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Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 14:28 UK

A good life now over

BEEN AND GONE
By Nick Serpell
BBC Obituary Unit

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

The books of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were brought to life by the illustrations of Pauline Baynes. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art becoming friends with Ernest Shepherd, the illustrator of Winnie the Pooh. By chance, her drawings were spotted on a desk by Tolkien, who commissioned her to illustrate Farmer Giles of Ham. In all she worked on more than 100 books including The Chronicles of Narnia and The Dictionary of Chivalry - for which she received the Kate Greenaway medal in 1968 - and Watership Down.

With Alec Guinness in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Terence Rigby in the classic spy drama

The actor Terence Rigby also made a notable contribution to Watership Down, as the voice of the rabbit, Silver. He was best known as the taciturn dog handler, PC Snow, in the 1960s BBC series, Softly Softly Task Force. After an episode in which his dog, Inky, was killed, the BBC had to bring the animal onto Blue Peter to reassure worried viewers it hadn't really died. Rigby also received critical acclaim for his role as Roy Bland in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Among his film credits were Get Carter, alongside Michael Caine and the Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

The Good Life, co-written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey
Words put in Tom and Barbara's mouths

Comedy, rather than drama, was the forte of John Esmonde, whose scriptwriting partnership with Bob Larbey produced some of the nation's best loved sitcoms. They tasted success writing for Dick Emery before creating Please Sir! featuring John Alderton as a hapless teacher in a dysfunctional London school. Seven years later they came up with The Good Life, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of Tom and Barbara Good in their search for self-sufficiency in Surbiton. They went on to write another Richard Briers vehicle, Ever Decreasing Circles, and Brush Strokes, starring Karl Howman.

The Family
Margaret Wilkins, far left, in The Family

Long before Big Brother, there was reality TV in the form of The Family, which featured Margaret Wilkins, matriarch of a Reading household, the subject of a 1974 BBC series. The 12-part, fly on the wall documentary saw cameras recording every move in the life of the Wilkins family. Strong language, and the discussion of subjects then taboo, brought calls for the series to be taken off air. Margaret divorced husband Terry a year later, amid claims the programme had serious affected her family.

Lita Roza
The woman who sang How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

Lita Roza became the first woman to top the UK singles charts when How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? reached number one in 1953. She was performing in Liverpool nightclubs in her teens and went on to become lead singer with the Ted Heath Band. She always hated her only big hit, refusing to sing it in her live shows and later saying that it should have been included on a Lita Roza Sings Rubbish album. Her career effectively ended with the beginning of rock and roll and the demise of the big bands.

One of the men who drove that rock and roll revolution was Jerry Wexler who, as a journalist with Billboard magazine, coined the term rhythm and blues. He became a partner in Atlantic Records, where he put the label at the forefront of soul with artists like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. He also embraced rock music, signing Led Zeppelin after he had heard recordings of Jimmy Page playing with the Yardbirds. He moved on to Warner Brothers where he produced the Bob Dylan album, Slow Train Coming, and later worked with George Michael.

Issac Hayes
Issac Hayes, who also died last month

Among others who died in August were Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author and dissident; Leo Abse, former Labour MP and gay rights campaigner; Isaac Hayes, soul singer and South Park chef; Bill Cotton, the BBC manager who signed The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise; and Ronnie Drew, founder member of The Dubliners.


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