From the Stage Door: Peachy Mead
29 January 2018
Peachy became secretary of the East Anglian Branch when it was first established in 1983 – 35 years ago. He has remained in this position ever since. His involvement had extended to being a member of the South East Area Committee for 28 years during which time he had the role of chairman and became a member of the VAC.
His long association with the union has equipped him with all the information necessary to advise our members whenever they need assistance. Peachy joined Equity 20 years before our regional branch was formed, but his involvement in the entertainment industry goes back even further, beginning at school, where he took part in classroom plays based on biblical stories and directed by his drama teacher.
He was greatly influenced by visitors to his home, for his mother owned a Guest House where artistes from the Theatre Royal and the Norwich Hippodrome would lodge. Complimentary tickets handed out to owners of theatrical digs made it possible for the stage-struck young Peachy to attend most weekly shows, and he was particularly attracted to the variety side of the business being presented at the Hippodrome, Norwich’s beautiful example of Frank Matcham’s architectural genius, now sadly destroyed by modern planners.
Among Peachy’s treasured memories is being cast as Col. Tom Parker in the production of Forever Elvis, the show which toured England’s leading theatres such as the Leeds Grand and Hull New Theatre and Glasgow Pavilion Theatre among many, plus a six week run in London and a two week run in Russia. In this role, as Elvis’ manager, he acted out sections between the three musical parts from ‘Elvis’. At first he found learning and keeping to a script most difficult, for he was used to ad-libbing his own act, but eventually mastered the problem, although, to this day, he is happier when given free rein.
Peachy spent many summers playing holiday camps on the East coast, sometimes performing at two or three locations a night. When summer holidaymakers departed he made work for himself with residencies at Norfolk top Venues, clubs and hotels including seasons for Mecca. Later he spent winters with his own popular Music Hall productions in which he adopted the role of ‘the fastest drinking chairman’, avoiding drunkenness by the use of a popular magicians’ prop.
During the 1970s, 80s and 90s a considerable number of films for television were being made in our part of the country. Peachy was fortunate enough to get work in 30 of the ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ series and four series of ‘Hi-Di-Hi’. Plus many more including ‘Miss Marple’ ‘Lovejoy’ and ‘The Nanny’.
His winter season these days he is reinvented by bookings as Father Christmas role for local garden centres and businesses together with their annual dinners.
For thirty years his regular article “Norfolk Natters” in ‘The Stage’ newspaper kept the UK informed about our local activities.
Peachy has had a long and interesting career in our business, and has rightly earned his soubriquet “King of Comedy”.
Written by Margery Powell.