David Kelly (1929-2012)

Today has been a touch miserable, as I’ve been coping with a nasty bug; but it became much worse when I heard the very sad news of the death of actor David Kelly.

In my youth, I remember him vividly and with great fondness as the one who always stole the scene in Fawlty Towers or Robin’s Nest. As this Irish Times piece says, though, his was a wide ranging and distinguished career:-

He worked in theatre, television and film for more than 50 years and had continued to work up until last year. In 1975 he had a brief but memorable role in Fawlty Towers when he played the part of the hapless builder O’Reilly. He often remarked that he had performed on stage for more than 50 years but the nine minutes on Fawlty Towers made him recognisable all over the world. He had a long list of film credits including the 1969 version of The Italian Job, Into The West and Waking Ned, which he credits for making him a sex symbol after he appeared nude on a motorbike.

I was also particularly interested in his work on Beckett:-

On stage he will always be associated with Samuel Beckett because of his legendary performance in the title role of Krapp’s Last Tape.

I was very much impressed with his contribution to the marvellous Beckett short, Rough For Theatre I, part of the Beckett On Film collection, a two-hander with another great actor Milo O’Shea (only 17 minutes long and well worth watching in full):-

Here is David receiving an IFTA lifetime achievement award:-

“My only true desire in life, ever, was to be an actor, and it is bizarre, truly bizarre, that I’m now being rewarded for having a dream come true.”