Review by David Munro
ON SUNDAY, June 13, at his beloved Halfmoon Pub, in Putney, family
, friends and former colleagues of Ted Rhodes (or Paul Nelson
as this site knew him) gathered to pay their last respects and
to celebrate his memory in a semi-performed tribute.
Hosted and created by Martin Cort , the actor, director and close
friend, it summarised the highlights in his career, starting from
his roots in Yorkshire, and then his entry into RADA, continuing
through his acting career in theatre and films, to the television
period, where he not only wrote the scripts for established programmes
such as Z Cars, The Avengers and Dr Who, but was instrumental
in creating the evergreen All Creatures Great and Small.
He also became largely responsible for ensuring his scripts were
properly presented on air. Finally, the tribute was rounded off
by affectionate memories of his newspaper career and his acclaimed
ability as a critic.
Martin Corts personal memories and historical narrative
were interspersed with personal reminiscences and performances
by actresses Ted had admired.
First, Billie Stevens, of Putneys Swanbank am-dram company,
sang Noel Cowards wickedly amusing The Spinning Song.
Gay Soper then sang a medley which included one of Ted's favourites,
Stephen Sondheims Can that boy Foxtrot?.
Gay is an actress and cabaret artiste he greatly admired, and
who became a good friend, sharing his love of music. Both singers
were accompanied on the keyboard by Lawrence Payne.
Camilla Mathias acted a scene from Les Liaisons Dangereuse, which
she had performed last year to Teds great critical applause
at the Pentameters Theatre.
Then there were personal appreciations: Mr Patrick Letharby paid
tribute to the support Ted had given to the Salvation Army in
his column, interspersed with memories of a more bibulous nature.
Chris Borg and Steve Williams, his journalist colleagues from
the Wandsworth Borough News, praised his expertise as a newspaper
man, expressing appreciation of the help he had given them in
their careers on the paper.
Actress, Mossy Smith, told how, when her career seemed to be
in the doldrums, Ted had been horrified at her professional name,
which was Marion Owen Smith, quipping that they must be the three
worse actresses in theatre.
He then went on to suggest her present name; the adoption of
which had greatly enhanced her career. She read Symptom
Recital, by Dorothy Parker.
Peter Stenson, an actor well-known in fringe theatre, and whose
performances Ted had reviewed and admired, opened and closed the
interpolations, firstly by reading a verse from Ecclesiastes and
lastly with a tribute to Ted as a critic.
The Elastic Band,
the jazz group Ted adored for many years, and whom he praised
from time to time in his column and reviews, then completed the
afternoon with a session comprising many of Teds favourite
During the proceedings Ted's regular seat and table were poignantly
left empty and, as a final tribute, the entire company raised
a glass to toast his memory.
It was a well-conceived and beautifully executed tribute which
I know Ted would have revelled in.
Although not a vain man, he liked being appreciated and the afternoons
tribute showed how greatly he is and had been loved and respected,
and how he always will be remembered as a true professional and
a loyal friend.