As 2018 comes to an end, we here at Telly Visions would like to pause to remember some of the performers and public figures we have lost over the past twelve months.
These losses have touched the fields of television, film, literature, music, science and sports. You may not be familiar with all of them, but each was an icon beloved by the British public for the laughter, thrills and enlightenment they provided. They will continue to live on in our memories through the work they left behind.
Sir Roger Bannister
Known as: Middle distance runner and neurologist
Claim(s) to fame: 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics 4th place finish in the 1500m final (set a new British record); becoming the first athlete to finish the mile in under four minutes on May 6, 1954; a forty year career as a neurologist contibuting to the study of the autonomic nerve system.
Honors: Knighted in 1975 and appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2017 for services to sport. Was awarded honorary fellowships and degrees at over half a dozen English universities.
Sister Wendy Beckett
Known as: Roman Catholic nun, art historian and author
Claim to fame: Hosting a series of popular 1990s BBC art history documentaries including Sister Wendy’s Odyssey and Sister Wendy’s Grand Tour. Her unique, script-less presentation style and extensive knowledge of and passion for the arts won her many fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
Known as: Comedic film and television actress
Claim to fame: Role as naïve and sweetly simple-minded verger, Alice Tinker-Horton, from the much beloved 1990’s sitcom The Vicar of Dibley; also portrayed Honey Thacker, the eccentric, oversharing sister of Will (Hugh Grant) in the 1999 rom-com Notting Hill.
Honors: Won a Best TV Comedy Actress Award in 1998 for her role on the The Vicar of Dibley.
Barry Chuckle (aka Barry Elliott)
Known as: One half of the Chuckle Brothers, an English children's act appearing on stage and television
Claim to fame: The iconic BBC children's show, ChuckleVision, wherein the brothers would undertake a different adventure in each episode. The series ran from 1987 to 2009.
Honors: Along with his brother Paul, Barry received a special award for Lifetime Achievement at the British Academy Children's Awards in 2008.
Sir Ken Dodd
Known as: Stand-up comedian, ventriloquist and singer often described as "the last great music hall entertainer"
Claim(s) to fame: Played a record 42-week run at the London Palladium in 1965; his hit song “Tears” was the third-best selling British single of the 1960’s (only The Beatles’ “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” sold more copies); gained a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for telling jokes at a rate of ten a minute for more than three hours in 1974.
Honors: Knighted in 2017 for services to entertainment and charity; received various comedy lifetime achievement awards and honorary doctorate degrees from English universities.
Known as: Comedic film and television actress
Claim to fame: Her breakthrough performance in the 1959 film I’m All Right Jack playing Cynthia Kite, the daughter of a militant shop steward; also known and beloved for her blond bombshell characters in four of the Carry On films.
Honors: BAFTA nomination for Most Promising Newcomer to Film for her performance in I’m All Right Jack.
Known as: Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and popular ambassador for science
Claim(s) to fame: Despite battling an early-onset form of ALS since 1963, Hawking became one of the most respected voices in science; discovered “Hawking radiation”, the phenomenon of black holes leaking energy and fading to nothing and set out a theory suggesting that the universe evolves according to well-defined laws; his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, a layman's guide to cosmology, appeared on the best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks; also famed for his wicked sense of humor.
Honors: Too numerous to include the complete list here, a sampling of Hawking’s accolades include the Albert Einstein Award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom and four separate royal honors (CH,CBE, FRS and FRSA).
Known as: Memoir, travel and children’s author
Claim to fame: A Year in Provence, an international bestseller, which chronicled Mayle’s first year as a British expat in the southeastern region of France; several of his works, including A Good Year, were adapted for the big and small screen.
Honors: Received two British Book Awards – Best Travel Book of the Year for A Year in Provence (1989) and Author of the Year (1992). The French government named him a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 2002.
Dame June Whitfield
Known as: Actress of film, television, stage and radio
Claim(s) to fame: Dame June's longevity spanned all varities of entertainment media. Her remarkable sense of comedic timing and abilty to create memorable characters found a place in projects as varied as the Carry On films and Absolutely Fabulous to Last of the Summer Wine and Doctor Who.
Honors: Given a British Comedy Awards' Lifetime Acheivement Honor in 1994; made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2017 for services to drama and entertainment.
Known as: Film, television and stage actor
Claim(s) to fame: His role as handlebar-mustachioed television detective and author Jason King in the 1970’s; later appeared as Klytus in Flash Gordon and as Timanov in Doctor Who: Planet Of Fire; Mike Myers cited Wyngarde’s suave, flamboyant style as his inspiration for his spy character, Austin Powers.
I urge you to share your memories of these and other personalities who have left us in 2018. Here’s hoping for a happy, healthy 2019!