Unexpected Exits

The unexpected death of EastEnders’ Mike Reid came as a shock. We weren’t put on notice; there were no reports of a life-threatening illness and he appeared to be in the best of health. Out of the blue – breaking news. Goodbye to Frank Butcher. It got me thinking about deaths that made an impression on me, for some reason or another.
The first star death I recall was Elvis Presley’s. I was a little girl, but somehow I knew this was a significant moment. I watched every news bulletin (I’m pretty sure Reginald Bosanquet announced between the News At Ten bongs: "The King of rock n roll is dead" – Elvis fans, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) and listened to Radio 1’s day-long tribute ( Elvis records all day). I vividly remember tears; it just seemed as if the whole world was crying…
Another death that affected me was Richard Beckinsale’s. The comedy actor, star of The Lovers and Porridge, died in his sleep in 1979 from a massive heart attack. He was only 32. I’d grown used to hearing about old people dying of heart attacks; seeing the pictures of a young Richard Beckinsale accompanying the news of his death was a shock. Such a likeable man too.
I was in primary school when John Lennon was murdered in 1980. Parents and teachers were stunned – they couldn’t believe a Beatle had been assassinated. At that time, I didn’t know the names of the band members, but I’d seen clips of The Beatles; I liked their hair and I knew some of the songs. Why would anyone want to kill a Beatle? I couldn’t understand it. Once again, Radio 1 paid full tribute to someone the planet was mourning.
In 1984, our family was watching ITV’s variety show, Live From Her Majesty’s. Comedian Tommy ‘just like that’ Cooper had us all in stitches. And then he dropped to the ground. Just like the live audience, we laughed even harder. We thought we’d seen a part of his act, but in actuality, he’d collapsed from a massive heart attack. In front of millions of viewers. When the news finally broke, we were astounded.
I’ll share just one more with you. Unless you were around at the time, it’s impossible to convey the impact entertainer Rod Hull made with his Emu puppet in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1999, a freak accident killed him; he fell off his roof adjusting the TV aerial during the Man Utd v Inter Milan game. United won the Treble that season…
Today I am mostly lovin’ – Paramount Comedy Channel’s The Secret Life of Hoodies. Very funny.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – The Jeremy Kyle Show. Chav TV for the masses.  
MSN Editor Coops
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12 Responses to Unexpected Exits

  1. Vincent says:

    I wonder if Rod Hull\’s unfortunate accident was caused by Emu attacking him whilst on the roof? Perhaps it would have been more sensible to leave him in the house when undertaking potentially dangerous and fatal tasks?

  2. Coops - says:

     Heh, heh Vince. I was frightened of Emu when I was younger – something about that puppet deeply disturbed me…

  3. skid says:

     The one-liner going round after the 1999 tragedy was "what sits in the corner of the lounge and goes kschschschschschsch…?"
    Rod Hull\’s TV, of course…

  4. Vincent says:

    Other untimely exits include: Ralph Bates from Dear John (superb, in my opinion), Gary Olsen from 2.4 children and the bloke who played Father Ted. Sorry, I can\’t remember his name and can\’t be bothered to look it up. Does that make me a bad person? Yes, is probably the answer you are looking for.

  5. Coops - says:

    Vince, some very good suggestions and, as I have done with selected comments, due for promotion on the MSN TV homepage any time soon. Ralph Bates\’ passing was terribly unexpected and Gary Olsen\’s too. And I\’m right there with you regarding Dermot Morgan, star of Father Ted. That was an extremely unexpected exit…

  6. FAITH says:

    What about good old Roy Castle?.the long time presenter of Record Breakers.He was truly an all round entertainer & presenter & musician.All the people who have been named on this blog were great people,they are all missed,Mike Reid was one of the best all round entertainers & will leave a big void in a lot of peoples lives.

  7. Caroline says:

    I remember being woken by my (then) husband and told that Diana, Princess of Wales had been killed.  Was in a swimming pool in south of France when Elvis died ( I was 4 nearly 5). In my Mum and Dad\’s bed when i heard on radio that John Lennon had been shot. All very sad. xxxxxxx

  8. Richard says:

    Something disturbed you about Emu? Was it his ability, no matter how far away from a person he was, to always ALWAYS use his beak (aka a perv\’s hand) to nip a man either in the privates or right up as far as the trousers permitted into their anus?! Even as a child I found this odd! But it was always grotbags who scared me more!! At 25 years of age I still get nightmares about her!
    Didn\’t realise Gary Olsen had died. That\’s sad. I really miss Bob Monkhouse though. 😦

  9. Coops - says:

     Some great stories here. And yes, Bob Monkhouse\’s death was a surprise too…

  10. Coops - says:

    I can\’t put it into words what disturbed me about Emu Richard. Call it an irrational fear – or a daft one! 🙂

  11. DENISE says:

    i remember waking up and switching on the radio the day the news broke about princess diana dying and I could not understand why it was sombre music until the news came on, and I just stood there and I could not believe it. 
    I also remember elvis dying, I was 18 and I was down our caravan listening to the radio.

  12. Unknown says:

     Obviously the death of anyone while still young is particularly sad.  Slightly amusing though is the attitude of rock stars (e.g. The Who) who sang thirty years ago: "Lord, let me die before I get old!"  They\’re thankfully still here, but not in any obvious hurry to have their prayers answered.

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