Saturday, 25 January 2014

Treading The Boards: Wilfred Brambell, Jessie Evans and Kenneth J Warren in Canterbury Tales (1968)

Wilfred Brambell, Jessie Evans and Kenneth J Warren
as they are featured in the Canterbury Tales playbill
Even if his best known TV role was that of Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son, Wilfred Brambell could still turn out performances in serious roles on the theatre stage during the 1960s.

The Phoenix Theatre, Charring Cross Road, London presented Chaucer's Canterbury Tales from March 21, 1968 with Brambell, Jessie Evans and Kenneth J Warren all taking on multiple roles. They were joined by Nicky Henson, Billy Boyle, Gay Soper and Trevor Baxter among others.

Brambell had first appeared in London's West End in Blind Man's Buff in 1953. Many theatre roles followed but it was starring opposite Harry H Corbett in Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's sitcom Steptoe and Son that brought him his greatest fame. Brambell's appearance with The Beatles in A Hard Days Night, another career high is strangely not mentioned in his biography in this programme. Prior to rehearsals for Canterbury Tales Brambell had appeared as Widow Twankey in pantomime.

With a strong stage career behind her including Pen Don opposite Emlyn Williams at the Blackpool Grand in 1943, Welsh born actress Jessie Evans was in popular demand as a support actress in the 1960s and 70s in both film and television. Her TV credits included Z Cars and Coronation Street.

Wilfred Brambell and Kenneth J Warren would be reunited on television a few years later when Kenneth turned up as Arthur in the Steptoe and Son episode Cuckoo In The Nest. 

Sadly Kenneth J Warren known for his strong Australian accent and distinctive bald appearance died of a heart attack in 1973. He was 43.

Jessie Evans passed away in 1983 aged 64, while Wilfred Brambell died in 1985 aged 72.

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