Paul Nicholas

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Paul Nicholas
Birth name Paul Oscar Beuselinck
Born (1945-12-03) 3 December 1945 (age 68)
Origin Peterborough, England
Genres Pop, stage, screen
Occupations Singer, actor
Years active 1960–present

Paul Nicholas (born 3 December 1945) is an English actor and singer. He started out with a pop career, but soon changed to musical theatre. Later, in the 1970s, he began a screen career. He returned to the pop charts, starring in the 1983 BBC TV sitcom Just Good Friends, for which he is best known. The show won a BAFTA and Nicholas was also nominated for best comedy performance. After the show ended, he returned to musical theatre and various other entertainment roles including producing and directing.

Biography[edit]

Nicholas was born as Paul Oscar Beuselinck in Peterborough, England. His grandfather – who originated from Belgium — had been a chef in the merchant navy during World War II, before becoming Head Chef on The Union-Castle Line ships between England and South Africa. His maternal grandfather was a London docker Nicholas' father Oscar Beuselinck, a former MI6 agent, became a highly esteemed entertainment solicitor, whose clients included MGM, Jack Hylton, John Osborne, The Rolling Stones, Tony Richardson, Richard Harris, Sean Connery, Yes, Robert Stigwood, and The Who.

The family spent holidays at his maternal grandparents' home on the Isle of Sheppey, until Nicholas was 10. After his parents divorced when he was 12, his father's family home was at Letchmore Heath, Watford opposite the Bhaktivedanta Manor. Nicholas' paternal grandparents, Winnie and Oscar, lived in a small cottage on the grounds.

Career[edit]

Nicholas began his pop career as early as 1960. Adopting the stage name Paul Dean, he formed Paul Dean & The Dreamers[1] who were booked to support The Savages, the backing band for the British rocker, Screaming Lord Sutch. It was here that Sutch first noticed the young Nicholas, who was soon to become vocalist and pianist with The Savages.

Still using the name Paul Dean, Nicholas released two solo singles in 1965–66. After taking a new stage name, Oscar, he began a long association with the Australian-born entrepreneur, Robert Stigwood. In 1966, Nicholas signed with Stigwood's Reaction Records label and his first single under his new name, "Club of Lights",[2] scraped into the lower reaches of the Radio London Fab Forty chart.

The second Oscar single was a version of a Pete Townshend song "Join My Gang", which The Who never recorded. His third single, a novelty song called "Over the Wall We Go" (1967) is notable for being written and produced by a young David Bowie and it gained a degree of notoriety because of Bowie's tongue-in-cheek lyrics concerning escaped prisoners and incompetent policemen, which satirised a rash of highly publicised prison break-outs in the UK and was banned by the BBC.

Nicholas in Jesus Christ Superstar

After settling on the stage name Paul Nicholas, Nicholas eventually found success in the UK in musicals, beginning with the leading role of Claude in Hair (which Stigwood produced) before winning the title role in the original London production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The part of Danny to Elaine Paige's Sandy made them the first British couple to play the leads in Grease. He joined The Young Vic under Frank Dunlop and played Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing and appeared in Crete and Sgt. Pepper by John Antrobus. He appeared as the Bully of the Boulevard in Richard O’Brien’s T-Zee at London's Royal Court Theatre. He also performed in Prospect Theatre Company's Carl Davies musical Pilgrim. It was while touring with O'Brien in Hair in 1970 that he first heard songs from the yet to be produced Rocky Horror Show and made the first professional recording with O'Brien singing "That Ain't No Crime". On the b-side was a song entitled "Very 50s", where O'Brien introduces the characters Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott (In 2005 Nicholas sent O'Brien a CD copy of the recordings with a view to releasing them as an historical record). Thereafter Nicholas returned to the West End starring in Harold Fielding's revival of Charlie Girl with Cyd Charisse.

Nicholas' film career began in 1970 in a French film with Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin called Cannabis. What Became of Jack and Jill? followed, in which he played Mona Washbourne's character's ungrateful grandson. He followed this as a psychotic killer in Richard Fleischer's See No Evil (1971 film). In 1975, he gained international attention when he played the cameo role of the title character's sadistic Cousin Kevin in Robert Stigwood and Ken Russell's film Tommy. He worked again for Russell in Lisztomania, playing Richard Wagner.

In 1976, he embarked on a short-lived but high profile pop career, with three Top 20 hits in the UK Singles Chart "Reggae Like It Used To Be", "Dancing with the Captain", and "Grandma's Party", the last two of which reached the Top 10.[3] He released the single "Heaven on the 7th Floor" in 1977. This only just reached the UK Top 40, but reached number No. 1 in New Zealand. In the US, the song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 5 in Cashbox listings, giving Paul a gold record. He followed this with "On The Strip" which entered the Billboard Hot 100 No. 67 but failed to enter the UK chart. In the mid-1970s he hosted his own pop show on children's TV, titled Paul.

In 1978, he co-starred in the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as Dougie Shears. Further films followed including Nutcracker with Joan Collins, Yesterday's Hero with Ian McShane and Susan Summers, The World Is Full of Married Men with Carol Baker, the romantic lead in Invitation to a Wedding, and the loutish punk singer in The Jazz Singer.

Having done the workshop with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Nicholas returned to the West End stage in 1981 to create the role of the capricious cat Rum Tum Tugger in Webber's musical Cats. He followed this originating the title role in Blondel by Sir Tim Rice and Stephen Oliver. That same year he starred in Two Up, Two Down, a short-lived sitcom co-starring Su Pollard. Then in 1983, Nicholas got his first high-profile television role (he had acted in plays and one-off roles through the 1970s on TV) in which he was cast as Vince Pinner in the BBC TV sitcom Just Good Friends, written by John Sullivan.

The show, for which Nicholas also sang the theme tune, was a success. He was also nominated for a BAFTA. It ended in 1986 with the marriage of the two main characters in Paris. Nicholas went on to star in two highly successful series for ITV. In the major drama series Bust he was nominated Best Actor. He acted in two series of Close to Home, a sitcom about a vet. During this period Nicholas was seldom off television with many appearances including four Royal Variety Shows. He also appeared in TV commercials for Rougemont Castle British wine, and magazine advertisements for Farah slacks.

Nicholas returned to the theatre playing numerous roles on screen in both movie and television projects. He starred as The Pirate King in Joseph Papp's version of The Pirates of Penzance at the London Palladium and the Manchester Opera House, touring again in the same role in the late 1990s. Nicholas starred in Barnum in the first national tour and followed this with a highly successful season at The Dominion Theatre in the West End. At the end of 1991, while touring with Barnum, Nicholas was the subject of This Is Your Life. For his services to show business and charity, Nicholas was awarded a Silver Heart from the Variety Club of Great Britain and a Gold Badge Award from BASCA. Nicholas then starred in the national tour of Singin' in the Rain, which was directed by Tommy Steele.

In June 1996, Nicholas played the role of King Arthur in the Covent Garden Festival's production of Camelot. He repeated his role of King Arthur in a BBC Radio 2 production of Camelot. Other radio work included Gracie Field's husband Bert in BBC Radio 4's Gracie. Nicholas then hosted two series of BBC Radio 2's Mad About Musical', as well as his own hour long TV special, Paul and Friends, for Thames Television. Nicholas fronted the Radio 4 children's series Cat's Whiskers during the 1980s.

Nicholas was also the narrator of the children's animated series The Adventures of Spot, part of the Spot the Dog franchise, in 1985. Although he was briefly replaced by Peter Hawkins for the first phase of It's Fun To Learn With Spot, Nicholas reprises the role in time with the production of a second season of The Adventures of Spot in 1992, and also performed the narration for the second phase of It's Fun To Learn With Spot. His involvement with the franchise ended in 1996, with his last credited appearance in the series being in the special Spot's Magical Christmas. Such was Nicholas' association as the narrator of the franchise that he also narrated four stories featuring Spot the Dog that was released directly to cassette and CD in the late 1980s, and was also the voice featured on the Spot the Dog children's ride, which was first manufactured in 1995.

In 1997, Nicholas starred as the anti-hero of Karoline Leach's The Mysterious Mr. Love at the Comedy Theatre in London's West End. Nicholas continued to appear as the lead in numerous straight roles thereafter: Simon Gray's Stagestruck, a national tour of Michael Cooney's The Dark Side with Jenny Seagrove, Catch Me if You Can with Christopher Eccleston, and two plays by Eric Chappell: Mixed Feelings, in which he played a transsexual, and Snakes and Ladders with Ian Ogilvy. Nicholas starred as John Smith in the original production of Caught in the Net. He then co-produced, with Bill Kenwright, a new musical based on Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities, in which he starred as Sidney Carton. The musical then played Windsor with a Christmas season in Birmingham.

In 2000, Nicholas appeared in the BBC television comedy drama Sunburn, playing the role of David Janus, owner of the self-titled holiday company that the series centred around. He also played the role of Ronnie Buchan in the new police drama series Burnside. Further television work followed with parts in The Bill and Holby City. Nicholas then played the title role in the national tour of Doctor Dolittle and followed this with the role of Tevye in UK Productions' national tour of Fiddler on the Roof.

In the summer of 2006, he was a celebrity showjumper in the BBC's Sport Relief event Only Fools on Horses, as well as appearing in Doctors, Heartbeat and Holby City. That autumn, Nicholas was attached to star in the British film Cash and Curry, and also in that year he co-produced and starred in the musical Jekyll & Hyde in a UK national tour.

In 2007, Nicholas and his business partner David Ian took part in a search for Danny and Sandy in the ITV1 show Grease is the Word. Ian was a judge and Nicholas the acting coach to the contestants. He performed with his son Alex Beuselinck in Schwartz Stories, a new musical at the Kings Head. Also in 2007, Nicholas produced and directed Keeler, a new play based on Christine Keeler's autobiography The Truth at Last. At the beginning of 2007, Nicholas starred as Julian Marsh in the UK tour of 42nd Street, directed by the author Mark Bramble. Nicholas left prematurely so that he could film the new daily ITV1 medical series The Royal Today in which he played the consultant surgeon Mr. Woods. In 2008, Nicholas played Alan Boon in BBC Four's Consuming Passions – a hundred years of Mills and Boon. He also directed and produced A Tale of Two Cities at Upstairs at the Gatehouse. In 2009, Nicholas played Jack Point in The Yeomen of the Guard for the Carl Rosa Opera Company at the Tower of London Festival. He co-produced Jest End, Garry Lake's take on the West End musical at the Jeremyn Street Theatre. In 2010, Nicholas returned to BBC Television with an appearance in Missing. Nicholas undertook a UK tour playing the Pirate King in the Carl Rosa Opera Company production of The Pirates of Penzance.

In November 2010, Nicholas and Sean Maguire starred in a new play, The Haunting. The Haunting continued in 2011 with Nicholas and Charlie Clements. In September 2011, Nicholas produced and directed a UK tour of Keeler. The production starred Alice Coulthard as Christine Keeler. Nicholas also directed the musical Tale of Two Cities at the Charing Cross Theatre in April and May 2012, followed by the film, Gridiron in August. In December 2012, he performed as Captain Hook in Peter Pan, a Christmas pantomime, at the White Rock Theatre in Hastings. Dear World by Jerry Herman will premier in London at the Charing Cross Theatre in 2013 starring Betty Buckley with Nicholas. The show was directed by Gillian Lynne at the Charing Cross Theatre. Nicholas was nominated for his role as Sewer man for best actor in a musical by Broadway World. Nicholas starred as Stephen Ward in the play Keeler based on the Profumo Affair. Nicholas is co producer of 2014 UK tour of 'Seven Brides For Seven Brothers', directed by Patti Colombo. In September 2014 Nicholas will direct and produce 'Blockbuster The Musical' for Blockbuster Productions. The music was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman who were responsible for a number of hit records throughout the 70's and 80's. The book was written by David Soames with script adaptation by David Soames and Paul Nicholas based on an idea by David Howells. The show will undertake a mini tour with further dates in 2015.

Business[edit]

In 1990 whilst starring with David Ian in a production of The Pirates of Penzance at the London Palladium, Nicholas offered Ian a partnership in co-producing and starring in a touring production of the New York Shakespeare Festival version of the popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera. Paul Nicholas & David Ian Associates Ltd were formed to produce the 20th anniversary production of Jesus Christ Superstar on a UK-wide tour, which sold out. They then produced a nightly fully staged version of The Pirates of Penzance in which Nicholas starred and again they sold out.[4]

The company has since produced numerous shows making both partners millionaires, including:

School of acting[edit]

In 2006 Nicholas set up a franchise operation, the Paul Nicholas School of Acting & Performing Arts, aimed at teaching acting to school-age children.[5] There were, at one stage, thirty franchises across England and Wales but the company went into liquidation in 2012.

In January 2008 Nicholas launched Paul Nicholas Community Arts, a project designed to engage disenfranchised children in the arts. The pilot scheme will be funded for fourteen weeks by Wyre Borough Council in the North West of England. A twelve-week scheme began on 28 May 2008 in Blackpool.

Personal life[edit]

Nicholas has been married twice, and has six children. His first wife, Susan, whom he divorced in the early 1970s. died in a car accident in 1977. Nicholas married his second wife, columnist Linzi Beuselinck, in 1984.

Music charts[edit]

Year Title Peak positions
UK
[3]
US NZ
[6]
1976 "Reggae Like It Used To Be" 17
"Dancing with the Captain" 8
"Grandma's Party" 9
1977 "Heaven on the 7th Floor" 40 6 1
1978 "On the Strip" 67

Literature[edit]

  • Paul Nicholas (with Douglas Thompson): Behind the Smile autobiography, hardcover, 218 pages published in October 1999 by André Deutsch Ltd; ISBN 0-233-99748-2

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RAY'S EARLY DAYS". www.rayrandall.co.uk. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Oscar – " Club of Lights"". www.youtube.com. 22 Jun 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 394. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ Greasethemusical.co.uk
  5. ^ Pnsa.co.uk
  6. ^ "PAUL NICHOLAS IN NEW ZEALAND CHARTS". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 

External links[edit]