Friday, May 15, 2009

RIP Charles "Bud" Tingwell

As has been widely reported, Charles "Bud" Tingwell died overnight, aged 86. Upon hearing the news, my first thought was, "Oh no, not Gramps!" My second thought was to consider the possible inappropriateness of my first thought. Given Tingwell's long and varied career, was it somehow disrespectful that my immediate thoughts were of his relatively minor role in the much-loved D-Gen pisstaké "Charlie the Wonder Dog"?

Yet Tingwell's performance as Gramps exemplifies - for me at least, and I suspect for many others of my generation - Tingwell's talent and his spirit. Here was a guy whose career predated tv, who had appeared in everything from The Shiralee to Thunderbirds (yes, Thunderbirds!), not to mention over one hundred episodes of Homicide. Here was this legend of Australian film and tv, hamming it up on a late night comedy show, and he was utterly brilliant. Tingwell not only got the joke, he embraced it; his performance was pitch-perfect and still makes me laugh today. Ok, Gramps is far from being Tingwell's most significant role, but the fact that he took it on and made it work so well demonstrates his skill, professionalism and generosity.

Looking at Tingwell's IMDB profile brings home just how versatile an actor he was. Although perhaps best loved for avuncular characters such as QC Lawrence Hammill in The Castle, Tingwell largely managed to avoid being typecast - just last year he played Winston Churchill in ABC's Menzies and Churchill at War. On top of all this Tingwell was by all accounts a lovely bloke with a generous soul. Of course, the entertainment world always speaks highly of its recently deceased. I suspect in Tingwell's case the praise is more than justified.


  1. I got an SMS from my daughter about Bud's passing today. He was well loved, and Gramps (and the QC turn) turned out to be a big part of that. Vale.

  2. I had a great time this morning rewatching a lot of Charlie the Wonderdog episodes on YouTube. The dog was the star, but Charles Tingwell was great, absolutely marvellous in fact. I think I enjoyed the Enid Blytonesque narrative more than the parody, actually, so the fact that Tingwell played it all with a straight face made it so much better.

  3. Sad news; I think we'll all miss him. The earliest things I remember seeing him in were his regular appearances as the police inspector in those old Miss Marple films (the ones with Margaret Rutherford and the funky harpsichord theme). In his style, he was one of the last of that mid-century generation of actors, who could take on any role: he knew how to focus on the nuances of character rather than rely grandstanding or the method, and how to work as part of an ensemble, lifting everyone else up with him.


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