One of my favorite characters in Last of the Summer Wine is the perpetually hen-pecked Howard, played by Robert Fyfe.
The Scottish actor, who was born in 1924, was in the series from 1985 until it ended in 2010, after which he took a well earned break. Although he did come out of "retirement" briefly to make a guest appearance as a "lollipop man" (a crossing guard) in the U.K.'s longest running prime-time soap opera, Coronation Street.
Fyfe got the role of Howard after appearing in a stage version of LOTSW at the seaside town of Bournemouth in 1985. Roy Clark, who created the series, saw the show and decided to add Fyfe's character, who was not at the time in the televised version, to the series. That was also how Marina and Pearl came to be characters in the television series as well. At first the three characters only appeared semi-regularly, but they proved so popular with viewers, that it wasn't long before they were in every episode.
Before joining the cast of LOTSW, Fyfe already knew Jane Freeman, who played Ivy, as they had worked together in a few plays, including one called Entertaining Mr. Sloan; in it, Fyfe played Freeman's father. Fyfe's background was originally as a stage actor, having gone to drama school in the Yorkshire town of Bradford. He lived there for three years, which is probably why he didn't have too much trouble picking up the accent.
One of Fyfe's biggest regrets is that his parents never got to see him on stage. His father, who didn't approve of Fyfe being an actor, died while Fyfe was still in drama school. The only time Fyfe got to act in Scotland before his mother died was shortly before he got married. Unfortunately though the play, in which he had the lead role was on the other side of the country from where his mother lived and too far for her to come.
Fyfe and his wife met at a repertory theatre in Lincoln, while they were both young actors just starting out. After they married, Fyfe got work at the Bristol Old Vic, then moved to London before starting a career in film and television. LOTSW is decidedly the role for which Fyfe is best known and you can see it every weekday afternoon at 1:30pm on Afternoon Tea.
If there's someone you'd like to find out more about who appears in an Afternoon Tea show, drop me a line.
To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117