British actor Anthony Head is probably best known globally as the stuffy Librarian Rupert Giles in TV’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, but his stage beginnings were much more elevated, debuting as Jesus in GODSPELL, which lead to his complete role-reversal at the opposite end of the character scale, the sweet transvestite himself, Frank N. Furter in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at London’s Piccadilly Theatre in 1998. He later claimed his Frank was much more demonic than any of the Franks that went before.
I drew this montage of Anthony which includes him as Frank, Captain Hook in the PETER PAN at the Savoy Theatre in 2003 and his latest outing as Cabinet Minister Sir John Fletcher in Trevor Nunn’s critically acclaimed production of Rattigan’s LOVE AND IDLENESS, which has just completed its run at the Apollo after transferring from the Menier Chocolate Factory. He happily signed it for me at the stage door, after a Saturday matinee last month.
“Americans have different ways of saying things. They say ‘elevator’, we say ‘lift’ – they say ‘President’, we say ‘stupid, psychopathic git'”. One of comic legend’s Alexei Sayle’s infamous and now most apt one liners.
Voted 18th on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-up Comics in 2009, Alexei was a central figure in the alternative comedy movement of the 1980’s. His satirical style was based on cynicism and political awareness. The Emmy-winning British actor appeared in numerous TV shows but he was best known for his involvement in the iconic THE YOUNG ONES alongside Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Christopher Ryan. He played a many characters, but his main role was the apparently Russian landlord Jerzy Balowski.
Alexei was doing a few nights of ‘work in progress’ gigs at the Soho Theatre last week so I took the opportunity to meet him and get my drawing signed.
On my way to SW19 to catch a few tennis stars practicing for the Wimbledon Championships on Sunday, I detoured to South Kensington to visit the Royal Albert Hall, where one of the biggest names on the planet, Woody Allen, was appearing with his jazz band that evening. My intention was to try and catch him in person or failing that, leave a drawing for him to sign. I gave myself a window of an hour. I had a letter written and a stamped-addressed envelope already to go. What I didn’t have was the sketch. I had plenty of tennis players but I had left Woody on the drawing board. Bugger.
So, not for the first time, I quickly looked up an image on my phone and did this literal two-minute scribble. The concert notes said there would be no set list and the band would go with the Woody flow, described as ‘an energetic collection of improvisation’ …a bit like my drawing.
Woody was labelled “a treasure of cinema” by Roger Ebert, but jazz has been his lifelong passion, playing clarinet from an early age. Apparently his stage name is based on the American clarinetist and Big Band legend Woody Herman. A regular on Monday nights for the past 40 years at the upmarket Cafe Carlyle on Manhattan’s Upper East side, Woody and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band have been part of the fabric of New York since the 1970’s. When he won his first two Academy Awards in 1978 for writing and directing ANNIE HALL, Woody was not present at the ceremony. It was Monday, 3 April and he was playing jazz. His priority may also have something to do with his dislike of awards and he’s on record saying ANNIE HALL was not his favourite film, which also picked up Best Picture.
Anyway my hasty and rough rendering made it to Woody, as the kind gentleman at the stage door desk promised, because it came back signed and dedicated in two days.
Australian actress Annette Andre appeared in a number of high profile British TV shows in the 1960’s and 70’s, including THE AVENGERS, THE SAINT and THE PRISIONER, with her longest running role as Marty Hopkirk’s widow Jeannie in the Private detective series RANDALL AND HOPKIRK (DECEASED). She starred alongside Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope who played private detectives Jeffrey Randall and Martin Hopkirk respectively, the later returning as a ghost after he was murdered while investigating a case. Annette was speaking at the Museum Of Comedy in London a couple of weeks ago about the show and her career. I managed to catch up with her afterwards and she signed this Jeannie portrait for me.
Monty Python’s Michael Palin is referred to as ‘Britain’s nicest man’. In his 2009 Telegraph interview with Marc Lee, entitled ‘He’s not a Messiah, but a very nice man’, Michael said it was because of his “amenable conciliatory character.”
After university he teamed up with fellow Oxford graduate Terry Jones to write for TV shows such as the RIPPING YARNS, DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET and THE FROST REPORT, which was the first time all the British Python’s – Michael, Terry and John Cleese, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman worked together before creating the iconic MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS. They were joined by Terry Gilliam who was an American citizen.
After that Michael journeyed to all corners of the planet many times over as a travel writer and documentarian. His career has also been sprinkled with notable film appearances, including his BAFTA-winning supporting role as Ken Pile in 1988’s A FISH CALLED WANDA. It was the first of four BAFTA’s awarded to Michael. In 2013 he was the given the Fellowship the British Academy’s highest honour. I did this Python/Wanda montage and dropped it into his London agent’s office where Britain’s nicest man signed it for me with a nice inscription.
“She’s absolutely hysterical,” said Jimmy Carr about fellow comedian, Wendy Wason. The Sunday Times added “charming, clever and funny.’ The Edinburgh-raised actress and writer’s initial career was in film and TV, appearing in TAGGERT, SHERLOCK, MIDSOMMER MURDERS, THE IT CROWD and in feature films such as THE LIBERTINE with the three Johnnies, Depp, Malcovich and Vegas. She branched out into stand-up comedy in 2004 at Edinburgh’s Guided ballroom, followed by successful shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW (2008), OTHER PEOPLES SECRETS (2010), FLASHBACKS (2011), HOTEL CALIFORNIA (2014) and last year, TINY ME, which she performed at the Soho Theatre in London for three nights last week. On one of those nights she signed this sketch for me.
Jenny Agutter won a BAFTA Award for her performance as Jill Mason in Sidney Lumet’s 1977 production of Peter Shaffer’s psychological drama EQUUS, one of my favourite, if not my favourite play. In the 2007 London stage revival of the play featuring Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe at the Gielgud Theatre she portrayed magistrate Hesther Solomon. A couple of weeks ago I did this sketch of Jenny in both roles and sent it to her. She signed and sent it back with this dedication.
The 3′ 6″ STAR WARS and HARRY POTTER star Warwick Davis appeared as Prof in the Bristol Hippodrome festive season panto production of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS in 2015. Warwick came to prominence as the Ewok Wicket in STAR WARS EPISODE VI RETURN OF THE JEDI and continued in THE PHANTOM MENACE, in three roles – Weael, Wald and the walking version of Yoda. In 2015 he returned in the sequel THE FORCE AWAKENS. Warwick was also part of the HARRY POTTER series, as Professor Filius Flitwick and Griphook. On the small screen he played a fictionalised version of himself in the sitcom LIFE’S TOO SHORT, written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
I sent this sketch of Warwick as Prof to the Bristol Hippodrome in December 2015 and it came back last week, signed and dedicated!
I was very happy to receive this in the post yesterday. One of my all-time favourite film directors, Czech-born, New York-based Milos Forman signed and returned this drawing. Although I had corresponded with Milos a few times over the years, I had never actually sketched him, until late this year when the omission suddenly dawned on me. I quickly engaged the 4B and posted the result to the 84 year-old, forthwith. Regarded as one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of his generation and the master of ironic comedy and sumptuous period dramas, he was fascinated with odd, yet sympathetic characters, exploring their struggles as individuals against systems and standards that oppress them.
Growing up in the small, Central Bohemian town of Caslav, near Prague, it was Milos’ parents who nurtured his love of cinema at a young age. Sadly orphaned when both his mother and father died in Nazi concentration camps during the second World War, he went on to become the most important director of the Czechoslovak New Wave, before moving to America in 1968. His multiple accolades include two Best Director Academy Awards, the first for the potent adaption of Ken Kesey’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975) and his second for Peter Shaffer’s AMADEUS (1984), both Best Picture winners, with the former considered one of the best films ever made. Incidentally two of my top ten films as well.
In its Milos retrospective, the AFI summarised his body of work, “Based on intelligent scripts, Forman’s work is characterised by a sharp anti-authoritarian spirit and a lucid, heart felt humanism.”
‘The Fresh Prince’ was in London town late last week for the European Premiere of his latest film COLLATERAL BEAUTY. I had sketched this portrait some time ago, but never managed to get Will to sign it. His popularity means it can be a bit of a battle to get his graph. Forbes claims he is the world’s most bankable star, with 17 out of his last 21 films grossing over $100 million and Newsweek once called him ‘the most powerful actor in Hollywood’. But I had another chance to get him to sign my drawing, not helped by the pens being locked down at 4pm, and my arrival at ten past. However the Christmas spirit or spirits prevailed and I managed to secure a spot, albeit it in a difficult position.
Will arrived first, did a few pics then proceeded to sign the line. Three rows back wasn’t ideal and that was confirmed as I just couldn’t quite get the sketch close enough to be seen amongst the gazillion other items and selfie requests. He moved on… but that Christmas spirit was still trending and a very kind gentleman next to me, not in red clothing nor a white beard, but with the wing span of a pterodactyl, grabbed my rendering and positioned in right in front of Will and he happily signed it.