Todd on The Benny Hill Show (1971)
|Born||15 December 1921
Faversham, Kent, England
|Died||21 October 1992
Bob Todd (born Brian Todd; 15 December 1921 – 21 October 1992) was an English comedy actor, mostly known for appearing as a straight man in the sketch shows of Benny Hill and Spike Milligan. For many years he lived in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Life and career
Todd was born in Faversham, Kent. One of the great stooges of television comedy, Todd was best known for his lugubrious expression and talent for slapstick, and was known to fellow comedians by the nickname 'Silly Todd'.
Before working in television, Todd trained to be a dentist. The outbreak of the Second World War saw him enlist in the Royal Air Force where he became a navigator stationed at RAF Goxhill, Lincolnshire. He had ambitions of becoming a farmer - making money from cattle breeding, whilst working as a manager at London Airport. The farming business, once begun, failed and almost made him bankrupt, so at the age of 42 he found himself looking for a new career. Meeting scriptwriters Ray Galton and Alan Simpson in a pub, he bluffed them into believing that he was in fact an actor and ended up with the part of a policeman in the Sid James comedy series Citizen James in 1963. He appeared as several characters in Milligan and John Antrobus' stage play The Bed-Sitting Room, which opened at the Mermaid Theatre on 31 January 1963.
He consequently stooged in The Dick Emery Show and The Mike and Bernie Winters Show amongst others, before joining The Benny Hill Show in 1968. He stayed with the programme, on and off, until Thames Television ended the show twenty one years later.
Todd gained a reputation for drunkenness while working on The Benny Hill Show. He once failed to turn up for a London Palladium show after a 'drinking episode', and eventually found himself in a Dublin hospital five days later. After this was reported in the media, Hill had Todd dropped from the show. Producer Dennis Kirkland persuaded Hill to rescind the decision, saying Todd brought much to the show and his drinking rarely affected his work.
Todd's only starring role was in his own 1972 series In for a Penny although he did appear in the Jimmy Jewel series Funny Man. He also appeared in Eric Sykes' television series, in the episode "Sykes and A Bath", broadcast on 25 January 1961, in series three of Sykes and A..., in which he played a sad-faced man with one hand stuck inside a vase. He also appeared in Sykes' film Rhubarb Rhubarb in 1980, as well as making guest appearances on shows by Jim Davidson and Allan Stewart and Spike Milligan's Q9. He was also seen in cinema films, including Carry On Again Doctor, The Return of the Musketeers, and Mutiny on the Buses. Todd also appeared in the 1980s series of The Sooty Show playing the part of The Black Hand, in the adventure film The Case of the Black Hand.
Todd and his wife, Monica, had one daughter and two sons. He died at the age of 70 in Sussex.
- Raising the Wind (1961)
- Postman's Knock (1962)
- The Intelligence Men (1965)
- Hot Millions (1968)
- Carry on Again Doctor (1969)
- Scars of Dracula (1970)
- She'll Follow You Anywhere (1971)
- Adolf Hitler - My Part in His Downfall (1972)
- Burke & Hare (1972)
- Mutiny on the Buses (1972)
- Go for a Take (1972)
- The Flying Sorcerer (1973)
- The Over-Amorous Artist (1974)
- The Four Musketeers (1974)
- The Ups and Downs of a Handyman (1975)
- Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975)
- Rosie Dixon - Night Nurse (1978)
- Le Petomane (1979)
- The Sooty Show - The Case of The Black Hand (9 Episodes) (1980)
- Superman III (1983)
- The Steam Video Company (1984)
- The Return of the Musketeers (1989)
- Milligan, Spike, & Antrobus, John (1973) The Bedsitting Room. Tandem: London. First published in Great Britain by Margaret & Jack Hobbs, 1970. Published by Universal-Tandem, 1972. © 1970 Spike Milligan and John Antrobus
- Scudamore, Pauline (1985). Spike Milligan: A Biography. London: Granada. ISBN 0-246-12275-7. pp.203-204
- McCann, Graham (2006). Spike & Co. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-89809-7. (a)p.158, (b)pp.215-216