Porridge (TV series)
. Porridge is a British sitcom, starring Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale, written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, broadcast on BBC1 from 1974 to 1977; the programme ran for three series, included two Christmas specials and a feature film of the same name. The sitcom focuses on two prison inmates, Norman Fletcher and Lennie Godber, who are serving time at the fictional HMP Slade in Cumberland; the show's title is a reference to both the traditional breakfast that used to be served in British prisons, the British slang for serving a prison sentence - "Doing porridge". Porridge was critically acclaimed and is considered to be one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time, with it being ranked No. 35 on the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes compiled by the British Film Institute in 2000. In 2004 Porridge placed seventh in a poll to find Britain's Best Sitcom; the series was followed by a 1978 sequel, Going Straight, which saw Barker reprise his character as he tries to avoid going back to prison.
‘’Porridge’’ was revived in 2017 under the same name, after a one-off special, aired on 28 August 2016 as part of the BBC's Landmark Sitcom Season. The main storylines of the sitcom focuses on its central character, Norman Stanley Fletcher, a man from Muswell Hill, London. Fletcher, described as a "habitual criminal" by the judge who sentences him, is sent to HMP Slade, a fictional Category C prison in Cumberland, to serve a jail sentence for his latest crime; the sitcom follows his cellmate Lennie Godber, a naïve inmate from Birmingham serving his first sentence, whom Fletcher takes under his wing. Each episode's story focuses on their time in prison and the various issues they endure while serving their prison sentences. While both Fletcher and Godber are the show's main characters, the series features two major supporting characters, both prison officers; the first is Mr Mackay, a tough and austere Scotsman with a clear dislike of Fletcher, with whom he comes into conflict. The other is Mr Barrowclough, Mackay's empathetic, progressively minded subordinate, prone to manipulation by his charges because of his well-meaning character and principles.
The programme's scriptwriters appear, outside Fletch and Godber's cell in the episode "No Peace for the Wicked". Ronnie Barker had suggested the part of Lennie Godber for Paul Henry, but the decision to cast Richard Beckinsale was taken by the production team. Porridge originated with a 1973 project commissioned by the BBC Seven of One, which would see Ronnie Barker star in seven different situation comedy pilot episodes; the most successful would be made into a full series. One of the episodes was "Prisoner and Escort", written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais about a newly sentenced habitual criminal, Norman Stanley Fletcher, being escorted to prison by two warders: the timid Mr. Barrowclough and the stern Mr. Mackay, it was broadcast on 1 April 1973 on BBC2. Despite Barker's initial preference for another of the pilots, a sitcom about a Welsh gambling addict, "Prisoner and Escort" was selected, it was renamed a slang term for prison. In their research, Clement and La Frenais spoke to Jonathan Marshall, a former prisoner who had written a book, How to Survive in the Nick, he advised them about prison slang and routines.
Struggling to think up plots and humour for such a downbeat, confined environment, a particular phrase used by Marshall – "little victories" – struck a chord and convinced them to base the series on an inmate who made his daily life in prison more bearable by beating the system in trivial ways. The BBC was forced to look around for locations because the Home Office refused permission for any production filming inside or outside a real prison. Instead the main gatehouse of the disused St Albans Prison was used in the opening credits. Exteriors were first filmed at a psychiatric hospital near Watford. However, after the completion of the second series, the hospital withdrew permission for more filming following complaints from patients' families. Another institution near Ealing was used for the third series. Scenes within cells and offices were filmed at the BBC's London studios, but for shots of the wider prison interior, series production designer Tim Gleeson converted an old water tank, used at Ealing Studios for underwater filming, into a multi-storey set.
The first episode, "New Faces, Old Hands", was aired on BBC1 on 5 September 1974, attracting a television audience of over 16 million, receiving positive reviews from critics. Two further series were commissioned, as well as two Christmas special episodes; the final episode of Porridge, "Final Stretch", was broadcast on 25 March 1977. The producers and the writers were keen to make more episodes, but Barker was wary of being "stuck with a character" and wanted to move on to other projects, so the series came to a close. Barker did, reprise his role as Fletcher in a sequel, Going Straight, which ran for one series in 1978. A feature-length version of the show was made in 1979 and in 2003 a follow-up mockumentary was aired; the prison exterior in the title sequence is the old St Albans prison gatehouse and HM Prison Maidstone, featured in the BBC comedy series Birds of
John Marwood Cleese is an English actor, voice actor, comedian and producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus. Along with his Python co-stars Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Graham Chapman, Cleese starred in four Monty Python films: And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote the sitcom Fawlty Towers, starred in it, alongside Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs; the series resulted in Cleese receiving the 1980 BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance, additionally it topped the British Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. In the 80's and 90's, Cleese co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures, both of which he wrote.
He starred in Clockwise and has appeared in many other films, including two James Bond films, two Harry Potter films, three Shrek films. With Yes Minister writer Antony Jay, he co-founded Video Arts, a production company making entertaining training films. In 1976, Cleese co-founded The Secret Policeman's Ball benefit shows to raise funds for the human rights organisation Amnesty International. In 1996, he was offered a knighthood, a life peerage, both of which he declined. Cleese was born in Weston-super-Mare, the only child of Reginald Francis Cleese, an insurance salesman, his wife Muriel Evelyn, his family's surname was Cheese, but his father had thought it was embarrassing and changed it when he enlisted in the Army during the First World War. As a child, Cleese supported Somerset County Cricket Club. Cleese was educated at St Peter's Preparatory School, where he received a prize for English and did well at cricket and boxing; when he was 13, he was awarded an exhibition at Clifton College, an English public school in Bristol.
He was more than 6 feet tall by then. Cleese defaced the school grounds, as a prank, by painting footprints to suggest that the statue of Field Marshal Earl Haig had got down from his plinth and gone to the toilet. Cleese played cricket in the First XI and did well academically, passing 8 O-Levels and 3 A-Levels in mathematics and chemistry. In his autobiography So, Anyway, he says that discovering, aged 17, he had not been made a house prefect by his housemaster affected his outlook: "It was not fair and therefore it was unworthy of my respect... I believe that this moment changed my perspective on the world." He could not go straight to Cambridge, as the ending of National Service meant there were twice the usual number of applicants for places, so he returned to his prep school for two years to teach science, geography and Latin. He took up a place he had won at Downing College, Cambridge, to read Law, he joined the Cambridge Footlights. He recalled that he went to the Cambridge Guildhall, where each university society had a stall, went up to the Footlights stall where he was asked if he could sing or dance.
He replied "no" as he was not allowed to sing at his school because he was so bad, if there was anything worse than his singing, it was his dancing. He was asked "Well, what do you do?" to which he replied, "I make people laugh."At the Footlights theatrical club, he spent a lot of time with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie and met his future writing partner Graham Chapman. Cleese wrote extra material for the 1961 Footlights Revue I Thought I Saw It Move, was Registrar for the Footlights Club during 1962, he was in the cast of the 1962 Footlights Revue Double Take! Cleese graduated from Cambridge in 1963 with a 2:1. Despite his successes on The Frost Report, his father would send him cuttings from The Daily Telegraph offering management jobs in places like Marks and Spencer. Cleese was a scriptwriter, as well as a cast member, for the 1963 Footlights Revue A Clump of Plinths; the revue was so successful at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that it was renamed Cambridge Circus and taken to the West End in London and on a tour of New Zealand and Broadway, with the cast appearing in some of the revue's sketches on The Ed Sullivan Show in October 1964.
After Cambridge Circus, Cleese stayed in America, performing on and off-Broadway. While performing in the musical Half a Sixpence, Cleese met future Python Terry Gilliam, as well as American actress Connie Booth, whom he married on 20 February 1968. At their wedding at a Unitarian Church in Manhattan, the couple attempted to ensure an absence of any theistic language. "The only moment of disappointment," Cleese recalled, "came at the end of the service when I discovered that I'd failed to excise one particular mention of the word'God.'" Booth would become a writing partner. He was soon offered work as a writer with BBC Radio, where he worked on several programmes, most notably as a sketch writer for The Dick Emery Show; the success of the Footlights Revue led to the recording of a short series of half-hour radio programmes, called I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, which were so
Monty Python's Flying Circus
Monty Python’s Flying Circus is a British surreal sketch comedy series created by and starring the comedy group Monty Python. The first episode was recorded at the BBC on 7 September and premiered on 5 October 1969 on BBC1, with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, plus two episodes for German TV; the series stands out for its use of absurd situations, mixed with risqué and innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. Live action segments were broken up with animations by group member Terry Gilliam merging with the live action to form segues; the overall format used for the series followed and elaborated upon the style used by Spike Milligan in his ground breaking series Q5, rather than the traditional sketch show format. The six troupe members, or "Pythons", play the majority of the series characters themselves, including the majority of the female characters, with a small team of regular supporting cast members, including Carol Cleveland, Connie Booth, series producer Ian MacNaughton, Ian Davidson, musician Neil Innes, Fred Tomlinson and the Fred Tomlinson Singers.
Much of the humour in the series's various episodes and sketches targets the idiosyncrasies of British life that of professionals, as well as aspects of politics. The Monty Python troupe was educated, their comedy is pointedly intellectual, with numerous erudite references to philosophers and literary figures and their works. The team intended their humour to be impossible to categorise, succeeded so that the adjective "Pythonesque" was invented to define it and similar material; the opening titles of the series features as theme music the Band of the Grenadier Guards' rendition of John Philip Sousa's "The Liberty Bell", first published in 1893. Under the Berne Convention's "country of origin" concept, the composition was subject to United States copyright law which states that any works first published prior to 1923 was in the public domain due to copyright expiration; this enabled Gilliam to co-opt the march for the series without having to make any royalty payments. The title Monty Python's Flying Circus was the result of the group's reputation at the BBC.
Michael Mills, the BBC's Head of Comedy, wanted their name to include the word "circus" because the BBC referred to the six members wandering around the building as a circus, in particular, "Baron Von Took's Circus", after Barry Took, who had brought them to the BBC. The group added "flying" to make it sound less like an actual circus and more like something from World War I; the group was coming up with their name at a time when the 1966 Royal Guardsmen song Snoopy vs. the Red Baron had been at a peak. Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen, the World War I German flying ace known as The Red Baron, commanded the Jagdgeschwader 1 squadron of planes known as "The Flying Circus." The words "Monty Python" were added because they claimed it sounded like a bad theatrical agent, the sort of person who would have brought them together, with John Cleese suggesting "Python" as something slimy and slithery, Eric Idle suggesting "Monty". They explained that the name Monty "...made us laugh because Monty to us means Lord Montgomery, our great general of the Second World War".
The BBC had rejected some other names put forward by the group including Whither Canada?, The Nose Show, Ow! It's Colin Plint!, A Horse, a Spoon and a Basin, The Toad Elevating Moment and Owl Stretching Time. Several of these titles were used for individual episodes. Compared with many other sketch comedy shows, Flying Circus had fewer recurring characters, many of whom were involved only in titles and linking sequences. Continuity for many of these recurring characters was non-existent from sketch to sketch, with sometimes the most basic information being changed from one appearance to the next; the "It's" Man, a Robinson Crusoe-type castaway with torn clothes and a long, unkempt beard who would appear at the beginning of the programme. He is seen performing a long or dangerous task, such as falling off a tall, jagged cliff or running through a mine field a long distance towards the camera before introducing the show by just saying, "It's..." before being abruptly cut off by the opening titles and Terry Gilliam's animation sprouting the words'Monty Python’s Flying Circus'.
It's was an early candidate for the title of the series. A BBC continuity announcer in a dinner jacket, seated at a desk in incongruous locations, such as a forest or a beach, his line, "And now for something different", was used variously as a lead-in to the opening titles and a simple way to link sketches. Though Cleese is best known for it, Idle first introduced the phrase in Episode 2, where he introduced a man with three buttocks, it became the show’s catchphrase and served as the title for the troupe’s first movie. In Series 3 the line was shortened to simply: "And now..." and was combined with the "It's" man in introducing the episodes. The Gumbys, a dim-witted group of identically attired people all wearing gumboots, high-water trousers, Fair Isle tanktops, white shirts with rolled up sleeves, round wire-rimmed glasses, toothbrush moustaches and knotted handkerchiefs worn on their heads (a stereotype of the Englis
The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies is a BBC television comedy sketch show created by Bill Cotton for the BBC, which aired on BBC One from April 1971 to December 1987. It featured the two Ronnies of the title; the usual format included solo sections, serial stories and musical finales. Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett met at the Buckstone Club in the Haymarket, where Ronnie Corbett was serving drinks between acting jobs, they were invited by David Frost to appear in his new show, The Frost Report, with John Cleese, but the pair's big break came when they filled in, unprepared and unscripted, for eleven minutes during a technical hitch at a British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards ceremony at the London Palladium in 1970. In the audience was Bill Cotton, the Head of Light Entertainment for the BBC, Sir Paul Fox, the Controller of BBC1. Cotton was so impressed by the duo that he turned to Fox and asked: "How would you like those two on your network?" Unbeknown to them the pair had just had the renewal of their contract declined by London Weekend Television of rival network ITV, so were free to change channels.
Barker and Corbett were given their own show by the BBC. The show was based on the complementary personalities of Barker and Corbett, who never became an exclusive pairing, but continued to work independently in television outside of the editions of the Two Ronnies; the show was produced annually between 1971 and 1987. It had many notable writers including Ray Alan, John Cleese, Barry Cryer, Spike Milligan, David Nobbs, David Renwick, Eric Idle, John Sullivan, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Laurie Rowley. In addition, Barker used the pseudonym Gerald Wiley; the show featured comic sketches in which Barker and Corbett appeared both together and separately, with various additions giving the programme the feeling of a variety show. The sketches involved complex word-play, much of it written by Barker, who liked to parody officialdom and establishment figures, as well as eccentrics. Corbett appeared quieter, more acting as a foil for Barker, but remained an important part of the chemistry. Many of the jokes revolved around his lack of height, with him delivering many of them himself: when Barker said that the next part "does suit Ronnie C. right down to the ground", Corbett replied "Mind you, that's not far is it?".
Other jokes could be of a sexual nature of the sort found on seaside postcards: for example: "Tickle your botty with a feather tonight?""I beg your pardon?" "Particularly grotty weather tonight" Some of the show's material contained elements of surreal or left field humour, in the vein of Monty Python, was considered edgier and more sophisticated than the more traditional routines of Morecambe and Wise. The duo had formed some time after their peers by which time the comedy world had moved on to satire, absurdist surrealism and the beginnings of alternative humour. Furthermore, there was more comedic parity between the show's two stars, with the diminutive Corbett less of a foil to Barker than Ernie Wise was to Eric Morecambe - they were clear comedic equals, their best known sketch was "Four Candles". Both Barker and Corbett had their own solo sections on each show. Barker would have his own wordplay-based sketch as the head of a ridiculous-sounding organisation. Corbett always had a discursive solo monologue in each show, when he sat in a chair, facing the camera, attempting to tell a simple joke, but distracting himself into relating other humorous incidents.
The joke itself was deliberately corny. An example of Ronnie Corbett's humour is this short excerpt from a monologue: It became a tradition of the shows to have a continuing serial story which progressed through the eight episodes of a series; these were fairly bawdy tales with special guest stars. The Two Ronnies starred in two spin-off silent films labelled The Two Ronnies Present... By the Sea and The Picnic, written by Barker silent comedies featuring a squabbling upper-class family with a 1920s feel about them; the first serial of The Two Ronnies was written by Barker, began as a pastiche of costume dramas about a governess called Henrietta Beckett, played by Madeline Smith. Barker played a sex-starved aristocrat called Sir Geoffrey, Corbett played his son Edward, but further into the serial, the Ronnies portrayed a wide variety of other characters, including pick-pockets and royals. At the end it is revealed to be just a dream when she wakes up in Hampton Wick Cottage Hospital after having an accident.
Piggy Malone and Charley Farley are private detectives who investigate a mystery about a murdered family, featuring Sue Lloyd as Blanche Brimstone. As soon as Piggy finds out about the murder in the newspaper, a decision's made that means a trip to the country, there's a second murder during an unusual gathering. Featuring are secretary Miss Whizzer and the rest of the Brimstone family, through which the detectives narrow down the culprit. Piggy and Charley's second serial begins when a frogman delivers a note, the duo are sent in search of the formula for the Clumsy Drug, alongside Cyd Hayman as Madame Eloise Coqoutte. Corbett and Barker play the two villains, the notorious Mr Greensleeves and his Japanese henchman Bobjob. In the end the mystery is solved. Written by Spike Milligan and Ronnie Barker but credited as "Spike Milligan and a Gentleman". Set in Victorian times, it is a Jack the Ripper parody in which a mysterious figure goes around blowing raspberrie
John Eric Bartholomew, known by his stage name Eric Morecambe, was an English comedian who together with Ernie Wise formed the award-winning double act Morecambe and Wise. The partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death in 1984. Morecambe took his stage name from the seaside resort of Morecambe in Lancashire, he was the co-star of the television series The Morecambe & Wise Show, which for one Christmas episode gained UK viewing figures of over 27 million people. One of the most prominent comedians in British popular culture, in 2002 he was named one of the 100 Greatest Britons in a BBC poll. Morecambe, who had suffered heart attacks in November 1968 and March 1979 as well as undergoing bypass surgery, collapsed from a heart attack as he left the stage of the Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury, following a performance. Eric Morecambe was born in Morecambe, Lancashire as John Eric Bartholomew to George Bartholomew and Sadie. Sadie took work as a waitress to raise funds for his dancing lessons.
During this period, Eric Bartholomew won numerous talent contests, including one in Hoylake in 1940 for which the prize was an audition in Manchester for Jack Hylton. Three months after the audition, Hylton invited Morecambe to join a revue called Youth Takes a Bow at the Nottingham Empire, where he met the Ernest Wiseman; the two soon became close friends, with Sadie's encouragement started to develop a double act. When the two were allowed to perform their double act on stage, Hylton was impressed enough to make it a regular feature in the revue. However, the duo were separated when they came of age for their War Service during the final stages of the Second World War. Wise joined the Merchant Navy, while Morecambe was conscripted to become a Bevin Boy and worked as a coal miner in Accrington from May 1944 onwards. After the war and Wise began performing on stage and radio and secured a contract with the BBC to make a television show, where they started the short-lived show Running Wild in 1954.
They returned to the stage to hone their act, made appearances on Sunday Night at the London Palladium and Double Six. In 1961, Lew Grade offered the duo a series for the London-based ITV station ATV. Entitled Two of a Kind, it was written by Sid Green. An Equity strike halted that show, but Morecambe and Wise were members of the Variety Artists' Federation a separate trade union unaffiliated with Equity. Green and Hills appeared in the series as "Sid" and "Dick"; the sixth Morecambe and Wise series for ATV was planned from the start to be aired in the United Kingdom as well as exported to the United States and Canada. It was taped in colour and starred international guests American. Prior to its British run, it was broadcast in North America by the ABC network as a summer replacement for re-runs of The Hollywood Palace, under the title The Piccadilly Palace, from 20 May to 9 September 1967. All but two episodes of this series are now believed to be lost, with the surviving two episodes existing only as black-and-white copies, bearing the UK titles.
The duo had appeared in the US on The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1968, Morecambe and Wise left ATV to return to the BBC. While Morecambe was recuperating from a heart attack and Green, who believed that Morecambe would never work again, quit as writers. Morecambe and Wise were in Barbados at the time and learned of their writers' departure only from the steward on the plane. John Ammonds, the show's producer, replaced Green with Eddie Braben. Theatre critic Kenneth Tynan stated, Braben made Wise's character a comic, not funny, while Morecambe became a straight man, funny. Braben made them less hostile to one another. Morecambe and Wise did annual BBC Christmas shows from 1968 to 1977, with the 1977 show having an estimated audience of 28,385,000. In 1976, they were both appointed OBEs; the pair left the BBC for ITV in January 1978, signing a contract with the London station Thames Television. Morecambe suffered a second heart attack at his home in Harpenden, Herts on 15 March 1979. At that time, Morecambe was told.
Morecambe wanted to move away from the double act, into writing and playing other roles. In 1980, he played the "Funny Uncle" in a dramatisation of the John Betjeman poem "Indoor Games Near Newbury", part of an ITV special titled Betjeman's Britain. Produced and directed by Charles Wallace, it spawned the start of a working relationship that led to a follow-up in 1981 for Paramount Pictures titled Late Flowering Love in which Morecambe played an RAF major; the film was released in the UK with Raiders of the Lost Ark. In 1981, Morecambe published a tragicomic novel about a stand-up comedian, he began to focus more on writing. Morecambe and Wise made a series for showing during the autumns of 1980 to 1983, they appeared together recalling their music hall days in a one-hour special on ITV on 2 March 1983, called Eric & Ernie's Variety Days. During this time Morecambe published two other novels: The Reluctant Vampire and its sequel, The Vampire's Revenge. Morecambe and Wise's final show together was the 1983 Christmas special for ITV.
Morecambe and Wise worked on a television movie in 1983, Night Train to Murder, broadcast on ITV in January 1985. Continuing his collaboration with Wallace, Morecambe acted in a short comedy film called The Passionate Pilgrim opposite Tom Baker and Madeline Smith, again directed by Wallace for
Michael Patrick Smith, known by the professional stage name of Michael Crawford, is an English actor, singer, voice artist and philanthropist. He has received international critical acclaim and won numerous awards during his career, which has included many film and television performances as well as stagework on both London's West End and on Broadway in New York City, he is best known for playing the character Frank Spencer in a popular 1970s sitcom titled Some Mothers Do'Ave'Em, which first made him a household name, as well as for originating the title role in The Phantom of the Opera. His performance in the latter musical drama earned him both the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Crawford has published the autobiographical work Parcel Arrived Safely: Tied With String, which covers the changes in his career over the multiple decades. Since 1987, he has served as the leader of the Sick Children's Trust as well and acted as a public face for the British social cause organization.
Crawford was brought up by his mother, Doris Agnes Mary Pike, her parents, Montague Pike and his wife, Edith, in what Crawford described as a "close-knit Roman Catholic family". His maternal grandmother was born in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, lived to be 99 years old, his mother's first husband, Arthur Dumbell "Smudge" Smith, not his biological father, was killed, aged 22, on 6 September 1940 during the Battle of Britain, less than a year after they married. Sixteen months after Smith's death, Crawford was born, the result of a short-lived relationship, given his mother's surname, that of her first husband. During his early years, Crawford divided his time between the army camp in Wiltshire, where he and his mother lived during the war, the Isle of Sheppey off the coast of Kent; the isle was where his mother had grown up and where Crawford would live with his mother and maternal grandparents. He attended St Michael's, a Catholic school in Bexleyheath, run by nuns who Crawford described as not being shy in their use of corporal punishment.
At the end of the Second World War, his mother remarried, this time to a grocer, Lionel Dennis "Den" Ingram. The couple moved to London, where Crawford attended Oakfield Preparatory School, where he was known as Michael Ingram, his mother's second marriage was abusive, according to Crawford. He made his first stage appearance in the role of Sammy the Little Sweep in his school production of Benjamin Britten's Let's Make an Opera, conducted by Donald Mitchell, transferred to Brixton Town Hall in London, he auditioned, for the role of Miles in Britten's The Turn of the Screw - the role being given to another boy soprano, David Hemmings. He participated in the recording of that opera made that same year, conducted by the composer. In 1958 he was hired by the English Opera Group to create the role of Jaffet in another Britten opera, Noye's Fludde, based on the story of Noah and the Great Flood. Crawford remembers that it was while working in this production that he realised he wanted to become an actor.
It was in between performances of Let's Make an Opera and Noye's Fludde that he was advised to change his name, "to avoid confusion with a television newsman called Michael Ingram, registered with British Equity". He went on to perform in a wide repertoire. Among his stage work, he performed in André Birabeau's French comedy Head of the Family, Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn, Bernard Kops's Change for the Angel, Francis Swann's Out of the Frying Pan, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, The Striplings, The Move After Checkmate and others. At the same time, he appeared in hundreds of BBC radio broadcasts and early BBC soap-operas, such as Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, Emergency - Ward 10, Probation Officer, Two Living, One Dead, he appeared as the cabin boy John Drake in the television series Sir Francis Drake, a 26-part adventure series made by ITC starring Terence Morgan and Jean Kent. He made his film debut in 1958 with leading roles in two children's films, Blow Your Own Trumpet and Soapbox Derby, for The Children's Film Foundation in Britain.
In 1961 Michael Crawford appeared in an episode of One Step Beyond called "The Villa" in which he played a character experimenting with strobe lights. Crawford appears in the only surviving episode of the 1960 British crime series Police Surgeon alongside Ian Hendry; this series would spawn the much better-known The Avengers. At age nineteen, he was approached to play an American, Junior Sailen, in the film The War Lover, which starred Steve McQueen. To prepare for the role, he would spend hours listening to Woody Woodbury, a famous American comedian of the time, to try to perfect an American accent. After The War Lover, Crawford returned to the stage and, after playing the lead role in the 1963 British film Two Left Feet, was offered a role in the British television series, Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life, as the Mod-style, tough-talking, motorbike-riding Byron, it was this character that attracted film director Richard Lester to hire him for the role of Colin in The Knack …and How to Get It in 1965.
The film was a huge success in the UK. Lester cast him in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, How I Won the War, which starred Roy Kinnear and J
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K