The Vicar of Dibley's John Bluthal: 1929-2018

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of December 3, 2018

Tea Time Tidbit

John Bluthal as Frank Pickle

This week we pay tribute to actor John Bluthal, who appeared as the Parish Council recording secretary, aka ‘Most Boring Man in Britain’, Frank Pickle in The Vicar of Dibley. Bluthal sadly passed away on November 15th at the age of 89 in New South Wales, Australia, where he had moved in 1999 in order to be closer to his family.

Although he was born in Poland, Bluthal was raised in Melbourne, having emigrated there with his family in 1938 when he was 9. It was while in Melbourne that Bluthal embarked on an acting career, and in 1960 he moved to England where his career really took off, both on screen and stage. For instance, he replaced Ron Moody as Fagin in the original West End production of Oliver!. He was also cast in a starring role in a popular comedy series called Citizen James, starring Carry On franchise favorite Sid James in the title role. From 1967 to 1971, Bluthal had his own starring role in the hugely popular TV sitcom Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width.

Tea Time Tidbit

Throughout Bluthal’s sixty-year-plus acting career, he appeared alongside Golden Age of comedy legends such as Michael Bentine, Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Eric Sykes and Spike Milligan, with whom he had first worked back in the 1950s when he was starting out in Australia.

Bluthal was equally comfortable on stage. His National Theatre Shakespeare credits were numerous and included Antony and Cleopatra, which starred Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins. He also had several big screen credits. His last film was in the 2016 Coen brothers film Hail, Caesar!, where he joined a stellar cast that included George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson.

In 1956, Bluthal married Judyth Barron, and although they eventually separated, the couple remained friends until her death in 2016. Bluthal is survived by their two daughters, Nava and Erin.

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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