Ron Pember

Character & Episode: Fairground Concessionaire in Vendetta for a Dead Man
Born: 11/04/1936, Plaistow, London, England (as Ronald Henry Pember)

 

Ron Pember is a retired English actor, stage director and dramatist. A prolific and well-regarded character actor since the late 1950s, he has more than one hundred film and television credits to his name. He was busy on television from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, generally in small but memorable parts. Growing up, he attended Eastbrook Secondary Modern School in Dagenham, prior to serving with the Royal Air Force in Egypt as part of the National Service military training scheme. At the end of the 1950s he made his start in acting by joining a repertory company, The Penguin Players, which performed at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea. Ron went on to make his London stage debut at the newly-launched Mermaid Theatre in 1959 in a production of Treasure Island, and would later feature in the musical Blitz! at the Adelphi Theatre in 1962.

 

Ron's television career commenced in 1961, with a bit-part role as a wounded soldier in Florence Nightingale, an episode of the Associated-Rediffusion schools TV series Looking About. This led to further 1961 roles in The Avengers (Double Danger), Armchair Theatre (Looking for Frankie), Probation Officer (first episode of Series 3) and Dixon of Dock Green (The Loose Load). Not one of these programmes survives today.

 

After these breakthrough television roles, Ron worked mainly in the theatre until the mid-Sixties, when he became in demand for screen roles too. His first film role was an uncredited appearance in the film The Pumpkin Eater (1964), and he went on to feature the highly regarded Poor Cow in 1967. Another film role was in the horror-suspense film Death Line (1972). On television, he was cast in the era-defining Wednesday Play, Cathy Come Home (1966), which starred Ray Brooks, another Randall and Hopkirk actor, and also in The Pilgrim's Progress (1967) in multiple roles. In addition to his television and film work, from 1965 to 1968 he acted with the National Theatre in London, departing in 1969 to rejoin the Mermaid Theatre (a residency which would last until the mid-1970s). At the Mermaid, Ron acted in productions of Bernard and the musical The Band Wagon and directed The Goblet Game, Lock Up Your Daughters and Treasure Island (all 1969 productions), the latter of which he took on tour to New York and several Canadian cities. In 1970, he directed productions of Enter Solly Gold and Henry IV, Part I / Part II, and produced and directed Dick Turpin, a play which he also wrote. He played the role of Trinculo in a production of The Tempest (1970) at the theatre, and also directed King and Country and The Point! (both 1976, the latter of which he co-adapted). In 1974 he wrote and produced the theatre musical Jack the Ripper, based on the infamous London murder rampage of 1888, which had a run in London's West End. It debuted at the Players' Theatre, Covent Garden, in June 1974, and transferred to the Ambassadors Theatre that September, ending its run at the Cambridge Theatre in early 1975.

 

Ron made several appearance in ITC shows in addition to his Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) role, featuring in The Saint (The People Importers, 1968), Department S (The Ghost of Mary Burnham, 1969), Strange Report (Report 3906 - COVER GIRLS: Last Year's Model, 1969), UFO (Timelash, 1970) and The Protectors (Blockbuster), the latter two series being made by former Supermarionation tsar Gerry Anderson. Ron's stand-out 1970s and 1980s roles included episodes of Crown Court, The XXY Man and Secret Army (both 1977), Sink or Swim (1980-81, with Peter Davison and Robert Glenister), and the sketch comedies The Dick Emery Show and The Two Ronnies, all of which were recurring roles.

 

Ron was acting in another recurring television role, as Dennis Timson in the legal drama Rumpole of the Bailey, when he was forced to retire following a stroke in 1992. Ron now lives in Southend-on-Sea with his wife Yvonne Tylee, whom he married in 1959.

 
 

Luan Peters

Character & Episode: Dancer in That's How Murder Snowballs
Born: 18/06/1946, Bethnal Green, London, England (as Carol Hirsch)
Died: 24/12/2017, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England

 

Though Luan Peters was not from a showbiz family, her grandparents were German ex-patriots who emigrated to London when her father was three. He grew up to be a garage owner in the East End, and Luan made her stage debut at the age of four in a pantomime. She won a scholarship at 16 after appearing in a stage production of Twelfth Night.

 

Whilst attending drama school, Luan started singing in a band to earn extra money. She was known as Karol Keyes at the time, the band being called Karol Keyes and the Big Sound. The band gained a recording contract, and one of her first records published was an Ike and Tina Turner number called A Fool in Love on Columbia. She left that band in June 1966 and joined Joan Littlewood’s drama school at the Theatre Royal Stratford East a year later.

 

Her music career wasn't over, however, it merely took a break. In 1975, Luan was lead singer of the band 5000 Volts and appeared on Top of the Pops singing their hit song I'm On Fire. Despite appearances, the actual vocalist was Tina Charles. Peters continued to release singles (mainly in Europe) throughout the remainder of the decade.

 

Luan made her television acting debut in 1967 (still as Karol Keyes) in the final episode of the Doctor Who serial The Macra Terror as Chicki. Subsequently, she went on to appear in several series, including Mickey Dunne (1967), Z Cars (1967-70) and Strange Report (1969). In 1970 she assumed the stage name Luan Peters and played Trudi in the Hammer film Lust for a Vampire (released in January 1971). She returned to the famous horror studio for Twins of Evil (October 1971) and would feature in another horror in 1973, The Flesh and Blood Show for director Pete Walker – also in the cast were Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) actors Ray Brooks and Robin Askwith.

 

During 1971 Luan enjoyed a six-episode stint as Laura Shawcross in the long running soap opera Coronation Street, but her best known television role was still several years away... In 1979, her guest role as Raylene Miles, an Australian, in the The Psychiatrist a second series episode of Fawlty Towers was pure comedy gold, and while the general public may not remember the actress' or character's names, her pitch-perfect performance is indelibly engraved in sitcom history.

 

Luan was a regular on the Cannon and Ball series too, also in 1979, though time has certainly been kinder to Fawlty Towers. After these two series, she appeared in two poorly received feature films - The Wildcats of St Trinian's (1980) and Pacific Banana (1981), an Australian sex comedy. Her next recorded credits were as different characters in two separate episodes of The Bill in 1989 and 1990.

 

Section compiled by Darren Senior

Additional research and presentation by Alan Hayes and Denis Kirsanov

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