Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Stars attend Keith Waterhouse memorial

Peter O"Toole, Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles
Peter O'Toole (left) read excerpts from a Waterhouse play

Sir Michael Parkinson, Barry Cryer and Penelope Keith were amongst friends of Keith Waterhouse who attended a special service to commemorate the late author.

One of Britain's most prolific writers, Waterhouse died last year, aged 80.

Actor Peter O'Toole, who starred in Waterhouse's West End hit Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, read excerpts from the play during the service in London.

Sir Michael said Waterhouse wrote like an "angel" and possessed the "stamina of a seaside donkey".

"He attributed his stamina to what he called a delayed hangover, which meant it only occurred when he had finished work for the day, if at all," Sir Michael said.

I didn't really see him much after the film but wanted to come here today because I thought I owed him a great debt because of it
Sir Tom Courtenay, who starred in Billy Liar

"He didn't like too much fuss or palaver, nor would he have been overjoyed to attend this service, which started on the stroke of what hacks of Keith's vintage regarded as opening time," the presenter added.

Barry Cryer and Penelope Keith also delivered readings during the service, which was held at St Paul's in Covent Garden - often referred to as The Actors' Church.

Lord Melvin Bragg said it had been a "wonderful service" and Sir Tom Courtenay, who starred in the film adaptation of Waterhouse's novel Billy Liar, said it was "lovely".

He added: "I didn't really see him much after the film but wanted to come here today because I thought I owed him a great debt because of it."

Una Stubbs and Peter Bowles also attended the memorial.

Waterhouse made his screenwriting debut on the 1961 film Whistle Down The Wind, but he remains best known for 1959's Billy Liar.

The Leeds-born writer had more than 60 books, plays and television scripts to his credit and was a regular newspaper columnist.

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