Some Joe You Don't Know: An American Biographical Guide to 100 British Television Personalities

By Anthony Slide | Go to book overview

A

TERENCE ALEXANDER

It is always gratifying to discover that an actor who appears very nice on television is that way in real life, and such happily is the case with Terence Alexander. A familiar affable figure in the world of British entertainment, he has made something of an art form of creating "nice" characters, each of whom are decidedly different, linked only by their amiability. As he notes, "When I was younger I would play suave villains or English idiots. A lot of directors saw me as a suave villain, a young George Sanders, while others saw me as a Bertie Wooster character. I have been lucky that I have not played the same sort of part throughout."

In the field of comedy, Alexander has worked with some of Britain's best-loved entertainers, including Tony Hancock, Benny Hill, Kenneth Williams, and Norman Wisdom, a group that he describes as some of the unhappiest people he has ever known. He played opposite Frankie Howerd--"a miserable man really"--in the comedian's first film, The Runaway Bus ( 1953). After taping sessions of Hancock's Half Hour, both Hancock and Alexander would repair to Alexander's Battersea apartment for dinner, and around the table, Terence Alexander would help Tony Hancock work out sketches for later shows.

As a dramatic actor, Terence Alexander made his screen debut in Michael Powell's The Elusive Pimpernel ( 1950). His favorite on-screen dramatic role is Rupert Rutland-Smith in Basil Dearden The League of Gentlemen ( 1960): "It was a slightly sad fellow, and it was not the sort of thing that I usually play. But I loved doing it. It was quite a challenge."

The linkage in the lineage of Terence Alexander roles is that they are never the starring parts but always the role of the other fellow, the reliable sidekick, the straight man whose timing has to be impeccable in order to allow the comedian to get the laugh, the good guy who never quite makes

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Some Joe You Don't Know: An American Biographical Guide to 100 British Television Personalities
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • A 1
  • B 13
  • C 39
  • D 55
  • E 59
  • F 67
  • G 75
  • H 85
  • Bibliography 117
  • I 121
  • J 123
  • K 141
  • L 147
  • M 161
  • Bibliography 181
  • O 191
  • P 193
  • R 203
  • Bibliography 232
  • T 235
  • W 243
  • General Bibliography 257
  • Index 259
  • About the Author 273
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