If you were as old as I, you’d know who I mean immediately. Tony Haygarth was a consummate comedy actor, forever turning up in sitcoms as boorish, slobbish, sexist eccentrics that you’d shudder from in real life, and who, by all accounts, were a world away from his intelligent, cultured, gentle real self.
His biggest success was as the co-star of Rosie, about which I once wrote here. Haygarth relished the part of PC Wilmot, young PC Penrose’s patrol car partner in the three series of the revised format, and what a great joy he was, every week. I close my eyes and I see him and hear him: lazy, unwashed, prowling around pretty women, blustering about making do with the willing-but-lumpish WPC Whatmough, as if she were beneath him, when there probably wasn’t a woman in the world Wilmot wouldn’t have had to look up to.
We accept them in comic fiction, because we can look at them and laugh and pretend that because they’re extremes, they don’t represent us, but we are all of us men in the Wilmots, and Tony Haygarth one was one the best bloody Wilmots there ever was.
There was never anything he wasn’t perfect in. Go on ahead, mate, and get the beer in ready. We know you’ll be ogling the barmaid whilst you wait.