Paul Strike, actor, presenter and friend of
Beryl Reid for many years, inherited her archive and memorabilia after her death.
As a professional actor, Paul has appeared in productions in a number of provincial theatres and the West End, including Orton's Erpingham Camp as the padre.
His television work includes the BBC's Casualty and Only Fools and Horses.
Paul was interviewed for ITV's The Unforgettable Beryl Reid, which included clips from the film and stage versions of Entertaining Mr Sloane

Beryl Reid’s autobiography 'So Much Love' was published in 1984 by Hutchinson & Co,
ISBN 0-09-155730-5



I was born in Leicester and like Joe appeared in many productions at the famous Little Theatre and with other groups across the city. I saw the Leicester Phoenix production of Entertaining Mr Sloane, which Joe came down from London to see the week before he was killed in August 1967. I was thrilled by this outrageous play and Sloane’s ambiguous sexuality, which I thought was extremely up-front and exciting.

I worked with Beryl Reid, who famously played Kath in both the iconic film and stage revival of Entertaining Mr Sloane at the Duke of York’s and Royal Court Theatres in 1974. Kath had been offered to Beryl for the original 1964 stage production but due to existing television commitments she had to turn it down. Michael Codron, the impresario, persuaded Beryl to see it, and she thought it “absolutely marvellous”. She was offered the part again for the cult film in 1969, and Beryl’s performance of Kath is now seen as the definitive performance of that character. She was asked to do the revival of the play of Sloane in 1975 at the Royal Court and Duke of York’s theatres. Beryl says in her book she met Leonie Orton. Leonie asked Beryl “Did you ever meet our Joe?”. Beryl replied “Oh no, I wish I had”.* Sadly, Joe Orton’s death preceded the film. Beryl said to me that she regretted not being able to meet him as she would have liked to chat to him about his life and Sloane.

Beryl told me that Kath was her favourite role of all time, and Sloane was her favourite film. After The Killing of Sister George, playing Kath in Orton’s Sloane was a further major milestone in Beryl’s career, cementing her reputation as an international star. The film keeps the work alive with its authentic sixties feel for today‘s audience; the content is as sharp and relevant as it was then. Beryl often asked me which I thought was my favourite, George or Sloane. I always replied “Sloane”, and she agreed.

“Cor, your legs don’t half look smashing in them shoes, Kath.” Kath was going to continue, half-crippled and eventually pregnant, staggering about in those stilettos.* Beryl’s characters always started with the feet; she said she got the shoes for Kath for the film and stage versions “from the tarts’ shops“, as she called them, “in Shaftesbury Avenue”. Often I sat and watched Sloane with Beryl at her famous home Honeypot Cottage on the Thames, and we both laughed as though it was the first time we‘d seen it.

Two actors who’d played Sloane attended Beryl’s memorial service in 1997, Peter McEnery from the film and Kenneth Cranham from one of the stage versions. Beryl’s ashes were scattered on the bank of the Thames at Honeypot Cottage. The young undertaker who scattered the ashes arrived in a black chauffeur’s livery with a black peaked hat, and looked like Sloane. Beryl would have loved that - life imitating art - pure Orton!

Image: Courtesy Paul Strike   Text © Paul Strike.
*Extracts from Beryl Reid’s autobiography 'So Much Love' © The Estate of Beryl Reid

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