Anthony Jackson

Beckett actor

Anthony Thomas Jackson, actor: born Birmingham 18 February 1944; married (one son, two daughters, and one daughter deceased); died London 26 November 2006.

Anthony Jackson was a much-liked actor and one of the principal members of the Godot Company, which for the last four years has been performing the plays of Samuel Beckett in Britain and abroad. He was taken ill during rehearsals of Waiting for Godot, replaced by another actor at short notice, and died suddenly while the company was touring the play in Ireland.

Jackson started his career with the Birmingham Repertory at the age of 15 and from then on performed at leading London theatres and on the radio, winning the BBC Radio Drama Award at 21, while a student at Rose Bruford College. He was with the BBC Repertory Company for three years in the late 1960s, and then appeared in several productions at the Mermaid Theatre, including Lock Up Your Daughters and Treasure Island; among his notable performances at provincial repertories was Toad in Toad of Toad Hall at the Nottingham Playhouse. He appeared in the West End and in English plays abroad.

But it is perhaps for his television work and his versatile voice that he will be best remembered. He played Trevor Lewis, Sid James's meddlesome neighbour, in Bless This House (1971); Fred Mumford, a ghost who returns from the spirit world to set up a spooks- for-hire business, in the BBC children's sitcom Rentaghost (1976-78); and alongside Diana Dors in the 1973 comedy series All Our Saturdays. Other TV appearances include Doctors, The Bill, Footballers' Wives and Lovejoy.

His ability to use a variety of accents and voices led to his recording parts for animation (including Puck in the S4C series Shakespeare - The Animated Tales, 1992, and most of the characters in Oliver Postgate's Ivor the Engine series in the 1960s), as well as audio books and radio plays. His singing voice covered a wide range from sea shanties to traditional songs.

"Jacko" was a popular and convivial member of any group in which he found himself, liable to launch into a poem or a song, and fond of the good things in life. In any theatre company he was totally dedicated, willing to do all the little unpleasant chores that touring entails, tidy in his habits and always cheerful.

He found his niche with the Godot Company, an actors' co-operative of which he was an early member. His Estragon - which he would have played on the Irish tour that has just finished - was as human and convincing as any other rendition of the part, as were the other Beckett roles he presented and the many readings he performed at the Calder Bookshop and Theatre on the Cut in Waterloo, where the company meets and rehearses.

John Calder

Comments