Surrey has certainly produced a huge array of stars ...
Surrey has certainly produced a huge array of stars of the cinema, radio, theatre, and television screens … here are some!
Two brothers from Cheam have made great successes of their very different careers - both speak fondly of their childhood in Cheam.
Jeremy Vine - author, journalist, and news presenter - was born in 1965 and his comedian brother Tim was born in 1967 - they also have a younger sister who is an artist.
The brothers formed a band called ‘Flared Generation’ they were described as "the most unfashionable punk band in the country" by Smash Hits magazine. They played their last performance at the Secombe Theatre which the local paper reviewed as "memorable but for all the wrong reasons".
Jeremy explained, "We wanted to be like The Jam, The Fall or The Clash and we just couldn’t even get booked in pubs or anything. So, we decided what we’ve got to do is reverse it - so instead of the coolest band we need to become the least cool band in the world".
Tim wrote songs for the band such as ‘Sensible Shoes’ and ‘University Sweatshirts’ and one called ‘Flared Revolution’.
At the age of 13, Tim was already 6ft tall. He recalled of his school days, “I was more interested in messing about. During house prayers one day, I signalled to Jeremy and his mate Titch to pass by the window, outside, dressed in a pantomime-cow costume. All the boys cheered, and the housemaster chased this ‘cow’ down the hill.”
“Not now, Basil!”
The English actress Prunella Scales was born in Sutton Abinger, a village sitting between Dorking, Shere and Ewhurst. Her full name is Prunella Margaret Rumney West Scales CBE.
Best known for playing Sybil, the long-suffering wife of Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, she found herself on the receiving end of some barbed slurs from her screen husband over the years; ‘sour old rat’, ‘golfing puff adder’, ‘toxic midget’, ‘half-wit’, ‘little nest of vipers’ and ‘great sabre-toothed tart’, to name a few!
Sybil often gave as good as she got and usually kept the upper hand!
In real life, Prunella is married to the actor Timothy West, who is nothing like her on-screen husband, Basil! They married in 1963 and achieved a huge following with their endearing TV series ‘Great Canal Journeys’. The actress was awarded a CBE in 1992.
Their actor son, Samuel West, has worked with both his parents in various plays and films. He also enjoys TV fame, playing Siegfried Farnon in the 2020 remake of the veterinary drama series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.
Born in 1932, Petula Clark has enjoyed a musical career that spanned seven decades and made her a household name across the UK and Europe. She was born in nearby Ewell, just by Epsom and named Sally. The family joke that her stage name ‘Petula’ was invented by her father, who joked that it was a combination of the names of his two former girlfriends, Pet and Ulla.
Her big break came accidentally in 1942 when she was 10. She had accompanied her father to a BBC broadcast, but it was delayed due to an air raid. The producer hoped to find someone to distract the understandably anxious crowd, and Petula stepped in, wowing them with her singing prowess.
Petula Clark's first 'gig' was in Kingston, at the entrance of Bentall’s, where she was rewarded with a tin of toffee and a gold wristwatch. It was 1945 and she was aged just 13.
The impromptu performance sparked an explosion of requests, and Petula frequently toured the UK with another popular child performer, Julie Andrews. The British Army adopted Petula as a mascot and her photo adorned many tanks going into battle.
In 1961, Petula married Claude Wolff and she recently talked in the press of their marriage that has lasted over 55 years - they have two daughters and a son. Although remaining married, they no longer live together, and she shares her life with a boyfriend (she discreetly refuses to say who) whom she fell in love with ‘a few years ago’.
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