It is almost 47 years since I first met Colin Skipp. I was an apprentice adult at the age of 20, and had just been persuaded to join an amateur dramatic society. Colin was directing a play by J B Priestley (An Inspector Calls), and he was no amateur. He was a hugely experienced professional actor, and at that point in January 1973 he had been regularly appearing as Tony Archer in BBC Radio’s The Archers for six years. He retired from that engagement forty years later, in 2013.
Colin became a close friend, and it would not be an exaggeration to say he was my acting mentor. He had a laid back, hands-on approach as a director, and he had a mischievous sense of humour I found I could easily relate to. We both loved books, and he actively encouraged me when I started my first attempts at writing scripts for performance. I often performed on stage opposite his lovely wife Lisa Davies, the last occasion only 10 years ago.
Always there with a word of encouragement, or a practical note to help improve my performance, he continued to offer constructive advice when I showed him early drafts of my first novel. He has always been there for me, my sister, and my children, and it is time to say “Adieu, old friend”.
Colin died peacefully in Lisa’s arms on Tuesday 19th November at the youthful age of 80. I remember one of his regular gags was “I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate!” But it will be no exaggeration to say that I will miss him, as will so many more.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)
Need to know:
I don’t just write fiction.