WHEN a well-known face dies during an international crisis, you can’t help thinking they miss out on the due celebration of their life and achievements. So it is that actor Warren Mitchell’s death this weekend has been relegated to filler spots in some of today’s newspapers, when on another weekend he would have commanded page leads and reams of tributes.
Even if people didn’t tune into the Alf Garnett comedies or have the taste for his blunt caricature, they knew who he was. The 89-year-old was an instantly recognisable face.
Living in Highgate, he put his name to the New Journal’s Save The Whittington campaign; for which we were grateful. Rightly or wrongly, those celebrity endorsements helped the campaign gain even greater exposure.
But it was an issue closer to his home which seemed to get him most irate: the noise from the old Kenwood summer concerts. As his complaint was picked up by the newspapers, it was inevitably presented with a variation of some sorts on the following, drop intro theme: He is best known for playing the old curmudgeon Alf Garnett xx xx xx and in real life Warren Mitchell has a rant of his own xx xx xx.
Mitchell, a socialist at heart, didn’t like people thinking he was like Garnett in real life, however, and in terms of the summer noise, he wasn’t joking. He was seriously fed-up. He once told our reporter Sunita Rappai that he’d begun giving his dog tranquilisers during the end of show fireworks to calm its nerves, explaining: “Our little dog gets very trembly and has to hide under the bed. I asked the organisers last year why they had to have fireworks at all and they said it was one of the main attractions. We are planning to move away over the summer. It’s awful – you can not sit in the garden at all and simply contemplate nature. As well as the noise from the concerts, there’s some terrible MC making inane comments disturbing the peace. It’s noise pollution.”