Much like last week’s From the Vault mention of Clive Swift (Richard Bucket, Keeping Up Appearances) in Having a Wild Weekend, this week’s vault feature has us spotting another British acting great in yet another mid-’60s British film, The Wild Affair.
Frank Thornton — best known to a majority of public television and British comedy fans as Captain Stephen Peacock, Grace Brothers’ haughty floorwalker in Are You Being Served? — is listed in the credits of The Wild Affair simply as “manager.”
Unlike Swift, whose movie role in the Dave Clark Five film was his first, Thornton had been acting in radio, stage, film and telly for about a decade by the time he put his role in The Wild Affair on his ever-expanding CV.
Already a familiar face on British telly for his work with the likes of Dick Emery, Benny Hill, Frankie Howerd, Harry Worth, Reg Varney and Spike Milligan in their comedy shows, Thornton also appeared on the legendary Hancock’s Half Hour and in several episodes of Steptoe and Son (successfully remade in America as Sanford and Son).
From the Vault
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The Wild Affair was a fairly satirical view of the British middle-class of the ’60s, centering around several days in the life of Marjorie, a young office assistant (played by Nancy Kwan) who will soon leave the single life behind. As was usually the case in the ’60s, Marjorie is plagued by doubts as to whether or not her fiancé is the right one. On her last day at work, her male colleagues don’t miss a chance to “comfort” her — which was another name for flirt in the ’60s.
Getting ready for the forthcoming “wild affair” thrown by her office mates, Marjorie must get supplies which, obviously, means wine. Enter wine shop manager, Frank Thornton.
The Wild Affair was originally adapted from the 1961 novel The Last Hours of Sandra Lee by William Sansom and featured a treasure trove of British telly character actors alongside Thornton, including Terry-Thomas, Jimmy Logan, Gladys Morgan, Victor Spinetti, Joan Benham, Frank Finlay, Bud Flanagan and Betty Marsden.