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.