Thursday, March 01, 2012

RIP Richard Kip Carpenter

Richard CarpenterI’m not expecting a lot of comments on this post because most of you will be thinking “who the hell is Richard Carpenter and anyway didn’t Davey Jones from The Monkees die yesterday?”

But to a few of you, Richard Carpenter will mean something special. And I’m not talking about Karen Carpenter’s brother here either. I’m talking about one of the best British television writers that this country has ever produced. Certainly he’s a writer who has influenced and fed my imagination more than any other... even before I was properly aware of who he was or even if I wanted to be a writer myself.

If you were a kid in the 70’s and 80’s you would have been very familiar with Richard Carpenter’s television work. Catweazle, The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Dick Turpin, The Scarlet Pimpernel and, my favourite show of all time, Robin Of Sherwood to name but a few.

The Ghosts of Motley Hall and Dick Turpin were a major feature of my weekends when I was a kid. Both were on a Sunday evening and would be something me and my sisters would watch at my Nan’s house after spending the day there. They bring back cosy memories of a time when life was much simpler than it is now.

Robin Of Sherwood holds a special place in my heart and was just one of the shows that spoke to me on a spiritual level – as crass and hysterical as that might sound. On some level Richard’s writing and the acting of the cast embodied all that was magical and mythical and British about this country of ours. The off-screen chemistry of the cast spilled over onto the screen and for a lonely wallflower like me it was like a beacon of how wonderful life could potentially be. Years later, reading interviews with the cast, their friendships plainly remain and Richard Carpenter himself is quoted as saying that this forging of friendships and the lasting camaraderie of those involved in the show is one of the things he was most proud of. Robin Of Sherwood went on to majorly influence Kevin Costner’s criminal foul-up of a film and the BBC’s recent Robin Hood.

Most of Richard’s television work is now available on DVD. Robin Of Sherwood has recently been reissued on Blu-Ray – remastered for both sound and picture quality. I have treated myself because it is the one show that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I am saddened that Richard’s passing on the 26th February hasn’t been more picked up on in the press and the national media. His death is a huge loss for both television and British writing per se. Back in the days before CGI and computer generated lighting Richard worked wonders with tight budgets, proper location shoots and real flesh and blood people. His writing was heartfelt and emotive and quietly proud.

Richard, Albion salutes you.



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31 comments:

Modern Military Mother said...

I didn't watch any of these! But you know you are one of my favourite TV addicts - *memory sequence flashback to Noel's terrible tv quiz* so I am sorry for all our loss.

Steve said...

MMM: *sniff* thank you...

Kelloggsville said...

I loved Robin of Sherwood and it is also responsible for me falling in love with Bob the builder - stick with me here - Michael Prad hair immediately confused with Neil Morrisey - is Bob - I now dream about Bob taking off his helmet and shaking down his hair and sweeping me away in his arms whilst I'm wearing a maid marion dress! I'd forgotten all bout Chosts of Motley hall, just went and watched some on youtube. It was full of playaway actors! I suppose if we want a good obitury we must be careful not to die when Angelina sticks a leg out or a Monkee dies. Damned shame.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I bow my head in respect to the man who wrote the Catweazel scripts. That medieval monk was something else - I think of him whenever I look at your profile picture.

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: from Robin Hood to Bob The Builder... Robin robbed from the rich and Bob builds swimming pools for them. What a wonderful thing the human imagination is!

Gorilla Bananas: and when I watch Dick Turpin I shall think of you.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

I am old enough to remember The Monkees - sniff - and The Carpenters and Catweazle. Trouble was our family didn't have TV till I was 17. (I did dose up on The Monkees, Z-Cars and Thunderbirds when we lived with my Gran in Yorkshire for a few months). But the Richard Carpenter gems you mention would have been right up my alley. I shall look out for the re-issues you mention, 'cos my kids would love them.

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: I can definitely recommend them. They'll look (and sound musically) a little dated but the stories themselves are timeless.

Mark said...

Robin of sherwood?
Now Catweazle I do remember.

Expat mum said...

Good for you!
That bloody Catweazle bloke (Jon Pertwee?) used to scare the living daylights out of me.

Steve said...

Mark: must be an age thing. ;-)

Expat Mum: I was more of a Dick Turpin and Robin Hood fan... I like buckling my swash.

Rol said...

That's sad... but I still miss Davy Jones more. Then again, you'd probably have expected that.

Steve said...

Rol: I bet you were a Metal Mickey fan too, weren't you?

John Gray said...

he looks like a nice man

Being Me said...

Thank you for the Ghosts of Motley Hall reminder! I adored Catweazle, absolutely loved it. My favourite shows during that era were Monkey, Catweazle, Worzel Gummage, Ghosts and do you remember The Tomorrow People?

Timbo said...

Blimey - I'd completely forgotten about The Ghosts of Motley Hall! Shame it took it's writer to die (and you wirting about it - as you say I hadn't noticed it in the press) to remind me.

English Rider said...

I loved Catweazle. What would the old wizard have made of an i-phone (telling-bone)?

Vicky said...

It is amazing how I watched most of those shows but didn't know who Richard Carpenter was. We were actually talking about Catweazle during the week as a friends beard was getting pretty out there LOL

Steve said...

John: by all accounts he was.

Being Me: I remember all those! Monkey was ace - Karen bought me the boxed set a couple of years ago... still going through it!

Timbo: slowly the news seems to be filtering out. Like all the best writers he wasn't particularly high profile, preferring to let his work speak for itself.

English Rider: or even a Bluetooth telling bone? Veru confusing!

Vicky: yup - same here: I was a fan of The Ghosts of Motley Hall and Dick Turpin before I was even aware of who Richard Carpenter was.

Being Me said...

Bluetooth telling bone! :D

I tried Catweazle on Lolly today. She was less than impressed. I'm gutted. She does, however, find the nature of monkey..... IRREPRESSIBLE!!! Phew.

Marginalia said...

Goodness me. I have no idea who you're talking about. I was far too busy earning a crust to spend time watching children's TV. Didn't stop me watching "Top of the Pops".

Today I hear the new extension to Bush House is to be named after John Peel. I don't think Thames TV are around now,so no building to be named after him. Maybe someone could plant a copse or two in Sherwood Forest dedicated to RC.

About Last Weekend said...

Gosh all those shows are the ones I grew up with, Catweasle? Now I'm showing my age. The writers never get the accolades sadly only the actors...

Steve said...

Being Me: Monkey is a hit in all generations. I want to be able to conjure a flying cloud like he does...

Marginalia: I mentally read that as "a corpse or two" and was about to complain about bad taste.

About Last Weekend: so true and yet writing is the craft for me!

Keith said...

Isn't that something to truly aspire to.

To leave such strong memories in a whole generation ( I mean... Catweazel ! ) Like seeds that grow into all that we are doing. That's real foundation building.

Mr. Carpenter, thank you.

And thinking of Catweazel.. . why is the best of British kids tv so plainly off it's t**s ?

Steve said...

Keith: because being off one's tits is the only way to be.

Martin Lower said...

I must admit, I'd never heard of him. But I used to love Catweazle - I'm obviously older than you!

Steve said...

Martin: alas, not necessarily "obviously".

Clippy Mat said...

Still, and always, the 'telling bone' in my vernacular. He was obviously a wonderful writer and it's nice that he holds such a place in your esteem.
:D

Steve said...

Clippy Mat: we shall not see his like again...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Dick Turpin was ace!

Löst Jimmy said...

Not familiar with that particular show.
Catweazle however just plainest scared as a bairn, probably nearly as much as electrickery frightened Catweazle

Steve said...

Laura: and now easily available on DVD!

Löst Jimmy: I was more of a Robin Hood man myself... a worshipper of Herne.