Sunderland Likely Lad James Bolam denies rift with late co-star Rodney Bewes

Sunderland-born television star James Bolam has denied there was ever a feud with late co-star Rodney Bewes.
The late Rodney Bewes, left, and James Bolam.The late Rodney Bewes, left, and James Bolam.
The late Rodney Bewes, left, and James Bolam.

Bolam played lovable sponger Terry Collier opposite Bewes's Bob Ferris in the 1960s North-East BBC sitcom and its 1970s sequel although the pair did not speak for decades afterwards.

Speaking a day after Bewes's death at the age of 79, the former Bede Grammar School pupil insisted this was down to working schedules rather than any animosity.

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He told BBC Radio Sussex: "There was no fall-out at all, as far as I was concerned.

"We worked together very happily and very well, enjoyed each other's company and when we finished, we finished.

"This is what happens in acting. You work with people, you get to know them, you like them, we have a great time and the job finishes and you go off and it all starts again with other people and you can't keep contact with everybody that you know.

"I think that Rodney wanted to do some more Likely Lads and I never did, I felt that what we had done was to me so perfect and so right that to try and bring it back...

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"After we finished it the writers went on to do Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and then they went off to America and the success of that series lay in the strength of those scripts.

"There was some suggestion that we had other writers come in and I just thought 'well, I don't think it will work' and so I didn't want to do it, I was busy doing other things."

Bolam, later to star in When The Boat Comes In and New Tricks, insisted he had nothing but fond memories of Bewes, adding: "I just remember him with great warmth and with great happiness and the time we had when we actually did the shows, that's the greatest memory of all."

The 82-year-old actor admitted the death had hit him hard because it follows so soon after the death of Duty Free star Keith Barron last week.

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He said: "It's been quite a depressing week for me because another actor that I worked with a lot, Keith Barron, died as well recently and I've been thinking 'oh God, they're all going' and it is a bit depressing.

"All one thinks at a time like this is their families and my thoughts are with them and my sympathies and I just wish them well."

Bewes's death was confirmed on Tuesday by his agent Michelle Braidman, who described him as a "true one-off".

Tributes came in from stars including Newcastle duo Ant and Dec, who worked with Bewes during a remake of The Likely Lads.

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They wrote on Twitter: "We are very sad to hear of the passing of Rodney Bewes, a fine comic actor who we had the honour of meeting and working with. He will live on through Bob Ferris and the brilliant Likely Lads. RIP."