BEEN AND GONE
BBC Obituary Unit
Our regular column covering the passing of significant - but lesser reported - people of the past month.
Tam White was born in 1942
When Robbie Coltrane belted out the Majestics' numbers in the award-winning BBC TV series, Tutti Frutti, the vocals were actually provided by Scottish singer
. A former stonemason, White's gravelly voice appeared on recordings by a number of now forgotten groups from the 1960s, but he also sang with some of the greats including BB King and Rod Stewart. He later moved into acting with roles in Braveheart, as clan chief McGregor, Cutthroat Island and the gritty TV police series, Taggart. In 2003, he joined the cast of EastEnders as Tony Macrae. At the time of his death he was preparing to front his own band at the Edinburgh Blues and Jazz Festival later this year.
Crispian St Peters said he would be 'bigger than Elvis'
A singer of a different kind,
Crispian St Peters
found his career sinking under the weight of his own ego. Having achieved a number two hit in January 1966 with the song, You Were On My Mind, he declared that he was a better songwriter than Lennon and McCartney (though he didn't actually pen the song) and would be bigger than Elvis Presley. Unfortunately his second effort, The Pied Piper, only reached number five. Undismayed he gave an interview to a music magazine in which he said he was a more exciting live performer than The Beatles, thereby earning himself the nickname "The Cassius Clay of Pop". Born Robin Peter Smith, he began writing songs at the age of 11 and had a stint as one half of a touring duo called The Two Tories. The Pied Piper was to be his last hit.
Edith Shain worked in a New York hospital
Among the crowds spilling out into New York's Times Square to celebrate V-J Day in 1945 was a young nurse named
. As she ran into the street she was grabbed by a sailor for an enthusiastic kiss, providing photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt with one of the most iconic pictures of the 20th Century. The 27-year-old nurse was working in a New York Hospital when news came through that World War II was over, and she and a friend went out to join the celebrations. She later recalled that "she thought she might as well let him kiss her since he fought for her in the war". When Life magazine published her story in 1980, no fewer than 11 men came forward claiming to be the sailor. Shain took part in the 50th anniversary of V-J Day in August, 1995.
Test Match Special is an institution
Test Match Special, famous for its references to cake, pigeons, buses and, often, cricket, was the creation of BBC broadcaster Robert Hudson. Until 1957 the BBC had broadcast odd snippets of cricket matches between other items, much to the frustration of aficionados of the game. Hudson, who was then a radio producer in the north of England, came up with the idea for continuous ball-by-ball commentary, achieved by switching coverage between the Light Programme, now Radio 2, and the Third Programme, now Radio 3. The programme became an institution, featuring commentators such as John Arlott, Brian Johnston and Hudson himself. It became famous for its ability to stay on air even when rain had stopped play. Hudson himself was also associated with many of the great radio set-piece moments, such as the Trooping the Colour and the annual service from the Cenotaph. He finished his BBC career as the head of radio outside broadcasts.
Another radio regular was Anthony Quinton who, for many years, was one of the joint chairmen of the cerebral BBC Radio 4 panel game, Round Britain Quiz. The original format saw a resident panel in London take on teams from other parts of the UK, in unscrambling a series of tortuous and mind-bending questions. It was a sort of busman's holiday for Quinton, a noted philosopher and academic whose day job was a Fellow of New College, Oxford. A great story teller, he was much in demand for programmes such as Quote, Unquote. One contemporary said that "when he started to talk, men, women, children, animals, all downed tools to listen". For many years he chaired a think tank that advised Margaret Thatcher when she was prime minister. Once asked to define philosophy he replied succinctly: "It's thinking about thinking."
Jack Harrison was thwarted in his efforts to escape
The survivor of the escape by Allied prisoners from the German POW camp Stalag Luft III was
. The incident was immortalised, although not very accurately, in the 1963 film, The Great Escape. RAF pilot Harrison worked as a gardener at the camp and helped to dispose of the earth taken out of the three tunnels being dug by the inmates. On the night of 24 March, 1944, 200 prisoners began to crawl down the tunnels, but they were discovered by the German guards and only 76 got away, with just three reaching safety. Harrison's failure to escape probably saved his life as Hitler, against all the conventions of war, ordered that 50 of the escapees should be executed. "The main purpose wasn't just to escape," he later recalled. "It was to outfox the Germans. It was a huge moral victory. It humiliated Hitler and gave the Nazis a bloody nose."
Among others who died in June were comedian
, the man inside Frank Sidebottom's large head; former England rugby international,
; director of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Poseidon Adventure,
, original drummer with the Stereophonics, and pioneering restaurant critic and scourge of motorway service