I am pleased to say that I've found enough articles of this distinguished couple to dedicate a thread to them. Not very many captures at the moment, but hopefully that will change. They were mainstays of British Television for about 30 years, with Donald also receiving much acclaim as a writer. His acting credits seem to indicate that I didn't see him as often as I thought and I'm afraid that includes his final role in the hit ITV series El C.I.D.. I was devastated when I learned he died of a heart attack while filming the show, really upset for Pauline and their family. This happened a week before his 61st birthday.
Strangely enough, the thing I remember Donald Churchill from most, Alice Trying, one of his own plays I think, still hasn't been credited at IMDb yet - something I must put right. My main memory of the story is that it was (essentially) a 'two-hander', which I believe is the theatrical term for a play that mostly focuses on two characters (Harold Pinter's The Lover, for example) - yes? In this case, Judy Parfitt was Donald's co-star and for some reason she was bed-ridden, possibly with a cold or something, certainly in the scene that's always stood out. He kept calling Judy from a telephone box and I just remember him being desperately in love with her. It's so frustrating that nothing else comes to mind but I know both actors were brilliant in this play, from around the late 1970s, and it is easily in the Top 5 of long-forgotten shows I'd like to see again.
Pauline Yates will always be best known to me as lead character Leonard Rossiter's wife in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and, rather more dimly (until the much-hoped-for DVD release comes my way), as Robert Gillespie's in Keep It in the Family. But in the last few months I've discovered that she was the star of a daytime series called Harriet's Back In Town. I'm convinced I never saw a frame (still at junior school at the time) but the title seems vaguely familiar. It would be marvellous if I could catch up with it all these years later. My original TVTimes articles and selected listings for the series are among the treasures I'll be providing for this thread.
I enclose two captures from screen appearances the couple made in the Sixties.
Firstly, Donald in his role as Dr. Sprague in the first episode of The Saint
, The Talented Husband
Coincidentally (assuming I was right about Judy Parfitt's character earlier), there was another female
confined to bed - as his patient! Patricia Roc was the invalid on this occasion, in her last screen role.
And here's one of Pauline as another
wife, this time Dirk Bogarde's in the classic film Darling ...
She only had a brief role as Estelle Gold. Husband Dirk leaves her for the ambitious Julie Christie!
The Armchair Theatre (and Mona Bruce!) Connection:
Both Pauline and Donald were veterans of Armchair Theatre: Donald wrote an impressive thirteen, appearing in eight; Pauline was in six, including three of her husband's plays - The Cherry on Top (1964), The Paraffin Season, the following year, and A Room in Town in 1970. Intriguingly, the first two both included the late Mona Bruce, who was in another of Donald's AT contributions years earlier, Sharp at Four (1959). And that's not all! Mona also turned up in an episode of The Mind of J.G. Reeder that he wrote called The Treasure Hunt (1969). Was she a friend of his and Pauline's then?
The Terence Alexander Connection:
I very much enjoyed a short film called The Spare Tyres, again written by Donald and with a wonderful central performance by Terence Alexander, as a man who can't get rid of the wheels he's found in his new front garden. A great film ... but it's about 25 years since I last saw it. No, Pauline didn't play the wife (for once!); in fact, I don't remember what she did, nor 'Milkman' Donald either Terence, who also died not too long ago sadly, appeared in two of Donald's Armchair Theatre plays - Man Without a Mortgage (1966) and the aforementioned A Room in Town, with Pauline - as well as his episodes for The Sex Game and Moody and Peg. Furthermore, and this I did know, Pauline and Terence were reunited again years later for The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin episode Timebomb (1979). Interesting! Was Terence a friend as well?
Trivia: Donald wrote the 'Morecambe & Wise episode' of The Sweeney
- Hearts and Minds
COMING SOON: The first of the documents, featuring a nice family picture.