Friday, 29 August 2014

RIP Bill Kerr

'The boy from Wagga Wagga' himself, Bill Kerr has passed away in Perth aged 92.

Kerr's may be a name that has faded from familiarity over time, but it was a well known household fixture in the 50s and 60s thanks to his role as one of Tony Hancock's sidekicks (alongside Sid James, Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams) in the radio series Hancock's Half Hour and a string of film appearances including The Dam Busters, Penny Points To Paradise (alongside The Goons) The Night My Number Came Up, The Wrong Arm of The Law (with Peter Sellers) Doctor in Distress, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and roles in television in the early soap Compact and Doctor Who

Indeed it was his role in the Doctor Who serial The Enemy of the World (above) that hit the headlines once again last year after it was found in Nigeria having been missing since its original transmission in 1967/68.

Born in Cape Town in 1922, Kerr was raised in Australia living a self confessed "Huckleberry Finn life" in New South Wales. he made his stage debut as a babe in his mother's arms and would go on to become known as a child star of the Australian stage, often likened to America's Jackie Coogan.

Kerr moved to the UK in the 1950s, gaining his big break as the laconic but often dim witted butt of Hancock's jokes on the radio. 

He returned to Australia in 1979 for the second act of his impressive career appearing in key Australian new wave films such as Peter Weir's WWI movie Gallipoli alongside Mel Gibson (his is the first voice heard in the film, encouraging its young sprinter hero to 'run as fast as a leopard') and the Ozploitation horror favourite Razorback (above) He would also appear in the 2003 film version of Peter Pan.

According to family, Kerr died peacefully and happily at home in Perth watching television, specifically Seinfeld. His son Wilton has spoken to ABC News"Mum said she could hear him laughing to Seinfeld. That was one of his favourite shows"


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