Vic­tor ’s tragic cur­tain call . . .

Daily Mail - - Freeview Primetime Planner - Anne Evitts, Bury.

QUES­TION Ac­tor Vic­tor Henry was once touted as the next Al­bert Fin­ney. What be­came of him? THIS ques­tion came up at the Bri­tish Film In­sti­tute South Bank last au­tumn, when two episodes of Vic­tor Henry’s TV se­ries Diary Of A Young Man were shown. But, even his co-star Richard Moore had not known what hap­pened to Vic­tor.

I saw him per­form sev­eral times at the Royal Court Theatre, my lo­cal rep in the Six­ties/sev­en­ties.

Vic­tor was born in Leeds in 1943 and trained at Rada. His ca­reer be­gan to build up in the Six­ties, show­ing him to be one of the most ver­sa­tile and gifted ac­tors of his gen­er­a­tion.

BBC TV showed great faith in him by star­ring him, aged 21, in Diary Of A Young Man (1964), a com­edy se­ries about the prob­lems of life as seen through the eyes of the first post-world War II gen­er­a­tion, fea­tur­ing two pro­vin­cial lads com­ing to the big city.

It was writ­ten by Z-cars grad­u­ates Troy Kennedy-martin and John Mcgrath, two of the best Bri­tish writ­ers of the Six­ties, with sev­eral episodes di­rected by Ken Loach.

Vic­tor’s film ca­reer in­cluded work with the new gen­er­a­tion of di­rec­tors such as Lind­say An­der­son (The White Bus), Peter Watkins (Priv­i­lege) and Michael Reeves (The Sor­cer­ers). How­ever, his first star­ring role — Christopher Mo­ra­han’s All Neat In Black Stock­ings by Hugh White­more, co-star­ring Su­san Ge­orge — didn’t live up to its prom­ise.

Where Vic­tor was re­ally mak­ing his mark was in theatre, par­tic­u­larly at the English Theatre Com­pany’s Royal Court in Sloane Square, where he ap­peared in clas­sic re­vivals ( Web­ster’s The Duchess Of Malfi, D.H. Lawrence’s The Daugh­ter-in-law, Os­borne’s Look Back In Anger which trans­ferred to the West End) and chal­leng­ing new plays (Heath­cote Wil­liams’s AC/DC).

In par­tic­u­lar, he was as­so­ci­ated with Christopher Hamp­ton in whose first two plays, When Did You Last See My Mother? and To­tal Eclipse, he played the leads.

His ca­reer was cut short abruptly, iron­i­cally in Sloane Square it­self, where he was the vic­tim of a freak ac­ci­dent. While wait­ing at a ze­bra cross­ing, a car mounted the pave­ment and ran into him.

He went into a coma in which he re­mained for sev­eral years, some of his care be­ing paid for by ben­e­fit per­for­mances at the Royal Court. He died in 1985 with­out re­cov­er­ing con­scious­ness.

Peter Fer­gu­son, London N1.

QUES­TION I un­der­stand that El­ton John and Kiki Dee recorded their No.1 song Don’t Go Break­ing My Heart on dif­fer­ent sides of the At­lantic. Have any other duets been recorded this way? THERE’S lit­tle doubt that the best duets are sung by both singers at the same time, so that they can in­ter­act and respond to each other in a nat­u­ral way.

A good ex­am­ple is the re­cent Tony Ben­nett Duets al­bum, where he in­sisted on singing each song with his op­po­site num­ber present, fa­mously fly­ing over to Abbey Road Stu­dios to sing with Amy Wine­house on Body And Soul, her last ever record­ing.

But the won­ders of tech­nol­ogy are such that it’s pos­si­ble for artists to per­form sep­a­rately at dif­fer­ent times and in dif­fer­ent coun­tries on dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents, if nec­es­sary, then com­bine their ef­forts.

This en­ables pro­duc­ers to cre­ate mash-ups such as the BBC’S 1997 pro­duc­tion of Lou Reed’s Per­fect Day fea­tur­ing tal­ent from all over the world; in­clud­ing David Bowie, El­ton John, Les­ley Gar­rett, Burn­ing Spear, Bono, Tammy Wynette and Tom Jones, etc.

The an­tithe­sis to Tony Ben­nett’s method was the 1993 Frank Si­na­tra Duets al­bum which was enor­mously suc­cess­ful com­mer­cially, though not well re­ceived crit­i­cally.

This was in the most part down to pro­ducer Phil Ra­mone’s strange style of pro­duc­tion, where all the vo­cal parts were recorded sep­a­rately. Si­na­tra pro­duced his part then the duet­tist was asked to fill in.

While most of the record was recorded by artists in the U.S., such as Tony Ben­nett, Aretha Franklin, Carly Si­mon and Liza Min­nelli, one of the strangest record­ings on the al­bum was Si­na­tra’s duet with U2 front­man Bono on I’ve Got You Un­der My Skin.

While Si­na­tra recorded his sec­tion in Cal­i­for­nia, Bono sang his part in Dublin. Bono has said: ‘I re­call Si­na­tra’s peo­ple vis­i­bly winc­ing when I changed the line, ‘don’t you know, you fool, you never can win’ to ‘you know, you old fool, you never can win.’

De­spite the sepa­ra­tion, El­ton John and Kiki Dee’s ef­fort was far more suc­cess­ful. El­ton recorded his part in Toronto and the tapes were sent to London. When Kiki got them she re­mem­bered: ‘El­ton had recorded the song abroad and also did my vo­cals in a high-pitched voice, which was quite funny, so I knew which lines to sing.’

Ed Spencer, Nor­wich, Nor­folk. SEV­ERAL songs have been recorded by artists on ei­ther side of an even greater di­vide. This has given two clas­sic songs a new lease of life for younger lis­ten­ers.

The best is Tony Ben­nett ‘duet­ting’ with Bil­lie Hol­i­day on her self-penned clas­sic God Bless The Child.

It had me foxed for a while as Tony’s voice hasn’t aged much over the years and in the song he says, ‘Tell it like it is, Bil­lie’ be­fore she starts singing. It was put to­gether as the final track on Tony’s 1997 trib­ute CD to Bil­lie, Tony Ben­nett On Hol­i­day.

The other one was a ‘duet’ be­tween Natalie Cole and her fa­ther, the late great Nat ‘King’ Cole on her 1991 CD Un­for­get­table. Again, this was the last track, the ex­quis­ite Un­for­get­table, and it was the only one on the CD to use this idea.

Danny D’arcy, Read­ing, Berk­shire.

QUES­TION What is the story of Roll­sRoyce’s Fly­ing Bed­stead? THE ear­lier an­swer recorded two pro­to­type Fly­ing Bed­steads hav­ing been built: there were in fact three.

In sum­mer 1963, I was an air­crew sergeant Winch­man on A Flight, 22 Squadron, at RAF Chivenor, in North Devon. I sug­gested to the Flight Com­man­der that we should fly a bed­stead on the end of the res­cue he­li­copter cable for the Bat­tle of Bri­tain dis­play that sum­mer — and told he me to build one.

I ac­quired a sin­gle bed from the stores, added a seat and fin sta­biliser and fit­ted it with py­rotech­nic rock­ets and flares. The re­sult can be seen in the pho­to­graph be­low, left.

We flew it twice, once to test its aero­dy­namic qual­i­ties and again at the Bat­tle of Bri­tain dis­play, in front of an en­thu­si­as­tic crowd of 9,000 peo­ple.

Eric Smith, GM, Wok­ing, Sur­rey.

QUES­TION What is ‘pace -egging’? FUR­THER to ear­lier an­swer, I was brought up in Rochdale and have vivid rec­ol­lec­tions of Pace-egging.

As chil­dren, at Easter, we would fol­low the play­ers from street to street and I can still re­call some of the di­a­logue. The ac­tion was based on the cru­sades and per­form­ers wore tra­di­tional cos­tume. It went as fol­lows: St Ge­orge: ‘ Stand back thou Moroc­can dog and let no more be said, for if I draw my trusty sword I’m sure to break your head.’ Sara­cen: ‘My head is made of iron, my body made of steel, I chal­lenge thee to yield.’ A duel takes place and the Sara­cen is wounded. St Ge­orge: ‘A doc­tor, a doc­tor, ten pounds for a doc­tor.’ Doc­tor: ‘Here am I.’ St Ge­orge: ‘What can you cure?’ Doc­tor: ‘ The inks, the pinks, the palsy and the gout. A man once swal­lowed 19 muffins and I pulled 20 of them out.’

Star: Vic­tor Henry with Su­san Ge­orge in All Neat In Black Stock­ings (1969)

Com­piled by Charles Legge

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