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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 11:46 GMT
A life of loyal and royal service
By Helen Morgan-Wynne
BBC News Profiles Unit

Our regular column covering the passing of significant - but lesser-reported - characters of the past month.

William Tallon and the Queen Mother
Tallon served the Queen Mother for nearly 50 years

Backstairs Billy was the nickname bestowed by the media on William Tallon, the former page to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. He began his career in the Royal Household in 1951 as a junior assistant joining the Queen Mother's staff four years later. He became an indispensable aide mixing her gin and tonics, serving her meals and nursing her through ill health. He had a taste for the finer things in life, enjoying lunches at the Ritz and taking an interest in arts and poetry.

• Poetry was perhaps an unusual occupation for Vernon Scannell given his background. He spent two years on the run after deserting from the army in 1945 before finding work, first as a boxer and then a teacher. He published his first poetry collection in 1948 before studying at Leeds University. He received the Cholmondeley Poetry Prize in 1974 and was granted a civil list pension for his services to literature. Drink, boxing and a loathing of both Tories and New Labour were among the recreations he listed in Who's Who.

Actress Hilda Braid
Braid's credits include Man About The House.

• Insurgency in Tooting gave actress Hilda Braid her big break, when she was cast as the mother of Robert Lindsay's girlfriend in Citizen Smith. She consistently referred to Lindsay's character Wolfie Smith as Foxy, gently undermining the progress of radical socialism in south London. She began acting in the early 1960's playing a host of character parts on TV. Latterly she took the role of Nana Moon in Eastenders until her character was killed off amid a storm of protest in 2005.

Verity Lambert also made her name in TV, although as a producer rather than a performer. She was one of the few female executives working in TV drama when she produced the first ever series of Dr Who in 1963. She went on to be responsible for a string of major series including Rock Follies, The Naked Civil Servant and Jonathan Creek. She became head of drama at Thames Television before setting up her own production company Cinema Verity.

Colonel Paul Tibbets with colleagues
Gen Tibbets (centre) always said he had no regrets
• The atomic bomb which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 was dropped from an aircraft commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets USAF. During the preparation for the mission he had named the B29 bomber Enola Gay after his mother. The bomb was detonated on the morning of August 6th killing over 140,000 people on the ground. He consistently refused to express any regret for the incident, stating publicly that he had never had trouble sleeping at night.

George Osmond was the man responsible for inflicting Donny Osmond on a whole generation of teenage girls. A postmaster in Utah, he set about teaching his nine children to perform barber shop harmonies when they were young. The Osmonds quickly built up a local reputation and achieved national fame after catching the eye of film producer Walt Disney. He gave up his career to manage his offspring, eventually moving the family to California where they would be closer to the entertainment industry.

Among others who died in November were: Ian Smith, former prime minister of Rhodesia, the Rev Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans, novelists Norman Mailer and Ira Levin, and motorbike stunt rider Evel Knievel.

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