David Kelly. He was Grandpa Joe Bucket in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, rode a motorbike naked in Waking Ned Devine, starred alongside Peter O’Toole and Peter Ustinov in the Irish mini-series, Strumpet City, and played a vicar in The Italian Job. The Dublin-born actor possessed a “wicked sense of humor”, according to fellow actor and friend, Niall Tobin. David Kelly was greatness.
For British comedy fans worldwide, however, David Kelly will be most-remembered for his portrayal of the incompetent Irish builder, Mr. O’Reilly, whose major mistake in life, and undoubtedly there had to have been many, was to attempt to joke and smile during one of Sybil’s infamous tirades in “The Builders” episode of perhaps the greatest British situation comedy of all-time, Fawlty Towers.
Years later, John Cleese recalled that “The Builders” episode was not one of his favorites primarily because there seemed to be a general lack of laughter from the studio audience during the evenings recording. Cleese later found out that the reason for the audience unresponsiveness was that members of the Icelandic Broadcasting Corporation were visiting the studio that day and many of them occupied front row seats in the BBC studio that evening.
I may not know the difference between installing a wooden lintel for the support frame of a load-bearing wall as opposed to a concrete one but thank you, David Kelly, for sharing your talents with the world for the last 50 years. R.I.P.
Fawlty Towers “The Builders”, part 1
Fawlty Towers “The Builders”, part 2