2020 has been an unusual year to say the least. The tragic pandemic, that has touched all our lives, was combined with the loss of cinematic icons. This year-end round-up would normally just be a celebration of film & TV anniversaries, but it’s right also to remember those we’ve lost.
Dame Diana Rigg RIP
No sooner had we toasted Dame Diana Rigg’s 82nd birthday, and celebrated 55 years of Mrs Emma Peel, her ground-breaking role in “The Avengers“, but the terribly sad news of her passing was announced in September. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends and we’ll forever be grateful for the gift of her talent to so many iconic films & TV shows we’ll be able to enjoy and rewatch for years to come. From “The Avengers” to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service“, the best Bond film for many, Art & Hue will cherish the memories of meeting Diana at the BFI and at Elstree Studios, as well as seeing her on stage.
Sir Sean Connery RIP
Turning 90 in August, Sir Sean Connery sadly passed in October this year. Without Sir Sean Connery’s powerful performances as Bond, the spy in film would not have survived to this day had he not firmly established the long-running British franchise. Before Bond, Sean starred in the British film noir “The Frightened City” – released the year before “Dr. No”, it’s practically Sean Connery’s audition for 007. Starting off as a milkman, then a sailor, Sean became a bodybuilder then a model for Vince Mans Shop, the first ever fashion boutique in the Carnaby area of London, the start of the revolution of fashion.
Honor Blackman RIP
Honor Blackman was a ground-breaking actress who portrayed the first independent female character on British television. Apparently the part of Dr. Gale in “The Avengers” was originally written for a man but there wasn’t time to change the script before it was handed to Honor. She took the role and made it impactful, even releasing a self-defence book, before going on to portray another strong-minded character in “Goldfinger”. Honor had a prolific career, appearing in many productions right up until 2015. Honor Blackman passed at the age of 94 in Lewes, East Sussex, in April 2020.
Earl Cameron RIP
Earl Cameron died on the 3rd of July 2020 at the age of 102. The star of “Pool of London” broke new ground in his long career as an actor. “Pool of London” was the first non-musical British film to cast a black actor in a main speaking role and the first British film to portray an interracial relationship.
Max von Sydow RIP
A prolific actor who appeared in more than 150 films across seven decades, Max von Sydow passed in March 2020 at the age of 90. From European art house films to big-budget blockbusters, one of his most beloved roles is as the evil Ming the Merciless in the cult sci-fi classic “Flash Gordon“.
Roger Marshall RIP
Roger Marshall, who died in April 2020 at the age of 86, was a prolific writer who scripted many classic episodes of “The Avengers” during the Cathy Gale & Emma Peel eras, as well as episodes of “The Sweeney” and “The Professionals“, “Invasion“, and was the creator of “Public Eye” and “Zodiac”.
Margaret Nolan RIP
The actress and artist Margaret Nolan passed in October 2020 at the age of 76. An iconic performer who appeared in classic films, from Bond to Carry On, Nolan was a beautiful actress with great comic timing. Her final film role is in the forthcoming Edgar Wright film “Last Night in Soho” with Dame Diana Rigg.
Jack Charlton & Nobby Stiles RIP
Two legendary footballers left us in 2020 – Jack Charlton passed in July 2020 at the age of 85 and Nobby Stiles in October at 78.
Both integral parts of the World Cup winning England team in 1966, they’ll always be remembered for their contribution to the highest point of British football.
David Prowse RIP
David Prowse passed in November 2020 at the age of 85. Before his name became synonymous with Darth Vader in Star Wars, he appeared in shows such as “Up Pompeii”, “The Saint”, “Space 1999″, “The Kenneth Williams Show”, and the Hammer Horror film “Horror of Frankenstein“. Art & Hue had the pleasure to meet the charming & gentle giant of British film & TV at Elstree Studios in 2017.
Barbara Windsor RIP
Icon Dame Barbara Windsor died at the age of 83 on the 10th of December 2020.
Dame Babs only appeared in nine Carry Ons yet her infectious giggle is a cornerstone of British culture. From “Crooks in Cloisters” and “Sparrows Can’t Sing” to the Carry On films and Eastenders, Dame Barbara was a British national treasure whose work can be cherished and enjoyed for years to come.
Many other icons of film & television sadly left us in 2020, including the influential composer Ennio Morricone, design guru Terence Conran who transformed the way we all live, actress Juliette Gréco, nation’s sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn, revolutionary musician Little Richard, renowned actor Ian Holm, comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor, actor John Fraser, actor and presenter Nicholas Parsons, “Carry On” & “Gimme Gimme Gimme” actress Rosalind Knight, Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas, and the pioneering fashion designer Pierre Cardin (who designed Steed’s suits in the colour episodes of The Avengers”), to name a few.
2020 marks 60 years since the official opening of Television Centre, 85 years since construction began on Pinewood, 90 years since the first Ealing film, 65 years since the Granada building was approved, 20 years since the announcement to close Pebble Mill, 50 years since construction took place on the South Bank London Tower, and 95 years since Elstree announced the building of eight studios in Borehamwood.
65 years of ITV
65 years ago on the 22nd of September 1955, the first independent British TV station, Associated Rediffusion, started broadcasting. The ITV network would go on to launch classic shows including The Avengers, The Saint, The Persuaders, The Prisoner, Callan, Department S, Thunderbirds, & more…
200 years of Tenniel
2020 marks 200 years since the birth of the influential illustrator Sir John Tenniel, and 155 years since the first publication of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, since when the books have never been out of print.
60 years of Coronation Street
2020 marks 60 years since the start of the long-running soap opera Coronation Street. Set in the fictional Manchester borough of Weatherfield, the show has created many iconic characters since it launched on the 9th of December 1960, including soap queens Jean Alexander, Julie Goodyear, and Anne Kirkbride.
35 years of Eastenders
2020 marks 35 Years of Eastenders, the long-running soap set in the fictional London borough of Walford. Starring formidable characters over the years, two of the most cherished must be June Brown as Dot and Pam St Clement as Pat. The first visit to Albert Square took place on the 19th of February 1985.
35 years of Acorn Antiques
2020 marks 35 years of Acorn Antiques, the spoof-soap which debuted on British television as part of the classic comedy series “Victoria Wood as Seen on TV”. Set in “Manchesterford“, the show introduced us to the iconic characters of Miss Babs, Miss Berta, & Mrs Overall (played by Julie Walters who turned 70 in 2020).
55 years of Mrs Peel
On the 28th of September 1965, audiences were introduced to Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in the first episode of the new series of “The Avengers” called “The Town of No Return”. With the incredibly sad news of her passing in September, now more than ever, it feels important to celebrate the cultural impact Dame Diana Rigg made as Mrs Peel globally. She inspired, and continues to inspire, many with her portrayal of the smart, strong, and fully independent female spy Emma Peel.
55 years of Thunderbirds
2020 marks 55 years of the classic Gerry Anderson “supermarionation” show. On the 30th of September 1965, International Rescue made their TV debut in in the first episode “Trapped in the Sky”.
55 years of Harry Palmer
2020 marks 55 years since Michael Caine appeared as Harry Palmer for the first time in “The Ipcress File”.
50 years of Department S
2020 marks 50 years since the final episode of “Department S” was broadcast, starring Peter Wyngarde as Jason King.
60 years of Danger Man
2020 marks 60 years since the first episode of “Danger Man”, filmed at Portmeirion where McGoohan would return for “The Prisoner”.
George & Mildred 44th
2020 marks 44 years since the first ever episode of “George & Mildred” starring Yootha Joyce & Brian Murphy (who turned 88 this year).
50 years of Up Pompeii
2020 marks 50 years since the first ever episode of the TV show “Up Pompeii!” starring Frankie Howerd was broadcast, which later jumped to the big screen.
44 years The Likely Lads
2020 marks 44 years since the World Premiere in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne of “The Likely Lads” film starring Rodney Bewes and James Bolam (who turned 85 this year).
Man About The House 44
2020 marks 44 years since the final TV episode of “Man About The House” was broadcast starring Richard O’Sullivan, Paula Wilcox, and Sally Thomsett (who turned 70 this year).
Are You Being Served? 35
2020 marks 35 years since the final episode of “Are You Being Served?” was broadcast, before the Grace Bros. team moved on to “Grace & Favour”.
66 years of Devil Girl
2020 marks 66 years since the cult science-fiction film “Devil Girl from Mars” starring Patricia Laffan was released in British cinemas on the 2nd of May 1954.
40 years of Flash Gordon
2020 marks 40 years since the release of the cult sci-fi film “Flash Gordon”. The science-fiction classic opened in American cinemas on the 5th of December 1980 then in British cinemas from the 11th, after the Royal Premiere on the 10th at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue cinema, attended by Prince & Princess Michael of Kent. 2020 also saw the release of the 4k restoration of the film.
Flash Gordon Birthdays
2020 marks milestone birthdays for the “Flash Gordon” team, with Sam J. Jones turning 66, Melody Anderson turning 65, and director Mike Hodges turning 88.
Hancock’s Half Hour
Two-Way Stretch 60th
Some Will, Some Won’t
2020 marks 50 years since “Some Will, Some Won’t” starring Ronnie Corbett, a remake of “Laughter in Paradise”, went on general release in British cinemas.
Reginald Perrin 44th
2020 marks 44 years since the first ever episode of “The Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin” starring Leonard Rossiter, aired on British television.
Fawlty Towers 45th
2020 marks 45 years since the perfectly crafted comedy “Fawlty Towers”, created by Connie Booth & John Cleese, aired on British television for the first time.
Michael Rimmer 50th
60 years of Saarinen’s American Embassy
2020 marks 60 years of the iconic American Embassy building on London’s Grosvenor Square. On the 23rd of September 1960, the Mayfair Embassy came into use when the U.S. flag was raised for the first time.
65 years of Dame Edna
2020 marks 65 years since Dame Edna Everage’s debut on the 19th of December 1955 in the “Return Fare” revue in Melbourne.
Basil Radford & Naunton Wayne, known as the unique cinematic double act of Charters & Caldicott, marked their 75th anniversary since the release of “Dead of Night”, and 80 years since the release of “Crook’s Tour” & “Night Train to Munich”.
Policeman Jack Warner
The archetypal policeman, Jack Warner debuted as Dixon in “The Blue Lamp” 70 years ago, before the TV show “Dixon of Dock Green” premiered 65 years ago. Warner also appeared in “The Ladykillers” released 65 years ago.
Happiest Days of your Life
2020 marks 70 years since the release of the St. Trinian’s precursor “The Happiest Days of your Life” with Ealing actors Alastair Sim, Margaret Rutherford, & Joyce Grenfell. The film premiered at the Carlton Theatre in London on the 10th of March 1950.
The Love Lottery
2020 marks 66 years since the 1954 Ealing comedy “The Love Lottery” with David Niven, Gordon Jackson, & Herbert Lom had its Royal World Premiere in Christchurch, New Zealand attended by The Queen & Prince Philip.
For Better For Worse
2020 marks 66 years since the British comedy “For Better, For Worse”, starring Cecil Parker, Dennis Price, Dirk Bogarde, Susan Stephen, Sid James, & Jackie Collins opened at the Warner cinema in London.
At the Earth’s Core 44
44 years ago, “At the Earth’s Core”, starring Hammer-icon & Bond-girl Caroline Munro, premiered in London.
50 years of U.F.O.
50 years ago, Gerry Anderson’s cult sci-fi show “U.F.O.”, which starred Antonia Ellis, aired for the first time on British TV.
Leigh Lawson 75
Leigh Lawson, the star of saucy 70s comedy “Percy’s Progress” and husband to fashion icon Twiggy, turned 75 in 2020.
Scars of Dracula 50
2020 marks 50 years since the Hammer horror double bill of “Scars of Dracula” & “Horror of Frankenstein” premiered at the New Victoria Cinema in London.
Valerie Leon 77
Valerie Leon, the star of cult Hammer horror film “Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb” and many a British film & TV show, turned 77 in 2020.
Entertaining Mr Sloane
50 years ago, the film adaptation of Joe Orton’s “Entertaining Mr Sloane” had its Royal Premiere at London’s Carlton cinema, attended by Princess Margaret.
Sir Cliff Richard 80
Cliff turned 80 in 2020 (and his film co-star Melyvn Hayes turned 85) and is still performing and recording.
The Shadows’ Apache
2020 marks 60 years since the release of The Shadows’ influential single “Apache”, as well as Brian Bennett’s 80th birthday.
Beat Girl 60th
2020 marks 60 years since the film “Beat Girl”, starring Adam Faith with John Barry‘s first film soundtrack, opened at London’s Pavilion.
Forton Services 55
55 years ago in November 1965, Forton Services at Bailrigg, Lancaster, was opened with the stylish Pennine Tower, which is now Grade-II listed.
National Theatre 44
44 years ago, the first production opened at the new National Theatre at the Southbank, and The Queen officially opened the new venue on London’s South Bank.
School for Scoundrels 60
The classic British comedy “School for Scoundrels”, starring Terry-Thomas, Janette Scott, Ian Carmichael, & Alastair Sim, premiered in London 60 years ago.
30 years of Supermodels
Heralding the birth of the supermodel, the January 1990 cover of British Vogue featured “the big five” supermodels. They went on to appear in George Michael’s “Freedom! 90” video which introduced “the supers” to MTV audiences globally.
Linda Evangelista 55th
Widely regarded as THE supermodel, Linda Evangelista turned 55 in 2020. Linda showed modelling was an art form, not just collaborating with but also inspiring designers and stylists – no wonder she has appeared on over 700 magazine covers worldwide.
Naomi Campbell 50th
An even bigger icon and role model now, than when she started in the 80s, Naomi Campbell turned 50 in 2020. Naomi was the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue and the first to appear on the important September issue of American Vogue.
The German supermodel and actress Claudia, who holds the record for the most magazine covers ever, turned 50 in 2020.
Peggy Moffitt 80th
Legendary 60s fashion model Peggy Moffitt, who appeared in the seminal Antonioni film “Blow-Up!”, turned 80 in 2020.
55 years of Darling
“Darling”, the film that won Julie Christie an Oscar for Best Actress, was released 55 years ago, and Julie turned 80 in 2020.
2020 marks 55 years of the spy-spoof “Get Smart”. The first ever episode, “Mr. Big”, aired on American TV on the 18th of September 1965, starring the pioneering Barbara Feldon as the resourceful Agent 99. She proved far more capable a spy than the bumbling Max Smart and was at the forefront of independent female characters on television.
45 years of Space:1999
2020 marks 45 years of Gerry Anderson’s “Space:1999”. A real-life married couple at the time, Martin Landau & Barbara Bain starred as John Koenig and Helena Russell on Moonbase Alpha. The first episode of “Space: 1999” called “Breakaway” aired on British TV for the first time, on the ATV channel, on the 4th of September 1975.
Herb Alpert 85th
Herb Alpert, the pioneering band leader of the The Tijuana Brass, turned 85 on the 31st of March 2020. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass helped define the sound of the 1960s, from the infectious “Spanish Flea” to the collaboration with Burt Bacharach including the number one hit “This Guy’s in Love with You” and the theme for “Casino Royale”.
Iconic footballer Pelé, who coined the phrase “the beautiful game”, turned 80 in 2020.
Jimmy Greaves 80th
Jimmy Greaves, aka Greavsie in Saint & Greavsie with Ian St. John, turned 80 in 2020.
Brian Clough Forest
45 years ago, Brian Clough became the manager at Nottingham Forest.
Martin Shaw turned 75 in 2020. Initially famous for his character Doyle in “The Professionals”, he graduated to the law courts in “Judge John Deed” and is still active and in demand for his voice.
John Thaw Anniversaries
2020 marks 33 years since the first ever episode of “Inspector Morse”, called “The Dead of Jericho”, and 45 years since the first episode of the first series of The Sweeney, called “Ringer”.
Rocky Horror 45
45 years ago, on the 14th of August 1975, the film version of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” had its London premiere at the Rialto cinema. Rocky himself was Carnaby fashion model Peter Hinwood.
45 years ago, “Alfie Darling”, the sequel to Michael Caine’s “Alfie”, premiered at the Leicester Square Theatre. Starring Joan Collins, Cilla Black returned to sing the film’s theme song written by Alfie actor Alan Price.
Ab Fab 25
The “Happy New Year” episode of cult comedy “Absolutely Fabulous” aired on British TV for the first time 25 years ago. Guest-starring Kate O’Mara, the show introduced us to Patsy’s sister, the ruthless Jackie Stone.
Breaking of Bumbo 45
44 years ago, Joanna Lumley’s debut as Purdey aired on British TV in “The New Avengers” episode called “The Eagle’s Nest” and 45 years ago “The Breaking of Bumbo” film premiered on BBC2.
2020 marks 55 years of London Life, the impossibly hip & short-lived style magazine. The first ever issue, dated the 9th of October 1965, hit the newsstands on the 7th.
2020 marks 55 years since the classic Bond film “Goldfinger” with Sean Connery & Honor Blackman went on general release in American & European cinemas.
A View to a Kill 35
35 years ago, the James Bond film “A View to a Kill” finally saw good friends Roger Moore & Patrick Macnee work together on screen in Moore’s final outing as 007.