Tuesday, 21 November 2017

RIP Rodney Bewes

I'm truly saddened to hear of the death of another entertainment figure who had the ability to seem so familiar and relatable to us all, Rodney Bewes, who has passed away just days ahead of his 80th birthday. Coming so soon after Keith Barron, it feels like a kick in the teeth.

Hailing from Bingley, West Yorkshire, Bewes will forever be remembered for his performance as the aspirational but ever hapless Bob Ferris in Clement and La Frenais' The Likely Lads, it's subsequent follow up Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads and it's big screen spin-off. For my money, one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time. Bewes certainly felt so too, taking great pride in his association with the series - unlike the snobby attitude that his co-star James Bolam has regarding the show, which has seen him refuse repeats in the past, and continue to consider the show off limits for interviews to this day. Sadly Bewes and Bolam fell out over a misunderstanding after making the film version of the show which arguably stopped any more episodes being made and the rift sadly continued for the rest of Bewes' life. 

Bewes got arguably his first big break with a supporting role in the film Billy Liar, sharing the screen with his then real-life flatmate Tom Courtenay. It was a role that effectively led to him playing Bob Ferris, but away from The Likely Lads Bewes enjoyed a career that included the ITV sitcom Dear Mother...Love Albert, which he co-created and co-wrote with Derrick Goodwin, appeared as a sidekick to children's TV favourite Basil Brush and starred in the films Spring and Port Wine, San Ferry Ann, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, The Three Musketeers, Saint Jack, Jabberwocky, The Spaceman and King Arthur and The Wildcats of St Trinian's and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore.  

The 1980s and '90s saw Bewes appear as a guest actor in series such as Doctor Who, were he played the conflicted Stien in the action-packed Peter Davison serial Resurrection of the Daleks, and the Jimmy Nail detective drama Spender, which returned him to Newcastle, home of The Likely Lads. Much of this latter stage in his career was preoccupied with theatre work, with Bewes appearing in Ray Cooney's farces such as Funny Money in the West End and touring one man shows of Rollerball, Three Men in a Boat and Diary of a Nobody in art centres, theatres and at the Edinburgh fringe. He wrote his autobiography, A Likely Story, in 2005 and is survived by his four children and two grandchildren.

RIP pet.


  1. Oh that's very sad, so close to what would have been his 80th birthday as well. I haven't seen an awful lot of the Likely Lads but I do remember they repeated Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads when I was university in the 90s and it was brill. I knew a few students who watched it and liked it without even realising it was "old". I was watching his episode of Man in a Suitcase not too long ago, not one of the better ones but that's no fault of Rodney's.

    1. Ooh yeah I remember that Man in a Suitcase eop, was it called The Girl on the Bridge or something like that? I have a boxset of that show and I keep meaning to revisit it as it must be over a decade since I last watched them, but I have so many plates spinning at the mo re TV and film that I never get round to it. I think it was the '90s that I too first got to properly see Whatever Happened To... as that was when Bolam deigned to finally allow repeats. Before that all I'd ever really seen was the film and a couple of eps they always managed to repeat as one offs, such as the football match ep which was always wheeled out for football themed seasons or around the World Cup.

    2. The Bridge. I'm very fond of MIAS though the quality of the episodes is varied to say the least.

  2. Replies
    1. Yup, a real tough one to accept. It's a crying shame that he never enjoyed some late hits in the latter stages of his career - I will never understand why Bolam prospered with a career that went from strength to strength yet Bewes became something of a forgotten man and persona non grata for TV.

  3. Really sad, we're losing so many familiar faces who are intrinsically linked to our lives, culture and growing up that it can really hit us hard.

  4. Yes Bewes did seem the forgotten man of British comedy, while grumpy Bolam had all those series like New Tricks. I missed the original Likely Lads, but 'Whatever happened to ..." was a 70s favourite and a must see. So many happy memories, and of course there was the dreaded Thelma!
    We remember him in Billy Liar too. One hopes his final years were happy. RIP Rodney.

  5. This was sad news indeed - I was just the right age for Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads and it was must watch viewing in our house in the '70s. Rodney had such a great comedic face and with Thelma to contend with, always had a bit of a hangdog look about him. I went to see the film spawned from the TV series on a first date back in the late '70s and remember tripping over a seat that had been left down in the row and squishing the ice-creams I'd just been to fetch! But I digress, yes such a shame about that feud with James Bolam and a shame that Rodney became kind of side-lined.