The main character in 1980s sitcom Hi-De-Hi was Ted Bovis played by Paul Shane (real name George Speight). As Gladis once said when he was a bit bruised, ďHe is Maplins.Ē Before seeing him in Hi-De-Hi I canít recall him in cameo roles. He was in Coronation Street once for three minutes and Jim Perry who co-wrote Hi-De-Hi spotted him and thought heíd be perfect for the hefty bull-necked camp host of Maplins holiday camp. He was right. While passing through Rotherham I called to see the hospice where he spent his last few months and died.
Paul was born nearby in Thrybergh and was a miner until he was 27 and slipped on some soap in the pit-head baths. He suffered damaged to herniated discs and was pensioned off. His wife Dory (Dorothy) who heíd married at 21 suggested he try entertainment as a job. He had a decadeís experience of taking the microphone in the pubs and clubs in south Yorkshire, telling jokes and singing. Away from the camera he and Dory had three daughters.
Aged 32 came his first ever TV part in Alan Bennettís A Day Out (1972) and he said ďMy bum's numb.'" Aged 39 when he appeared in Coronation Street doing a three-minute scene the sitcom-writer Jimmy Perry was watching. He made a note of this man in Alf Roberts's shop and considered him perfect for a new show he was writing. He was 40 years old when he appeared on our screen as chubby camp host Ted Bovis in Hi-De-Hi! and it ran from 1980 for eight years. It seemed Paulís decade of hosting and experience at grabbing an audience were leading up to this role. It was made for him and he played the portly gruff-voiced, straight-talking, check-suited, teddy-boy-quiffed all-round entertainer in 58 episodes. I always liked his big stained white vests and Les-Dawson roly-poly manner. He was good at putting on sad eyes when courting sympathy. His character lay under a shadow of pathos as he always believed he was made for better things and a bigger stage. Like chalet maid Peggy and Gladys Ted Bovis was a bit of a failure and at the back end of his career. I doubt the series would have been half as good or lasted as long without him.
Afterwards he appeared in Oh, Doctor Beeching! and You Rang MiíLord - with the odd stint in Holby City and Emmerdale. He appeared in countless theatres and pantomimes. Aged 68 he appeared in Jack and the Beanstalk and was in A Touch of Frost (his last ever role.)
Aged 69 he was admitted to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield for a heart operation and made a recovery. Three years later though he died after a short period of ill-health at a hospice in Rotherham (Iím assuming Iím at the right one - itís the main one in Rotherham.) He left three daughters and six grandchildren. His funeral was at Rotherham Minster and most of the cast of Hi-de-Hi! turned out to say goodbye to a well-loved, good-hearted family man.
This hospice is easily missed and I drove passed it a couple of times. It's down a drive and you can't see it from the main road - and the main sign isn't easily spotted either. Visitors wondered what I was doing as I took a few photos that Sunday afternoon. There's a photo of me stood directly under the main sign and as I waited for the timer to click a woman came down the drive in her car, her head almost doing an owl's 360 degree turn as she gawped at me. I've watched Hi De Hi lots of times and didn't know Paul "Ted Bovis" Shane lived around here. He's immortalised as a large-than-life in that series but life is mortal and came to an end here. I did a salute an left.