Manchester Celebrities of Film, Television & Broadcasting
(1952-2006) Jack Wild was born in Royton, Manchester on 30th September 1952, and was discovered as a young lad by agent June Collins (mother of drummer/musician Phil Collins). Wild came to the attention of the public when he was selected to appear in the leading role in the London stage production of Lionel Bart’s musical of Charles Dicken’s “Oliver” . Soon after, when the show was made into a movie, he was given the role of The Artful Dodger, for which he received an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor – a part for which he is still probably best remembered. Based on this success, in 1969 he was offered the lead role in an American television series called “H.R. Pufnstuf” . The instant success of this programme led to him being offered the role for the film version in 1970. Other roles quickly followed as he became a highly demanded character – these included “Melody” and “Flight of the Doves” , both in 1971. Around this period he also released three song albums: “The Jack Wild Album”, “Everything’s Coming up Roses” and “Beautiful World” . However, gradually he was offered fewer and fewer leading roles and subsequently appeared in lesser roles in plays and films, including “The Pied Piper” and “Our Mutual Friend” in 1976. More recently, he had two small film roles – in Kevin Costner’s “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” in 1991 and “Basil” in 1998. Unfortunately alcoholism dogged him during the 1980s and cost him career prospects and failing health. He has been alcohol-free since 1988 and founded a support group known as Alcoholics Victorious . Professionally, he has spent much of the last decade appearing in plays on the British stage. Latterly, Jack Wild lived in north London and died in 2006 having suffered from mouth cancer for some time.
Violet Carson OBE
(1898-1983) Violet Carson had a long and celebrated career as an actress and performer during the early days of BBC radio and during the latter decades of her life as the matron of British Television soap operas playing the character of hair-net wearing Ena Sharples in the long running “Coronation Street” series. She was born in German Street, Ancoats, in Manchester on 1st September 1898. An accomplished pianist, she first appeared in the Wilfred Pickles’ radio show “Have a Go” during the 1940s and 1950s. She was married at Manchester Cathedral to George Peplow in 1926, but was widowed when he died in 1928. In 1965 Violet was awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Her long and distinguished career included many notable TV guest appearances including in: “Mayberry RFD” in 1968 in which she played the part of Amelia. In 1966 she appeared in “Batman” playing the part of an old lady. She also appeared in “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery in 1964, “The Monkees” in 1966 and “The Girl from UNCLE” in 1967. From 1960 onwards until her retirement in 1980 she was a regular stalwart of the “Coronation Street” TV series. Violet Carson died on 28th September 1983 in Cleveleys near Blackpool in Lancashire.
Entertainer-comedian Ted Ray was actually born Charlie Olden in Wigan in 1905 although his parents moved him to Liverpool within days of his birth, and Liverpudlians tend to regard him therefore as a local of their fair city. As a major radio personality and comedian of the 1940s and 50s he regularly demonstrated his extraordinary ad-libbing skills in his weekly radio show “Ray’s A Laugh” , which ran from 1949 until 1961. A much sought after music hall comedian, Ray usually played the violin (badly) as part of his act. He also played straight roles in several British films- notably as the lead as the headmaster in “Teacher” . He also played in early “Carry On” films. He was, however, best remembered for “Ray’s a Laugh” , which was a domestic comedy in which he was accompanied by Australian, Kitty Bluett, who played his wife. Many later to become well known actors and actresses cut their teeth on this radio show, including Ted Yule, Patricia Hayes, Kenneth Connor, Peter Sellers, Pat Coombs and Graham Stark 1940 and 1950 saw Ray as King Rat of the Grand Order of Water Rats. He was a very keen and accomplished golfer who frequently appeared playing with professional sportsmen. Later in his career Ted Ray appeared together with Jimmy Edwards, Arthur Askey and Cyril Fletcher in the comedy radio panel game “Does the Team Think? “. He never managed to break successfully into television, though his son, Robin Ray, was a well known television personality in the 1960s and 1970s, having initiated “Call My Bluff” and other specialist classical music shows. Ted Ray died in 1977.
(Born 1964) Sarah Lancashire was born on the 4th of October 1964 in Oldham, (then in Lancashire), the daughter of Geoffrey Lancashire, who had been scriptwriter ion the early days of “Coronation Street”. Later, Sarah attended and graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1986. In 1985 she married music lecturer Gary Hargreaves with whom she had two sons. They were divorced in 1995 and Sarah subsequently was remarried to Television Executive Peter Salmon in August 2001 with whom she currently has one child, born at London’s Portland Hospital on the 26th March 2003. Sarah is was best known to the wider public for many years as the character of Racquel Watts, which she played in the TV series of “Coronation Street” from 1991-1999. She had meantime acted in other television dramas including “Where the Heart Is” and “Bloomin’ Marvellous” in 1997 and “The Verdict” in 1998. In same that year she left the successful soap opera to embark on a more varied career as an independent television actress. She has already built up a distinguished repertoire of appearances including: in 2000, “Chambers”, “My Fragile Heart”, “Seeing Red” and “Clocking Off” ; in 2001, “Back Home”, “The Glass” and “Gentlemen’s Relish” ; in 2002, “Birthday Girl”, “Rose and Maloney”, “The Cry” and “The John Thaw Story” ; “Sons and Lovers” in 2003. Other notable television guest appearances have included: “Comic Relief 2003: The Big Hair Do”, The Billy Connolly BAFTA Tribute in 2002, “Top Ten Soap Queens” in 2002, “Murder Most Horrid” in 1991, “Going Solo” in 1999 and in “Watching” in 1987. In December 2006, she played a pivotal role in the latest television adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”, and in 2009 in the latest television adaptation of “Wuthering Heights”. Other notable television performances were in “South Riding” and “Lark Rise to Candleford”. In 2012 she took a leading role in the television drama “The Paradise”.