking away from his grave and disappearing. The advertisement was made with the support of Monkhouse's family and supported by poster campaigns. Money raised went to the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation.

Sir Rex Harrison -  English Iconic Actor

Sir Rex Harrison was an English Iconic Actor who had a long and distinguished career. One of his most iconic roles was as Dr. Doolittle in the 1960's film when he talked to the animals. He was born Reginald Carey Harrison on March 5th 1908 in Huyton, Lancashire, England. He was a Debonair and distinguished British star of stage and screen for more than 66 years. Sir Rex Harrison is best remembered for playing charming, slyly mischievous characters.

Stagestruck from boyhood, suave British actor Rex Harrison joined the Liverpool Repertory Theatre at the age of 16, beginning a 66-year career that would culminate with his final performance on Broadway, May 11, 1990, three weeks prior to his death.

Best known for his Tony - and Oscar-winning portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins in Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's "My Fair Lady", he made his West End debut in "Getting George Married" (1930) and his Broadway debut in "Sweet Aloes" (1936), but it was a two year run on the London stage in Sir Terrence Rattigan's "French Without Tears" that made him a star. Appearances in other sophisticated comedies, S N Behrman's "No Time for Comedy" and Noel Coward's "Design for Living" (both 1939), established him as what Coward himself called "the best light comedian in the world--after me."

Rex Harrison's feature debut came in "The Great Game" (1930), and starring turns in movies like "Night Train to Munich", (1940) "Major Barbara" (1941) and "Blithe Spirit" (1945) brought him to the attention of Hollywood, leading to a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox. He scored a major triumph as the King in "Anna and the King of Siam" (1946) and recorded another success with "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947), but subsequent films performed poorly at the box office, although Preston Sturges' "Unfaithfully Yours" (1948) later acquired a cult status.

Actor and studio parted company by mutual agreement, and Harrison returned to Broadway, earning a Tony for his 1948 performance as King Henry VIII in Maxwell Anderson's "Anne of the Thousand Days". Continued acclaim followed for his work in T S Eliot's "The Cocktail Party" and John van Druten's "Bell, Book and Candle" (both 1950). He directed and starred in "The Love of Four Colonels" (1953) and a revival of "Bell, Book and Candle" (1954) and "Nina" (1955), all for the London stage. He made his Broadway directing debut with "The Bright One" (1958).

Despite having, in his own words, a vocal range of "one-and-a-half notes", Harrison talked his way through the numbers of Lerner and Loewe's "My Fair Lady" (1956), directed for the stage by Moss Hart, and became the darling of the critics, playing the show for two years in New York and another in London. His waspish professor of phonetics was "crisp, lean, complacent and condescending until at last a real flare of human emotions burns the egotism away," wrote Brooks Atkinson in THE NEW YORK TIMES, and the success of "My Fair Lady" once again brought Harrison important film offers.

He earned his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Julius Caesar in "Cleopatra" (1963), stealing the picture from his more famous co-stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Reprising Higgins for the 1964 film version of "My Fair Lady" opposite Audrey Hepburn brought him a Best Actor Oscar and international fame, and "Dr.Doolittle" (1967) introduced him to a new generation of moviegoers as he shamelessly enjoyed himself playing the fanciful jungle gentleman who conversed with wildlife.

Harrison devoted most of his remaining years to his first love, the stage, taking parts in such diverse plays as Luigi Pirandello's "Henry IV" and Rattigan's "In Praise of Love" (both 1974). He co-starred with Claudette Colbert in a Broadway production of "The Kingfisher" (1978), and, after returning to Broadway in "My Fair Lady" (1981), garnered some of the best reviews of his career for a Broadway revival of "Heartbreak House" (1983), later captured for posterity in a 1985 Showtime cable special.

Harrison portrayed Lord Grenham in London and Broadway productions of "Aren't We All?" (1984-85) and Grand Duke Cyril Romanov in the NBC miniseries, "Anastasia: The Story of Anna" (1986).

He last appeared on the London stage in "The Admirable Crichton" (1988) and bowed out in a Broadway revival of W Somerset Maugham's "The Circle", playing eight times a week just prior to his June 1990 death.

The oft-married man dubbed 'Sexy Rexy' by Walter Winchell never wanted to be anything but an actor and never intended to retire. "He died with his boots on, no doubt about it," said "The Circle" producer Elliot Martin. The actor, who was knighted in July 1989, played a wide variety of roles during his long career in theater and films, but he was best known for his portrayal of the waspish professor of phonetics in the musical based on George Bernard Shaw's play ''Pygmalion'' and “Dr. Doolittle”.

Sir John Mills -  English Iconic Actor

Sir john Mills is one of England's greatest acting Icons and is remembered for appearing in more than 100 films in a 70 years plus period.  Sir John Mills was born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills on February 22nd  1908, at the Watts Naval Training College in North Elmham, Norfolk, England. The young Mills grew up in Belton, where his father was the headmaster of the village school and in in Felixstowe, Suffolk, where his father was a mathematics teacher and his mother was a theatre box-office manager. As a fan of John Mills my favourite of his films was “Ice Cold in Alex”, “The Colditz Story” and “Great Expectations”.

After training as a dancer, he was first on stage in the chorus of The Five O'Clock Revue (1929) and was regularly on the London stage, in revues, musicals and straight plays, throughout the 30s, as well as making films before war broke out. He is an engaging juvenile lead in such 1930s pieces as The Ghost Camera (1933), the chirpy musical Car of Dreams (1935), the love interest for Nova Pilbeam’s Tudor Rose (1936), and the schoolboy grown into soldier in Goodbye, Mr Chips (1939).

But WW2 changed everything for Mills, as it did for so many connected with British cinema. The roles he played ‘In Which We Serve’ (1942), ‘We Dive at Dawn’ (1943), ‘This Happy Breed’, ‘Waterloo Road’ (1944) and The Way to the Stars (1945) defined a new kind of British film hero. He was the boy next door in his ordinariness. He also established an everyman reliability under stress; showing himself to be decent, brave and loyal.

John Mills was always noted for his sincerity and believability rather than for romantic qualities. He topped the Picturegoer poll in 1947 for his performance as Pip, the personable everyman in 'Great Expectation's (1946), emphatically a figure for a supposedly more egalitarian Britain; the tormented hero, an industrial chemist who fears he may have committed murder, in The October Man (1947).

This ordinary decency was elevated in ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ (1948) to the status of national hero. It is the nobility of sacrifice for others which turns physical suffering and defeat into a spiritual triumph; a victory for the team rather than for charismatic individualism. In place of the debonair gentleman's dash and charm, Mills embodied a boyish enthusiasm which is deepened by testing into a gritty determination to continue whatever the cost.

He was the shabby private detective in ‘The End of the Affair’ (1954). The twitchy, repressed military types in ‘Tunes of Glory’ (1960) and ‘Tiara Tahiti’ (1962) and he is ultimately very moving as the father in ‘The Family Way’ (1966) who may have loved no one as much as his dead mate.

John Mills was also much admired in ‘Morning Departure’ (1950) as a similarly inspirational leader, this time a submarine captain who has to encourage three of his crew, trapped with him in their stricken craft, to face death calmly. Despite his versatility as an actor, Mills continued to achieve his greatest success in similar roles: as Commander Fraser in ‘Above Us the Waves’ (1955), and as Pat Reid, the head of the escape committee, in ‘The Colditz Story’ (1955).

It was however as the captain in 'Ice Cold in Alex' (1958) that pushed by exhaustion into alcoholism, which really brought out the best in Mills. A superb piece of film-making that embodied most of the key characteristics of ‘being British’. There are two lovely scenes, the first being at the sand hill and ensuing tension when Syms and Mills meet at the bottom after the Landover rolls back down. The second I feel is at the bar where Mills drinks the Carlsberg and his character courageously addresses post war attitudes. In return Qualye’s character admits that the British were not what he had supposed them to be. Both of these statements would both have been very conciliatory at the time. Why ‘Ice Cold’ did not win Oscars…

Typically, then he got the Oscar for a grotesque piece of facial and vocal distortion in the inflated Ryan's Daughter (1970) - supporting actor Oscars have always been drawn to this sort of cosmetic display - when one could nominate a dozen far less showy, more worthy contenders among his roles. Even in perfectly ordinary films like The Vicious Circle (1957), one never stops believing in him.

The later decades saw him many in character roles such as Gandhi (1982); Kenneth Branagh then enlisted him for Hamlet (1996) to play the mute role of `Old Norway', for whom Shakespeare had thoughtlessly failed to produce lines. Though partially now deaf and blind, he still evidenced the chipper persona honed below the decks in those films half a century earlier. The achievement is there in the CV and it has been recognised with a CBE (1960), a Knighthood (1976) and the BAFTA Special Tribute Award (1987).

List Of Sir John Mills Films:


The Midship Maid


Words and Music


The Ghost Camera


Britannia of Billingsgate


River Wolves


A Political Party


Those Were the Days


The Lash


Blind Justice


Doctor's Orders


Royal Cavalcade


Forever England


Charing Cross Road


Car of Dreams


First Offence




The Green Cockatoo


Goodbye Mr Chips


All Hands


Old Bill and Son


Cottage to Let


The Black Sheep of Whitehall


The Big Blockade


The Young Mr Pitt


In Which We Serve


We Dive at Dawn


This Happy Breed


Victory Wedding


Waterloo Road


The Way to the Stars


The Sky's the Limit


Great Expectations


So Well Remembered


The October Man


Scott of the Antarctic


The History of Mr Polly


The Rocking Horse Winner


Morning Departure


Mr Denning Drives North


The Gentle Gunman


The Long Memory


Hobson's Choice


The Colditz Story


The End of the Affair


Above Us the Waves




War and Peace


It's Great to be Young


The Baby and the Battleship


Around the World in 80 Days


Town on Trial


Vicious Circle




I Was Monty's Double


Ice Cold in Alex


Tiger Bay


Summer of the Seventeenth Doll


Tunes of Glory


The Singer Not the Song


The Swiss Family Robinson (U.S.)


Flame in the Streets


The Valiant


Tiara Tahiti


The Chalk Garden


The Truth About Spring


Operation Crossbow


King Rat (U.S.)


The Wrong Box


The Family Way


Africa Texas Style (U.S.)


Chuka (U.S.)


Oh What a Lovely War


Run Wild Run Free


Emma Hamilton (Ger.)


A Black Veil for Lisa


Ryan's Daughter




Young Winston


Lady Caroline Lamb


Oklahoma Crude


The Human Factor


Trial by Combat


The Devil's Advocate


The Big Sleep


The 39 Steps


Zulu Dawn






Who's That Girl


Deadly Advice


The Grotesque






Bright Young Things

I've never considered myself to be working for a living; I've enjoyed myself for a living instead.

Sir John Mills died aged 97 on 23rd  April 2005 in The Chilterns, Buckinhamshire following a chest infection. A few months after Sir John's death, his wife Mary Hayley Mills (Lady Mills) died on 1st  December 2005. A British film actor par excellence, he was the last of his generation.

Sir Norman Wisdom – Comic Actor and Singer

I have just heard about the death of Sir Norman Wisdom one of the great English Comedians and I thought I would write an Englishman's view of his career. During the 1960's while growing up here in England one of the most popular films we used to watch on a Saturday Morning at the cinema was a Norman Wisdom Comedy. Norman was a great singer and musician apart from also being a Genius Comic Actor. Norman J. Wisdom was born on Feb 04, 1920 in Maryleborne, London, England. If you have never seen his films can I recommend that readers go out and buy one of his very funny films – you won't regret it.

After a difficult and poverty-stricken childhood he joined the 10th Hussars and began to develop his talents as a musician and stage entertainer. Wisdom’s mother left when he was nine, and he and his brother were left in the charge of their father.

Wisdom ran away from home when he was 11, but returned to become an errand boy with a grocery store on leaving school at 13. Later he was a coal-miner, a waiter, a pageboy and a cabin-boy, before joining the army and seeing service in India.

After leaving the army in 1946, he made his debut as an entertainer at the advanced age of 31 - but his rise to the top was phenomenally fast. A West End star within two years, he made his TV debut the same year and was soon commanding enormous audiences. By this time, he had adopted the suit that would remain his trademark - tweed cap askew with peak turned up, too-tight jacket, barely-better trousers, crumpled collar and tie awry. The character known as "the Gump" was to dominate Wisdom's film career during the 1950's and 1960's.

In 1966, Norman went to America to star on Broadway in the James Van Heusen-Sammy Cahn musical comedyWalking Happy. His highly-acclaimed performance was Tony nominated. He also completed his first American film as a vaudeville comic in The Night They Raided Minsky's is a 1968 film that purports to show the story of how striptease was invented at Minskys Burlesque circa 1927. Any opportunities which might have opened up by this Stateside success were cut short when he had to return to London owing to a family crisis.

His subsequent career was largely confined to television and he also toured the world with his successful cabaret act.

He won critical acclaim in 1981 for his dramatic role of a dying cancer patient in the play Going Gently. On 11thFebruary 1987 Norman Wisdom was the subject of Thames television's 'This Is Your Life' for the second time.

He became prominent again in the 1990's when helped by the young comedian Lee Evans, whose act was heavily influenced by Wisdom's work. The highpoint of this new popularity was the knighthood which he received in 1999 from Queen Elizabeth II and after he was knighted, true to his accident-prone persona, he couldn't resist pretending to trip off the platform on his way out.

Also in the 1990s he appeared in the recurring role of Billy Ingleton in the long-running BBC comedy Last Of the Summer Wine. He also appeared in the Detective Series called “The last Detective” which also starred Peter Davidson.

In 2004 he made a cameo appearance in Coronation Street playing fitness fanatic pensioner Ernie Crabbe

Norman Wisdom is a well-known and loved Film Icon especially in Albania and was the only Western actor whose films were allowed in the country during the Communist Dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. He is known as "Mr. Pitkin" in Albania, after the character he played in his films. The archetypal Wisdom plot where the common working man gets the better of his bosses was considered ideologically sound by Hoxha. In 1995 he visited the post-Stalinist country, where to his surprise he was greeted by many appreciative fans including the then-president of Albania, Sali Berisha. His fondness for Brighton & Hove Albion is renowned in Albania and subsequently there are many 'Seagulls' fans in Albania.

When England played Albania in 2001 during the World Cup qualifying round Norman Wisdom visited the England Team training ground where he was quickly surrounded by film fans including the England team of David Beckham, David James etc.

Norman Wisdom announced his retirement from the entertainment industry on his ninetieth birthday, on the 4th  February, 2005. He spent his retirement spending more time with his family, playing golf and driving around the Isle of Man where he now lives (being a neighbour of John Rhys-Davies from Sliders).

In mid-2006 he was admitted to hospital after he suffered an irregular heart rhythm. He was in hospital for a few days after he was fitted with a pacemaker device to steady his heartbeat.

In 2007 he made his return to acting in the independent movie Expresso, premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on the 27th May.

List of Films:

·       1948: A Date with a Dream

·       1948-50: Wit and Wisdom (TV)

·       1953: Trouble in Store

·       1954: One Good turn

·       1955: As Long as They're Happy

·       1955: Man of the Moment

·       1956: Up in the World

·       1957: Just My Luck

·       1958: The Square Peg

·       1959: Follow a Star

·       1960: There Was a Crooked Man

·       1960: The Bulldog Breed

·       1962: On the Beat

·       1962: The Girl on The Boat

·       1963: A Stitch in Time

·       1965: The Early Bird

·       1966: The Sandwich Man

·       1966: Press for Time

·       1967: Androcles and the Lion (TV)

·       1968: The Night They Raided Minsky's (The Night They Invented Striptease)

·       1969: What's Good for the Goose (Girl Trouble)

·       1970: Norman (TV)

·       1970: Music Hall (TV)

·       1973: Nobody Is Norman Wisdom (TV)

·       1974: A Little Bit of Wisdom (TV)

·       1981: BBC PlayHouse: Going Gently (TV)

·       1983: BBC Bergerac: "Almost Like a Holiday"(TV)

·       1988: The 1950s: Music, Memories & Milestones (TV)

·       1992: Double X: The Name of the Game (Double X, Run Rabbit Run)

·       1995: Last of The Summer Wine (TV): episode "The Man Who Nearly Knew Pavarotti"

·       1996: Last Of The Summer Wine (TV): episode "Extra, Extra!"

·       1998: Where on Earth Is ... Katy Manning (TV)

·       2000: Last of the Summer Wine (TV): episode "The Coming of the Beast"

·       2002: Last of the Summer Wine (TV): episode "A Musical Passing for a Miserable Muscroft"

·       2002  Dalziel and Pascoe (TV): episode "Mens Sana"

·       2003: The Last Detective – episode called “Lofty Brock”

·       2004: Coronation Street (TV)

·       2004: Last of the Summer Wine (TV): episode "Variations on a Theme of the Widow Winstanley".

·       2007: Expresso – Film. Plays himself Sir Norman Wisdom.

·       2008: Evil calls – Film.  Plays Winston Llamata.

·       2010: Labrats – Film. Voice over of a mouse called Scaredy. ( Still in Post Production )  

Music by Norman Wisdom

➢     I Would Like to Put on Record

➢     Jingle Jangle

➢     The Very Best of Norman Wisdom

➢     Androcles and the Lion

➢     Where's Charley?

➢     Wisdom of a Fool

➢     Nobody's Fool

➢     Follow a Star

➢     1957 Original Chart Hits

➢     Follow a Star/Give Me a Night in June

➢     Happy Ending/The Wisdom Of A Fool

➢     Big in Albania - One Hit Wonderland

Sir Norman Wisdom, after suffering various strokes in the last 6 months of his life, died at 6-40 pm on Monday 4thOctober 2010 still living on his favourite Island - the Isle Of Man.

History of English Nursery Rhymes

Growing up in 1960's England one of the traditions we all learnt were the various nursery ryhmes which to this day I still have fond memories off. The history and origins of most nursery rhymes reflect events in history and where available we have included both the meanings, history and origins of everyone's favourite nursery rhymes.

Two examples of these types of nursery rhymes history and origins are 'Ring a Ring of Roses' which refers to the Bubonic plague and 'Remember, Remember the Fifth of November' nursery rhyme which alludes to Guy Fawkes' foiled attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament! Many of the words and nursery rhymes lyrics were used to parody the British royal and political events of the day, direct dissent would often be punishable by death! Strange how these events in history are still portrayed through children's nursery rhymes, when for most of us the historical events relationship to the nursery rhymes themselves are long forgotten!

Please click here to visit the web page where the lyrics of Nursery Rhymes are on display.

Various Nursery Rhymes

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt 
London Bridge is Falling down
The Sandman
Aiken Drum
The Big Ship Sails on the Ally-Ally-oh
A Wise Old Owl Nursery Rhyme
An Apple a Day lyrics
As I was Going to St. Ives lyrics
Baa Baa Black Sheep rhyme
Christmas is Coming
Cry Baby Buntin lyrics
Diddle Diddle Dumpling
Ding Dong Bell ryme
Doctor Foster lyrics
For Want of a Nail rhyme
Georgie Porgie Nursery rhyme
Goosey Goosey Gander lyrics
Grand Old Duke of York
Hark hark the Dogs do Bark
Here is the Church rhyme
Hey Diddle Diddle lyrics
Hickory Dickory Dock lyrics
Horsey Horsey Rhyme
Hot Cross Buns rhyme
Humpty Dumpty story
Hush-a-bye Baby
Itsy Bitsy Spider lyrics
Jack and Jill went up the Hill lyrics
Jack be Nimble rhyme
Jack Sprat
Ladybug Ladybug rhyme
Little Bo-Peep rhyme
Little Boy Blue rhyme
Little Hen Nursery Rhyme
Little Jack Horner lyrics
Little Miss Muffet rhyme
Little Robin Red breast
Little Tommy Tucker rhyme
Mary had a Little Lamb lyrics
Mary Mary Quite Contrary
Mondays Child rhyme
Old King Cole lyrics
Old Mother Hubbard
London Bells Nursery Rhyme

London Bridge is Broken down
Lucy Lockett
One Two Buckle my Shoe
One Two Three Four Five
Oranges and Lemons Nursery Rhyme
Pease Pudding Hot Rhyme
Pat a Cake Pat a Cake
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
Polly put the Kettle on Rhyme
Pop goes the Weasel
Pussycat, Pussycat rhyme
Rain Rain go Away
Red Sky at Night lyrics
Remember Remember
Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross
Ring around the Rosy lyrics
Rock a Bye Baby rhyme
See Saw Marjory Daw rhyme
Simple Simon lyrics
Sing a Song of Sixpence rhyme
Star Light Star Bright lyrics
Three Blind Mice Rhyme
Three Little Kitten lyrics
The Cat, the Rat & Lovell the dog
The Elephant Rhyme
The Lion and the Unicorn rhyme
The North Wind doth Blow
The Owl and the Pussycat
The Queen of Hearts
There was a Crooked Man
There was an Old Lady lyrics
There was an Old Woman
Thirty Days hath September rhyme
This is the House that Jack built
This Little Piggy lyrics
Tom Tom the Pipers son
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star rhyme
Two Little Dicky Birds rhyme
Wee Willie Winkie rhyme
What are Little Boys made of lyrics
Who Killed Cock Robin lyrics
When Adam delved, and Eve span

The Freemasons – It's English Origins and History

As I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren and have many ancestors from London who were members of various Freemasonry and London Livery companies I have created this article on the history of the Freemasons. England is the oldest European country ( 1500 years old ) and London itself was founded by the Romans in 53 AD.

The history of Freemasonry originates from the time of the Knights Templer. The aim of Freemasonry is to study the development, evolution and events of the fraternal organisation known as Freemasonry. This history is generally separated into two time periods: before and after the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. Before this time, the facts and origins of Freemasonry are not absolutely known and are therefore frequently explained by theories or legends. After the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, the history of Freemasonry is extremely well-documented and can be traced through the creation of hundreds of Grand Lodges that spread rapidly worldwide.

English Masonic historians place great importance on 24 June 1717 (St. John the baptist's day) when four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul's churchyard and formed what they called The Grand Lodge of England. Although Freemasonry had existed in England since at least the mid-1600s and in Scotland since The Schaw Statutes were enacted in 1598 and 1599, the establishment of a permanent Grand Lodge in London in 1717 is traditionally considered the formation of organized Freemasonry in its modern sense.

A credible historical source asserting the antiquity of Freemasonry is the Halliwell Manuscript or Regius Poem - believed to date from ca. 1390. This makes reference to several concepts and phrases similar to those found in Freemasonry. The manuscript itself seems to be an elaboration on an earlier document, to which it refers.

There is also the Cooke Manuscript, an undated manuscript constitution from the mid-15th century, the oldest of the Gothic Constitutions. The first statutory use of the word 'Freemason' in England appears in the Statutes of the Realm enacted in 1495 under Henry VI, although the archaic term "frank mason" had been used fifty years earlier. Prior to that, the earliest use of the term "frank Masons" was in a 1376 reference to the "Company of frank Masons," one of the numerous craft guilds of London.

By 1583, the date of the Grand Lodge manuscript, the documentary evidence begins to grow. These are described as Head and Principal respectively. As a side note, following a dispute over numbering at the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland (GLS) - Kilwinning is numbered as Lodge Mother of KilwinningNumber 0 (pronounced 'Nothing'), GLS. Quite soon thereafter, a charter was granted to Sir William St. Clair (later Sinclair) of Roslin (Rosslyn), allowing him to purchase jurisdiction over a number of lodges in Edinburgh and environs. This may be the basis of the Templar myth surrounding Rosslyn Chapel.

The Regius Poem and Cooke manuscript, about 1390 and 1410 respectively, are written in the dialects of the west and southwest of England, and may have been written for the school of masonry associated with Salisbury Cathedral.

Early operative Freemasons, unlike virtually all Europeans except the Clergy, were Free - not bound to the land on which they were born. The various skills required in building complex stone structures, especially churches and cathedrals, allowed skilled masons to travel and find work at will. They were lodged in a temporary structure - either attached to, or near, the main stone building. In this lodge, they ate, slept and received their work assignments from the master of the work. To maintain the freedom they enjoyed required exclusivity of skills, and thus, as an apprentice was trained, his instructor attached moral values to the tools of the trade, binding him to his fellows of the craft.( citation needed ).

Freemasonry's transition from a craft guild of operative, working stonemasons into a fraternity of speculative, accepted, gentleman Freemasons began in Scottish lodges during the early 1600s. The earliest record of a lodge accepting a non-operative member occurs in the records of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel), 8 June 1600, where it is shown that John Boswell, Laird of Aucheinleck, was present at a meeting. The first record of the initiation of a non-operative mason in a lodge is contained in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) for 3 July 1634, when the Right Honourable Lord Alexander was admitted a Fellowcraft. The first record of the Initiation of a non-operative on English soil, was in 1641 when Sir Robert Moray was admitted to the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) at Newcastle.

From the early 1600s references are found to Freemasonry in personal diaries and journals. Elias Ashmole was made a Mason in 1646 and notes attending several Masonic meetings. There appears to be a general spread of the Craft, between Ashmole's account and 1717, when four English Lodges meeting in London taverns joined together and founded the Grand Lodge of London (now known as the United Grand Lodge of England). They had held meetings, respectively, at the Cheshire Cheese Tavern, the Apple-Tree Tavern, the Crown Ale-House near Drury Lane, the Goose and Gridiron in St. Paul's Churchyard, and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Westminster.

With the foundation of this first Grand Lodge, Freemasonry shifted from being an obscure, relatively private, institution into the public eye. The years following saw new Grand Lodges open throughout Europe. How much of this growth was the spreading of Freemasonry itself, and how much was due to the public organization of pre-existing private Lodges, is uncertain.


History of British Cat and Kitten Shows from 1871

Imbued in English culture is a love of animals of all kinds.British Cat Breeds have been bred over the centuries and shown at Cat shows up and down the British Isles. Below is the history of British Cat Shows and when they first appeared.

The very first 'official' cat show was held at the Crystal Palace in London on the 13th July 1871, the first 'show manager' was Harrison Weir the well known artist and writer. The show was held on a Thursday not the familiar Saturday we know today. There were 25 classes for Eastern and other Foreign breeds as well as native British varieties. The first shows to be held by any of the present day clubs was held by The National Cat Club in 1887 followed by The Scottish Cat Club in 1894.

Louis Wain 1860-1939 the anthropomorphic artist had a vision of the cat world, which soon brought him fame and as a result of his popularity and love of cats he was elected President of the British National Cat Club in 1891.

Shows had to be abandoned during the years of the First and Second World Wars so the National Cat Club's Centenary Show was held in December 1996.

When The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy was founded by the Cat Clubs in 1910 there were 16 cat clubs represented, including one - Wilson's Ltd. Cat Club - which seems to have been something of a business venture; not surprisingly it does not appear to have survived for very long. The first GCCF Stud Book lists winners from shows held from 1910 to 1912. The Longhairs appeared in black, white, blue, red or orange, cream, smoke, silver tabby, brown tabby, red tabby, Chinchillas, tortoiseshell and tortie and white. The British Shorthairs were represented by most of the same colours and patterns except red, smoke, Chinchilla and tortoiseshell. The other breeds were Abyssinians, Siamese and Manx. Today the number of breeds and colours have increased tremendously.

Conditions at cat shows have improved over the years, the cats are no longer penned on straw, the judges and stewards all wear white coats and hygiene is very much more evident. Judges now use trolleys on which to place the cats for judging and these can be wheeled from pen to pen but thirty years ago the stewards had to struggle with a card table moving it from pen to pen for the judge - this needed real stamina!

Important events have been celebrated with special shows, in 1953 The Coronation Cat Show was held at The Royal Horticultural Society's New Hall in Westminster. A quick glance at the first page of the catalogue tells us that one of the veterinary surgeons in attendance was Mrs Muriel Calder who was, until recently, our GCCF Veterinary Officer and was our Vice-President; surely an honour for a youthful Vet.

Sadly none of the judges are still alive but there are a few familiar names in the list of exhibitors. 388 cats attended the show and the catalogue cover pictures 'the cat that came to London to see the Queen'

1976 saw a new Cat Show enter the calendar, the Supreme Cat Show. The show was organised by the GCCF and all the cats had to qualify by winning open classes at other Championship Shows. Today the Supreme has developed into a large and prestigious show and is held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham each November. A new method of judging was introduced - Ring Judging - all the cats are taken from their brilliantly decorated pens to the judging rings where the judges sit facing the public to judge the cats and often give a commentary on their judging. This show produces the country's top prize winners, the Supreme title holders.

History of British Dog Breeds from 63 BC to 1886 AD

Imbued in English culture is a love of animals of all kinds. I have a website of funny animals on art prints. British Dog Breeds have been bred over the centuries and shown at dog shows up and down the British Isles. Below is the history of British Dogs and when they first appeared.

63-21 BC Strabo mentions the export of Hunting dogs from Britain
c50 AD The sons of Uisnech flee from Ulster to Scotland taking 150 hounds with them
c80-120 AD Occupation of Corbridge Roman Station in Northumberland by a garrison whose dogs have been identified as 'bassets' and 'small greyhounds'
161-180 AD Oppian describes a British dog called the agassaeus - probably a terrier
727 or 730 AD The death of St Hubert, Bishop of Liege ………credited with the development of the hounds bearing his name , the Black St Hubert ( possible ancestor of the Bloodhound) and the White St Hubert ( supposed ancestor of the Southern Hound).
c800 AD Pictess huntress with hounds portrayed coursing deer on the Hilton of Cadboll Slab, Scotland
c1016 First Forest Laws imposed by Canute ………keeping of greyhounds forbidden to anyone under the status of freeman.
c1070 Bayern Tapestry depicts only two breeds of dogs one which may be a mastiff
1301 Archbishop Winchesley allows the Abbot of Gloucester to keep twelve hunting dogs.
1335 Edward III imports Irish hounds.
1340-1400 Geoffrey Chaucer makes first reference to apaniels in The Wife of Bath's Prologue.
1371 Traditional date for combat between Aubrey de Montdidier's Irish hound and its master's murderer , Macaire.
1486 Dame Julian Berners describes the ideal greyhound as follows in her Book of St Albans; 'Headed like a snake, necked like a drake, footed like a cat, tailed life a rat, sided like a bream, chined like a beam'
1570 Dr John Caius publishes a book about British dogs.
1576 Abraham Fleming describes the use of terriers for hunting fox and badger.
1621 Gervase Markham gives a description of the setting spaniel in The Art of Fowling. He also describes the water dog.
1653 Dorothy Osborne writes to Sir William Temple to ask for an Irish hound.
1730 Sir Robert Walpole tries unsuccessfully to establish the post of Master of the Royal Foxhounds.
1732 The Newfoundland dog under the name of 'the Bear Dog' is described as being in use in England as a guard-dog and for turning water wheels.
c1770 Oliver Goldsmith , Irish author of Animated Nature , says that Irish hounds are rare and the largest he has seen is 'about four feet high'.
1780 Ashdown Park Coursing Society begun.
1782 Huo Meynell forms his pack at Quorndon from Arundel hounds…….
1787 Foxhounds pedigrees begin.
1790 One of the eight remaining Irish hounds is measured by A.R.Lambert who records it to be 36inches from hind toes to hind shoulders and 28!/2 inches from two to foreshoulder.
1796 Dog population estimated at 1 million.
1800 Edwards depicts the rough and smooth coated collie.
1800-1877 Edwarde Laverack , the developer of the English Setters called Laveracks.
1803 Willam Taplin declares the Irish Hound probably extinct.
1815 Guy Mannering is published by Sir Walter Scott , in which Danie Dinmont Terriers are described
1815 The Reverend John ( 'Jack') Russell begins breeding terriers.
1820 The Bedlington terrier supposedly introduced from Holland bu a weaver of Longhorsley.
1827 Death of the Duke of Gordon , originator of the Gordon Setter.
1836 The Waterloo Cup Meet begins at Sefton Altcar, near Liverpool. Silver collars are awrded to the winners till 1830 when a cup is instituted.
1843 Skye Terrier first mentioned
1847 A description of the 'English terrier' suggests that it is a Manchester terrier.
1850-1891 Captain John Edwarde develops the Sealyham on his estate at Sealyham in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
1858 National Coursing Club formed.
1859 First dog show , at Newcastle.
c1860 The Hin. Dudley Marjoribanks ( later Lord Tweedmouth) starts golden retrievers from a yellow retriever, one yellow pup in a litter of black wavy-coated pups that he has bought from a Brighton cobbler.
1862 Captain G.A.Graham attempts to revive the great Irish hound, using deerhound blood.
1870 A Mr W.C of Halifax, Nova Scotia mentions the report that the Beothuk Indians had ' a dog , but that it was a small breed…..The Labrador dog is  a distinct breed ………..formerly they were only to be met with on that part of the coast of Labrador which to us is known as the South Shore of the mainland in the Straits of Belle Isle.
1873 Kennel Club set up.
1877 Foxhound Show at Peterborough founded.
1882 Greyhound Stud Book.
1886 First Crufts Show . Terriers only.

Famous Victorian London Engineer Joseph BazalgetteAs I am a direct descendent of Sir Christopher Wren I have been interested in English history and researching fun and interesting bits of England including famous British Engineers..

Crufts the Iconic Dog Show and its British History

As an animal fan and an atendee of over 1000 shows of dogs, cats, birds, horses and country shows when I was self employed and selling old fine art prints.

Crufts was named after its founder, Charles Cruft, who worked as general manager for a dog biscuit manufacturer, travelling to dog shows both in the United Kingdom and internationally, which allowed him to establish contacts and understand the need for higher standards for dog shows. In 1886, Cruft's first dog show, billed as the "First Great Terrier Show", had 57 classes and 600 entries. The first show named "Crufts"—"Cruft's Greatest Dog Show"—was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, in 1891. It was the first at which all breeds were invited to compete, with around 2,000 dogs and almost 2,500 entries.

With the close of the 19th century, entries had risen to over 3,000, including royal patronage from various European countries and Russia. The show continued annually and gained popularity each year until Charles' death in 1938. His widow ran the show for four years until she felt unable to do so due to its high demands of time and effort. To ensure the future and reputation of the show (and, of course, her husband's work), she sold it to The Kennel Club.

In 1936, "The Jubilee Show" had 10,650 entries with the number of breeds totalling 80. The 1948 show was the first to be held under the new owner and was held at Olympia in London, where it continued to gain popularity with each passing year. The first Obedience Championships were held in 1955. In 1959, despite an increase in entrance fees, the show set a new world record with 13,211 entrants. By 1979, the show had to be moved to Earls Court exhibition centre as the increasing amount of entries and spectators had outgrown the capacity of its previous venue. Soon, the show had to be changed again—the duration had to be increased to three days in 1982, then again in 1987 to four days as the popularity continued to increase. Since 1991, the show has been held in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, the first time the show had moved out of London since its inception.

It was also at the Centenary celebrations in 1991 that Crufts was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest dog show with 22,973 dogs being exhibited in conformation classes that year. Including agility and other events, it is estimated that an average 28,000 dogs take part in Crufts each year, with an estimated 160,000 human visitors attending the show and watched on Television Worldwide by over 100 million viewers.

The Supreme Cat Show and its Iconic British History

As an animal fan and an atendee of over 1000 shows of cats, dogs, birds, horses and country shows when I was self employed and selling old fine art prints UK wide.

The Supreme Cat Show is the world's largest cat show and is comparable to Crufts. It is organised every year by the world's oldest cat registry, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, or GCCF and takes place each November at the National Exhibiting Centre in Birmingham. Special awards of UK Champion and Supreme Champion can be gained at this show only and the cat winning Best In Show has the accolade of becoming the supreme exhibit.

The first Supreme Cat Show took place in 1976. Until then the GCCF itself did not organise cat shows, but licensed shows put on by the breed clubs and area clubs affiliated to it. The Supreme Cat Show was devised as a special show, whoch would only be open to cats which had won an open class at another championship show under GCCF rules, much in the same way that Crufts is only open to winning dogs. The show grew in size each year until it became big enough to be held at the NEC, which has been its home ever since.

Unlike most other shows the GCCF’s Supreme Show has no miscellaneous or club classes; it does, however, have classes other shows do not have. There are four Adult Open classes for each championship status breed: Champion Male and Female classes for full Champions, the winners being eligible for Grand Challenge Certificates and Pre-Champion Male and Female classes for cats with one or two Certificates or who have qualified as kittens, competing for Challenge Certificates.

The same applies to the neuter classes which are split into Premier and Pre-Premier classes for males and females. Cats which are already Grand Champions do not compete in these classes but in special classes for Grand Champions, Imperial Grand Champions, UK Grand Champions and UK & Imperial Grand Champions only, the winner being eligible for a UK Grand Challenge Certificate. Grand Premiers, Imperial Grand Premiers, UK Grand Premiers and UK & Imperial Grand Premiers compete for a UK Grand Premier Certificate.

In these classes several breeds may compete together. UK Grand Certificates are only awarded at the Supreme Show; two such Certificates from different judges give the cat the title of UK Grand Champion/Premier or UK & Imperial Grand Champion/Premier if it has additionally gained that title. There is no Reserve UK Grand Challenge/Premier Certificate.

Best of Breed winners at the Supreme Show do not get certificates but compete against the other BOB winners in their section for Best of Variety.

The seven Best of Variety Adults (Persian, Semi-Longhair, British, Foreign, Burmese, Oriental and Siamese) compete for Supreme Adult, the seven kittens for Supreme Kitten and the seven neuters for Supreme Neuter. The Supreme Adult and the Neuter can add the coveted word 'Supreme' to their title.

Finally, the Supreme Adult, Supreme Kitten and Supreme Neuter compete against each other for the honour of being judged Supreme Exhibit.

The Union Jack – Iconic British Flag

The Union Jack is one of Britain's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide. I thought it would be interesting to write the history of this famous icon from its early beginnings.

When King James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne, thereby becoming James I of England, the national flags of England and Scotland on land continued to be, respectively, the red St George's cross and the white St Andrew's cross. Confusion arose, however, as to what flag would be appropriate at sea. On 12 April 1606 a proclamation was issued:

"By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Kingdome of Great Britaine ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Cross commonly called St. George's Crosse and the White Crosse commonly called St. Andrew's Crosse joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed. – 1606."

This is the first known reference to the Union Flag. Although the original design referred to has been lost, it is presumed that it was the flag which, with the addition of the St. Patrick's cross, It forms the basic design of the British Union Flag today. It is also interesting to note that the new flag was not universally popular nor accepted. The English were not overly pleased at the obscuring of the white field of the St George's flag. The Scots, with more justification, were upset at the fact that the red cross was laid over the white. The Scots proposed a number of alternative designs.

While the flag appears symmetric, the white lines above and below the diagonal red are different widths. On the side closest to the flagpole (or on the left when depicted on paper), the white lines above the diagonals are wider; on the side furthest from the flagpole (or on the right when depicted on paper), the converse is true. Thus, rotating the flag 180 degrees will have no change, but if mirrored the flag will be upside-down.

Placing the flag upside down is considered jese majeste and is offensive to some, However, it can be flown upside down as a distress signal. While this is rare, it was used by groups under siege during the Boer War and during campaigns in India in the late18th    century.

The Union Flag is flown from Government buildings at half-mast in the following situations:

·       from the announcement of the death of the Sovereign (an exception is made for Proclamation Day – the day the new Sovereign is proclaimed, when the Flag is flown at full staff from 11 am to sunset)

·       the day of the funeral of a member of the British Royal Family

·       the funeral of a foreign ruler

·       the funeral of a current or former Prime Minister

The Sovereign sometimes declares other days when the Union Flag is to fly at half-mast. Half-mast means the flag is flown two-thirds of the way up the flagpole with at least the height of the flag between the top of the flag and the top of the flagpole.

Individuals, companies, local authorities, hospitals, and schools are free to fly the flag whenever they choose. Planning permission is not required to fly the Union Flag from a flagpole.

The Union Flag can be flown by any individual or organisation in England, Scotland or Wales on any day of their choice. Legal regulations restrict the use of the Union Flag on Government buildings in Northern ireland. Long-standing restrictions on Government use of the flag elsewhere were abolished in July 2007.

The Great and Good of Britain Buried at Westminster Abbey

One of England's most famous burial sites is at Westminster Abbey where the Famous and Good of Britain are buried. I thought as a fan of history I would list all those buried at Westminster Abbey through the ages. Virtually every royal burial for the nearly 500 years between the deaths of Henry III in 1272 and George II in 1760 took place in Westminster Abbey. The two notable exceptions were Henry VIII and Charles I, both of whom were buried at Windsor Castle. (All monarchs from George III onwards have since been interred at Windsor.)

The Abbey is also the final resting-place for the great and the good of the nation. Many of Britain’s most celebrated statesmen, scientists, writers and composers are buried here, while others among the notability – such as Shakespeare and Churchill – have memorials in the Abbey, even though their remains lie elsewhere.

This is a selection of the names you might look out for on a visit to the Abbey, and where to find them:

The Nave

Clement Attlee (1883-1967) – Labour prime minister 1945-51, whose government oversaw the creation of the National Health Service and the disengagement from India.

Charles Darwin (1809-82) – naturalist, proponent of evolution, author of The Origin Of Species.

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) – dramatist, actor and Poet Laureate.

David Livingstone (1813-73) – explorer and medical missionary.

Isaac Newton (1643-1727) – physicist and mathematician.

Robert Stephenson (1803-59) – civil engineer, designer of railway bridges.

The North Transept

Buried here are three more of the great prime ministers:

William Pitt the Elder (1708-78).

His son, William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806).

William Gladstone (1809-98).

The South Transept

Here you'll find the famous Poets’ Corner, final home of…

Novelist Charles Dickens (1812-70), composer, George Handel (1685-1759), actor, Laurence Olivier (1907-89), poets Robert Browning (1812-89), Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400), John Dryden (1631-1700), Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Samuel Johnson (1709-84), Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), Edmund Spenser (1552-99) and Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-92).

North Choir Aisle

Appropriately enough, two composers are buried here:

Henry Purcell (1659-95).

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).

Henry VII's Chapel

Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87)

Here lies the father of the modern postal system, Rowland Hill (1795-1879).

Gone but not forgotten

The dictator Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was originally buried in the Abbey, but his remains were exhumed on the orders of Charles II in 1661, and subjected to a posthumous hanging at Tyburn.

Admiral Robert Blake (1599-1657), parliamentarian and naval commander during Cromwell’s Commonwealth, was buried in the Abbey too, but was also exhumed after the Restoration.

Below is the A to Z of Famous Icons buried at Westminster Abbey:



Joseph Addison


Anne of Cleves


Clement Attlee




Aphra Behn


Lady Frances Brandon




Caroline of Ansbach


Charles Darwin


Geoffrey Chaucer





Charles Dickens




Edward the Confessor


Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany




Thomas Hardy




Samuel Johnson


Ben Johnson




Rudyard Kipling




Isaac Newton


Anne Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk




Laurence Olivier




Henry Purcell




The Unknown Warrior


Sir Winston Churchill – War Leader, Artist and Writer

Sir Winston Churchill was one of Britain's greatest icons and is recognised worldwide as one of the greatest Leader and Politician of the 20th Century. I thought it would be interesting to write the story of this famous icon from his birth on November 30th 1874 at Blenheim Palace, a home given by Queen Anne to Churchill's ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough.  He is best known for his determination yet courageous leadership as Prime Minister for Great Britain when he led the British people from the brink of defeat during World War II.

He was the eldest son of Lord Randolph Churchill, a Tory Democrat (a British political party) who achieved early success as a rebel in his party. Later, after Randolph Churchill failed, he was cruelly described as "a man with a brilliant future behind him." His mother was Jenny Jerome, the beautiful and talented daughter of Leonard Jerome, a New York businessman. Winston idolized his mother, but his relations with his father, who died in 1895, were cold and distant. It is generally agreed that as a child Winston was not shown warmth and affection by his family.

As a child Churchill was sensitive and suffered from a minor speech impediment. He was educated following the norms of his class. He first went to preparatory school, then to Harrow in 1888 when he was twelve years old. Winston was not especially interested in studying Latin or mathematics and spent much time studying in the lowest level courses until he passed the tests and was able to advance. He received a good education in English, however, and won a prize for reading aloud a portion of Thomas Macaulay's (1800–1859) Lays of Ancient Rome (1842). After finishing at Harrow, Winston failed the entrance test for the Royal Military College at Sandhurst three times before finally passing and being allowed to attend the school. His academic record improved a great deal once he began at the college. When he graduated in 1894 he was eighth in his class.

Very early on Churchill demonstrated the physical courage and love of adventure and action that he kept throughout his political career. His first role was that of a soldier-journalist.

In 1895 he went to Cuba to write about the Spanish army for the Daily Graphic. In 1896 he was in India, and while on the North-West Frontier with the Malakand Field Force he began work on a novel, Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania. The book was published in 1900.

More important, however, were Churchill's accounts of the military campaigns in which he participated. Savrola was followed by a book about the reconquest of the Sudan (1899), in which he had also taken part. As a journalist for the Morning Post,he went to Africa during the Boer War (1899–1902), where British forces fought against Dutch forces in South Africa. The most romantic of his adventures as a youth was his escape from a South African prison during this conflict and the “Wanted Dead Or Alive Poster” put up all over South Africa.

In 1899 Churchill lost in his first attempt at election to the House of Commons, one of two bodies controlling Parliament in England. This was to be the first of many defeats in elections, as Churchill lost more elections than any other political figure in recent British history. But in 1900 he entered the House of Commons, in which he served off and on until 1964.  Churchill's early years in politics were characterized by an interest in the radical reform (improvement) of social problems. The major intellectual achievement of this period of Churchill's life was his Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909). In this work he stated his belief in liberalism, or political views that stress civil rights and the use of government to promote social progress. Churchill was very active in the great reforming government of Lord Asquith between 1908 and 1912, and his work fighting unemployment was especially significant.

In 1912 Churchill became first lord of the Admiralty, the department of British government that controls the naval fleet. He switched his enthusiasm away from social reform to prepare Britain's fleet for a war that threatened Europe. While at the Admiralty Churchill suffered a major setback. He became committed to the view that the navy could best make an impact on the war in Europe (1914–18) by way of a swift strike through the Dardanelles, a key waterway in central Europe. This strategy proved unsuccessful, however, and Churchill lost his Admiralty post. In 1916 he was back in the army, serving for a time on the front lines in France.

Churchill soon re-entered political life. He was kept out of the Lloyd George War Cabinet by conservative hostility toward his style and philosophy. But by 1921 Churchill held a post as a colonial secretary. A clash with Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, however, did not help his reputation, and in 1922 he lost his seat in the House of Commons. The Conservative Party gained power for the first time since 1905, and Churchill began a long-term isolation, with few political allies.

In 1924 Churchill severed his ties with liberalism and became chancellor of the Exchequer (British treasury) in Stanley Baldwin's (1867–1947) government. Churchill raised controversy when he decided to put Britain back on the gold standard, a system where currency equals the value of a specified amount of gold. Although he held office under Baldwin, Churchill did not agree with his position either on defence or on imperialism, Britain's policy of ruling over its colonies. In 1931 he resigned from the conservative "shadow cabinet" in protest against its Indian policy.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, on 3 September 1939 the day Britain declared war on Germany, Churchill was appointed First Lord of The Admiralty and a member of the War Cabinet, just as he had been during the first part of the First World War. When they were informed, the Board of the Admiralty sent a signal to the Fleet: "Winston is back". In this job, he proved to be one of the highest-profile ministers during the so-called “Phoney War”, when the only noticeable action was at sea. Churchill advocated the pre-emptive occupation of the neutral Norwegian iron-ore port of Narvik and the iron mines in Kiruna, Sweden, early in the war. However, Chamberlain and the rest of the War Cabinet disagreed, and the operation was delayed until the successful German Invasion of Norway.

On 10 May 1940, hours before the German invasion of France by a lightning advance through the Low Countries, it became clear that, following failure in Norway, the country had no confidence in Chamberlain's prosecution of the war and so Chamberlain resigned. The commonly accepted version of events states that Lord Halifax turned down the post of prime minister because he believed he could not govern effectively as a member of the House of Lords instead of the House of Commons. Although the prime minister does not traditionally advise the King on the formers successor, Chamberlain wanted someone who would command the support of all three major parties in the House of Commons.

A meeting between Chamberlain, Halifax, Churchill and David Margesson, the government Chief Whip, led to the recommendation of Churchill, and, as we are a constitutional monarch, King George VI asked Churchill to be prime minister and to form an all-party government. Churchill's first act was to write to Chamberlain to thank him for his support.

Churchill had been among the first to recognise the growing threat of Hitler long before the outset of the Second World War, and his warnings had gone largely unheeded. Although there was an element of British public and political sentiment favouring negotiated peace with a clearly ascendant Germany, among them the Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax.

Churchill nonetheless refused to consider an armistice with Hitler's Germany. His use of rhetoric hardened public opinion against a peaceful resolution and prepared the British for a long war. Coining the general term for the upcoming battle, Churchill stated in his “Finest Hour” speech to the House of Commons on 18 June 1940, "I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin." By refusing an armistice with Germany, Churchill kept resistance alive in the British Empire and created the basis for the later Allied Counter-attacks of 1942–45, with Britain serving as a platform for the supply of Soviet union and the liberation of Western Europe.

In response to previous criticisms that there had been no clear single minister in charge of the prosecution of the war, Churchill created and took the additional position of Minister of Defence. He immediately put his friend and confidant, the industrialist and newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook, in charge of aircraft production. It was Beaverbrook's business acumen that allowed Britain to quickly gear up aircraft production and engineering that eventually made the difference in the war.

Churchill's speeches were a great inspiration to the embattled British. His first speech as prime minister was the famous "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”.

He followed that closely with two other equally famous ones, given just before the Battle of Britain. One included the words:

... we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

The other:

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour”.

At the height of the Battle of Britain, his bracing survey of the situation included the memorable line “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” which engendered the enduring nickname “The Few” for the RAF fighter pilots who won it.

One of his most memorable war speeches came on 10 November 1942 at the Lord Mayor's Luncheon at Mansion House in London, in response to the Allied victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein. Churchill stated:

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

Without having much in the way of sustenance or good news to offer the British people, he took a risk in deliberately choosing to emphasise the dangers instead.

"Rhetorical power", wrote Churchill, "is neither wholly bestowed, nor wholly acquired, but cultivated."

As an Englishman I am proud we were able to stand alone from 1939 to the beginning of 1942 against Hitler, Stalin and the various Nazi quisling governments from continental Europe.

The final period of Churchill's career began with the British people rejecting him in the general election of 1945. In that election 393 Labour candidates were elected members of Parliament against 213 Conservatives and their allies. It was one of the most striking reversals of fortune in democratic history. It may perhaps be explained by the British voters' desire for social reform.

In 1951, the voters returned Churchill as prime minister. This was a belated thank you from the voters.

He resigned in April 1955 due to his age and health problems during his term in office. For many of the later years of his life, even his personal strength was not enough to resist the persistent cerebral arteriosclerosis, a brain disorder, from which he suffered. He died on January 24, 1965, and was given a state funeral.

Whitefriars Glass – 17th Century History 

The Whitefriars Glass company is one of the oldest glass companies in Britain from the 17th Century to the present day and is famous for its uniquely shaped glass. As a long established British glass designer and maker I thought readers may be interested in it's history.

The firm of James Powell and Sons, also known as Whitefriars Glass, were English glass-makers, lead lighters and stained glass window manufacturers. As Whitefriars Glass, the company existed from the 17th century, but became well known as a result of the 19th century Gothic Revival and the demand for stained glass windows.

In 1834 James Powell (1774-1840), a London wine merchant and entrepreneur, purchased the Whitefriars Glass Company, a small glass works off Fleet Street in London, believed to have been established in 1680. Powell and his sons were newcomers to glass making, but soon acquired the necessary expertise. They experimented and developed new techniques, devoting a large part of their production to the creating of church stained glass windows. The firm acquired a large number of patents for their new ideas and became world leaders in their field, business being boosted by the building of hundreds of new churches during the Victorian era. While Powell's manufactured stained glass windows, they also provided glass to other stained glass firms.

A major product of the factory was decorative quarry glass which was mass-produced by moulding and printing, rather than hand-cutting and painting. This product could be used in church windows as a cheap substitute for stained glass. It was often installed in new churches, to be later replaced by pictorial windows. Most of this quarry glass was clear, printed in black and detailed in bright yellow silver stain. Occasionally the quarries were produced in red, blue or pink glass, but these are rare. Surprisingly few entire windows of Powell quarries are to be seen in English churches, although they survive in little-seen locations such as vestries, ringing chambers and behind pipe organs. St Philip's Church, Sydney, retains a full set of Powell quarry windows. Powell also produced many windows in which pictorial mandorlas or roundels are set against a background of quarries. See picture right

During the latter part of the 1800s the firm formed a close association with leading architects and designers such as T. G. Jackson Edward Burne Jones, William De Morgan and James Doyle. Whitefriars produced the glass that Phillip Webb used in his designs for William Morris. The firm’s production diversified in the 1850s to include domestic table glass after supplying the glassware for William Morris's Red House.

In 1875 Harry James Powell, grandson of the founder and an Oxford graduate in chemistry, joined the business. His training, which led to more scientific production and innovations such as previously unattainable colours and heat-resistant glass, for applications in science and industry, like X-Ray tubes and light bulbs.

New production lines such as opalescent glass proved to be extremely successful. The firm took part in major exhibitions around the world. Designs were copied from historical Venetian and Roman glass found in European museums and art galleries. Harry Powell, an admirer of Ruskin delivered numerous lectures on glass manufacture.

The firm's name was changed to Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd in 1919 and the growth in business demanded new premises. In 1923 the new factory was opened in Wealdstone despite a flourishing business, the great expense of the new factory scuttled plans to construct a village to house the workers in a style fashionable during the Arts and Crafts Movement. The furnaces were lit at the new factory using the flame from a furnace at the old works, which had been carefully carried across London in a brazier. The company also had showrooms on Wigmore Street, and this attracted customers for both domestic and window glass.

In the years between World War 1 and World War 11 business and the financial situation were much improved. Glassware trended to the colourful and heavy, and optic moulding and wheel engraving played a major part in bringing the Art Deco style to the middle and upper classes.

In the 1930s the firm started production of Milefiori paperweights, characterised by shallow domes and wide bases. This period of prosperity was ended with the onset of World War 11. Glass manufacture was restricted to that aiding the war effort. Cessation of hostilities found the company in a desperate struggle for survival, aggravated by the loss of key personnel who had enlisted and not returned.

The Festival of Britain of 1951 led to a much-needed financial infusion for the economy. Whitefriars was selected as an outstanding example of modern British industry. The following years saw austere and functional Scandinavian design sweeping Europe, and dominating stock purchases by major outlets such as Selfridge's and Fortran's & Mason.

The arrival of glass bricks which were cheap, thick slabs of coloured glass set in concrete bricks, dispensed with the need for expensive stained glass in new churches.

One of the many well-known glass designers who worked at Whitefriars was Geoffrey Baxter. He joined the factory in 1954 after graduating from the Royal College of Art. Baxter had a great influence on Whitefriars table and domestic glass designs. In the 1960s, he began to experiment with a new moulded glass. This led to the introduction of the Textured range in 1967. The pieces were made in moulds using tree bark, nails, wire and other materials to produce alternative textures to the glass.

In 1962 the company name was changed back to Whitefriars Glass Ltd. and specialised in freeform domestic glass ware until its purchase in 1981 by Caithness Glass.

British Comic Publications and Their History


Growing up in the 1960's and 1970's in England one of my favourite things was buying and reading comics. My favourite comic's were ones with War Stories,Horror stories or Science fiction stories.


In the 19th century, story papers (containing illustrated text stories), known as “Penny Dreadfuls”due to their cover price, served as entertainment for British children. Full of close-printed text with few illustrations, they were essentially no different to a book, except that they were somewhat shorter and that typically the story was serialised over many weekly issues in order to maintain sales.

These serial stories could run to hundreds of instalments if they were popular. And to pad out a successful series, writers would insert quite extraneous material such as the geography of the country in which the action was occurring, just so that the story would extend into more issues. Plagiarism was rife, with magazines pirating competitors' successes under a few cosmetic name changes.

Apart from action and historical stories, there was also a fashion for horror and the supernatural, with epics like Varney The Vampire running for years. Horror, in particular, gave rise to the epithet penny dreadful. Stories featuring criminals such as 'Spring-Heeled Jack', pirates, highwaymen (especially Dick Turpin), and detectives (including Sexton Blake) dominated decades of the Victorian and early 20th-century weeklies.

Comic strips - stories told primarily in strip cartoon form, rather than as a written narrative with illustrations - emerged only slowly. Ally Sloper's Half Holiday (1884) is reputed to be the first comic strip magazine to feature a recurring character, and the first British comic that would be recognised as such today. This strip cost one penny and was designed for adults. Ally, the recurring character, was a working class fellow who got up to various forms of mischief and often suffered for it.

In 1890 two more comic magazines debuted before the British public, Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips, both published by Amalgamated Press. These magazines notoriously reprinted British and American material, previously published in newspapers and magazines, without permission. The success of these comics was such that Amalgamated's owner, Alfred Harmsworth, was able to launch The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror newspapers on the profits.

Over the next thirty years or so, comic publishers saw the juvenile market as the most profitable, and thus geared their publications accordingly, so that by 1914 most comics were aimed at eight to twelve year olds.

The period between the two wars is notable mainly for the publication of annuals by Amalgamated Press, and also the emergence of DC Thomson launching both the Beano and the Dandy in the late 1930s, as previously noted.

During the Second World War the Beano and Dandy thrived, due to the wartime paper shortage which forced many rival comics to close. It is these two titles, more than any other, that have come to define a comic in the British public's mind. Their successful mix of irreverence and slapstick led to many similar titles, notably Topper and Beezer. However the originators of this format have outlasted all rivals, and are still published today.

During the 1950s and 1960s the most popular comic magazine for older age-group boys was the Eagle published by Hulton Press. The Eagle was published in a more expensive format, and was a gravure-printed weekly. This format was one used originally by Mickey Mouse Weekly during the 1930s. The Eagle's success saw a number of comics launched in a similar format, TV Century 21, Look and Learn and TV Comic being notable examples. Comics published in this format were known in the trade as "slicks". At the end of the 1960s these comics moved away from gravure Printing, preferring offset litho due to cost considerations arising from decreasing readership.

By 1970 the British comics market was in a long term decline, as comics lost popularity in the face of the rise of other popular pastimes for children. Initially the challenge was the rising popularity of television, a trend which the introduction of colour television to Britain during 1969 set in stone. In an effort to counter the trend, many publishers switched the focus of their comics towards television-related characters. The television shows of Gerry Anderson had begun this in 1966 with the launch of tie-in comics such as TV21 and Lady Penelope that included only strips related to Anderson's TV shows. Polystyle Publications already published a TV-related comic for young children called TV Comic, and in 1971 moved into the older market with Countdown (later retitled TV Action).

The teenage market saw Look-In magazine feature strips solely based on popular television programmes. Another strand of the reaction to television was the launch of comics focused entirely on football (soccer being as popular as television amongst boys), with titles such as Shoot and Scorcher and Score. Those comics which didn't address the issue of television began to close, merging with the few survivors.

However, the boys adventure comic was still popular, and titles such as Valiant and Tiger

Published by IPC saw new adventure heroes become stars, including Roy of the Rovers who would eventually gain his own title. Oldham Press was a company which mainly printed new material that was adventure oriented.

In the 1970s very few boys' comics in the "slick" format were launched, although Countdown was one exception, launching in 1971 with content similar to TV 21 (which had closed by then) and TV Comic. Vulcan, a reprint title, was another, in 1976. Girls' titles which had launched in the "slick" format in the 1960s continued in that format into the 1970s; and others, such as Diana and Judy, changed to become slicks. They found themselves in the same market as teenage titles for girls such as Boyfriend and Blue Jeans, which had changed their content and were featuring mainly product-related articles and photo-strips.

Viz began life in 1979 as a fanzine style publication, before, in 1989, becoming the biggest selling magazine in the country. Based upon bad taste, crude language, crude sexual innuendo, and the parodying of strips from the dandy (among them Black bag – the Faithful Border Bin Liner, a parody of The Dandy's Black Bob series about a Border Collie), the popularity of Viz depended entirely upon a variant of Sixties counter-culture; it is still one of the United Kingdom's top selling magazines.

The Star Wars magazine lasted into the late 1980s, although it changed its name in line with each movie release. In 1982 The Eagle was relaunched, this time including photo-strips, but still with Dan Dare as the lead story. The comic moved him from the front page to the centre pages to allow a more magazine-style cover.

In the 21st Century there have also been changes in the comics market with a growth in home-grown Graphic Novels and Manga.

There have been hundreds of comics in the UK, including the following A to Z:

  • 2000 AD (1977–current)
  • Action (1976–1977)
  • Adventure (1921–1961)
  • Air Ace Picture Library (1960–1970)
  • Andy Capp (1957–current)
  • Battle Picture Weekly (1975–1988)
  • The Beano (1938–current)
  • BeanoMAX (2007–current)
  • Bear
  • The Beezer (1956–1993)
  • Bella
  • The Big One (1964–1965)
  • Birthrite (1989–1990)
  • The Boy's Own Paper (1879–1967)
  • Boys' World (1963–1964)
  • Bullet (1976–1978)
  • Bunty (1958–2001)
  • Buster (1960–2000)
  • Buster Classics (1996)
  • Buzz (1973–1975)
  • BVC (1995)
  • The Champion
  • The Chatterbox
  • Cheeky (1977–1980)
  • Classics from the Comics (1996–current)
  • Cometman (1951–1956)
  • Comic Cuts (1890–1953)
  • Commando Comics (1961–current)
  • Cor!! (1970–1974)
  • Countdown (1971–1972)
  • Cracker (1975–1976)
  • Crisis (1988–1991)
  • The Dandy (1937–current)
  • Deadline magazine (1988–1995)
  • The DFC (2008–2009)
  • Dice Man (1986)
  • The Eagle (1950–1969) and (1982–1994)
  • Fantastic (1967–1968)
  • Film Fun (1920–1962)
  • Funny (1989-early 1990s)
  • Fun Size Beano (1997–current)
  • Fun Size Dandy (1997–current)
  • The Gem (1907–1939)
  • Girl (1951–1964) and (1981–1990)
  • Giggle (1967–1968)
  • Heven & Hell (1990)
  • Hoot (1985–1986)
  • Hornet (1963–1976)
  • Hotspur (1933–1981)
  • Illustrated Chips (1890–1953)
  • Jackpot (1979–1982)
  • Jack and Jill (1885–1887) and (1954–1985)
  • Jackie (1964–1993)
  • Jet (1971)
  • Jinty (1974–1981)
  • The Judge Dredd Megazine (1990–current)
  • Judy
  • Knockout (1939–1963) and (1971–1973)
  • Krazy (1976–1978)
  • Linzy & Charcol (2006)
  • Lion (1952–1974)
  • Look and Learn (1962–1982)
  • The Magic Comic (1939–1941)
  • The Magnet (1908–1940)
  • Mandy (1967–1991)
  • Mickey Mouse Weekly (1936–1955)
  • Mirabelle (1956–1977)
  • Misty (1978–1980)
  • Monster Fun (1975–1976)
  • Night Warrior (2005–current)
  • Nikki (1985–1988)
  • Nipper (1987)
  • Nutty (1980–1985)
  • Oink! (1986–1988)
  • Picture Politics (1894–1914)
  • Picture Fun (1909–1920)
  • Pippin (1966–1986)
  • Plug (1977–1979)
  • Poot! (2009–current, 1980s–1990s)
  • Pow! (1967–1968)
  • Prehistoric Peeps (1890s)
  • Puck (1904–1940)
  • Radio Fun (1938–1961)
  • Rainbow (1914–1956)
  • Revolver (1990–1991)
  • Robin (1953–1969)
  • Romeo (1957–1974)
  • Roy of the Rovers (1976–1993)
  • Sandie (1972–1973)
  • School Fun (1983–1984)
  • Scream! (1984)
  • Sgt. Mike Battle (2001–current)
  • Shiver and Shake (1973–1974)
  • Smash! (1966–1971)
  • Smut (1989–current)
  • Sonic the Comic (1993–2002)
  • Sparky (1965–1977)
  • Speed (1980 when merged into Tiger)
  • Spellbound (1976–1978)
  • Spookhouse (1990)
  • Starlord (1978)
  • Star Wars (Weekly) (1978–1986)
  • The Swift (1954–1963)
  • Tammy
  • Tank Girl
  • Terrific (1967–1968)
  • Thunder (1970–1971) and (to 1974 with Lion)
  • Tiger (1954–1985 when merged into The Eagle)
  • Tiger Tim's Weekly (1920–1940)
  • Tina (1967)
  • The Topper (1953–1990) and (to 1993 with Beezer)
  • Tornado (1978–1979)
  • Toxic! (1991)
  • Trixton (2005–2007)
  • Tube Productions (2005–Present)
  • TV Action (1972–1973)
  • TV Century 21 (1965–1971)
  • TV Comic (1951–1984)
  • Twinkle (1968–1999)
  • Valentine (1957–1974)
  • Valiant (1962–1976)
  • Victor (1961–1992)
  • Viz (1979–current)
  • Vulcan (1975 to 1976)
  • War Picture Library (1958–1984)
  • Warlord (1974–1986)
  • Wham! (1964–1968)
  • Whizzer and Chips (1969–1990)
  • Whoopee! (1974–1985)
  • Wonder (1942–1953)
  • Wow! (1982–1983)
  • Zit (1991–2002)


The Chinese call Britain 'The Island of Hero's' which I think sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always looking over the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.

Copyright © 2011-2012 Paul Hussey. All Rights Reserved.