Paul Eddington

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Paul Eddington
CBE
Paul Eddington 2.jpg
Born (1927-06-18)18 June 1927
St John's Wood, London, England
Died 4 November 1995(1995-11-04) (aged 68)
Southwark, London, England
Cause of death Skin Cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1940s - 1995
Religion Quaker
Spouse(s) Patricia Eddington (née Scott)
(m. 1952 - 1995, his death)
Children 4 (three sons and one daughter)

Paul Eddington, CBE (18 June 1927 – 4 November 1995) was an English actor known for his appearances in the popular television sitcoms The Good Life and Yes Minister.

Early life[edit]

Eddington was born in St John's Wood in London to Albert Clark Eddington and Frances Mary (née Roberts).[1] The family were Quakers, and Eddington was brought up by his parents with strict family values. He attended Sibford School, Sibford Ferris, Oxfordshire. In 1952, he married Patricia (née Scott). The marriage, which produced four children, was felicitous and lasted until Eddington's death 43 years later.

Career[edit]

Having registered as a conscientious objector, Eddington began his acting career as a teenager with Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) during the Second World War.[2] He worked for a repertory theatre company in Sheffield and made his first TV appearance in 1956 as a regular cast member of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Initially he played minor characters, but in the fourth season (1959–60), he played Will Scarlet. He also did roles in episodes of The Avengers (1963), The Prisoner (1967) and the final episode of The Champions (1969). He also had a supporting role in Hammer Films' The Devil Rides Out (1968) and appeared as a "straight man" (substituting for regular stooge Henry McGee) in a 1976 episode of The Benny Hill Show.

Rise to fame[edit]

Although he was an actor all his life, it was not until Eddington was in his late forties that he became a household name. This happened thanks to The Good Life (known as Good Neighbors in the US), first screened by the BBC in 1975.[2] The sitcom tells the story of a suburban couple who decide to give up work and become self-sufficient in their suburban backyard. Eddington was cast as Jerry Leadbetter, a neighbour of the main characters, and Penelope Keith played his wife, Margo. Originally intended as bit parts, the Leadbetters quickly became essential foils for the two "stars".

Eddington's fame grew further when he played the title role of Jim Hacker in the comedy series Yes Minister (first screened in 1980) and Yes, Prime Minister (1986–88) – said to have been former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's favourite TV programme. He was shortlisted as many as four times for the BAFTA award for Best Light Entertainment Performance for the series, but he lost out to his co-star Nigel Hawthorne on each occasion.

During 1987, Eddington appeared as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore in Australia.[3] His last roles included Richard Cuthbertson in the TV dramatisation of The Camomile Lawn (1992), the voice of Badger in The Adventures of Mole and Justice Shallow in Henry IV (1995), a BBC adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2.[4] He was reunited with his Good Life co-star Richard Briers in a run of the play Home in 1994.[5]

Awards and honours[edit]

Eddington was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours, 1987.[2][6]

Final years and death[edit]

Eddington's autobiography, So Far, So Good, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1995. On 30 October 1995, five days before his death, Eddington made an appearance on the television series Face to Face, discussing his life, career and battle with lymphoma with Jeremy Isaacs.[7] On that show, Eddington said, "A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me."

Eddington had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, known as mycosis fungoides, when he was 28. The ailment was to cause his death eventually, but in the intervening four decades, Eddington and his immediate family kept his condition private. Only his parents, wife and immediate siblings were aware of it until 1994, when Eddington responded publicly to press speculation about his darkening skin and hair loss.[5] Remarkably, he had suffered from this ailment for almost the entirety of his television and cinema career, and three of his four children had been born and raised while the disease existed.

Paul Eddington died of skin cancer in Southwark, London, on 4 November 1995.[8] He was survived by Patricia, his wife of 43 years, their three sons and one daughter.[9] BBC One aired a half-hour tribute to him on 15 July 2001, called Paul Eddington: A Life Well Lived.

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Birth registered (as "Paul Clark Eddington") in Paddington Registration District in the third quarter of 1927. Eddington gave his place of birth as St John's Wood in a Desert Island Discs interview with Roy Plomley in August 1981.
  2. ^ a b c Benedick, Adam (7 November 1995). "OBITUARY: Paul Eddington". The Independent. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Pinafore
  4. ^ Brooke, Michael. "Henry IV (1995)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Mackinnon, Ian (1 June 1994). "Actor reveals he has rare skin cancer: 'Yes Minister' star refuses to let illness remove him from centre-stage". The Independent. 
  6. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 31 December 1986, p. 8, accessed on 9 December 2013 Archived 6 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Face to Face with Jeremy Isaacs, shows an excerpt.
  8. ^ "Tributes flow for Paul Eddington, 'a brave man and a fine actor'". The Independent. 7 November 1995. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  9. ^ Who's Who 2009

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]