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Paul Welsh on his more mundane encounters with stars such as Lee Evans, Warren Mitchell, East 17 and Rupert Penry Jones
Over the past few decades I have met hundreds of actors, usually because I have been visiting a film set, conducting an interview or hosting an event.
On occasions, the star encounter has been more fleeting or unusual and here are several such occasions that come to mind.
The comedian Lee Evans sells out concert halls around the country but I was once standing behind him in a food queue at Elstree Studios and we just exchanged views on the climate of the day as we Britons tend to do.
On another occasion, I was a guest at a recording of Dancing on Ice and another guest was Bradley Walsh, who kindly invited me to join him for a drink at the interval. We had never met before but he felt he had seen me before. I said it was probably on Crimewatch.
Once I decided to go and watch that record-breaking mystery play The Mousetrap in the West End. I can say I watched it in the company of Hollywood star Tom Hanks but in truth I never realised he was sitting a couple of rows behind me.
I did realise it when, as I walked out of the theatre, the photographers’ flashbulbs started to go off. Just as I was about to acknowledge my fans, I turned round and saw Tom behind me so I moved out of the way to avoid spoiling their shots. I now wish I had got him to sign my
When Anthony Quinn was shooting The Greek Tycoon at Elstree, I visited the set and we had a brief chat in which he asked if there was a bookstore in town. In those days, the Borehamwood Times offices were situated at the rear of a bookshop in Shenley Road. Does anyone remember it?
He wanted copies of his autobiography quickly to give to some visitors that afternoon. So at lunchtime I escorted Tony along Shenley Road to buy copies of his own book.
Rupert Penry Jones is now a television hearthrob on ITV in such shows as Whitechapel. I bumped into him at the beginning of his career in a dressing room corridor at Elstree when he was returning half-naked from shooting a saucy scene in a forgotten film called Virtual Sexuality.
Years earlier in the same corridor, I had bumped into a naked Warren Mitchell, who was guest
starring in a film. Why could I have not bumped into Brigette Bardot or Cheryl Cole?
A good friend of mine, Sean Graham, is a great fan of comedian Billy Connolly so I arranged tickets for us to see his live show in London about 14 years ago. I asked Billy's manager if we could meet him after the show.
We went to the stage door and imagined Billy would appear and just sign an autograph. Instead he came down and after a few minutes said “Why are we chatting in a back alley?” and invited us to join him in his dressing room. I thought that was nice touch as he gave Sean a lifelong memory for just an hour of his time.
Sean's mum is a lifelong fan of Tom Jones and in the 1990s, he was rehearsing at Elstree so I took the opportunity to get a signed photo for her. Luckily, on his arrival he asked me to direct him to a toilet and on his return we briefly chatted about his 1960s days at ATV in Borehamwood and he signed the photo.
I recall East 17 arriving at the studio one day and not recognising them, I mistakenly directed them to a rebuilding area, assuming they were from a job creation scheme.
Frankie Vaughan was a big star in the 1950s and the 1960s and towards the end of his life, I met him at a reception at Hill House in Elstree.
Finally, I was in Hollywood in the early 1990s and while chatting with the mayor at the
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, he asked if I would like to meet the legendary Bob Hope, who was coming there that day for a photo call. It turned out not exactly a one-to-one meeting.
We met in the hotel ballroom in which the first Oscar ceremony had been held in the 1920s. But no sooner had the mayor introduced me and I had shaken hands with Bob than we were
surrounded by a horde of tourists and it became a group photo.
Well, that is enough name dropping for one week and another friend Nick Cole is about to call to take this old timer out for a meal while this lovely night-time weather lasts. Take care until we meet again next week.