|Richard and his wife, Ann|
I met him a couple of years ago in Bournemouth at the unveiling of a plaque commemorating his comedy hero, Tony Hancock. He was suffering quite badly from emphysema at the time,and confessed he'd been a chain smoker for most of his life.
We shared a nice moment when, the following morning at breakfast, he noticed I was drawing a double-page spread of the Bash Street Kids (deadlines!!), and, turning to his wife, said "what a marvellous talent to have. I did love The Bash Street Kids, I looked forward to getting the Beano every Thursday. Imagine being able to draw lovely characters like Plug and Fatty all day!" I was frankly amazed that he would recognise what I was doing at all, but then he truly astonished me by turning directly to me and saying, with that famous chuckle: "Wilfrid's my favourite, with that jumper up to his nose!" A true connoisseur of The Beano!
I asked him about an old TV show he made in 1963-5 and he happily discussed it with me, saying he'd like to see it released on DVD but he thought the soundtrack was too degraded and hard to listen to. I'm happy to say the problem was fixed, as I took delivery of a double DVD set (Network) of 'Marriage Lines' just last week.
Sadly, his own health couldn't be fixed, and he died today, aged 79. He gave a lovely chat about Hancock at the Dinner the evening of the plaque unveiling, and shared some of the moments he felt made him special. Then he said " Most of all, he just made you happy to spend half an hour in his company!"
Same as you, Richard!