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Plenty on Wikipedia and on IMDd.  Those two websites are great for the date and place of birth, as well as listing the TV, films, stage and radio I've worked on.  What they don't do is describe what it was like working on those productions, alongside the wonderful and sometimes not-so-wonderful personalities involved. They also don't divulge the highs and lows of over 50 years of marriage, bringing up three kids as well as emerging grandchildren. If you're interested, Learning My Lines (my autobiography), Echoes (my first novel) are for sale through my website, as is an archive of my blogs from 2009-2013.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


On a weekly basis people talk to me about Mr Benn, I order a coffee or a beer and they’re off. Crazy when you think about it. I started recording thirteen in 1968 and finished them eighteen months later. But ’68 to 2014? My voice must have changed but it doesn’t seem to stop them.

Now another old favourite (of mine) has crawled out of the woodwork. Big Deal. That has emerged on the recognition stakes.

Last week, wheeling my youngest granddaughter Grace around a fairground, both dizzy from a few turns on the Carrousel. a bloke runs over to me.

‘It’s you!‘ he screams. Grace goes loopy. ‘Robbie Box!. My favourite TV programme.’

I had to peel him off me before he went through all the plots quoting all the dialogue.

The other day having a coffee outside (no Grace), a bloke sits down next to me. ‘Hi, Ray.‘ he says.

I don’t know him from Adam but I smile politely.

‘Big Deal.‘ he says. ‘That set me off. I’m a professional gambler now.’

He told me that he plays at poker tables three times a week. ‘Won 90,000 dollars  on on-line gambling. He went on and on about his achievements. ‘I studied to be a croupier. Two of my pals on that course have done well for themselves. One has a casino in Sun City and three in this country. The other is a professional card counter. Blackjack. Made a fortune.’

Then a pal of his turned up and I slipped off. I think I prefer Mr Benn people to certain Big Deal freaks.

Now a strange request arrived. In an Edinburgh cinema, on the 30th of this month, they are showing Cathy Come Home to sponsors of a homeless charity. They want to Skype me for a Q&A session with the audience. If anyone’s reading this, I wonder if you’ve ever used this way of communication? I have and it’s like talking to men on the Moon.

The other stumbling block might be that the Scottish people are voting on independence before this Skype business. If the ‘Yes‘ voters get their way, what new rules will they bring in?

They might block Skyping from over the border.

I’ll have to wait and see.      


  1. Growing up in the 80s, you managed to be both the voices of Mr Benn and King Rollo AND Robbie Box to me, my dad loved Big Deal and when I got a bit older, I became besotted by it thanks to UK Gold rpts (Growing Pains too) I really loved you in Big Deal, such a charismatic performance. Wish they'd released every series rather than just the first; my VHS copies are gathering dust now :(

  2. I'd agree with Mark, "Big Deal" was a top series. I've no interest in (or like for) gambling, but the writing/acting (not least yours) was excellent, shame it's not readily available.

  3. My children used to like Mr Benn as did I (big kid at heart) I was also a fan of Big Deal and can't understand why it isn't repeated on TV or at least the whole series put on DVD for us to enjoy.

    I can't get on with Skype either, certainly don't want anyone getting a close up of me wrinkles or looking up my nose on video chat, thank you very much!!

    I watched Cathy Come Home on YouTube the other day and it seems just as relevant today, especially with the ever increasing rents/deposits for private tenants. No wonder there are still so many homeless people, with such a lack of social housing too.

    Right, off my soapbox now!