Tony Melody

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Tony Melody
Tony Melody.jpg
Anthony John Melody

(1922-12-18)18 December 1922
London, England
Died26 June 2008(2008-06-26) (aged 85)
Years active1955–2005
Spouse(s)Margaret Little (1972–2008; second wife)

Anthony John Melody (18 December 1922 – 26 June 2008) was an English television actor who appeared in a number of long running comedies and soap operas. He was a prolific character actor[1] with more than 100 television roles.[2]

Early life[edit]

Melody was born in London, where his father was in the Royal Horse Guards, but was brought up in Yorkshire, where his parents ran the Station public house in Goole, West Riding of Yorkshire.[a] It was as a singer that he initially made his mark, starting out at the pub his mother Myra ran with his father, where, as a small boy, he accompanied the pianist; later in life he went on to sing with the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra.

He was raised as a devout Roman Catholic and attended Sacred Heart Church in Blackpool.[3] During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force.[2][4]


Initially as a dancer, Melody spent three years touring the Mediterranean with Ralph Reader's Gang Show, performing for British troops in various countries along with Tony Hancock and Norrie Paramor.[1][3] In 1952 he spent a season performing at the Windmill Theatre in London, among the nudes, where he featured as a comedy singer, before returning to Yorkshire, where he performed semi-professionally in local clubs while working in a factory in Leeds during the day. In 1955 he appeared on What Makes A Star? on BBC local radio. He became a regular on BBC regional radio, working in the North region of the BBC Home Service from 1958 with, among others, Jimmy Clitheroe (who he also appeared with on stage, touring the Variety theatres) and with Harry Worth.[3] With Clitheroe, he did a regular double-act on a radio variety show called Call Boy, as well as doing much the same act together on stage in the theatres.[5]

His acting career at the BBC began in radio, appearing in the sitcom The Clitheroe Kid, another show which starred Jimmy Clitheroe, in which he appeared from 1957 as grumpy taxi driver Horatio Higginbottom, a regular role that he continued in for sixteen years, until 1972.[4][6] In the 1950s he also had a regular role as compère and singer with the BBC's Northern Dance Orchestra, in the BBC radio show The Straw Hat Club.[1]

His first television role came on 6 December 1957 when he appeared in the BBC comedy Be Soon alongside comedian Hylda Baker.[7] Between 1964 and 1968 he appeared regularly on ITV with Jimmy Clitheroe in the sitcom Just Jimmy, and featured in two episodes of ITV's Coronation Street, playing two small different roles, as a coach driver and a taxi driver. In 1968 he made his third appearance on Coronation Street, this time as Harold Eaton, a decorator working at the Rovers Return pub.[1] In 1969 he played a postman in Parkin's Patch.[8]

By the early 1970s he was getting regular television work, with a number of minor roles (mostly in comedy parts) in programmes including the BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son (as a milkman in the 1970 episode Come Dancing, which is said to be one of the most repeated episodes of that series).[4] Also on the BBC in the sitcom Sykes, and on ITV in Public Eye (as guest star in a humorous Christmas special), both in 1972, at which time Melody said, "This is the first time in years I have turned down pantomime, up home in Blackpool, because I wanted to concentrate on television, to stretch myself with such roles."[4] However, he was certainly not stretched by these roles, which were straightforward comedy supporting parts, of which he already had five years television experience as a semi-regular on the weekly sitcom Just Jimmy.

As he became better known, he gradually was offered more varied TV work. His subsequent television appearances included police drama in Z-Cars (1973) and Barlow at Large, and comedy on ITV in Bless This House (1974).[9] In 1975 he had a starring role as George Bradshaw in the short-lived comedy series Rule Britannia!.[1]

In 1979 Melody appeared in the John Schlesinger film Yanks opposite Rachel Roberts, playing the husband of the terminally ill Roberts.[4] The following year he appeared in Little Lord Fauntleroy as Kimsey.[10] He also played Station Sergeant Billy Machin in the comedy series The Nesbitts Are Coming and followed that up in 1981 by appearing as Archie in the comedy series, The Incredible Mr Tanner.[10][11] He was always most effective in comedy roles: from 1981-83 he was instantly forgettable as the Chief, John Nettles' boss in the first six episodes of the BBC police series, Bergerac.[12] On Channel 4's opening night he appeared in Walter, alongside Ian McKellen in the title role.[13]

In the 1983 Special of Last of the Summer Wine - Getting Sam Home - John Comer's voice was badly affected by illness, so his lines were re-recorded by Tony Melody. Comer died 6 weeks after the broadcast.

His first appearance in Emmerdale Farm came in 1983, when he played Nicholas Martin. In 1985 he appeared in the drama series The Winning Streak and in 1986 he played Dave Sharkey in the sitcom, Jossy's Giants. In 1990 he appeared as the husband of Patricia Routledge in Missing Persons, which was a feature-length pilot for Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.[4]

He made a second appearance in Emmerdale in 1998 this time as the farmer, Jed Outhwaite. In 2002 he made a fourth appearance on Coronation Street, this time as the MC at a ballroom dance competition in Blackpool, which the characters of Norris Cole and Vera Duckworth were entered.[1]

He appeared in the television drama film Shipman in 2002, as Len, a patient who survived the real-life homicidal doctor, who was played by James Bolam.[4] He also appeared in the drama, A Good Thief as Alfie as well as a television advertising campaign for McDonald's.[14] His last television appearance was in 2003 on Last of the Summer Wine.[2]

Throughout his broadcasting career he continued to work live in summer season (at Butlins and other holiday camps, and in seaside resorts such as Blackpool and Skegness), and in Pantomime.

Personal life[edit]

Melody's first marriage was dissolved; he had four children with his first wife. He met his second wife, Maggie when they were both performing in pantomime in Skegness. They made their home in Bispham, Blackpool which he claimed was her home town,[1][3] where he spent the rest of his life. Melody would say about living in Bispham, "Other actors can have London. I don't like it there, can't stand the trains, the noise, the hassle. Home is here."[14] But the real reason they lived there was not unconnected with the fact that Melody was in a long-term professional double act with Jimmy Clitheroe, who lived a 5-minute walk from their front door. Offscreen Melody was a shy unassuming man, who rarely gave interviews and who shunned the "show business scene".[3]

Melody had four children, three sons and one daughter from his first marriage.[2][4]


Melody died in a nursing home from cancer after a short illness on 26 June 2008, aged 85.[14] His funeral was held at Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool, Lancashire on 3 July.[15]



Year Title Role
1957 Be Soon
1964–68 Just Jimmy Jim Moreton (semi-regular appearances for 5 years)
1965 Coronation Street Coach driver
1965 Coronation Street Taxi driver
1968 Coronation Street Harold Eaton
1969 Parkin's Patch Post Office Man
1970 Steptoe and Son Milkman
1970 ITV Saturday Night Theatre Jack Scott
1971 Some Matters of Little Consequence
1972 Home and Away Godrey
1972 Play for Today Official Receiver
1972 Sykes Milkman
1972 New Scotland Yard Charles Change
1972 Love Story Stan Truscott
1972 Public Eye Harry
1973 Z-Cars Brazendale
1973 Hadleigh Walter Unwin
1974 Barlow at Large Roger Tober
1974 Justice Charlie Thompson
1974 Marked Personal Steve Morris
1974 Bless This House Owen
1974 Play for Today Detective
1975 Sadie, It's Cold Outside Bob
1975 The Main Chance Sammy Dayton
1975 Rule Britannia George Bradshaw
1975 Down the 'Gate Len Peacock
1978 George and Mildred Ernest Groves
1979 Turtle's Progress Colour Sergeant Arnold
1980 The Nesbitts Are Coming Station Sergeant Billy Machin
1980 Juliet Bravo Rodney Maskill
1980 Little Lord Fauntleroy Kimsey
1980 Play for Today (The Flipside of Dominick Hide) Harry
1981 The Incredible Mr Tanner Archie
1981–1983 Bergerac Chief
1982 The Chinese Detective Mr Morris
1982 Walter Mr Hingley
1983 Crown Court
1983 Let There Be Love Steven
1983 Emmerdale Farm Nicholas Martin
1983 Last of the Summer Wine Sid's Voice Stand In
1985 The Winning Streak Matt Hutton
1986 Jossy's Giants Dave Sharkey
1988 The Nature of the Beast Chunder
1989 All Creatures Great and Small Mr Skipton
1989 Boon Mr Brown
1990 Missing Persons Robert Wainthropp
1990 Stay Lucky Uncle Horace
1991 Plaza Patrol Painter
1992 Moon and Son Bill Atley
1992 Rumpole of the Bailey Saggers
1994 Casualty Brian Miller
1995 Heartbeat Walter Openshaw
1996 Dalziel and Pascoe Harold Lapping
1998 Emmerdale Jed Outhwaite
1999 Where the Heart Is Hughie Burridge
2000 Coronation Street MC
2002 A Good Thief Alfie
2003 Last of the Summer Wine Landlord


Year Title Role
1977 The Stick Up Tall Cop
1979 Yanks Jim Moreton
1980 Little Lord Fauntleroy Kimsey
1985 Mr. Love Ferris
1985 Invitation to the Wedding Vine
1985 Turtle Diary Garage Attendant with Bucket
1987 Pretorius Huizinga
2002 Shipman Len Fallows


  1. ^ Prior to 1 April 1974 Goole was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hayward, Anthony (10 July 2008). "Tony Melody: Star of the TV series 'Rule Britannia'". The Independent. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d "Tony Melody Actor". Lasting Tribute. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Obituary – Tony Melody". The Daily Telegraph. 19 July 2008. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Gaughan, Gavin (29 July 2008). "Obituary – Tony Melody". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2008.
  5. ^ "Jimmy Clitheroe as the CALL BOY". 17 April 1957. p. 45 – via BBC Genome.
  6. ^ Morley, Jacqueline (5 May 2008). "Tragic end of Blackpool comic genius". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
  7. ^ "Be Soon episode, 6 December 1957". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
  8. ^ "Nothing Personal (1969)". BFI.
  9. ^ "Tony Melody".
  10. ^ a b "Tony Melody". BFI.
  11. ^ "The Good Samaritan (1981)". BFI.
  12. ^ "Bergerac". 9 February 1985. p. 24 – via BBC Genome.
  13. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Walter (1982)".
  14. ^ a b c Morley, Jacqui (27 June 2008). "Death of TV and stage favourite". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
  15. ^ "Anthony Melody : Obituary". Blackpool Gazette. 1 July 2008. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2009.

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