Leonard Rossiter.com

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Three official web sites in one

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His Life & Career - Reginald Perrin - Rising Damp

The Life & Career of Leonard Rossiter

Television Performances: 1970s

A complete guide to the television performances of Leonard Rossiter in the 1970s.
All dates are original broadcast/Leonard's first appearance dates.


On This Page A - Z:

After Loch Lomond
After The Solo
Arena: The Immortal Haydon
Baby's Name Being Kitchener, The
Beechams Silvikrin
Carnforth Practice, The: The Aristocrat
Charity Appeal: Shelter
Cinzano commercials (Special Page)
Fearless Frank
Galton & Simpson Playhouse, (The) "I Tell You It's Burt Reynolds!"
Grandstand
Hambro Life
Harry-Kari And Sally
Husband Of The Year
If There Weren't Any Blacks
You'd Have To Invent Them
Italian Table, The

Kia-Ora commercial
Losers, The
Machinegunner
Magistrate, The
Masquerade - Mutzen Ab!
Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show
Not The Cheapest But The Best
Parker Pens commercial
Perishers (cartoon), The

The Prestel Connection
Pygmalion Smith
Song By Song By Harburg
Steptoe & Son: The Desperate Hours
Thick As Thieves
This Is Your Life
This Is Your Life - R. Beckinsale
TVTimes Top Ten Awards





The Italian Table
Wednesday 18th February 1970, 9.10pm - BBC1
Written by William Trevor
Directed by Herbert Wise
Produced by Irene Shubik
Broadcast by BBC

A junk dealer, Mr. Jeffs (Rossiter) has to act as an intermediary when a woman, Mrs. Hammond, (played by Isabel Dean, pictured) sells him a table and her husband buys it for his mistress. The woman then tries to buy it back. A relationship grows between the wife and the junk dealer, but he mistakes kindness for friendship. Co-starred Ronald Hines, Moira Redmond, Dorothy Frere.

Leonard played the role of the junk dealer, Mr. Jeffs.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"...He captured every nuance and was in fact one of the most brilliant actors I have ever had the good fortune to work with. I liked him as a person enormously. My mind is filled with affection and admiration." - William Trevor.
"What struck me was his honesty. This quality seemed uppermost in his work and life. No compromise...He was a brilliant actor." - Isabel Dean.

Critical Review:
"As a creeping, egregious and pathetic junk dealer who dreams of love and companionship which he can never achieve, he gave a performance of rare and tremendous power." - Jessie Palmer, The Scotsman.

Notes: Broadcast as part of 'The Wednesday Play' series of dramas.





Harry-Kari and Sally
Sunday 7th March 1971
Written by Douglas Livingstone
Directed by John Gorrie
Produced by Verity Lambert
Broadcast by ATV

The story of an ex-Sergeant Major (Rossiter) who has homosexual feelings for a man at work, feelings that turn to murder when he finds the man in bed with his lodger, Sally.

Leonard played the lead role of Harry, the ex-military man.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"The ex-Sergeant Major offered Leonard one of his finest roles...Just as impressive was the amount of stress he could convey in a small scene on his own..." - Robert Tanitch.

Critical Review:
"Leonard Rossiter's Harry was an extraordinarily vivid piece of work which caught the devious, twisted mind, the violence behind the apparent ineffectualness with horrifying realism." - Jessie Palmer, The Scotsman.

Notes: Broadcast as part of the 'Sunday Night Theatre' series of plays. Made in colour, but tapes only exist in black & white.




Thick As Thieves
Tuesday 29th February 1972
Written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin
Directed and Produced by Patrick Dromgoole
Broadcast by HTV

A crime drama about a professional safe-blower (Rossiter) and his apprentice (Corin Redgrave). Eddie a safe cracker, is just released from jail. He has no money and his wife has kicked him out of the house. He hears of a job and teams up with a sorted gang. Co-starred George Woodbridge and Daphne Heard.

Leonard played Eddy Dobbs, the master safe-blower.

Notes: Thick As Thieves won the 1972 Royal Television Society's award for Best Regional Production. Leonard later starred in another Baker and Martin creation, Machinegunner, in 1976

Critical Reviews:
"Leonard Rossiter played Eddy as a hands-in-pocket, marrow-cold little ne'er-do-well, whose every word was a cross between a snivel and a snarl. This was his best performance." - Leonard Buckley, The Times.
"Rossiter's shifty, insecure, peg-toothed grin, was, like the locale, absolutely specific and therefore universal." - Philip Purser, Sunday Telegraph.



Steptoe and Son (episode: The Desperate Hours)

Monday 3rd April 1972
Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Produced by John Howard-Davies
Broadcast by BBC

Two prisoners (Rossiter and J. G. Devlin, playing Frank Arthur Ferris)) escape from Wormwood Scrubs and hole themselves up in the Steptoe's home. They soon discover the Steptoes' lack of food, heat and money, and decide they were better off 'inside'.

Leonard played the role of John Spooner, one of the escaped prisoners.
Watch a clip or buy the DVD

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"I particularly remember the second one where we did a pastiche of The Desperate Hours, based on the Edward March/Humphrey Bogart film from years ago, where Bogart played an escaped convict. We took the title and had these two convicts burst into the Steptoe's house. It was like watching two stags at bay. They brought the best out of each other. Harry [H. Corbett] suddenly realised he was faced with a formidable actor, and Leonard realised that Harry was 'pulling all the stops out', and the scenes between each other were absolutely riveting." - Alan Simpson, co-author.

Notes: John Howard Davies went on to produce Leonard again in the pilot episode of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
Leonard's outstanding performance in this episode was seen by budding playwright Eric Chappell. He became convinced he had found his 'leading man' for his first play The Banana Box. The character was Rooksby, later to transfer to TV as Rigsby in Rising Damp.
This was Leonard's second appearance on Steptoe & Son. See also Steptoe & Son: The Lead Man Cometh

Links:
Albert & Harold
Internet Movie Database
Merchandise







The Magistrate
Wednesday 20th December 1972, 9.25pm - BBC1
Written by Arthur Wing Pinero
Directed by Bill Hays
Produced by Cedric Messina
Broadcast by BBC

A woman lies about her age in order to marry her second husband, thereby making her son by her first marriage to be fourteen instead of his real nineteen years. Her first husband (Rossiter) returns from India and the truth outs itself, despite her attempts to conceal it.

Leonard played the role of Colonel Lukyn.

Notes: The play also starred Ken Jones and Michael Horden (pictured). Broadcast as part of the 'Play of the Week' series of dramas. The tapes no longer exist.

Critical Reviews:
"Leonard Rossiter took to the part of a military gent like a duck to green pease." - Leonard Buckley, The Times.
"Leonard Rossiter treated us all to the odd physical jerks, mouthings and gesticulations that made the second half of his Arturo Ui unforgettable." - Michael Frostick, Stage & Television Today.

Links:
 The Magistrate
 Pinero biography




After Loch Lomond
Friday 2nd February 1973
Written by Douglas Livingstone
Directed by John Gorrie
Produced by Verity Lambert
Broadcast by LWT

The exploits of a coach party on a day out to the Scottish Highlands. Co-starred Joan Hickson, Margery Mason, Gabrielle Day.

Leonard played Mickey Grant, the obligatory life-and-soul of the coach party, chatting up the women and annoying the men.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"There was always, in his best moments, a corner of desperation - not just comic desperation but genuine desperation. He brought a tragic dimension to comedy. He was unique. There was no-one like him at all." - John Gorrie.
"When I started writing, Len was always at the top of my 'if-only-I-could-get-him-in-a-play-of- mine' list. I loved the colour he brought to every part he played; he seemed to me to manage something very difficult and very rare - to bring the size and excitement of a theatre performance to the television screen, while always remaining totally believable...A superb performance - funny, bitter and moving, a combination Len could manage uniquely well." - Douglas Livingstone.

Critical Review:
"Leonard Rossiter is a past master at bringing this sort of horrifying character to life. He is the epitome of all the holiday bores one has ever met, and it is his particular genius that, in spite of the seeming grotesqueness of the character, he never over-plays it into caricature." - Jessie Palmer, The Scotsman.





The Baby's Name Being Kitchener
Thursday 26th April 1973, 10.40pm - BBC2
Written by Peter Everett
Directed by Michael Hayes
Produced by Tim Aspinall
Broadcast by BBC

A Victorian costume drama in which an Army Sergeant (Rossiter) courts a rich woman while secretly being in love with her fifteen-year old daughter. Co-starred Margaret Courtenay and Beth Porter.

Leonard played the role of Sergeant Tax

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"He was a task-master. Rehearsals were never easy...but I loved working with him and learned a lot from him. He had an eye for detail..." - Margaret Courtenay (on the left in the picture).

Notes: Broadcast as part of the 'Thirty Minute Theatre' series of dramas. The tapes no longer exist.










If There Weren't Any Blacks You'd Have To Invent Them
Sunday 3rd March 1974
Written by Johnny Speight
Directed by Bill Hays
Produced by Rex Firkin
Broadcast by LWT

A blind white supremacist (Rossiter) forces his opinions on others that a white transvestite (Richard Beckinsale) is really black, and decides to make him a scapegoat to British prejudice and ignorance. The blind man, however, suffers his own deep-seated horror that he himself might be black.

Leonard played the lead role of the Blind Man.
Watch a clip or buy the DVD

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"He had those gifts of talent coupled with consummate craft skills that enable an artist to seize and hold the rapt attention of an audience...He had a unique, quite extraordinary vocal and physical presence; his body language was really outstanding." - Johnny Speight.

Notes: With Leonard in the photograph are Bob Hoskins, John Nightingale, Lewis Fiander and Richard Beckinsale, prior to his long-term coupling with Leonard in Rising Damp.


 




The Carnforth Practice (episode: The Aristocrat)
Sunday 21st April 1974, 10pm, BBC2
Written by Allan Prior
Directed by Cyril Coke
Produced by Colin Morris
Broadcast by BBC

The first episode in a series about a solicitor, the Honourable Grenville Carnforth, working in the Lake District of Northern England. He defends a gypsy's right to be a gypsy, but as the gypsy (Rossiter) struggles to avoid a night in a police cell, it accidentally results in the death of a policeman. The gypsy then commits suicide rather than going to prison. Co-starred David Daker, Michael Elwyn and Cyril Varley.

Leonard played the gypsy, Aaros Boswell.
 


 




Masquerade (ep: Mutzen Ab!)
Monday 6th May 1974, 10.30pm - BBC2
Written by Charles Wood
Directed by Graham Evans
Produced by Herbert Wise
Broadcast by BBC

The Nazi-hunting industry's celebrations concerning the discovery of a notorious war criminal in South America receive a jolt when a rival candidate crops up in Munich. 

Leonard played the role of Lewis in the episode 'Mutzen Ab!'

Co-starred Lynne Frederick, Robert Davey, Neil Hallett.




 





Pygmalion Smith
Tuesday, 25th June 1974, 8.30pm
Written by Roy Clarke
Directed and Produced by Roger Race
Broadcast by BBC

A photographer (Rossiter) at an out-of-season holiday resort sets his eyes on making a successful model out of a local girl who works in a fish-filleting shed. Co-starred T P McKenna, Barbara Courtenay and Maggi Burton.

Leonard played the photographer, Pygmalion 'Smithy' Smith.

Notes: This was part of the Comedy Playhouse season of short sitcom pilots - one other in this series starred John Cleese as an updated Sherlock Holmes! Writer Roy Clarke's earlier contribution to this series (on January 4th, 1973) was called Last Of The Summer Wine, which was subsequently made into a series and is now the longest-running sitcom of all time. Comedy Playhouse gave rise to many classic British sitcoms, including Open All Hours, Last Of The Summer Wine and Steptoe and Son. Although Pygmalion Smith never made it to a series, writer Roy Clarke used a very similar storyline in his 1984 sitcom The Magnificent Evans, which starred Ronnie Barker as amateur photographer Plantagenet Evans.


Watch the full episode




 




Rising Damp - Series One
September 1974 (pilot); December 1974 - January 1975 (series)
Written by Eric Chappell
Directed and Produced by Ronnie Baxter
Broadcast by Yorkshire Television

Widely-regarded as one of the finest sitcoms in the history of television, Rising Damp has its own web site.




This Is Your Life
Wednesday 5th February 1975
Created by Ralph Edwards
Directed by Eamonn Andrews
Produced by Jack Crawshaw
Broadcast by Thames Television

In this long-running light entertainment show, a celebrity guest is surprised by the show's presenter (at this time Eamonn Andrews) and is taken away to a studio where family and friends gather to celebrate the person's life.

Leonard was the surprised guest on this week's show.




Not The Cheapest But The Best
21st April 1975, 8.30pm - BBC2
Written by Michael Andrews
Directed by Michael Andrews
Produced by Tim Aspinall
Broadcast by BBC Bristol

A documentary about the great British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, based on his unpublished diaries and letters. Part of the BBC's long-running Horizon science documentary series.

Leonard played the part of Brunel in re-enactments and also narrated the documentary.
 


 




 

Husband Of The Year
2nd May 1975
Written by Brad Ashton
Directed by David Millard
Produced by Vernon Lawrence
Broadcast by Yorkshire TV

Details unknown. Cast included Marjorie Proops, Pete Murray, Leslie Randall and Leonard's wife Gillian Raine.






After The Solo
Tuesday 25th November 1975, 9.35pm - BBC1
Written by John Challen
Directed by Moira Armstrong
Produced by Ann Scott
Broadcast by BBC

A 'Play For Today' about an unappealing boy (Nicholas Watson, pictured, with Geraldine Newman) and his nagging father (Rossiter). The boy has a superb singing voice but is about to lose it at the onset of puberty. Co-starred Gerald James, John Ringham and Jeanette Hill.

Leonard played the role of the domineering father, Mr. Dawson.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"Leonard Rossiter's power and range as an actor invested the part of the father with not only a sort of meanness of spirit and an obsession with discipline but also with a kind of dark despair." - Moira Armstrong.
"I was especially pleased and grateful when I knew that he had undertaken the part. When I thanked him for what I thought was a marvellous performance, he did not (as I'd rather expected) incline his head and receive thanks as his obvious due. Instead, he sat and talked with keen interest of the way he had gone about 'finding' this man, studying the speech patterns, developing the movements and gestures. Despite the bleakness of the character, he still found opportunities to demonstrate his comic talents when not in character...during a bleak little scene...a retake was called for and, instantly, brilliantly, precisely, he ran the scene through backwards as one might run a film in reverse...There was an explosion of delighted laughter and applause, and immediately he was back to the mood of the scene - cold, meagre, unrelating. The contrast was stunning." - John Challen.





Rising Damp - Series Two
November - December 1975, plus Boxing Day special
Written by Eric Chappell
Directed and Produced by Ronnie Baxter
Broadcast by Yorkshire Television

Widely-regarded as one of the finest sitcoms in the history of television, Rising Damp has its own own web site.




Machinegunner
Saturday 24th July 1976
Written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin
Directed and Produced by Patrick Dromgoole
Broadcast by HTV

A 'machinegunner' (West Country slang for a debt-collector), turns amateur sleuth but finds himself in hot water with local criminals when hired by Felicity Ingram (Nina Baden Semper, pictured far right) to unearth a race-implicated scheme for building developments.

Leonard played the lead role of the 'machinegunner', Cyril Dugdale.
Watch a clip or buy the DVD

Notes: Also starring were Kate O'Mara, Colin Welland, Tim Preece (later to star with Leonard in The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin) and Gay Rose (who starred with Leonard in Series Two of Rising Damp).
This was an award-winning drama and was released on video by VideoGems in 1985 (catalogue no. R1329).

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"He was a tetchy perfectionist, impatient of laziness and circumstances in which he could not do his best work...He was also generous, very generous, and sharply aware of the strains on those around him." - Patrick Dromgoole

Critical Review:
"Few actors can be so superbly unsavoury, seedy, conniving and prurient as Leonard Rossiter." - Stewart Lane, Morning Star.

Links:
   Internet Movie Database




The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin - Series One
September - October 1976
Written by David Nobbs
Directed and Produced by Gareth Gwenlan
Broadcast by BBC

Another of Leonard's legacies to television, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin has its own own web site.




TVTimes Top Ten Awards
1976
Written by Tony Hawes
Directed by Daphne Shadwell
Produced by David Clark

Leonard was a guest presenter at the annual awards ceremony.




Parker Pens commercial
1977
Directed by Brian Byfield
Produced with Collett, Dickenson, Pearce & ptnrs. advertising agency
Broadcast on ITV

Leonard's first TV commerial. At the annual convention of a group of traffic wardens, the host hands out the award of a Parker Pen to the one who has given the most tickets.

Leonard played the role of a traffic warden and 'awards host'.
 





I Tell You It's Burt Reynolds
Thursday March 31st, 1977, 9pm
Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Directed and Produced by Ronnie Baxter
Broadcast by Yorkshire Television

An annoying know-it-all (Rossiter) insists the man he has just seen on television is the actor Burt Reynolds. He even goes so far as to ring the actor himself, just to prove a point.

Leonard played the part of the know-it-all, Leonard.
Watch it in full or buy the DVD

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"It was based on a friend of mine. Had to be right in everything. I came home one night and he was there and he said I'm glad you're home. Now, when I say to you 'Look at the television, I want you to look and tell me who I'm pointing to.' So I said Ok. Then he went 'OK, look now. Who is it?' And I hadn't got a clue, so he said 'It's Burt Reynolds'. And I said 'It's not Burt Reynolds! It's nothing like him!' And this went on all night. Then he phones up the Daily Telegraph, because they were supposed to know everything." - Ray Galton, co-author.

Notes: This was broadcast as part of the Galton and Simpson Playhouse series of comedy shorts.
Co-starring with Leonard was his real-life wife Gillian Raine (pictured), plus Patricia Hayes and Roy Barraclough.
 




Rising Damp - Series Three
April - May 1977
Written by Eric Chappell
Directed and Produced by Ronnie Baxter
Broadcast by Yorkshire Television

Widely-regarded as one of the finest sitcoms in the history of television, Rising Damp has its own own web site.




The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin - Series Two
September - November 1977
Written by David Nobbs
Directed and Produced by Gareth Gwenlan
Broadcast by BBC

Another of Leonard's legacies to television, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin has its own own web site.




This Is Your Life - Richard Beckinsale
23rd November 1977
Written by Ralph Edwards
Directed by Terry Yarwood
Produced by Jack Crawshaw
Broadcast by Thames Television

Leonard was a guest as the profile show celebrated the life and career of Richard Beckinsale, joined by wife Judy Loe, daughter Kate Beckinsale, and colleagues Don Warrington (Rising Damp), Fulton McKay (Porridge) and Paula Wilcox (The Lovers).




Arena: The Immortal Haydon

7th December 1977, 11.15pm Ė BBC2

Directed by Nigel Williams & Leslie Megahey

Produced by Alan Yentob

An in-depth profile of Leonard as Benjamin Robert Haydon as he performs a one-man show on stage about the tragic painter's life and suicide. One of Leonard's great theatre performances, The Immortal Haydon has a special section on this web site.





Grandstand

20th May 1978, 12.30pm Ė BBC1

The long-running Saturday afternoon sports variety programme.

From 1.30pm, Leonard appeared in Pro-Celebrity Squash: The Rank Xerox Challenge Final  , partnering Hiddy Jahan (then the world's No.5), and played against entertainer Tommy Steele and Mohibullah Khan.






Cinzano commercials
1978 - 1983
Directed by various
Broadcast by ITV

The hugely-popular Cinzano commercials with Joan Collins have their own special page on this web site.




Rising Damp - Series Four
April - May 1978
Written by Eric Chappell
Directed and Produced by Ronnie Baxter
Broadcast by Yorkshire Television

Widely-regarded as one of the finest sitcoms in the history of television, Rising Damp has its own own web site.





Charity Appeal: Shelter

6th August 1978, 6.25pm Ė BBC1

Leonard appeared in a charity appeal for Shelter, which had launched HEO (Housing Emergency Office) to accommodate families in properties which would otherwise remain empty.







Fearless Frank, or, Tidbits From The Life Of An Adventurer
Wednesday 4th October 1978, 9.25pm - BBC2
Written by Andrew Davies
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Produced by Louis Marks
Broadcast by BBC

A dramatisation, in the 'Play of the Week' series, of the colourful life of controversial and outspoken author and journalist Frank Harris. It co-starred Susan Penhaligon, John Rhys-Davis and Denis Lawson.

Leonard played the lead role of Frank Harris.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"...He blustered, he cajoled, he buttonholed, he fawned, he raged, he leered, he revelled in the life he created as Frank Harris. His work was almost incredibly fast, neat and inventive, and yet he always seemed to have oodles of time to get it all in...Looking for comparisons one tends to go outside acting, towards boxers, bullfighters, the batting of Viv Richards. And the element of controlled aggression in this comparison is not fortuitous...he made a symphony out of this simple refrain ["Legs! Legs!"], sounding it as everything from a joyous Basil Brush squawk to an infinitely poignant dirge for lost virility..." - Andrew Davies.
"I remember Leonard as a rather shy person who had nervous energy blasting out of his eyes. When he started acting, this energy seemed to be harnessed and I thought the result was brilliant. I was terribly impressed by him and his overriding concern for perfection. He also made me laugh a lot. I enjoyed making Fearless Frank very much." - Susan Penhaligon

Notes: There were plans for Leonard to star in a West End theatre production of this programme, but when it finally happened, it was Bill Stewart in the lead role. See the external web site below for more information.

Watch a clip

Links:
 Frank Harris web site




Song By Song By Harburg
8th October 1978
Written by Yip Harburg
Directed by Vernon Lawrence
Produced by Deke Arlon
Broadcast by Yorkshire Television

A celebration of the song writing talent of E. Y. Harburg. The show was hosted by Ned Sherrin, pictured.

Leonard played Groucho Marx, singing "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady".

Notes: This song was originally performed by Groucho Marx in 'At The Circus', 1939.






Beechams Silvikrin
1978
Produced by CLM Productions

Corporate film. The updating of the Silvikrin range of shampoos and hairsprays are discussed and illustrated for a corporate product launch for the 1980's in a spoof of `The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin'. Includes 3 commercials at end of film. Co-starred John Barron and Wendy Richard.

Leonard played a Reggie Perrin-type character.
 




The Losers
Sundays, 12th November - 17th December 1978, 9.15pm
Written by Alan Coren
Directed by Joe McGrath
Produced by Terence Baker
Broadcast by ATV

A wrestlers' manager (Rossiter) realises there is money to be made by rigging his client's bouts and, on the principle of 'all the world loves a loser', sets out to make sure his client Nigel, known as 'The Butcher' (Alfred Molina, pictured, in his first TV role) keeps on losing. Nigel, however, is too dim-witted to notice.

Leonard played Nigel's boxing manager, Sydney Foskett.
Watch a clip or buy the DVD

Notes: This series was panned by the critics like no other Leonard Rossiter performance. It came hot on the heels of the brilliant Rigsby and Reggie Perrin and was inevitably, and perhaps unfairly, compared to them both. Despite the top writing skills of Alan Coren, it was probably the situation - and not the comedy - that let it down badly.
The first 5 of 6 episodes were found in off-air recordings in 2012 and are now available on DVD (buy at the link above). Episode 6 remains lost but the script is contained on the DVD.

Critical Reviews:
- "Here were the country's leading wit and one of the best comic actors and they combined to bore us to death." - Stanley Reynolds, The Times.
- "Leonard Rossiter, who never gives a bad performance, comes very near to doing so in this lamentable series; in spite of the fact that he is working like a Trojan, he cannot disguise the poverty of the script nor can he enhance his reputation." - Bernard Davies, Broadcast.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
- "I was completely in awe of Leonard Rossiter. For me he was like one of the comic Gods. Just a brilliant actor. I was starstruck. He was very nice to me, very considerate. A hard taskmaster. A tough guy to work with, but I loved him because he treated me the same. He didnít make allowances. He didnít give me the benefit of the doubt. He wasnít patronising. I was as green as a cabbage. And I remember being shocked by him. We were in a rehearsal and I was trying something, and he suddenly went, Ďthatís not funnyí. He was quite brusque. I didnít say anything, but I wanted to say Ďwhat do you mean itís not funny? We donít know if itís funny or not. We havenít done it in front of an audience.í I quickly went on the defensive, and then I realised, the second time I tried it - much to his disdain - that he was right. His instinct was spot on. So I did myself a favour and decided to trust it rather than fight it. Rather than letting my ego get in the way, I thought, ĎIíll listen to what he saysí. I watched him like a hawk. And I learned so much: about timing, the way you can change a joke just by the slightest shift of emphasis. The slightest shift in the weight from one syllable to another. The way the coming together of energy and language and voice explodes. All those things come together to make a great comic moment." - Alfred Molina.

Links:
 Internet Movie Database; TV Comedy Index




The Morecambe And Wise Christmas Show
Monday, 25th December 1978
Written by various writers
Directed and Produced by Keith Beckett
Broadcast by Thames Television

Morecambe & Wise were undoubtedly the greatest comedy double act of all time, combining hilarious sketches with comedy song routines. In this special edition for Christmas, Leonard joined the duo dressed as The Andrews Sisters in a rousing rendition of the Army song "The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company-B". Other guests included Jenny Hanley, Frank Finlay, Anna Dawson and Jean Hunt.

Leonard's Role Remembered:
"It was one of the very rare times that Eric and Ernie had actually been outgunned. They soon realised that when Leonard was going at full stretch, it was best to just stand back and wait." - James Grout, producer.
"He told me that Eric and Ernie had invited him onto the show, but he wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do. I was working with Eric and Ernie on a couple of commercials at the time, so I said 'If there's three of you, why don't you do The Andrews Sisters?'." "They transcend the mime. I mean, anybody can mime, but they transcend it. It's one of the few times when I'm watching Morecambe & Wise that I'm not watching Eric. I watch Leonard." - Joe McGrath, director Rising Damp movie.

Leonard played one of the three Andrews Sisters in a song routine.
Watch a clip or buy the DVD

Links: Morecambe & Wise Homepage




The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin - Series Three
29th November 1978 - 24th January 1979
Written by David Nobbs
Directed and Produced by Gareth Gwenlan
Broadcast by BBC

Another of Leonard's legacies to television, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin has its own pageson this web site.




The Perishers
Wednesday 21st March to Friday 4th May 1979, usually 5.35pm - BBC1
Written by Maurice Dodd (cartoon strip)
Directed by Dick Horn
Produced by Graeme Spurway
Broadcast by BBC

The popular Daily Mirror newspaper cartoon strip The Perishers, about a family of children and their clever dog, were brought to life for this tea-time animation series. Co-starred Sheila Steafel, Judy Bennett and Peter Hawkins.

Leonard was the voice of Boot, the family's oh-so-clever Old English Sheepdog.
Watch a clip or buy the DVD

Links:
Little Gems - Classic Kids TV - Includes theme tune featuring the voice of Leonard as Boot.




The Prestel Connection
1979
Written by Graham Collis & Derek Hass
Directed by Len Fulford

A corporate commercial - TV sets featuring Prestel - a computer information and ordering service - are used and demonstrated within the plot of a private eye spoof. The film co-starred Vicki Michelle as Miss Shilling and Johnny Shannon as the boss.

Leonard played Harry Lemon

Links:
Prestel page



Hambro Life
1979

Training film - Hambro Life Assurance Company training film, promoting Hambro's training schemes and the sales staff selection process. Executive director Donald Pell discusses Hambro's training philosophy and the training programmes available for sales associates. Gives a fictional example of how an untrained sales operative might deal with customers and mishandle various policies.




Kia-Ora
Late 1970s

Leonard voiced a pre-feature cinema ad for drinks company Kia-Ora.
Watch the ad




Move on to Television Performances: 1980s
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Text (c) Paul Fisher
Pictures (c) their respective owners.