To The Manor Born's Peter Bowles
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of January 6, 2020
It has certainly been good seeing Peter Bowles back on our screen, as the Duke of Wellington, in Victoria on Masterpiece.
Bowles has maintained a steady presence on MPT over several decades. The very first series he starred in which aired on PBS stations was The Prisoner back in 1968. He also appeared in an episode of I Claudius in 1976. Bowles’ first major television role was Guthrie Featherstone QC MP in Rumpole of the Bailey. The series ran from 1978 to 1992 with Bowles appearing in 17 of its 44 episodes.
Peter Bowles and Penelope Keith
The show for which Bowles will best be remembered is, of course, To The Manor Born, which ran from 1979 to 1981, with a special one off episode airing in 2007. The chemistry between Bowles and his co-star Penelope Keith made it one of Britain’s most loved comedies. Their acting relationship might have started a lot sooner had Bowles taken the role of Keith’s husband Jerry in The Good Life when it was offered to him. Instead, the role went to Paul Eddington, and it would be another four years until Bowles and Keith met for the very first time when they started working on To The Manor Born.
As a result of his role as the debonair Richard DeVere, Bowles became somewhat of a sex symbol and the actor recently revealed that he even once caught the eye of Princess Margaret. Reportedly, Bowles’s first encounter with the Princess was memorable. It occurred when he was in a line-up waiting to be introduced.
“She sees me from several paces away,” recalls Bowles in a recent interview with The Daily Mirror, “and I spot a twinkle in her eye. When she gets to me, she has a cigarette in her hand. She says to me, ‘Give me a light’. I struck a match and she said, ‘Oh god, not sulphur. Haven’t you got a lighter?’”
According to Bowles his wife Sue immediately leaped to her husband’s defense. “How dare you speak to my husband like that. I think you’re very rude’”, said Mrs. Bowles to Princess Margaret, who promptly apologized and explained that she didn’t like sulpher.
With a wife like that in your corner, it’s easy to see why the couple, who have three grown up children, have been married almost sixty years. Bowles puts it down to “love” and never taking his wife for granted. As well as being grateful for the love of a good wife, Bowles is also grateful that he is still able to carry on performing.
“To reach the age of 83,” says Bowles, with your children and grandchildren and the same wife who you adore and to still be able to put food on the table... well, it’s a wonderful thing.”
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