Sunday, April 21, 2019

Norman Bowler on Norman Bowler

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One of the pleasures of Mark Gattis's documentary on the artist John Minton, which was screened last summer, was the appearance of Norman Bowler.

As I wrote when posting an earlier interview he gave about his memories of Minton:
One of my early heroes was Detective Sergeant (eventually Detective Chief Inspector) Harry Hawkins in Softly, Softly and then Softly, Softly: Task Force
He was played for a decade from 1966 by Norman Bowler, who turned up many years later as Frank Tate in Emmerdale. 
Before Softly Softly, Bowler was an artist's model and bodybuilder. He was a member of the Soho set alongside John Minton, Francis Bacon and Daniel Farson. He married the model and writer Henrietta Moraes.
The other day I discovered that Bowler had published his memoirs, My God. Is That the Time?, in 2005.

It appears to be a scare and expensive book, but you can find Bowler reading six extracts from it online for free.

They don't cover the Soho set or Softly, Softly, but are well written and still of interest.

The six are:
  • Any two - memories of being evacuated to Wiltshire during the second world war
  • The tent - Just William adventures in Wiltshire
  • Reg- a moving tribute to a beloved older brother who died in the war
  • Classical music - how beauty and pain can be shared across wartime borders
  • Going to sea - adventures as a merchant seaman
  • Fit ups - Bowler learns to act in Ireland, after having already signed a film contract
These pieces do solve one mystery about Bowler. He is the son of the West Hampstead jeweller Clifford Bowler, yet in every part he speaks with a West Country accent. This must be a relic of his childhood Wiltshire days that he has kept or cultivated ever since.

It may be significant that he speaks with more warmth about the family he was evacuated to than about his own family in London.

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