Saturday, 11 December 2010

Michael Robbins RIP - 11th December 1992

Mike "Tosh" Robbins was one of Britain's best loved comedy and character actors. He was also a strong Catholic with a zest for life, his actress wife, Shirley (Hal Dyer) and his family.

Mike Robbins whose anniversary it is today
I knew Mike for a few years when he was a member of an informal group of young Catholic Am Drams called "The Genesians". Mike was instrumental in organising the Christmas mime which took place in the mid to late fifties in London. An open decked lorry would be hired and the motley group of amateur 'would be' stars would take off dressed as Angels, St Joseph, Our Lady, Shepherds, Roman Soldiers and Kings and perform the prelude to the Nativity and the Nativity itself on the steps of banks, in the doorways of stores and on bomb sites (yes, there were still a few of those around).
Each mime performance used to last for fifteen to twenty minutes and then the "gang" would leap onto the lorry and take off for the next venue.
Character actor, Gerald Lawson (brother of the more famous Wilfrid) was the narrator and the audience was a blend of West End theatre goers, drunks and down and outs (bums if you are American).
No money was collected and the drama of the mime silence was enhanced by the way the crew 'vanished' into thin air after each performance. It had a profound effect on many.
Mike went on to star in many TV series, most famous of all being 'On the Buses'. He was noted for being unable to ride a motor bike and one of his parts required him to regularly put in an appearance on two wheels. He had a stand in for the long shots and, for the close ups he was pushed into frame by the film crew.
He died from cancer at the age of 62 on 11th December 1992.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Richard

    Thank you for this reminder and tribute to a very funny man. He was a favourite of mine from "On the Buses" but I didn't know anything else about him. Thanks for the information.

    God bless you.