Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ian Carmichael, RIP

Ian Carmichael died today. He was a pleasure. I think I first encountered his work in the PBS broadcasts of Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. He made a pretty good Wimsey but the parts I enjoyed him in most were in some of the early films, particularly Lucky Jim and I'm All Right, Jack. From the Guardian obituary:
.... Playing the archetypal silly ass was the sometimes reluctant business of the stage, film and television actor Ian Carmichael, who has died aged 89. In the public mind he became the best-known postwar example of a characteristic British type — the personally appealing blithering idiot who somehow survives, and sometimes even gets the girl. One of his most characteristic and memorable sorties in this field was his portrayal of Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim — the anti-hero James Dixon, who savaged the pretensions of academia, as Amis had himself sometimes clashed with academia when he was a lecturer at Swansea. Appearing in John and Roy Boulting's 1957 film, he was able to suggest an unruly but amiable spirit at the end of its tether, his great horsey teeth exposed in the strained grimace that often greeted disaster.

Carmichael made several more hugely popular comedy films with the Boultings in the second half of the 1950s, including Private's Progress, Brothers In Law and I'm All Right Jack, but always wanted to do more straight roles. The nearest he came to it was his Lord Peter Wimsey in the television series based on Dorothy L Sayers's amateur detective (1972-75), a role he felt very happy in. .... [more]
Ian Carmichael at Amazon.

Ian Carmichael obituary | Television & radio | guardian.co.uk