Robert Gillespie Recalls Writing Controversial 60s Satire and Working on Rising Damp with Leonard Rossiter

In the second part of our video interview with British actor, writer and director, Robert Gillespie, Andy Howells discovers what it was like for Robert to write comedy for the satire series That Was The Week That Was in the 1960s and feature in a classic scene of Rising Damp in the 1970s.

Robert, who has delighted viewers over the decades with guest appearances in tv series such as Porridge, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? and Rising Damp and starring as cartoonist Dudley Rush in 5 series of the 80s sit-com Keep it In the Family, has recently published a new memoir new memoir, Are You Going to Take that Little Jump?

How David Frost Sketch Caused Controversy

Robert recalls two instances from his career that feature in his new book in the interview including writing a satire on religion that was based on a Which? Magazine report and caused controversy when performed on television in That Was The Week That Was by David Frost.

“I have to say I loved the reaction,” says Robert, “There was an angry reaction and there were questions asked in the House of Commons about it!”

“David Frost was always interviewed about it. It did the BBC, Ned Sherrin and the show an enormous amount of good for its reputation.”

However, Robert concludes it barely affected his career as a writer or an actor, particularly as he was in rep theatre at the time, “I was completely anonymous – it did me no good at all as a writer!”

Robert Gillespie’s new autobiography is available now.

Robert Gillespie Recalls Working With Leonard Rossiter

Robert’s career progressed into situation comedy in the late 60s when he got chosen by Dad’s Army producer David Croft for a role as a Policeman in Hugh and I.

Further guest comedy roles followed and in 1975, Robert appeared in a classic comedy scene as a gas man in the sitcom, Rising Damp, of which he goes to cut off the supply of Rigsby played by Leonard Rossiter.

Robert describes how despite been criticised by many as been difficult, Leonard made great efforts on set to ensure the scene, (which involved Rigsby losing coins hes stolen from the gas meter through his trouser pockets), was filmed to give the maximum enjoyment for the audience.

“We only did one take. It was entirely down to Leonard..” says Robert of the gas man scene “He (Leonard) was wanting to get it right!”

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