By Mike Sharland
Anthony Marriott, who has died aged 83 on 17 April 2014 after a long illness. He was born on 17 January 1931 in London, England. Tony was an actor, stage director and writer of over 32 plays. His first appearance as an actor was in Laburnham Grove at the Horsham Repertory Company in 1950. He then took part in various repertory seasons from 1951 to 1954 including Worthing, Warrington, Manchester Library Theatre, Dudley, Norwich, Yeovil and Salisbury.
From 1954-1956 he became a member of the BBC Radio Drama Repertory Company starring in among others, The Journey Into Space series, and Dan Dare. He became a contract writer for the Rank Organisation working on Waltz Of The Toreadors, Gypsy and the Gentleman, Operation Amsterdam. For television, he was a story editor on the Ghost Squad series and he created and wrote BBC Radio’s Roundabout series.
I first met Tony during this period in the mid-1960s. We shared offices in the basement of Associated London Scripts at the legendary 9 Orme Court where a great deal of the comedy for television, film and theatre was created by Spike Milligan, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, Eric Sykes. Tony created with Roger Marshall Public Eye, starring Alfred Burke for ABC. He was also a contributing writer on series including The Avengers, No Hiding Place, This Man Craig, Fireball XL5.
Turning to the theatre, he wrote with Alistair Foot Uproar In The House, a farce which ran at the Garrick and Whitehall Theatres from 1967-1969. They followed this up with No Sex Please, We’re British, which starred Michael Crawford. It opened at the Strand Theatre in 1971, later transferring to the Garrick Theatre, enjoying a sixteen and a half year run, becoming on the way the world’s longest running farce. With Bob Grant he wrote Darling Mr. London, No Room For Love, Home Is Where Your Clothes Are, which is one of the most popular farces with amateur companies in North America.
No Sex Please, We’re British has to date seen productions in over 90 countries. It was always a disappointment to Tony that such a perfectly constructed farce was never taken up by the National Theatre. There have been no West End revivals of No Sex Please, We’re British as it was always difficult to cast and Tony knew that farce depended on the right casting.
Tony got together with another great comedy writer, John Chapman, and they produced Shut Your Eyes And Think Of England, which ran for a year and a half, starring one of Britain’s finest comedy and classical actors, Donald Sinden. Due to the success of Shut Your Eyes And Think Of England, Tony wrote three more plays with John Chapman.
When he wasn’t writing, Tony served for 21 years as a Justice of the Peace in the West End Courts. Tony was a great supporter of writers and served on both the Council and the Theatre Committee of The Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. He brought a sharp eye and a great deal of commonsense to the meetings which always seemed to end in laughter.
Tony was married to Heulwen who pre deceased him in 1999. They had three children.