Sunday, 3 January 2010

Those who are forced to leave us

Norman Painting (Phil Archer)

We have to pay tribute to Norman Painting, who played Phil Archer, having appeared in the first pilot episode in 1950. He is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-serving actor in a single soap opera.

Norman Painting wrote more than 1,000 scripts for the show between 1966 and 1982. He also penned a best-selling book on the programme, first published in 1975. As such, he will be sadly missed – but does he have to be? Although Norman has sadly passed on, surely we can salvage Phil's wisdom and experience?

For example, they could do a Marjorie Antrobus and send him to a home, where he remains in obscurity, being occasionally referred to in the third person, as in:

Alan: I called in on Phil today.

Usha: How's he settling in at the Laurels?

Alan: Fine. He's got everybody touching his equipment and wanting to play with it

Usha: Yes it was good of the Laurels to let him take his telescope.

The trouble with this is that, with the Jack storyline (and there's another rich seam) we know that rooms at The Laurels are at a premium. Alternatively, we could have the "He's just stepped out for a moment" scenario, as in:

Neil: Hello Mrs. Archer, is Mr. Archer about?

Jill: Sorry Neil, you've just missed him, he's taken Fly for a walk on Lakey Hill.

Neil: Oh dear. I'm not having a lot of luck, am I? When I called round after breakfast he was out collecting eggs.

Jill: Yes, and yesterday he'd nipped into Felpersham when you came round.

Neil: That was the first time. When I came round again at 10am he was at the Church, practising the organ, so I went down there and Alan said he'd just left and was going home.

Jill: That's right. So you came back here about 11am.

Neil: And you told me that he'd phoned and said he fancied a pint at the pub, so I went down there and Jolene said that they had run out of tonic waters –

Jill: - yes, apparently Lillian had needed quite a lot to drink to steady her nerves before flying to Costa Rica –

Neil: - and because they were short staffed, Mr. Archer volunteered to go down to the wholesalers for Jolene.

Jill: I did tell him you were looking for him.

Neil: Yes, and I'm grateful. He actually came round ours about 2pm looking for me, but I realised that I had left the bag of pig nuts at home, so I had to come back.

Jill: Strange you didn't meet up on the path.

Neil: Well, I took a short cut through Tosser's Wood and I expect he went the pretty way round by Sodoff Spinney.

Jill: That would be it.

Neil: Then we arranged to meet by the phone box on the Green about tea time.

Jill: Yes. And we all know what happened then.

Neil: That's right – they do say that it was the worst earthquake ever to hit Borsetshire. Never mind, I expect we'll run into each other some time, although I do think December's a bit late to talk about hymns for Easter, to be honest.

And this sort of thing could go on for ever…

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