Thursday, August 30, 2018

Classic Nick Thursday – William Lucas’ Obituary

Actor who played Dr Gordon in the 1970s screen phenomenon of The Adventures of Black Beauty

William Lucas, who has died aged 91, was already a veteran television actor before he played Dr. Gordon in The Adventures of Black Beauty (1972-74). In a three-channel age, the programme became essential Sunday-teatime viewing for many families and regularly appeared in the weekly Top 20 TV ratings with stories that were a continuation, rather than an adaptation, of those in Anna Sewell’s best-selling 19th-century novel.

Lucas and his co-stars – Judi Bowker and Roderick Shaw as the doctor’s children, Vicky and Kevin, and Charlotte Mitchell as his loyal housekeeper, Amy Winthrop – found themselves part of a screen phenomenon that owed much to writers such as Ted Willis and Richard Carpenter. Denis King’s Galloping Home theme tune evoked childhood memories that led to it being heard over future decades in other programmes – perhaps most memorably in Absolutely Fabulous, accompanying Jennifer Saunders’s dream of running through a field, Black Beauty-style.

 Lucas’s character, James Gordon, is a widowed GP moving from London to set up a country practice in the village of Five Oaks. He saves the life of the disabled owner of a black stallion – and is presented with the animal as thanks. His children are seen enjoying adventures with Black Beauty, often bringing villains to heel. For the second series, Stacy Dorning played the doctor’s other daughter, Jenny, returning from school and replacing the departing Bowker.

The programme’s popularity led to Lucas and Dorning reprising their roles two decades later for The New Adventures of Black Beauty, a 1990-91 series produced by a New Zealand television company that showed Dr. Gordon and the grown-up Jenny emigrating.
The actor was born William Clucas, the son of Albert, who worked in a Sheffield steelworks, and his wife, Ada (nee Mellor). He had an older sister, Joan, who took him to the cinema, where he enjoyed Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy films, as well as Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals.

On leaving Burnage high school, Manchester, Clucas worked in a bank, then served in the Royal Navy during the second world war. A string of jobs followed – from cafe chef to farm labourer and lorry driver – before he achieved his ambition to train as an actor by winning a scholarship to the Northern Theatre School, established by the Bradford Civic Playhouse’s artistic director, Esme Church. Advised that his surname was too obscure, he changed it to Lucas.

He began his career in 1948 as an assistant stage manager at Chesterfield Civic Theatre, where he met Doreen Moorhouse, who acted under the name Rowena Ingram. They married in 1954. Repertory work followed in Coventry, Liverpool, Richmond, Windsor and at the Bristol Old Vic. Later, Lucas appeared in the West End as Frank Thorney in the tragicomedy The Witch of Edmonton (Mermaid theatre, 1962) and Martello in Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase (Duke of York’s theatre, 1988-89).

His big television break came with the part of the blackmailing car dealer Reg Dorking in Portrait of Alison (1955), a crime thriller serial written by Francis Durbridge. Lucas was the only cast member to reprise his role for a film version later the same year (released in the US as Postmark for Danger).

On TV, he was a regular as David Graham in The Strange World of Planet X (1956), Charlton Bradbury in The Crime of the Century (1956-57), Jim Pereira in the second series (1958) of the hotel saga The Royalty, Jonathan Briggs in the serialisation of Frank Tilsley’s novel Champion Road (1958) and Durea in the London underworld thriller Solo for Canary (1958).

He starred in The Infamous John Friend (1959), in the title role of the smuggler and spy for Napoleon, and was Detective Inspector Mitchell in the crime dramas The Days of Vengeance (1960) and Flower of Evil (1961), and Eddie Prior in the thriller serial The Prior Commitment (1969).

Lucas appeared in many television plays and was Inspector Lestrade, perfectly portraying his smug character’s wrong deductions, in A Study in Scarlet and The Second Stain, two 1968 episodes in the Sherlock Holmes series starring Peter Cushing. He even took the title role in a TV production of Rigoletto (1958), recalling: “Happily, the singing was dubbed.” The best of Lucas’s later television performances was in The Spoils of War (1980-81) as George Hayward, the Labour party-supporting father in a Lake District family coming to terms with peace after the second world war.

There were also appearances in three soap operas, the first, in 1966, as Bill Finlay in the football serial United! In Coronation Street, he had a short run as Dennis Maxwell (1971), the crooked personnel manager at the Mark Brittain Warehouse who had an affair with Elsie Tanner, and he later played Judge Parrish (1996), who found Steve and Vicky McDonald guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after accepting stolen whisky. He was a regular in the short-lived British-expats serial Eldorado (1992-93), as Stanley Webb, a retired doctor formerly in the Royal Army Medical Corps who was revealed not to be married to his “wife” Rosemary, but eventually tied the knot.

The early years of the new century saw him in episodes of Last of the Summer Wine, Doctors and The Bill (2005).
Lucas’s film roles included William Morel in Sons and Lovers (1960), the leader of a gang of crooks in Touch of Death (1961), an ex-convict being blackmailed in The Marked One (1963) and Jacob Venable, the criminal nephew hunting for the feline witness to a murder, in the Hammer Films production The Shadow of the Cat (1961).

In retirement, Lucas enjoyed DIY – keeping his lifelong fondness for carpentry going – as well as fishing and cooking.

He is survived by his second wife, Camilla (nee Idris-Jones), whom he married in 1993, and by Daniel and Thomas, the sons of his first marriage, which ended in divorce.

• William Lucas (William Thomas Clucas), actor, born 14 April 1925; died 8 July 2016

Saturday, August 25, 2018

In Search of Saturday

Welcome to “In Search of Saturdays" an advertising space I’ve designed to help our members find those long-lost movies, cartoons, TV shows, toys, games and anything else that we’ve all been looking for, for a very long time.

The instructions are simple. Post your personal “looking for” list in the comments and we’ll all see if we can help you find what you’re looking for. - This will be a group effort please.

If you can’t remember the name of a show or toy that’s alright, post what you can remember and maybe someone here will be able to tell you what it is. Also, please remember that if you are listing television shows or movies please let us know if you are looking to purchase these shows or if you just want to watch them online. Then we, the members of the group, will help try to help each other and go “in search of” those items for our fellow members.

A good place to start our searches is iOffer which, in my opinion, is better than eBay because you can find lots of shows there that you can’t find anywhere else.

*** MY WANT LIST ***
This is a list of the Classic Nickelodeon programs that I’m looking for to purchase. Please note that I am a private collector who does not copy and resell my collection. The videos and DVDs that I collect are for my own private viewing here in my home or my Mother’s house where I originally watched them. If you have any of these and would like to sell me copies please contact me at Also, IF YOU CONTACT ME VIA EMAIL PLEASE PUT THE NAME OF THE SHOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE. Thank you.

Muppets Magazine 1982
People Magazine – no date available – Marc Summers’ car accident article
Any '80’s women’s or children’s magazines
Early to Mid-1980’s TV Guides

Dusty's Treehouse
Hocus Focus
Nick Rocks Video to Go
Pinwheel (Other than what is currently on youtube.)
Spread Your Wings
Standby...Lights! Camera! Action!
Studio See

The Adventures of the Mole
Bunny in the Suitcase
Emily (my favorite)
Hattytown Tales
Magic Coco
The Magic Roundabout

Beware, Beware My Beauty Fair
Clarence & The Ottaway (staring Billy Hufsey)
Kids’ Writes (other than the 6 episodes on youtube)
Silver City (The Righteous Apples special)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Special Delivery – Introducing Janet

Janet is an over-weight girl who has a knack for making the other children in school making fun of her own weight. In seeing the other kids reaction, she feels that she might have what it takes to be a comedian. She visits the local comedy club where she finds Tony Moroni who is a struggling comedian whose jokes are less than funny. Together Tony helps Janet find self-esteem and Janet helps Tony with his material.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Classic Nick Rocks

Ratt – Round and Round

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

Oxo – Whirly Girl 

Bon Jovi – Livin' On A Prayer

Quiet Riot – Come On Feel The Noize

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Classic Nick Thursday – Spread Your Wings

Recently I was asked about the program “Spread Your Wings” and decided that I should turn that answer into my blog post for Classic Nick Thursday. And while this may be a short article I feel that it is important to talk about shows like Spread Your Wings so that we don’t lose the memory of them, especially since there is no video footage of the show itself. I do have audio recordings of several, very early, Nickelodeon shows, including some music from Spread Your Wings, but I do not have them on a CD; however, I’m going to try to capture that sound and post it online in the future. – That’s a ways off so for now back to Spread Your Wings.

According to the April 1982 original Nickelodeon TV Guide, yes, they had their own network guide, it describes Spread Your Wings as such:

“Around the world with NICKELODEON to examine the exotic crafts and traditions of young people from different lands. Pre-teen, Teen.”

And that’s exactly what it was. Spread Your Wings was a program that focused on children from different countries and their families. We’d see their schools and if they had after school jobs or if their families owned their own business we’d get to see them at work and they would explain how they did their job. I remembered one girl from, China I think, she painted paper umbrellas. They were very beautiful.  Another girl’s father made shadow puppets and the girl from Russia taught us to say grandmother in Russian. (It’s “babushka” by the way.)

From what I can remember they visited kids in Mexico, Czechoslovakia, Russia, China, Yugoslavia, and so forth. I’m sure there were many more but as I said those are just a few that I can remember.

This was a very cool show because no matter where you lived you got to see that kids are the same no matter where they’ve from. Oh, sure they may have spoken different languages and dress differently but as a kid I remember feeling connected to them, probably just because I knew they were about the same as I was but still.

The really great thing about this show was that, as kids, we really did go all around the world and no matter where you lived you were able to see what so many different cultures were like from the comfort of your own living room and I really, really, hope that some footage of this shows up online one day.

Quick note about the above picture. That picture is from Spread Your Wings from that April 1982 original Nickelodeon TV Guide that I mentioned above. Hope you enjoy seeing it.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Classic Nick Rocks

Greg Kihn – Jeopardy

Billy Ocean – Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

Selena – Ya No

Adam Ant – Where Did Our Love Go

Eurythmics – Here Comes the Rain Again

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Classic Nick Rocks

Pretty Poison – Catch Me (I’m Falling)

Bananarama – Cruel Summer

The Motels – Suddenly Last Summer

Hall & Oates – You Make My Dreams Come True

El DeBarge – Who's Johnny