Gordon Piper

Bumbling, good-hearted handyman Bob Hatfield in 'A Country Practice'

Gordon Stephen Piper, actor and director: born Sydney, New South Wales 3 June 1932; died Sydney 15 September 2004.


For almost all its screen history, the Australian television serial
A Country Practice featured Gordon Piper as the fictional Wandin Valley's plumber and all-round handyman, Bob Hatfield, complete with bib-and-brace overalls and broad smile.
A Country Practice ran between 1981 and 1992 and is still broadcast around the world.

Gordon Stephen Piper, actor and director: born Sydney, New South Wales 3 June 1932; died Sydney 15 September 2004.

For almost all its screen history, the Australian television serial A Country Practice featured Gordon Piper as the fictional Wandin Valley's plumber and all-round handyman, Bob Hatfield, complete with bib-and-brace overalls and broad smile. A Country Practice ran between 1981 and 1992 and is still broadcast around the world.

Hatfield was most frequently seen on screen with Syd Heylen, who played Cookie, the bartender at Bob's favourite retreat, the Wandin Valley RSL Club, and together they gave the soap opera many comic moments. The pair frequently came up with money-making schemes that backfired, from taking up dog training to selling perfume.

Hatfield's fondness for beer sometimes landed him in brawls, but he was good-hearted and a believer in community spirit. Piper relished acting all sides of Bob:

He was a father figure, he was a grandfather figure, he was a drunk, he was a fun character, he had empathy for everyone. He was a leader of the town. Everything that comes through the spectrum of a part is found in Bob Hatfield.

Piper's screen partnership with Heylen hid friction between the two actors, Piper revealed:

A lot of people think we were great mates. We weren't great mates at all. We fought like cat and dog in the studio - I mean really fought, heavy. On lines, interpretations, remembering the lines. We had a lot of fights but, once we went back to the dressing room, we were old chums.

Piper was born at his parents' dairy farm in the Sydney suburb of Cheltenham in 1932 and sang as a soprano with the Sydney Boys' Choir. He made his radio début with a choir on the Sydney station 2CF at the age of 12. Acting parts followed in radio plays, before Piper started his own variety act in 1952.

Two years later, he and his friend Ted Harlow formed a song-and-dance mime act, The Pretenders, touring clubs and pubs. Piper then spent four years as an extra in television, before becoming a fully fledged stage actor. He was also associate director attached to the Arts Council of New South Wales (1964-72), helping to develop amateur productions at theatres in rural areas.

Then came his longest-running stage role, as Angus McAdam in the pioneering Australian Performing Group's record-breaking run of Dimboola (1973-76), the writer Jack Hibberd's parody of a wedding reception, which has since become Australia's most performed play. It was the director Gillian Armstrong's acclaimed film My Brilliant Career (1979), in which he played a bartender, that brought Piper's face to international audiences, albeit briefly, before he joined A Country Practice.

In 1992, after 900 episodes of the twice-weekly serial, Piper and Syd Heylen were axed when market research indicated that viewers wanted to see younger characters. In fact, A Country Practice was itself axed a year after Piper and Heylen's departure and a brief revival in 1994 failed to attract viewers.

Piper subsequently concentrated on directing. A resident of Sydney's western suburb of Penrith, he was a member of the local Henry Lawson Theatre, until ill-health forced him to stop two years ago. Diabetes had by then affected his heart and circulation, leading to five heart attacks and the amputation of both his legs.

In 1999, Piper was cleared of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl, and the experience of being falsely accused left him bitter.

Anthony Hayward

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Day In a Page

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state