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18 November 2008

Obituaries: Reg Varney and Christopher Wicking

Reg Varney in 'On the Buses' (1970)

In recent weeks we have lost two figures who were crucial to Hammer’s success in the early 1970s.

The comic actor Reg Varney passed away on 16 November, at the age of 92. Varney portrayed randy driver Stan Butler in

On the Buses, Mutiny on the Buses and Holiday on the Buses

, three of Hammer’s biggest box office successes of the 1970s. A huge television star, Varney made relatively few films but retained fond memories of his association with Hammer. He stayed in touch with the company’s chairman Roy Skeggs up to the 1990s.

The screenwriter Chris Wicking died on 13 October. Wicking contributed screenplays to three of Hammer’s most controversial films –

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, Demons of the Mind and To the Devil a Daughter. In his capacity as head of Hammer’s script department in the 1970s he also worked closely with managing director Michael Carreras on a number of unrealised projects including Vampirella

. A brave and iconoclastic filmmaker, Wicking’s ideas would have flourished in less difficult times for the British film industry.

Marcus Hearn

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