Leslie Phillips

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Leslie Phillips
LesliePhillipsBAFTA07 crop and mirror.jpg
Phillips at the Orange British Academy Film Awards in February 2007
Born Leslie Samuel Phillips
(1924-04-20) 20 April 1924 (age 89)
Tottenham, London, England
Nationality English
Occupation Actor, voice-over artist, author
Years active 1934[1]–present
Notable work(s) See below
Spouse(s) Penelope Bartley
(m. 1948–1965, divorced)
Angela Scoular
(m. 1982–2011, her death)
Zara Carr
(m. 2013)
Children 4

Leslie Samuel Phillips, CBE (born 20 April 1924) is an English actor with a highly recognisable upper class accent. Originally known for his work as a comedy actor, Phillips subsequently made the transition to character roles.

Early life[edit]

Contrary to the impression given by his public persona, Phillips came from a background of poverty. He was born in Tottenham, North London, England, the son of Cecelia Margaret (née Newlove) and Frederick Samuel Phillips,[2] who worked at Glover and Main, manufacturers of cookers in Edmonton; the "filthy, sulphurous" air of the factory gave him a weak heart and edema, leading to his death at the age of 44. In 1931, the family moved to Chingford, London where Phillips attended Larkswood Primary School.[3]

It was his mother who decided that Phillips should be sent to the Italia Conti Academy to receive elocution lessons to lose his natural cockney accent. At that time a strong regional accent was a major impediment to an aspiring actor. It proved to be an astute move and by the age of 14 Phillips was the family's main breadwinner, saving his mother from squalor.

Patting Mr Tibbs while playing vet Jimmy Fox-Upton in In The Doghouse (1961)

Career[edit]

Phillips made his first film appearances as a child in the 1930s. He is the only actor still alive who performed at Pinewood Studios in its first week of opening in 1936. He also understudied for Binkie Beaumont and H.M. Tennent in the West End. In 1938, 14-year-old Leslie Phillips appeared with Graeme Muir in the West End play Dear Octopus where Muir was the juvenile lead. During the Second World War shows were frequently interrupted by air-raid sirens and Phillips recalls in his autobiography that "audiences would evaporate and head for cellars or Underground stations". At 16, Phillips played an uncredited market street urchin in 1940's The Thief of Bagdad.

Due to his acquired upper class accent, Phillips was selected for officer training at Catterick and duly commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1943. He was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry in 1944 but was later declared unfit for service after being diagnosed with a neurological condition that caused partial paralysis. He was initially sent to a psychiatric hospital in error but was then sent to the correct facility for treatment.

Demobbed as a lieutenant in December 1944, Phillips' acting career initially took in "the murkiest rat-infested old playhouses and music halls in the North of England". It was during the 1950s that he became known for playing amusing English stereotypes. His first lead role in a television serial was in the 1952 sitcom My Wife Jacqueline.[4] His seductive voice is his trademark as well as his catchphrases, "I say, Ding Dong" (originally the catchphrase of Phillips' character Jack Bell in Carry On Nurse), "Hello" and "Lumme!", which were partly, if not wholly, based on those of fellow cad actor Terry-Thomas. He appeared in three of the early Carry On films (Carry On Nurse, Carry On Teacher and Carry On Constable). After Constable he told producer Peter Rogers that he did not wish to do any more Carry Ons, though he did return for Carry On Columbus in 1992. In the 1960s he took over from Dirk Bogarde in several of the 'Doctor' film comedies. Between 1959 and 1977 Phillips became familiar on radio with a leading role in The Navy Lark.

After his marriage to Angela Scoular in 1982 Phillips decided to move away from the kind of lecherous twits with suave chat-up lines which had characterised much of his previous work. Phillips has remained busy in both stage and television productions, along with character roles in films like Empire of the Sun (1987) directed by Steven Spielberg and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). Phillips also provided the voice for the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter films appearing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) as well as reprising his role in the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011). He has also appeared in British television sitcoms including Honey for Tea with Felicity Kendal and appeared in cameo roles in the popular series such as The Bill.

In 2006 he appeared in Hanif Kureishi's film Venus alongside Peter O'Toole and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in 2007 for his role as the veteran actor, Ian.[5] He was in this film with Vanessa Redgrave, and in the DVD 'extras' he mentions that he had previously worked with both of her daughters and her father Michael Redgrave (in 1938), likely making him the only still-living person to have done so.

Phillips' autobiography, Hello was published by Orion in 2006. ISBN 0-7528-8178-7.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1998 Queen's Birthday Honours and was promoted to Commander (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.

Phillips, in conjunction with Jules Williams and Back Door Productions[6] co-produces the Sky Arts series Living The Life[7] which is now in its third series.

Personal life[edit]

Phillips married his first wife, actress Penelope Bartley, on 30 May 1948.[8] They had four children, Caroline, Claudia, Andrew and Roger.

In 1962, Phillips started a romantic relationship with actress Caroline Mortimer, daughter of writer Penelope Mortimer and stepdaughter of John Mortimer, who was an understudy in a stage play in which Phillips starred. Phillips and Bartley separated at that point and were divorced in 1965.

After his relationship with Mortimer ended, Phillips embarked on a relationship with actress Vicki Luke, with whom he lived for approximately three years, after which he started a relationship with Angela Scoular, a former Bond girl.

While on tour in Australia in 1981 he was notified that Penelope Bartley had died in a fire. Phillips elected to continue in the production and not attend her funeral. He has acknowledged that his family has never forgiven him for not coming back to attend the funeral.[citation needed]

In 1982, Phillips and Scoular were married and remained together until her death in April 2011.[9] Scoular was suffering from bowel cancer and took her own life. Phillips was too ill to attend the inquest into Scoular's death three months later.[10]

On 20 December 2013, Phillips, aged 89, married Zara Carr, his third wife.[11]

He is a long-term fan of Tottenham Hotspur, and made an appearance on the pitch as part of the half-time entertainment during the team's home match against Swansea City on 1 April 2012.

Filmography[edit]

Radio[edit]

Television[edit]

  • My Wife Jacqueline (1952) as Tom Bridger. (BBC) (sitcom)
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood – Episode "Friar Tuck" as Sir William of Marmsbury, "Checkmate" as Count De Waldern (series 1:1955), "A Village Wooing" as Wat Longfellow (series 2:1956) and "The Reluctant Rebel" as Herbert (series 4:1958).
  • Tracey and Me (1956) as Wally Forrest (Associated Rediffusion/ITV) (sitcom)
  • H.G.Well's Invisible Man (1958) – "Blind Justice" as Sparrow (ITC film series)
  • Our Man at St.Marks (series 1 only, 1963) as The Reverend Andrew Parker. (Associated Rediffusion/ITV) (sitcom)
  • Comedy Playhouse: "Impasse" – 15 Mar 1963 (BBC)
  • Comedy Playhouse: "The Time and Motion Man" – 29 July 1965 (BBC)
  • Foreign Affairs (1966) as Dennis Proudfoot (BBC) (sitcom)
  • The Galton & Simpson Comedy : "The Suit" – 19 April 1969 (London Weekend Television/LWT)
  • The Culture Vultures (1970) as Dr. Michael Cunningham (BBC) (sitcom)
  • Casanova '73 (1973) as Henry Newhouse (BBC) (sitcom)
  • Rumpole of the Bailey "Rumpole and Portia" – 21 December 1988 as Boxey Horne (BBC)
  • Summer's Lease (1989) as William Fosdyke (BBC/WGBH Boston/Australian Broadcasting Corporation/TV New Zealand) (4 part adaptation of novel by Sir John Mortimer)
  • The Comic Strip Presents...: "GLC:The Carnage Continues..." 15 February 1990 (BBC) as Sir Horace Cutler
  • Life After Life (Pilot)(1990) as Wing Commander Boyle (LWT)
  • Chancer (Central Television: 1990–91)
  • Honey for Tea (1994) as Sir Dickie Hobhouse (BBC) (sitcom)
  • The House of Windsor (1994) as Lord Montague Bermondsey (Granada) (sitcom)
  • Love on a Branch Line (1994) as Lord Flamborough (BBC)
  • Bermuda Grace (1994) (US TV Pilot)
  • The Canterville Ghost – (1996) as George, Lord Canterville (US TV movie)
  • Midsomer Murders : "Painted in Blood" (2003)
  • The Catherine Tate Show (2006)
  • Loose Women (2008) guest
  • Alan Carr's Celebrity Ding Dong (2008) guest
  • Sex and the Sitcom (2011) BBC4 documentary

Films[edit]

Video games[edit]

Phillips provided his voice for the character of Gex in the UK and European release of Gex: Enter The Gecko.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Loose Women Interview, 2 July 2010
  2. ^ "Leslie Phillips Biography (1924–)". Filmreference.com. 20 April 1924. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Moyes, Johnathon (27 June 2007). "Ex-pupil Phillips opens old school". Waltham Forest Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  4. ^ Phillips, Leslie (2006). Hello: The Autobiography. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0752868896. 
  5. ^ "BAFTA Awards winners and nominees". Bafta.org. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Back Door Productions". 
  7. ^ "Living The Life – Sky Arts". Sky Arts / BSkyB. 
  8. ^ Phillips, Lesley (2006). "Hello", The Autobiography. Orion Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7528-8178-2. 
  9. ^ Daily Mail news item Retrieved 20 April 2011
  10. ^ "BBC News – Bond actress Angela Scoular died drinking acid cleaner". Bbc.co.uk. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  11. ^ Daily Mirror item Retrieved 22 December 2013

External links[edit]