|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: November 13, 2002
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project. Each transcript page covers one videotape (approximately 35 minutes). There is also QuickTime video of the full interview available. To play the video, click on the icon in the right hand column. In addition, each question in the transcript is linked to the video. Clicking on a question will play the video from that point. (Help with this feature.) Optionally, you can download the video file for offline viewing (approx. 10MB).
The interview has been left it in its original state so that you can get a sense of how the conversation developed. The repetition of some questions, or a question followed by another question, is often due to the end of a particular tape or some other interruption, and has been indicated at the appropriate place in the text. There has been minimal tidying up of the text so that the flavour of the encounter has been kept.
What films did you make while you were in England?
Well, I - the first one would have been 'Dunkirk' or finishing 'The Shiralee' a bit before that of course. I forget what the next, oh yes, we did a film version of 'Emergency Ward 10' directed by Robert Day for one of the independent companies. And that starred Michael Craig, who has been in Australia for a long time. He was a Rank contract star. And Wilfred Hyde-White, who was a very distinguished character actor. And all of us from the show, in good roles of course, the same roles we were playing on the air, except for Jill Browne who played co-lead with Rosemary Miller in the first year of the show playing a nurse called Carole Young. And some of the people in Australia often remember her fondly. She was excellent. A lovely actress. And her agent decided the deal wasn't good enough so she didn't do the film and I've always regretted that we didn't talk her into doing it anyway. Because it wasn't a big budget film, but it was quite a distinguished group of people working on it. A very fine crew and Robert Day went on to have a very good career as a, as a director and he was, in his early days as a director, he'd been a very good cameraman, as was his brother. And...
So what other films did you do?
So, the - that lead to 'Cone of Silence' was another one I did for a similar company. A distinguished cast. The first Tarzan film ever made in Africa. I went out to Africa to do that. What else? Oh golly. Oh, the Miss Marple films with Margaret Rutherford for MGM.
Yes, now tell me about that. What - you became terribly well-known for that role.
Well, they were marvellous because they were little supporting films originally. That was the original plan. Not films, one film based on 'The Four Fifty From Paddington' by Agatha Christie. Margaret Rutherford to play Miss Marple. A small film to be shot at MGM with a quite distinguished cast, James Robertson Justice, an American actor called Arthur Kennedy, fabulous, lovely guy. But a small film. When it was released it was the bottom half of a double bill, is the way they described it. The double bill was two modest sized feature films going out together. Not in the West End, it just went into the suburbs of London on a Monday night and on Wednesday I was rung up by MGM to say, could I help out doing some personal appearances, because I'd gone back into 'Emergency Ward 10'. Margaret Rutherford wasn't available because she had gone off on tour with a play.
And I dutifully went round and introduced the film at certain showings and it became a huge hit. And they had to reverse it and make it the top half of the double bill. And they already had plans to make a sequel to it which we shot the following year. And we finished up doing one of those films per year for, over about four and a half years. And, again, it was a bit like 'Emergency Ward 10', totally unexpected success. And again, because it was done with great integrity. Fine director, George Pollock, who'd been David Lean's assistant director so the track record of all the people, including the camera people and the sound people, excellent and a lovely cast with beaut script.
What was it like working with Margaret Rutherford? What did you think of her as an actor?
Oh, we were all madly in love with her after about the second film. She was absolutely fabulous to work with. She was enormously professional. Take one was always perfect. Never forgot her lines. Delightful to work with. Very, very intelligent woman. Nothing like the slight daffy character she played. She'd been an English teacher, gone into films lateish, I think in her early forties. She had done a lot of amateur work. Did a lot of quiet work for prisoners and young offenders without publicity. And a really lovely woman and a highly educated woman. And her husband, Stringer Davis, worked in each film too, as I did. He played the librarian and I played the local police inspector. So it was a lovely - and George Pollock directed every one. Sometimes the camera crew would vary, but it was terrific and we'd meet each other about once a year which was great.
This theatrical company you formed, how did that come about?
Well, we'd gone out on tour with 'Doctor in the House' when an Equity dispute was on and all the major TV shows all - I think it was only, may have been only the commercial channel, ITV, shows were off the air except for one. And so we had nothing to do and an enterprising management said, "How would you like to go out on tour with 'Doctor in the House'?", a well-known, tried and true comedy. We were all a little bit old for the parts, not that much, but a bit old, and we were a huge success. So they had to form a second company.
When the dispute ended some months later, we went back to our shows and - but when I started to freelance, sort of accidentally, a mate of mine and I said, "Why don't we form a company?" And by then John Alderton had been playing my sidekick, my assistant surgeon, a lot and David Butler was playing my anaesthetist in a lot of operation scenes. David was a good writer as well as being a fine actor. So we formed a company called Altinger Productions. Al, 'Al' for Alderton, 'ting' for Tingwell and 'er' for Butler. And we did a co-production of a Philip King play, 'See How They Run', I think it was, with Michael Codron, a very distinguished management. They had they set because they'd had a return season in London of the play and we went out on tour with our company and, with Michael Codron. And then after that we were all nagging David to write a brilliant play for us, just our play. And David then got busy writing television and couldn't. So I sat down and wrote a play and we took that out on tour and it sort of worked. [INTERRUPTION]
What was the play that you wrote?
It, I called it '5,4,3,2,1' because that was always an alarming thing you heard on live television. "Stand by, stand by and on air in five, four, three." So I wrote the play about a television writer who'd suddenly become very famous. And that was happening to quite a lot of writers who were being interviewed a lot and suddenly their personalities, if they were lively, were more interesting than the movie star. And some of the writers were becoming quite famous and eventually became, I suppose like Ben Elton and people like that today, they're, they're, they're very good value on screen. And this was happening to this chap in my story and he hated the idea because he loved the anonymity of being a writer but he'd been suddenly made famous and he became the subject of a bit of a, a scam to try and get somebody a role in one of his movies that he was writing and put him in a compromising situation. Very basic plot.
One critic said it could be written on the back of a postage stamp, the plot. But never mind, we filled a few theatres with it. Never quite enough to go into the West End but we did a tour and somewhere I've got a poster with, you know, my name on it as the writer. And I played the lead in it to keep the costs down and Jill, I think Jill Browne came out on tour with us. And John Bentley, who was quite a well-known TV actor at the time.
What other writing have you done?
I, I haven't, I haven't really done - I found a short story in an old scrapbook that I'd written which was published in a, one of the Sydney papers just after the war. I got credit for a lot of the plot lines in the 'Flying Doctors' mini-series. I forget how they wrote it but I was up amongst the writers for that. And I was producer of that. I also had - I didn't get any credit for the screenplay of 'Into the Straight' but I certainly was co-writer on that. Zelma Roberts, the original writer and I. But they had a policy of no double credits so I was already starring in the movie. So...
I suppose I'm wondering, what kind of a writer are you? Are you any good?
No. Well, I don't know. I've, I've never really tested myself. I've put up a few ideas for things that have been rather well looked at and all that. But by the time you feed it into the general machinery of production, it, you know, it, I don't say, I'm not saying they steal your ideas but when you're a staff producer particularly, you throw ideas in all the general conferences and things. And I got a heck of a kick out of doing it and I didn't particularly want much credit for it. I've got a few film ideas that if I weren't so lazy, I'd put down on paper and, you know, might try and do one of these days if I live to 120 or something.
Now you wrote this play about somebody who had celebrity thrust upon them, but, particularly during that period in England, you had a bit of that yourself. Of being asked to appear in things, to open shows, to do all sorts of things. How did you deal with that? How did you find it?
I got worried about the family particularly. I had two very unpleasant experiences of concern with that. I mean funny things. I remember a chap stopping me in the street and say, "Hey, don't you play the lead in, or one of the leads in 'Emergency Ward 10'?" I said, "Yes". He said, "Oh, my wife likes you but I don't. How are you?" So, that was the lighter side. But that happened to me in the pub after doing a play at Bromley in Kent and we went into, I went into buy the cast a drink at the end of production, a fortnight's season down there.
And a bloke got my autograph for his girlfriend. I had to borrow a pen, as I was handing the pen back he said, "Thanks very much" and whack and punched me on the side of the head. And I looked round - he was quite a big bloke - young fellow. I said, "What was that for?" He said, "My girlfriend's a great fan of yours, so there". And off he went. And fortunately one of the actors was very big too and he was, "What's this?" And the chap went off and the pub manager said, she said, "I'm sure you wouldn't have said anything to insult him. Isn't that awful?" And I had this sore head. I did go to the doctor about it and he said, "No, nothing, no damage". But he said, "It'll be sore for a while". And then he said, "This must be happening to you chaps a lot". I said, "What do you mean? No, this is England. It doesn't happen, nothing like that happens here". He said, "Oh yeah".
He said, "Dad's been working hard in the factory all day. He comes home after a hard day's work, the dinner isn't ready and there's Mum watching you on 'Emergency Ward 10'. He hates you". I thought, "Oh, thanks very much". But then there was a lovely photograph of - I think it would have been about that time, no, a bit before probably, when my son was only a few months old. And there was a front page photograph on one of the afternoon papers of Audrey and I either bathing or weighing Christopher. And late that night I got a threatening call about him. That took a lot of the glamour off that. So, nothing was done. I rang the police, they couldn't do anything about it. There was no way, in those days, of tracing calls. John Alderton told me that about the same time he was starting to get some unpleasant calls too. I was in the phone book. The police said, "You shouldn't be in the phone book". I said, "But I didn't know I was going to be famous when we went into the phone book".
And to be an Aussie in London and not in the phone book is a nuisance for your friends when they're trying to look you up. But we were about to move to a house and the police said, "Do us a favour and don't be in the phone book". So I've not been in the phone book anywhere ever since and it is a bit of a nuisance not being available to your friends, I suppose. But it wiped a lot of the glamour off fame and I've never told anybody what the man said and I won't tell anybody because it was unpleasant but clever and if anybody used the same technique it would be very unpleasant for them.
What about the invasion of your privacy in a more general sense?
In general I found in England, as here, people are very respectful. In recent publicity for 'The Man from Snowy River' and 'The Carer' and 'Innocence', people, who I've mentioned going up to my local supermarket, the Safeways up the hill and they said, "How can you do that and wander around?" I said, "Look, they leave you alone". I've got a couple of mates up there who are the regulars, regular staff up there and we're good mates. I don't notice people nudging and saying, "Isn't that the fellow?", so much. Audrey used to and the kids do and my son and daughter today. If we walk through somewhere, if the profile's been up a bit through recent publicity or if 'The Castle' has been on television again, I tend not to notice it and people look round usually after you've passed. And so that the person who's walking with you may notice them turning but I often don't and I've never been bothered by it.
I think it was Shirley MacLaine said, "if you've got a very high profile and you don't want to be recognised, you don't have to be". She said, more or less the same as I feel about going up to Safeways. You can wander around, not disguised, but looking like you're in your own little world and people are often, generally very respectful of that. And she never had any problems with it at all. She didn't mean she put on dark glasses and a scarf around her head or anything like that. But, or you go, can go swanning around being a movie star all over the place. And probably fall over because nobody does recognise you. But it's, it's not all that difficult. But it's the more alarming stuff that, you know, that with, any threat to, and things have happened recently in England which must be appalling for the people who're very famous.
You didn't come back for the J.C. Williamson's play. What did bring you back?
Well, I had the lead in a play called 'There's a Girl in My Soup' in London for two years in London. I was not the original. Donald Sinden started it, there were two other actors and then my agent, Tim Wilson, said, "If you want to do some work in the West End they'd like you to play the lead in 'Girl in My Soup'. We think it's got three months to run". They said, "That'll be a nice run, you know". Well, I, I took over. Robert Chetwin, the original director, directed me in. I had a very good fortnight rehearsal. One or two people were already in the show and a couple of others joined us as new people too. And we opened and business took off again and we were playing to capacity very quickly. And the management kept it running. I had a, a holiday period written into my contract at the end of the first year, which sounded wildly optimistic at the time.
But we actually used it and my wife and I went over to France with the kids for a short, a very short few days holiday. Came back and it ran on for another year. And I eventually left because we'd saved enough money to shout ourselves a trip home to see Mum in Sydney. Dad had died when we were away, unfortunately. But we came back and all sorts of things happened when I got here and we never really went back to UK. But it was really a sentimental trip home to see my mother and to show my son and daughter, who were Australian registered citizens but had been born in England, and wanted to show them where Mum and Dad grew up and, and all that. So that's what brought me back. Purely a sentimental personal trip home. But I did have a letter from Hector Crawford before we left London, said, "If you've got the time, I know you're on a personal trip, but do some work for us". And I came down to Melbourne to do a guest role in something and Alwyn Kurts resigned from 'Homicide' at the same time and Hector asked me if I'd like to take over for a while. I said, "Alright for a while" and I loved it so, and that's how, that's what brought us back.
Was your furniture still here?
No, we didn't have much furniture because the flat we had in Sydney was furnished. But a lot of stuff that we'd accumulated was still in Grace Brothers. We did buy some furniture in - table there, and a few things, that little cabinet behind me - in London and once we decided we were staying, we got it all shipped out. So I've got bits and pieces all round the house.
Was that a difficult decision, Bud, to decide to stay in Australia at that time?
No, I had a theory that most Australians overseas, in any job at all, want to get home. And certainly showbiz Australians always want to get back. Actors doing a lot of television or film, always want to do a film back home in Australia. And the thing that we all were envious of was anybody doing a filmed series on television in Australia. Because that was a combination of both things. And 'Homicide' had just gone onto film. Which I think was one of the reasons why Alwyn resigned and maybe Len Teale too. They felt that they'd become very, very efficient of course at videotaped television, which 'Homicide' was originally. But they had gone onto film and I think they were having some difficulty keeping to the schedule and, and they were shooting in colour and that was presenting new problems. To me they didn't sound like problems because what I'd seen of Australian work when we came back - and I did a couple of ABC tellies as well - I was very impressed by the technical efficiency here and I thought, these people can do it. And I thought the work they were doing on 'Homicide' technically was really wonderful. So I had no such problems and we had no trouble sticking to the schedule and all that so I, I loved it.
And was it 'Homicide' that brought you from Sydney to Melbourne?
Yes, yes. Because we - I would have been Sydney based had it not been for that. But we liked Melbourne and I think my son and daughter preferred - oh dare I say it - preferred Melbourne to Sydney. Perhaps it was a little bit more like England than Sydney, I don't know. But I know they were a little bit daunted by the fact that when we arrived in July, in Sydney, to a bright, bright sunny Sydney winter day, a superb day. They were saying, "Well hang on, this is mid winter". But when we came down to Melbourne, it was a little bit less bright and, "Oh this is alright". So they liked Melbourne.
Those early days of television - well not so early days - it was 1972 when you came back, yes?
'72 yes, sure.
Was there a lot of optimism there about the industry in Australia?
Oh, if we'd worked out a wonderful time to come back to have a look, but not that that was what we, we were just coming home to see Mum. Then to find all this amazing vigour going into the political system. The election that brought in Gough Whitlam was coming up at the end of the year. There - we saw shows like 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and we were astonished at the standard. And there was a wonderful feeling of optimism all round. Now a lot of that may have been coloured by our own attitude, "Wow, this is the new Australia", and we had been away, Audrey and I, sixteen years and it was a very different Australia. Not always better but it, it was amazing, the general feeling around was extraordinary and a lot of wisdom and political wisdom seemed to be abroad.
And then the wonderful production standards and the work by Jon English and Trevor White and people like that in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' was fantastic. And then we saw other shows and I thought the theatre standard was wonderful. I'm not saying it was better but it was just wonderful and energetic and vigorous and all that. And there were - and when Hector asked me to take over, it wasn't a very big decision to make. We didn't know how long we'd stay. But we thought, well, a year anyway. And it was a good time for the children as far as school was concerned. Chris had just started secondary school and Virginia was coming up towards it, had another year or so to go for primary school. And so it wasn't a bad time for them.
And I remember one of the teachers said, when I said, "Is it going to muck things up if we're there for a quite a few weeks and maybe a month or two?" And I remember her saying, "No, no, no". Said, "Be good because we're about to do a project on Australia anyway". And those projects they did at school in England were very, very good. They really went into great details [sic]. So, there were no real problems personally for us. A couple of years later, yes, it might have been a problem for school either way. So.
Now, with your career taking off in Australia, did you ever regret that decision? Did you ever think, you know, that had you stayed in England you might have done more there?
I have been haunted by a comment by Tim Wilson. When, when I left 'Girl in My Soup', which had, while I was doing it, had become the longest running comedy ever in the history of London theatre. Which was nice to be associated with that. It folded in eleven days or something, it was a very short time, when the next chap took over. Who had been patiently waiting to take over the lead. He was already in the show. And Tim said, "Look, please don't leave London now. You take over a show that's only got three months to run and it runs for two years, you leave and it ends shortly after". He said, "That changes your status totally in London". And I said, "Don't worry, we're only going home to see Mum and we'll be back". Which is what we fully intended to do. But when we got to Australia, we changed our thinking considerably.
And it was just terribly exciting to be involved in what was happening. And I think, frankly, accurately saw that the technical standards being done on an all film series like 'Homicide' with young technical people who were like sponges for any information you could give them, providing they asked for the opinion. Never come back and say, "In England we did it this way, or America", whatever. Be careful of that. But I just found it so, it was extraordinarily stimulating.
You worked on other things with Crawfords. How did you find the whole Crawford ethos? What was it like as a place to work?
I loved it because they had various depart - in a way it was like the very best of the old American big studio system but on a smaller scale. They had a music department with excellent musicians in charge. Hector himself was conducting a symphony orchestra, free concerts in the Myer Music Bowl every Sunday afternoon. And there was this marvellous feeling of, of showbiz right across the board. Because I'd directed a couple of productions of 'Doctor in the House' in England, including one very film starry one with James Fox and a lot of very well-known people. That had popped up in my CV and I remember Bill Gordon, the publicist at Crawfords, came to me one day and said, "How would you be directing a production of 'Doctor in the House'?" I said, "What, with the 'Homicide' schedule?" He said, "Don't worry, we'll fix that".
So I, during the second year of 'Doctor in the House', I directed Crawfords' first attempt at the theatre. And we got a marvellous cast for 'Doctor in the House', including two of the lads who were quite well-known in England for doing it, Robin Nedwell and Geoff Davis. They came out to play the characters.
So this was a theatrical production?
Yes, yeah. And I used to do 'Homicide' from 7:30 till about 10 in the morning and then we'd rehearse 'Doctor in the House' from 10 'till 4:30, I think it was and I'd go back to the studio and do an hour and a half at the end of the day. And we filled the Princess Theatre, got rave reviews and it was hugely successful all over Australia. And I didn't have a percentage, damn it. That would have been nice. They paid me well.
And you did some television directing with them too, didn't you?
Yes I did. Well, I had asked Hector, "If I stay on in 'Homicide', is there any chance of doing a bit of directing and producing?" Because I was invited to direct in England but I was having too much fun as an actor and also one producer said, "Mind you, you'll have to take a drop in salary", because my leading actor wages for the show I was - could have directed - were something like ten times what the director's salary was. And with a young family and all that - so all that came into it. But I would have liked to have done it, I must say, over there. But I did direct two or three things in the theatre. And, anyhow, when the show ended - 'Homicide' ended at the end of 1975 which was another very dramatic year in Australian - in Australia politically with the sacking, Whitlam sacking etcetera. Suddenly all the cop shows that Crawfords had had to come off the air. All their ratings dropped for the simple reason that the, the channels, for some reason or another, put them all on at the same time against each other. They were all carefully spaced. You know, Channel 10 had 'Matlock Police' and Channel 9 had 'Division 4' on another night and 'Homicide' was on another night on Channel 7. Suddenly they were all on at the same time and the ratings were then divided by three so they came off the air.
And I remember saying to Hector when we heard that the show was being cancelled, as were the others, "This would be a bad time to remind you that we once talked about me directing". And he said, "No, give us a bit of time". And in a few weeks I was called back to direct the early days of 'The Sullivans' and things like that. And another show they had, a very difficult to produce comedy called 'Bluestone Boys' which was a tough schedule, very good training, marvellous actors in it. And a couple of other shows like that. And then I became a regular director on 'The Sullivans' and then produced a few things here and there. And, so that sort of launched my directing, producing career. And did a bit of acting as well, too.
Yes, you always maintained the acting, didn't you? Was that something you sought or were you sought out for the film roles, the, you know - you had a number of film roles during that time.
Yes I did. I think 'Homicide' helped me with the film roles. Not necessarily that I was a good actor but a lot of people said that I, you know, I was reasonable to work with on the set and knew how to hit the marks and all those things.
You mean you had no talent, you were just cooperative?
Well, it was Scotty Ehrenberg's training. [laughs] But, no, Tim Burstall very kindly asked me to play Jack Thompson's dad in 'Petersen' and then a strange character in 'Eliza Fraser' and, yeah, and lots of things. And if they, if you could fit them in, it was great. It was a bit like being back in England when Tony Keary would give me leave from 'Ward 10' to go off and do a movie. And even go to Africa on the 'Tarzan' film. He wrote me out of the script very quickly for that one because that was an interesting thing to do. However. It was similar to that and I just pottered along and at the same time tried to do a few voiceovers to pay a few more gas bills and electricity bills and things.
You'd come back to see your mother, how was she?
She was fine, yeah, yeah. She had come over to see us after Dad died. Mum and Dad had been over for quite a while. They came over for about a year in the early '60s and then got back and Dad died later when they were back home. And, unexpectedly too with a heart thing. But Mum made ninety and, she, she was a tough kind. She came over and stayed with us. Travelled around in her late 70s, helped a bit by the fact that my brother was a QANTAS pilot. I think he made sure she got good treatment and all that. But she was fine and we rented a house that was big enough for her to come and stay with us as well when I was, in the early days of 'Homicide'. And, and she loved travelling. She was a good traveller. And it was beaut. And both my brothers were alive then so good strong family reunions and things. Although I often thought I was a bit of a nuisance with all the publicity and I had a cousin who was publicist for one of the big hotel chains and she said, "Do you want some publicity?" I said, "Well not really. That's not the idea". But then I thought, well it might help her.
So she said, "You've got to spend a night in the hotel". So my son and daughter thought that'd be great fun. We went into this big posh hotel for the night and we were invaded by journalists from everywhere. Suddenly publicity all over the place which, of course, did no harm at all to future employment opportunities, you know.
How do you manage that? That balance between publicity and... do you think all publicity is good publicity?
No, no, oh, no, no. But I - in fact there was an occasion when Chips Rafferty was beaten up in London and, badly, and we had been having dinner, Audrey and I, with Chips and some friends of mine and we'd gone home to our babysitter. And he rang the next morning to tell me he'd bashed a bit and he wasn't feeling too well and by the time I raced into the apartment he was staying in for just a few days in London, friends had whipped him off to hospital and an Australian surgeon friend of Chips and mine, mutual friend, was very worried because he had some heart attacks that day because he'd been kicked around the chest and head. And the - he was OK. He lost some skin and things like that, badly bruised, but the heart attacks were, he thought, were revealed by the chest injuries. So there was a sort of an upside to it in a way. Chips didn't know he had a heart problem. But he was in hospital for about three days and then came home to our place and Audrey nursed him for about ten days.
Now, I was trying to be very careful because we had earlier that evening been to a rather posh do at Australia House for ex-Prime Minister Menzies and I thought, gosh, if I say we were at a do for Menzies and then he got bashed up at the end of the night, it's going to look, you know - so I was trying to be terribly clever and not say too much. By the time it was reported in Australia, it read in one paper, the leading Sydney paper, it said Chips and I had been involved in a brawl and what had happened, the journalist had sent out a full story that I'd gone, you know, the next day and Audrey was going to look after him and they'd subbed out a lot of that explanation stuff. And the shortened version read badly. So much so that my QANTAS pilot brother wanted to go and bash the editor of the newspaper himself, punch him on the nose or something. He didn't and I thought, "Ooh, my golly". So, and I - it happened to be about the time that J.C. Williamson's lost the rights of the play and I often wonder if the two things were connected. But Chips recovered and went back but missed two very important international films.
He was - it happened on a Friday night, on the Sunday he was supposed to go to Spain to meet one of the great Spanish producers and the next day to go on to Rome to meet another of the top Italian producers and he was in hospital.
How did it happen? What did happen? Was it a brawl?
No it wasn't. John Meillon knew about it and helped put Chips in a taxi to send him home. And apparently an Aussie who was working as a bouncer at a, we were actually at an Australian restaurant in London run by an actor friend of mine who, I wasn't a - it was a club but I wasn't a member of the club and being a friend he allowed us all to go in - a lot of English actor friends knew the place and they all wanted to meet Chips. That was the whole idea. And Audrey and I had had to leave early to go home to the babysitter. Apparently this chap who was, we - the bouncer, claimed, apparently, that Chips ignored him and didn't remember meeting him. Something like that happened and it was all a bit woolly, the explanation that John gave me. But an argument started inside and they went outside to have an argument. And little did Chips know, this man was also a professional wrestler. Chips, as tall as he was, and I think pretty strong, was no match for a skilled professional. And the owner of the club, this actor friend, said he'd had trouble with this man before when I asked him what happened. And he said, "I nearly banned him from the club before". He said, "I'll have to ban him from the club".
But nobody knew how serious Chips' injuries were. He was just - you know, got bashed a bit - but it was quite serious. And I asked Chips when he was staying at our place what he wanted to do about it. He said, "Nothing". He said, "If that bloke comes home, I'll have a few schemes". But I don't know whatever happened. But - and I haven't heard about that man and sadly the mate who owned the club died some years later. A very distinguished actor too. He was actually playing the lead in a very big production in London at the time. This was the owner of the club... Unfortunate for everybody.
But back in Australia, on the whole, the media's been fairly kind to you, haven't they? Why do you think that is?
Oh, I don't know. I, I suppose as much for the sake of the family as anything, I try to be as non-controversial as I can. I've, I'm happy to stand up for Aussie production and that sort of thing. I've tried not to be too politically orientated publicly, although my wife and I solved the problems of the world once or twice over the years and my son and daughter and I know what's wrong with everything. I'm sure like most families. But - and also frankly I understand. I remember there were some very fine journalists connected with that Chips Rafferty thing in London and they tried to write correcting type articles. One journalist had to turn it into a sort of a jokey piece because he couldn't really follow up the stern piece with the ... And they, they were obviously concerned about their newspapers' reputation too. And I can understand all that and I used to be a member of the Journalists' Club in Sydney. Most actors were. It was a great place to go after hours to have a beer when you couldn't get a beer anywhere else after work on a late night radio show. So I knew a lot of journalists and I, I think I understand their problem.
Once or twice I've been taken advantage of by being rung up to see if I could get some inside information on somebody who'd had an unfortunate self-inflicted accident in one case in London. I was rather shocked because this journalist friend of mine would have had to have told a real tale to get me on the phone on this production and it was really to find out if I knew this person and I, thank goodness, didn't know the person. I knew that that person was quite famous. And it happened once, once or twice from the same journalist again when we came back. Just to get some inside information and I, a, I wouldn't give it to him and b, I was genuinely not aware of what the real story was.
[end of tape]