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Subject: What a talented young actor he was. Americans are unaware of the UK actor Beckinsale, but at the time of his death he starred in his own hit BBC sitcom "Bloomers", but shocked fans when he suddenly of a heart attack at 31! ...
English actor, who played Lennie Godber in the BBC sitcom Porridge (along with its sequel series Going Straight) and Alan Moore in the British ITV sitcom Rising Damp. He is the father of actresses Samantha Beckinsale and Kate Beckinsale.
Early life …
Beckinsale was born in Carlton, Nottinghamshire, to an Anglo-Burmese father, Arthur John Beckinsale, and an English mother, Maggie Barlow. He left Alderman White Secondary Modern School at 15 with ambitions to become an actor, so while working in numerous manual jobs he enrolled at a Nottingham adult drama class. As a result, he won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, turning professional in 1968. He then moved to Crewe to begin in repertory theatre, like most newly graduated actors at the time, and then made his television debut in 1969 as a police officer in Coronation Street, in which he had to arrest veteran character Ena Sharples.
Beckinsale's his first starring role was as Geoffrey in the sitcom The Lovers (1970–71), opposite fellow newcomer Paula Wilcox. The show put both lead performers in the public eye and, like many sitcoms of the time, spawned a film version. Soon after, he appeared in two of British TV's most successful sitcoms at the same time.
On ITV, he was playing naive medical student Alan Moore in Rising Damp (voted ITV's best-ever sitcom in the Britain's Best Sitcom poll in 2004) while also starring alongside Ronnie Barker in the BBC sitcom Porridge as prison inmate Lennie Godber. Rising Damp ran from 2 September 1974 until 9 May 1978, which starred Leonard Rossiter, who just 5 years after's Beckinsale's 1979 death of heart failure, he himself died of heart attack at age 57. … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0-9zw90NyM
He also appeared in the films Rentadick (1972) and Three for All (1975)
and made appearances in several other television series such as the ITV
Playhouse episode "Last Summer" in 1976. Shortly after his 30th birthday,
Beckinsale was the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life. … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wll7-c3XSgg
Beckinsale quit Rising Damp in 1977, the same year that Porridge was brought to an end with his character of Godber being released from his prison sentence in the final episode. He subsequently starred alongside Barker in Going Straight (1978), a spin-off of Porridge in which the two criminal characters are seen on the outside rebuilding their lives. In 1977, he starred in a radio comedy series called Albert and Me with Pat Coombs and John Comer. Beckinsale appeared in the film version of Porridge released in 1979. It was to be his last and only completed work of the year.
In October 1980, Frederick Muller Ltd published a
volume of Beckinsale's poetry entitled "With Love" …
...With filming completed on the film version of Porridge, Beckinsale started work on a sitcom for the BBC called Bloomers, and also prepared to start work on the film Bloody Kids. According to his Bloomers co-star Anna Calder-Marshall, during the recording of the first episode, Beckinsale told her he had suffered some kind of black-out, and had some dizzy spells. This concerned him enough to make an appointment to see a doctor, but the doctor could not find anything wrong apart from an overactive stomach lining, and slightly high cholesterol.
As filming on the show progressed, Beckinsale appeared increasingly tired, and "greyer and greyer", according to co-star David Swift, and towards the end of filming he was complaining of pains in his arms. On what was to be his last day of filming on the show, he gave Anna Calder-Marshall a lift home after filming. To her surprise, he began to talk about his fear of dying, and of being alone in the house. A week before he died, Beckinsale complained to his wife Judy Loe of feeling unwell and said he was unable to take her to hospital. At the time, they both put it down to nerves; she was due to have an operation to increase the couple's chances of having another child. The day before he died, he and his five-year-old daughter Kate visited Loe in hospital. …
Upon leaving the hospital, Beckinsale dropped his daughter Kate off, with relatives to spend the night. He then attended a farewell party for the Two Ronnies, who were about to leave for Australia. Afterwards, he returned to his house in Sunningdale, Berkshire. At some point that day, he had also called his elder daughter Samantha, and made plans to spend some time with her the following weekend. After arriving home late on the evening of Sunday 18 March, he telephoned friends. During the conversation he repeated that he had been feeling unwell, and also said that he had some pain in his chest and arms. He seemed in good humour though, and made a joke out of it.
When he did not arrive at the rehearsal for the sixth and final episode of Bloomers the next morning, a member of the production team rang his house, and the phone was answered by family friend Rosana Bradley, who had been staying at the house to help take care of Kate, but who had not been there the previous night. She said Beckinsale was still sleeping, and she left the phone to wake him up. When she returned, she said that she was unable to wake him, and was advised to call a doctor. Shortly after, it was confirmed that he had died during the night, of what appeared to be a massive heart attack. This was confirmed during a post-mortem examination, which also revealed that he had a congenital heart defect. Beckinsale had expressed worries about his cholesterol to friend Stephen Frears over dinner just days earlier, but he seemed healthy and fit and had no cardiac problems in his medical records. According to Frears, Beckinsale's high cholesterol may have been a factor in his early death.
Porridge co-star Ronnie Barker commented on Beckinsale's premature death, saying: "He was so loved. He hadn't done much but he was so loved that there was a universal sort of grief that went on." When asked to comment on his death years later, Kate Beckinsale said, "It was so sudden. He just went to sleep one night, and didn't wake up again."
Beckinsale was cremated during a private ceremony in Bracknell, Berkshire and his remains were then taken to Mortlake Crematorium. On 19 April 1979, the one-month anniversary of his death, a memorial service was held at the actors' church St Paul's in Covent Garden. More than 300 people attended the service, including David Jason, Leonard Rossiter, Fulton MacKay, and Richard Briers. His ashes interred at Mortlake Crematorium, in London, England. ...
A memorial plaque was later erected in the church in Beckinsale's honor. …
Unfinished work …
At the time of his death, Beckinsale had almost completed Bloomers. Writer James Saunders's original script reveals that Beckinsale was due to attend the sixth and last rehearsal for the final episode of the series on the day he died, with the show to be recorded the following day. The five completed Bloomers episodes were aired later in the year. He was also making a television film, Bloody Kids, which then had to be re-cast. This role marked a change in direction for Beckinsale, being a more hard-nosed character than those he had played before. Three days after his death, Going Straight won a BAFTA award. Barker delivered a brief acceptance speech in tribute to his co-star. Plans had been drawn up to make a film version of Beckinsale's other successful sitcom Rising Damp and ultimately the film was made in 1980. Christopher Strauli was recruited to replace Beckinsale, playing a different character.
Personal life and legacy …
In 2000, 21 years after his death, a documentary was broadcast on ITV in tribute, called The Unforgettable Richard Beckinsale. It featured interviews with his widow, the actress Judy Loe, as well as his father, sister, closest schoolfriend and two daughters. Also contributing were his co-stars, Barker and Rising Damp's Don Warrington.
In 2013, a blue plaque in Beckinsale's memory was unveiled at his former school, College House Junior School
in Chilwell. Kate Beckinsale, Judy Loe, David Walliams, and Michael Sheen attended the ceremony. …
In 2018, as part of an art project in Beckinsale's former hometown of Beeston, a mural of
him was commissioned by the town council and painted by the French street artist, Zabou. ...