Richard BECKINSALE (1947-1979)

Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 468
  • Subject No: 464
  • Broadcast date: Wed 23 Nov 1977
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Wed 2 Nov 1977
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 18
  • Edition: 1
  • Code name: Gruel

on the guest list...

  • Liz Robertson
  • Ben Cross
  • Deborah Fallender
  • Don Warrington
  • Leonard Rossiter
  • Judy Loe - wife
  • Arthur - father
  • Margaret - mother
  • Judy - sister
  • Wendy - sister
  • Alan Harrison
  • Betty Alexander
  • Arthur Humphries
  • Janet Parkham
  • Steve Bent
  • Monica Stubbs
  • Frank Stubbs
  • Fulton Mackay
  • Ronnie Barker
  • Brian West
  • John Osmond
  • Kate - daughter
  • Filmed tribute:
  • Paula Wilcox

production team...

  • Researchers: Tony Lee, Lavinia Warner
  • Writer: John Sandilands
  • Director: Terry Yarwood
  • Producer: Jack Crawshaw
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

The Good Life

the sitcom stars

Leonard Rossiter

Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life

Screenshots of Richard Beckinsale This Is Your Life

Richard Beckinsale biography

David Clayton recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in his book, The Richard Beckinsale Story...

Just a few weeks into the run at the Prince of Wales, Richard and the cast were interrupted live on stage by the man with The Big Red Book, Eamonn Andrews, who uttered the immortal line, 'Tonight, Richard Beckinsale, This Is Your Life.' Richard smiled and said, 'I swore blind I'd never fall for this,' before being whisked away to a London studio to record the show, though his fellow cast members seemed as surprised as he was. Robertson remembers:

'We were all slightly taken back because he was so young. Everyone was surprised that he was having it done so early, but fate seemed to play a hand and that was the time it had to be done.'

'I met Judy Loe and his daughter Kate for the first time at that point. I knew he loved her deeply and he was proud of his little girl and he would have been extraordinarily proud of Kate's achievements. He would have been thrilled, in fact.'

As was the usual format, Richard's close family and friends came on to pay tribute and there were the obligatory specially invited guests, too. Leonard Rossiter was very emotional, as he said:

'There are plenty of people who can be quite funny other than Richard, but I just want to say two things about him. One is that he has a unique talent and I use the word very specifically – he has a unique comedy talent. He is the most generous person – not in financial terms – do let me finish – not in financial terms, but he is one of the most generous people in spirit I have ever met and I am delighted to have worked with him.'

Porridge star Fulton Mackay's admiration and warmth was clearly evident, too. He said:

'I think Richard's a strange phenomenon of our business. I think he's a star and I think that apart from his own great natural gift as an actor he is someone who is exceptional in this day and age... he's got a great way of concealing his art. I've never met anybody more relaxed. He goes about half asleep all the time and it's only when you hear Richard in front of an audience, and the laughs are coming and the feed lines are going in and he's bang in character that you know just how talented he is.'

'There's one area where he's got no talent at all. I took him to play squash one day and beat him and the only revenge that he could think of was next morning, he walked into rehearsal and boldly said, 'The old man beat me.' It was the first time in my life that I had been called an 'old man' and I'm only here tonight because I'm hoping that when I'm really an old man he'll say that I played some part in those great successes that I know lie ahead of him.'

Completing a memorable trio of guests was Ronnie Barker, who spoke from behind the curtain claiming that Fletch couldn't come along so he was sending the 'fat one with grey hair'. Barker then appeared and slipped straight into character. He said: 'Fletcher couldn't come but he sent a little letter that he'd like me to read out':

'Dear Godber'

'Just a line to say everyone is pleased that you are doing so well. We all envy you being on This Is Your Life, all of us that is except Basher Perkins and that of course is understandable 'cos he's doing life himself. We have been following your progress in the papers and also through the letters from my daughter Ingrid who apparently accompanies you to Southend-on-Sea on one of them cheap British Rail 'Have it away day' tickets. She tells me you proposed to her – not only proposed, but proposed marriage – which means that one day I may be calling you 'Son', which is the only thing I haven't called you in the last few years. Now I am personally very chuffed to know that you have left behind the grim grey walls of Slade Prison and are now busily engaged poncing about the stage singing and dancing. It must be a great change for you from the old job of driving a heavy lorry. Mr Mackay, who's seen the show, says it's very similar, the way you do it. I will close now with my best wishes from us all and good luck in all you do, whoever you are!'

Arthur and Margaret Beckinsale, Richard's sisters Judith and Wendy, wife Judy and of course four-year-old Kate were present, though Kate initially appeared on videotape, saying: 'Hello daddy. How are you? I kept the secret all day. I'll give you a big kiss when I see you. Bye-bye.' The family had been warned that if Richard got so much as a sniff that he was about to be paid a visit from Eamonn Andrews, it would be called off and so secrecy was assured by those closest to him.

School friend John Osmond was by then a petty officer in the Royal Navy, and was stationed overseas. He recalls being telephoned by the production team who were in the process of selecting suitable guests.

'I was called at my office in Hong Kong and was asked a few probing questions before being invited to be part of the show. They must have thought I was worth having on the show and sent me airline tickets shortly after. I was pleased, but not surprised that I was asked to go on because I knew his mum, dad and sisters fairly well.'

'On the day, I came on and did my bit and that was it. At the after-show party, I was still in my sailor's uniform and one of the show's gay producers kind of pinned me in a corner and was chatting to me for ages. I couldn't get away and by the time that was over, Richard had been whipped off.'

Nottingham Evening Post 14 December 2002

Beeston-long-kept secret: The celebrity parties in Notts

The photograph of the little girl is a poignant reminder of happy days. She would grow up to become one of Hollywood's hottest stars - but her father never got to see her shine so brightly. The little girl is Kate Beckinsale, star of Pearl Harbour and daughter of Chilwell-born comedy actor Richard Beckinsale, who died in 1979 when he was 31 and Kate was only five.

The photograph was taken by Joan Scott-Allen at the after-show party on the night Richard was honoured with a This Is Your Life tribute.

"She was a shy, retiring child, and seemed to have a personality much more like her mother - the actress Judy Loe who has been appearing recently in A&E with Martin Shaw. At that young age there was no sign of her wanting to be an actress," said Joan.

It is a precious memory from Joan's album that reflects her family's close relationship with Richard from the days when he was growing up in Beeston... and already thinking about a career in acting.

In those days, Joan was Mrs West, a mother of eight, living in Cavendish Place in Beeston.

Among her large family was eldest son Brian who became a close friend of Richard.

"They were in the same class at the Alderman White School, and both in the Chilwell Scout troop."

"Richard and Johnny Osmand, who made up the threesome, used our home for learning to play guitars and other social events," explained Joan.

"I remember going to see Richard in his school play when the boys were around 15. The next time Richard came to visit us, I screamed at him 'Don't even think of anything else other than acting - you are brilliant son'." Joan had got it spot on. Richard studied drama at Clarendon College and then moved on to RADA prior to the start of a glittering, but all-too-short, career with such TV hits as The Lovers with Paula Wilcox, Rising Damp with Leonard Rossiter and Porridge with Ronnie Barker.

Joan's son Brian, and Johnny Osmand, joined the Royal Navy, but the friendship with Richard lived on.

He returned home from London to join Brian at his 21st birthday party and Joan also remembers organising a surprise trip for Brian to see Richard in a West End play, followed by a dressing room reunion.

And on that famous This Is Your Life night, hosted by Eamonn Andrews, Brian and Johnny were the final two surprise guests.

But soon after, Richard collapsed and died at the home he shared with actress and second wife Judy Loe. His other actress daughter Samantha came from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.

Richard's death hit the West family, and particularly Brian, like a hammer blow.

"Richard is remembered with great affection by my family, indeed Brian for years could not bear to mention his name, and if he appeared on television I've known my son to hide - he just couldn't cope with the emotional loss," Joan added.

"We all still miss this lovely character and brilliant actor and were glad he became a small part of our lives." Brian retired from the Navy in 1987 and because of a serious back disability has been unable to work. He now lives in Wales with his wife Laverne.

Now aged 78 and living in Hampshire, Joan's Beeston showbiz links were first revealed in Bill Wyman's new book Rolling With The Stones. He recalls attending a party, together with Charlie Watts and Brian Jones, at her home.

This had come about because family friend Mike Berry was part of a pop tour including the Stones, Mike Sarne, Jet Harris and John Leyton playing at the Albert Hall in Nottingham.

Although Bill Wyman, not surprisingly, could remember little about the party, Joan's memories were more vivid.

"It turned out to be the most hilarious party," she said.

"Charlie Watts received a telephone call to say that the Stones had gone to number one and that was the signal for a celebration."

"Charlie and Bill were fabulous, two of the most down-to-earth lads."

"Brian Jones was also there, but I think he was a bit high -- he was a bit rude. We ignored him. Mick and Keith had had to go to London after the show."

"The police closed off Cavendish Place - a cul de sac - to keep the fans away, but kids got in the garden and shinned up the drainpipe to get at the Stones."

"At one point, they all fetched their guitars from the tour bus, sat in a circle in my lounge and began singing, off the cuff. I wish I had had a recorder."

"No one got drunk, there wasn't enough beer!" Joan's home had become an open house for showbiz types thanks to a friendship with the mother of Sixties pop star, later a successful actor, Mike Berry and his actor brother Peter Bourne.

"Peter lodged with us during a six-month stint in repertory at Nottingham Playhouse," Joan added.

"There were many thespian parties at the time. John Neville was the director and came to most of the social events."

"It was strictly 'bring a bottle' so copious amounts of wine were drunk along with a buffet myself and some friends used to provide."

Others Joan remembers were Ronnie Magill - later Amos Brierley of Emmerdale fame - and film actor, the late Robert Bernal.

With family and friends still living in the area, Joan returns to the city regularly.

"I left my beloved Nottingham in the early seventies," she said.

"The day I was leaving I heard on the radio the opening of the first Women's Refuge Centre in London - too little too late - for the reason I was leaving was because I was one of the battered wife brigade."

"I came south to be near my son Brian."

"I worked for many years for the Kenwood company in Portsmouth as a telephonist/telex operator."

Aged 63, Joan emigrated to Australia but returned after two years to be closer to her family.

"I began writing at this stage and have written six books and lots of poems. Two of my books are being read by a publisher, so I'm keeping everything crossed."

"I've had an interesting life and have never had to rely on anything other than my own experiences to write about."

Series 18 subjects

Richard Beckinsale | Peter Ustinov | Virginia Wade | Robert Arnott | Lin Berwick | Bob Paisley | The Bachelors | David Broome
Arthur English | Barry Sheene | Margot Turner | Pat Coombs | Michael Croft | Max Boyce | Nicholas Parsons | Richard Goolden
Ian Hendry | Marti Caine | Ian Wallace | Dennis Waterman | Anton Dolin | Terry Wogan | William Franklyn | Richard Murdoch
Harry Patterson | Jule Styne | Mike Yarwood