Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fantasy Girlfriends of Yesteryear - The 'Football Team'

It was Richard Briers, as Tom Good in the '70s BBC sitcom The Good Life, who first introduced me to the idea of making lists of the desirable women one might fantasise over. In one episode he revealed that as a boy he had used to compile teams of 11-a-side to compete in 'cricket matches' using the Owzat dice game. I dallied with the idea for a while, sometimes substituting football for cricket (I had a number of card or dice-based games for football, whereas the venerable Owzat set - the game had perhaps ceased being manufactured in the 1970s - strictly speaking belonged to my brother). I can't now remember exactly who was in my lineups (Tom had favoured the Hollywood glamourpusses of his own childhood in the 1940s: I think Hedy Lamarr was mentioned as one of his most formidable bowlers), but it is highly likely that the ladies below would have been among them - all young actresses who appeared frequently on British TV during my childhood in the later '70s and early '80s, and whose exceptional prettiness left an indelible impression on me.

Since that time, thoughts of sport have been inextricably linked in my mind with thoughts of beautiful women; hence the idea for this post emerges out of my recent obsession with the unfolding European Football Championship. I suspect it works the other way for me as well, that I have a Pavlovian reflex to think of sport whenever I see a pretty girl - something that has probably not been helpful to me in attempting to forge romantic relationships.

I've produced a list of twelve lovely ladies here, since cricket traditionally allowed only one substitute, and back in the 1970s football did too (this allowing multiple substitutions, and having most of your squad on the bench to choose from, is a newfangled rule change I still turn my nose up at). I haven't bothered to try to come up with a tactical formation for them (although as a ten-year-old I would have done!).

It was hard to trim my selection down this far. A few strong contenders had to be omitted: Jenny Agutter (who I'd better give a 'Fantasy Girlfriend' post all of her own one day; or my pal The British Cowboy, for one, will never forgive me), Sheila Ruskin (a rather good actress who, unfortunately, became forever tainted in pop-culture-land by having a terribly hammy part in a 1981 Dr Who episode), Francesca Annis (who was Estella in a 1960s BBC serialisation of Great Expectations, and got her kit off [as we Brits like to put it] to play Lady Macbeth for Roman Polanski round about 1970... although I didn't see that until much later!), and Natalie Ogle, a china-doll pretty waif of a girl who got a run of parts in BBC1 Sunday afternoon 'classic serials' in the late '70s, Little Nell and Lydia Bennett (I saw her on stage at the Oxford Playhouse many years later, and she was still rather breathtaking; still is today, it seems!). And, of course, I've already celebrated a number of my other favourite actresses from that era in their own posts in this series: Diana RiggJane Seymour, Jan Francis, Patricia Hodge, Gabrielle Drake, and Felicity Kendal (whose most famous role was as Tom Good's wonderful wife Barbara in that TV show I mentioned at the outset).

But THIS is my....

1970s 'Fantasy Football' Glamour Team

Fiona Fullerton
I first became smitten when she appeared in Angels, an early 1970s BBC drama series about student nurses. I confess to a bit of a weakness for a nurse's uniform! Shortly before that (I was later to discover), she had been the most inappropriately grown-up and embarrasingly fanciable Alice In Wonderland; shortly after, she would go on to a string of forgettable glamour roles, including an appearance as a Bond girl.

Jenny Hanley
This rather lovely actress had a few conventional glamour parts in horror films and such early in her career, but then settled into a regular gig as a presenter on Magpie, an ITV children's magazine programme - which gave me a lot of exposure to her as I was growing up. I adored her voice, as well as everything else about her.

Barbara Kellerman
Possibly the most beautiful woman in this very beautiful team (Jewish girls are another recurring weakness of mine), and probably the tallest too. I first saw her as a nurse (are we seeing a pattern here already?) in a medical soap called General Hospital, but she went on to play dozens of other TV parts during the 1970s.

Lesley-Anne Down
Or I should perhaps say Lady Georgina Worsley, the part that she played in the popular period drama Upstairs, Downstairs. She soon got drawn away to a career in Hollywood, but it was that early role as the Bellamys' flighty niece that enraptured me. I remember there was one episode where she took a rather raunchy part in a silent film, playing a slinky seductress in a Parisian café: beret, long cigarette-holder, and black silk stockings. One of the most memorable erotic images of my young life! Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I couldn't find a picture of that. So, I plumped for one from when she became a nurse during WWI instead.

Emma Samms
Another rising star who, like Lesley-Anne Down and Jane Seymour, was promptly stolen from us by the greedy magnates of American television. I believe she had a long-running part in Dynasty or something, but I never watched any of that junk. I remember her chiefly from the 1979 film Arabian Adventure. (Arabian princess costumes even beat a nurse's uniform in the fetish stakes!)

Lea Brodie
Billed as Lea Dregorn in a few of her earliest appearances (not sure if she got married young, or just decided that her real name was proving a bit of a handicap in showbusiness), she unfortunately didn't have a very long career. She cropped up a few times on TV in shows like Space: 1999, but she's only really remembered for playing an almost-Arab-princess type glamour role in the low-budget action romp Warlords of Atlantis. Best legs I've ever seen!

Caroline Munro
I feel a bit bad about including her as an 'actress' since, despite scores of film roles over the years (mostly in horror films), I've never seen any evidence that she can act at all. She was, however, quite outrageously sexy, possibly the most universally lusted after woman in the UK from the late '60s through to the early '80s. She was best known as the 'face' of Lamb's Navy Rum in a long-running series of calendars and glamour posters. However, she showed admirable resolve in refusing ever to do any nudie stuff - despite being supposedly offered a king's ransom by Hef to appear in Playboy. I think the only true 'starring' role she landed was as space-age swashbuckler Stella Star in the dreadfully cheap-and-cheesy Barbarella/Star Wars ripoff Star Crash (rated at 3.8 out of 10 by IMDB, the lowest score I think I've ever seen on there). This film occasionally strays into so-bad-it's-good territory: Christopher Plummer, slumming it for a paycheck as the Galactic Emperor, has one of the most brilliant lines ever uttered on film - "Imperial Battleship, halt the flow of Time!"

And here she is in motion, in a raunchy little TV ad from the early '70s for a popular brand of mini cigar.

Cherie Lunghi
In contention for an award as the most prolific TV actress of all time, and not only beautiful but always emanating such élan, such coolness, such class. She was notorious for a short while for having (almost subliminally briefly) got her kit off as Guinevere in John Boorman's Excalibur, but I think I remember seeing her first as one of Edward VIII's former girlfriends in an ITV series about the 1936 abdication crisis (making his choice of Wallis Simpson completely unfathomable).

Anne-Louise Lambert
An Australian actress best-known for her bewitching performance in Peter Weir's hauntingly beautiful Picnic At Hanging Rock (which I tend to cite as the most erotic film I've seen - to general derision from people who expect their eroticism to involve actual sex): her character, a 17-year-old schoolgirl called Miranda, is memorably described as "a Botticelli angel". In her mid-twenties she moved to England to develop her career, but the first part she got was as Lucrezia Borgia in The Borgias, a series widely derided as one of the most inept costume dramas the Beeb ever produced. Fortunately, she did continue to get regular work after this, but never achieved the major stardom that had seemed on the cards after Picnic.

Olivia Newton-John
Another pick I feel a little embarrassed about including in a lineup of actresses, since her acting was really pretty horrible. But damn - she looked mighty fine. I knew her mostly through appearances as a singer. I never saw Grease (was irretrievably prejudiced against it by the irritatingness of all the hit singles it spawned, and how long they clogged the upper reaches of the charts that year). However, I did somehow (I can't remember how: this is not a film I would ever have made the slightest effort to see) catch her follow-up, Xanadu, which is quite possibly the silliest film ever made - but she looks smoking hot throughout.

Lynne Frederick
She later became a prime target of tabloid gossip-mongers as the last wife of Peter Sellers, and died before the age of 40 after troubles with alcohol and depression. However, her early career showed a lot of promise, and she happens to have appeared in three films I particularly like: the fabulous children's story The Amazing Mr Blunden, and two unusual sci-fi thrillers, Phase IV and No Blade of Grass.

Lysette Anthony
I had thought she was another of those young beauties who'd deserted our shores in search of big bucks in America, but her IMDB resumé indicates that she's worked consistently in British TV. I'm not sure quite how she impinged on my consciousness, since she's only a little older than me and didn't really get her career going until I'd gone to college (at which point I didn't watch TV much any more). I think I saw her in a TV movie of Ivanhoe in the early '80s.


Harvster said...

Caroline Munro - goood choice! She had a starring role in Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter. Best vampire film ever made IMHO.

Froog said...

Wasn't she mute in that, or pretty much so? Devastating body, but very wooden as an actress.

Have you ever seen Star Crash, Harv? You might well consider it "the best sci-fi film ever made"!

Todd Mason said...

Just saw Leah Brodie again in FFOLKES. Gorgeous all around, even given that Ffolkes mistakes her for a young man at first.

Todd Mason said...

Brodie apparently was already passionate about what could be termed mystical healing art before she began acting, and that's apparently been her primary lifelong career.

Anonymous said...

Rampant totty!