Annette Andre

Character & Episodes: Jean Hopkirk in all episodes except A Sentimental Journey,
When the Spirit Moves You
and The House on Haunted Hill
Born: 24/06/1939, Sydney, Australia (as Annette Christine Andreallo)

 

Born in Australia, Annette's father was an Italian who worked in a Sydney upholstery business and married a local girl. Annette was educated at Brigidine College in Sydney and her earliest wishes were to be a ballerina. For a short time she was with the Australian Ballet Company, but they dispensed with her services when they realised that she was under age. Her path into acting can be traced to when she was at a convent and a nun suggested she get into radio and enrolled her at radio school. Radio was still then the main entertainment medium, with television in its infancy. Annette quickly became popular and appeared with Bob Hope and Benny Hill when they toured the country. By then she was a dancer, singer and worked in theatre as an actress as well. She was encouraged by director Leslie Norman (the father of TV critic Barry Norman) to try her hand as an actress. With this in mind she went to Italy and played an extra in the 1963 epic Cleopatra. Annette had earlier made a few appearances on Australian television but these were only seen by the home audiences.

 

She then went to England and appeared in the stage production of Vanity Fair. From this she was cast as Jinny in the film This Is My Street. This led to other notable parts on television, guesting in such shows as The Saint (five episodes from 1964-68), The Prisoner, The Baron and The Avengers. He stunning looks and flowing blonde hair made her a natural for the female lead guest star in such series. Another role she is remembered for is Phila, a beautiful virgin concubine in the 1966 film version of the Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Annette worked with silent comedy legend Buster Keaton on the film and thought him "a lovely old man". She also used her comic talents alongside Dick Emery, Sid James and Benny Hill, and was one of the first 'Hill's Angel' girls. Hill even asked Annette to marry him. She remembers Benny as "a wonderful man, very shy and lonely, and a bit eccentric". She was for a while linked with the footballer George Best, though Annette says the press made rather more out of their couple of dates than the relationship warranted.

 

Annette had been considered for the role of Sharron Macready in The Champions, though the role would go eventually to Alexandra Bastedo. When Annette was later cast as Jean Hopkirk in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), she would often swap wardrobes with Alexandra as the concluding episodes of The Champions were still being filmed on a nearby set. The two women would become good friends. After filming finished on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Annette's career started to slow down. She did however make notable contributions to The Persuaders! and The New Avengers in the Seventies. She would also star in the cheap and cheerful Midlands soap Crossroads and the Australian prison drama series-cum-soap opera Prisoner (shown in the UK as Prisoner Cell Block H). Her last screen appearance was in the TV movie Maigret in 1988 which starred Richard Harris.

 

Annette also appeared in London's West End in the mystery thriller The Business of Murder at the Playfair Theatre in 1985. In 1989 she married the producer Arthur Weingarten and retired from the industry to start a family. She has a daughter, Anouska, and two grandchildren. Annette lives in New York but visits London regularly to see her daughter. She devotes much of her time to animal welfare and has in the past worked closely with Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna of the Born Free Foundation. Annette loves to paint and has sold several works. Apparently, she is currently working on her own autobiography. She has her own website - www.annetteandre.com - and is active on Facebook.

 
 

Kenneth Cope

Character & Episodes: Marty Hopkirk in all episodes
Born: 14/04/1931, Liverpool, England (as Kenneth Charles Cope)

 

The son of an engineer, Kenneth originally got a taste of acting in the Boy Scouts, taking part in several gang shows. He later worked at the Automatic Telephone Company, and was first encouraged to enter acting seriously by his friend Norman Rossington. As a youth, Kenneth was in a production of The Merchant of Venice at the David Lewis Theatre in Liverpool, and at the age of 19 he enrolled at the Bristol Old Vic. In 1952 he was in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure with the Old Vic Company. He would have spell at Cromer before he moved to London and entered theatre in the city.

 

In 1953 he made his screen debut in a live BBC Sunday Night Theatre play, The Duenna (transmitted on 19th July 1953 with a second live performance on 2rd July 1953). Over the next few years he started to feature in various television productions including Fabian of The Yard (1955), Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School (1955-56) and Ivanhoe (1958). In addition, Kenneth gained minor roles in the films Doublecross (1956), The Dangerous Years (1957) and Dunkirk (1958). In 1960 he was cast as Buggins in the drama series Kipps, which also starred Bryan Murray. The first real break for Kenneth was in 1961, when he was cast as Jed Stone in the soap opera Coronation Street. During his first year working on this series he met his wife Renny Lister. He left the show in 1966 and made a momentous return some 42 years later - quite likely a record break between appearances - in 2008, and stayed for a brief time. Whilst working on Coronation Street in the Sixties he also joined the regular cast of the satire show That Was The Week That Was (1962-63) and also wrote some material for it.

 

Kenneth kept busy throughout the Sixties, whether playing uncredited as a sailor in Carry On Jack (1963), or in  character roles in films such as Hammer's The Damned (1963), Genghis Khan (1965), Night of the Big Heat (1967), Hammerhead (1968) and Desperados (1969). On television he appeared twice in both Z Cars (1965 and 1967) and The Avengers (1967 and 1968), in addition to a number of other credits. His most famous role followed when he played the ghost Marty Hopkirk in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) from 1969-70 alongside Mike Pratt and Annette Andre.

 

In 1971, Kenneth played the first of two leading roles in the Carry On film series when he was cast as Vic Spanner in Carry On At Your Convenience. The following year he returned as Cyril Carter in Carry On Matron, complete with him cross-dressing as a nurse in one of his most entertaining performances. He continued to work steadily in film and television through the Seventies, with roles in Rentadick (1972), The Adventures of Black Beauty (1973), The Famous Five (1978) and Shelley (1979) being highlights. In 1980 he starred in the film version of George and Mildred and worked on Doctor Who, playing Packard in Warriors Gate (transmitted in January 1981). In 1984 he wrote and starred in the comedy Bootle Saddles. Sadly, this was not particularly successful and was cancelled after just one series. The Eighties saw Kenneth make guest appearances in TV shows such as Rumpole of the Bailey (1987), Casualty (1988) and Bergerac (1989). In 1994 he starred in an episode of Lovejoy and three years later he played a dodgy ex-copper Charlie Fairclough in True Confessions - an episode of A Touch of Frost. From 1999 until 2002 he played Ray Hilton in the Liverpool-based Channel Four soap opera Brookside. Later appearances, all on television, have included Doctors (2004-07), The Bill (2006) and Last of The Summer Wine (1997-2008).

 

Kenneth has also written scripts with his wife Renny for numerous programmes, which include Village Hall (1974-75), Striker (1975-76) and The Squirrels (1976-77). The couple also once owned a restaurant in Oxfordshire. They have three children: their daughter Martha is an actress, and their two sons, Nick and Mark, are musicians.

 
 

Mike Pratt

Character & Episodes: Jeff Randall in all episodes
Born: 07/06/1931, London, England (as Michael John Pratt)
Died: 10/07/1976, Midhurst, West Sussex, England

 

Born in London, the son of a journalist who later went into advertising, Mike grew up wanting to be an actor from an early age. He temporarily lost sight of this dream during the Second World War, during which he was moved around a lot. Consequently, he followed in his father's footsteps and went into advertising for five years. He then landed a job as an assistant stage manager in a revue, and whilst working on this he was introduced to a young Shirley Bassey. He soon got tired of the job and went back to advertising but also gained some minor acting roles. Mike's restlessness struck once again, and before long he had quit and was touring Europe in an old taxi with three friends, one of whom was Lionel Bart, later to rise to fame as a writer of songs and musicals. Mike himself was an accomplished jazz musician and he played the piano, guitar and skiffleboard. After returning from Europe in 1956, Lionel introduced him to a friend of his called Tommy Hicks at a party. They became friends and performed together, Tommy singing and playing the guitar whilst Mike played the piano. This led them to form a band called The Cavemen. The group played in pubs and coffee bars, Tommy Hicks soon changed his name to Tommy Steele, and Mike started writing songs for the band. Locally the band grew in reputation, were spotted by a representative of Decca Music studios, and by autumn 1956 had released their first single Rock with the Cavemen, which made the top twenty of the British Pop Charts. Other songs recorded were Handful of Songs, Water, Water and Butterfingers, the latter being a favourite of Tommy Steele. Tommy would soon embark on his solo career, but Mike and Lionel Bart would still write his songs. The song The Duke Wore Jeans went to number 1 in the charts in 1958. The following year, Little White Bull a song written by Mike went to number 4 (as did Tommy's album) and received the 1959 Songwriters Guild Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song. About this time Mike formed his own folk group called the Cotton Pickers. With Mike on piano and wash board, the group played mainly in clubs over the next couple of years.

 

Mike then tried his hand at writing, and speculatively wrote a number of plays and television scripts, but sadly gained no commissions. During this period Mike got married and would have two children, Karin Louise and Guy Adam (Guy would also be a musician and played bass with Pink Floyd for a while). After his writing failures Mike was determined to become an actor. He made his television debut in 1962 with a minor role in the ABC Television's Out Of This World. In 1964 he gained his first real break when he was cast as Sid Graham in the film This Is My Street. The film was also notable for the appearance of a young Australian actress called Annette Andre. As a result of this, Mike started to appear regularly on television, and was also writing for the Dave King sitcom Dave's Kingdom, a weekly half-hour show that ran in the last quarter of 1964. In 1965, Mike appeared in four episodes of Danger Man with Patrick McGoohan, acted as lyricist on a song featured in the film Be My Guest, and became a regular in the TV serial The Fatal Slip. For 1966, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in several notable productions. The following year was a busy one for Mike, with him taking on guest spots in a number of well-known series inclusing The Saint, Theatre 625 and Man in a Suitcase.

 

At the end of May 1968 he began filming on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Producer Monty Berman later said, "He was the first to be cast; he had just the touch we needed for the character of Jeff Randall." It would be this series that would propel Mike to national recognition and become the role he is most fondly remembered for. He would also co-write the episode A Disturbing Case. Apparently, Mike was a quiet man and during filming would often stay in his dressing room playing the guitar. Many of the pictures in Jeff's apartment in the show belonged to Mike. However, he did not end the series as he would have wished. Due to an accident that occurred while he was celebrating his 38th birthday - it was not a good idea to climb a 20-foot drainpipe while drunk - Mike broke both his legs and this meant that he was bed-ridden in the final episode produced, The Ghost Talks. Production on the show wrapped in July 1969 after fourteen months of filming.

 

His next notable role was in early 1970 in the sci-fi series UFO which starred Ed Bishop and Michael Billington. The following year he played an army deserter in Long Voyage Out of War, which Mike cited as the most challenging acting role he ever played. He continued to be busy in the years that followed, appearing in a variety of television series such as Jason King, Owen MD, Arthur of The Britons, Black Beauty and Crown Court. In 1973 he appeared in the horror film The Vault of Horror. His last main role was as Don Stacey in the popular mid-Seventies series The Brothers. However, by this time, Mike was not a well man, looking far older than his years. Mike's character was an alcoholic airline pilot and, despite being ill, he appeared in the show until January 1976 when he was admitted to a hospital near Guildford, Surrey.

 

Sadly, Mike would lose his battle with lung cancer on 10th July. He was cremated at Golders Green Cemetery and his ashes were scattered in Section 3-Q. On 8th August, a special show was staged in his honour at the London Aldwych Theatre, the proceeds from which went to his family. Amongst the numerous celebrities and friends in the show were Glenda Jackson, John Le Mesurier, Fenella Fielding and Harry H Corbett. Kenneth Cope summed up Mike Pratt beautifully some years ago: "A lovely man. Should have been destined for big things - maybe Hollywood. A great writer and actor. I miss him a lot. He was a good friend."

 

Section compiled by Darren Senior

Additional research and presentation by Alan Hayes and Denis Kirsanov
with thanks to Richard Lawrence

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