Saturday, April 23, 2011

David Spenser shares memories of Simon Lack

Check out my tribute to Simon Lack:

Radio (and TV!) actor David Spenser was kind enough to send me some memories of Simon Lack, whom he worked with during the 50s and 60s - not only on the Paul Temple series but on other radio shows as well:

Memories of Simon from David Spenser
"As I remember Simon, and I really liked him a lot. He was a very private person, always smartly and quietly dressed (well pressed trousers and blazer or sports coat) and so well behaved ( butter wouldn't melt etc,). We were in quite a few broadcasts together before I noticed the unmistakable twinkle in his eye when we were talking together, and from then on I looked forward to being in a cast with him. There were many times when we didn't have to say anything just the mere exchange of looks was sufficient. After one broadcast I remember going to his flat in Cork Street with one or two others: it was impeccably clean and tidy rather like a stage set; there was something about it that suited Simon's personality.

But that kind of privacy was only a part of Simon, the other was full of warmth and humour: I realised one had to earn that part of Simon, not through anything spectacular, merely to gain his trust. Somehow I did. I felt (and this was only a feeling not a knowledge) that he had been very hurt in his past either on a personal or professional level, and this had caused the careful private personality. I would never have approached Simon on any personal level. Probably if I had been older and wiser I might have been able to, but I was too young to know how to.

Simon could be quite a giggler, a quality in an actor that always appealed to me. My best memory of acting with him was in a short play that had a live transmission. He was playing the pilot of a passenger plane and I was his co-pilot. At the read-through, our performances were bright and brave. But afterwards, the author was not all that pleased because we had been too English and posh, and we were asked in front of the cast whether we could use an accent.

Simon offered up his Scottish which was more or less perfect; this was accepted; the rest of the cast waited with bated breath as they all knew how bad at accents I was; I offered up my Indian, whereupon they all fell about with laughter; it was suggested that I should be Australian. I offered to try. From that moment the pilot's cockpit was bursting with barely controlled giggles; Simon was helpless as I struggled to understand the controls with the most unconvincing Australian accent ever heard. Simon's face was bright red and he kept doubling up at the microphone as we bravely prevented the jet from crashing. I was in the same state. Apparently we were both too professional to let it show during the recording, even though the director was helpless with laughter in the box.

That was somehow the real Simon, the gentleman I always looked forward to acting with. I was deeply upset at his (to me, unexpected) death, and I still remember him with loving affection."

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