Sunday, February 07, 2010
Ian Carmichael R.I.P.
I was very sad to hear the news that Ian Carmichael, the veteran comic actor has died at the age of 89.
All the tributes that have come in have stressed what an incredibly nice and pleasant person Carmichael was. And also how modest he was. I can only concur with that having interviewed him back in 2004, in relation to an article I was writing on the late Dennis Price, who played Jeeves to Carmichael’s Bertie Wooster in the wonderful 1960s tv series ’The World of Wooster'. Carmichael could not have been friendlier- he was totally devoid of any pomposity.
After the article was published, I received a lovely hand-written letter from Carmichael to say how much he enjoyed the piece. He was a true gent and a very good actor. But what a pity he never received the knighthood he so richly deserved. And it was also a shame and indeed rather scandalous that the BBC chose not to feature the news of his death in their main BBC1 news bulletin last night. Apparently the weather in Washington DC was more worthy of inclusion than the death of a much-loved veteran British actor. I'm sure Robin Carmody will have a view of the significance, if any, of that.
In his obituary of Carmichael in The Guardian, Dennis Barker writes:
What made Carmichael notable was that he could play fool parts in a way that did not cut the characters completely off from human sympathy: a certain dignity was always maintained, so that any pathos did not become bathos. He was at the opposite pole to Norman Wisdom, whose conscious pathos irritated some people.
I'd certainly go along with that. And I'm pretty that Robin Carmody, no great fan of Norman Wisdom either, would too.
Above you can watch a great clip of Ian Carmichael in action in the wonderful Robert Hamer film 'School for Scoundrels'. Dennis Price is in it too, as a very dodgy and very slimy car salesman, ably assisted by Peter Jones.