Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Is Vic There? An Appreciation of Victor Spinetti

"With this power - I could rule the world!"
Victor Spinetti with John Lennon as featured on the
front of Victor's autobiography Up Front
Again this morning I was at my work desk when news of the passing of another great Welsh actor came through.

I won't go on about the history of Victor Spinetti, everyone knows who he is and how great he was. For me he is certainly one of the highlights of The Beatles movies, A Hard Days Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour, I love the story that George Harrison apparently begged him to be in A Hard Days Night implying that if Victor didn't appear George's mum wouldn't come and see the film.

There were further film stage and TV appearances. His career was varied as it was diverse. While starring alongside Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Under Milk Wood he could also be heard providing voices for Fred Basset in the cartoon series of the same name and Texas Pete in SuperTed.

Among my favourite performances are the overlooked 1969/1970 comedy sit-com Two In Clover, a forerunner for The Good Life about two city gents who give up their careers to run a farm. Paired with Sid James the series is very enjoyable and rivals Sid's previous comedy partnership with Tony Hancock.

Another overlooked Spinetti comedy gem is the radio series Tony's in which he plays an Italian hairdresser. Among the cast members are Deborah Watling and John Laurie. Although the series has never been released on CD it has been repeated by BBC Radio 4 Extra, whom I'm sure will schedule another airing with the news of Victor's passing.

I remember feeling disappointed I'd missed Victor's legendary one man show a few years ago and had hoped to catch him live on stage at some point. Unfortunately that didn't come to pass but I can still appreciate the longevity of his work especially alongside John, Paul, George and Ringo in those classic Beatles movies from the 60s, as I'm sure will many people in the future.

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