Christian Rodska obituary


The actor Christian Rodska, who has died of most cancers aged 78, landed his breakthrough position in a fondly remembered kids’s tv sequence of the Seventies, Follyfoot, impressed by Monica Dickens’s 1963 novel Cobbler’s Dream. Set on a farm offering sanctuary for veteran and rescue horses, it starred Steve Hodson as his namesake Steve and Gillian Blake as Dora, with Rodska taking part in Ron Stryker, the carefree, rebellious fellow employee typically seen sitting astride his good-looking Triumph Tiger motorbike – the dangerous apple who shatters the calm of the countryside in additional methods than one.

Shortly earlier than being forged within the position, the actor had purchased the bike for £5 off a scrapheap and lovingly restored it – he was notably pleased with its gold horn, which he present in an antiques store – and it was written into the script.

Rodska informed Jane Royston and Ray Knight, authors of Follyfoot Remembered (2011), that Ron was “fairly a nasty particular person” in Dickens’s e book, however the creator personally praised him with the phrases: “Stryker was by no means half as lovable a rogue as you make him.”

Follyfoot ran for 3 sequence from 1971 to 1973, with its adventures attracting audiences of as much as 14 million and successful the 1972 Harlequin award for finest kids’s programme from the Society of Movie and Tv Arts (now Bafta). It was filmed within the West Using of Yorkshire across the Harewood property between Harrogate and Leeds.

In in search of a title, the producer, Tony Essex, grabbed a map of the world, requested his 11-year-old daughter, Tamara, to level randomly to a spot, and he or she picked the village of Follifoot. Essex’s brother, Francis (below the pseudonym Stephen Francis), wrote the memorable theme music, The Lightning Tree. Carried out by the Settlers, it turned a High 40 hit and was a few tree that had been hit by lightning and replanted within the Follyfoot farmyard to provide color to what had been a featureless expanse of cobbles.

In 2011, Hodson and Blake took half in a Fortieth-anniversary go to to the Yorkshire places by nostalgia-seeking followers, however sickness dominated Rodska out.

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Rodska with Gillian Blake as Dora, in Follyfoot. {Photograph}: ITV/Shutterstock

His post-Follyfoot tv profession as a personality actor was prolific and wide-ranging, and punctuated by roles as politicians – Max Aitken, the primary Lord Beaverbrook, additionally proprietor of the Every day Categorical, in Quantity 10 (1983); the Labour chief Neil Kinnock in Thatcher: The Remaining Days (1991); and Winston Churchill within the French drama The Days That Made Historical past (2010) and two 2015 documentaries, Churchill: When Britain Stated No, and Churchill: Successful the Battle, Dropping the Peace. He additionally performed President Harry Truman within the movie The Monuments Males (2014), directed by George Clooney.

The Every day Mail wrote of his second Churchill portrayal: “It was nearly like watching actual footage of the outdated warrior himself.”

Rodska was born Christian Rodskjaer in Cullercoats, Northumberland, to Florence (nee White), often known as Sheila, and Herluf Rodskjaer, who got here from a household of Danish sea captains. Shortly after his delivery, they moved to Basra, Iraq, the place his father was harbour grasp and captained King Faisal II’s royal yacht. After the 1958 navy coup, they returned to Britain and settled in Southampton. On leaving faculty, Christian turned an assistant stage supervisor at Salisbury Playhouse, the place he made his appearing debut. He later modified his identify to Rodska.

After Follyfoot he had an everyday half because the mine proprietor’s light, weak son Arthur Barras in The Stars Look Down (1975), Alan Plater’s adaptation of AJ Cronin’s novel set amongst an early-Twentieth-century pit group within the north-east of England. Then, he co-starred because the hunter and freed Roman slave Esca within the Sunday-teatime serial The Eagle of the Ninth (1977), from Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel.

He popped up in countless dramas, however switched to sitcom to play Tom, considered one of a household of itinerant crooks, in The Nesbitts Are Coming (1980); and cleaning soap as Harry Newton, a new-build developer’s persistent gross sales agent attempting to steer Brian and Gail Tilsley to purchase a home, in two 1980 episodes of Coronation Road.

Whereas capturing Sharpe’s Mission (1996) with Sean Bean in Crimea, he established a rapport with Russian Cossack stunt artists and, afterwards, was invited to stick with them in St Petersburg, ingesting vodka and studying to trick-ride horses.

He returned to the north-east of England to movie the primary sequence of 55 Levels North (2004), taking part in Detective Inspector Dennis Carter, of a fictional Tyneside police drive, limiting the actions of a whistleblowing subordinate – and ending up shot lifeless himself. He additionally performed Arthur “Bomber” Harris within the 2006 German tv movie Dresden and Captain Smith within the 2011 documentary What Sank Titanic?

In additional than 1,000 BBC radio broadcasts over time, Rodska appeared in dramas and comedies by writers starting from Peter Tinniswood, Stan Barstow and Keith Waterhouse to JB Priestley and Jean-Paul Sartre, and was always in demand as a reader of books. He additionally had runs within the radio soaps Waggoners’ Stroll, as Invoice Ashton (1979-80), a enterprise govt, and The Archers, as Russell Baxter (2009), a solicitor failing to avoid wasting Matt Crawford from jail for committing fraud.

His expressive voice was heard as a narrator of Tinniswood’s radio comedy sequence following the adventures of Uncle Mort (1987-96) and Winston (1989-94), and plenty of audio books, together with Churchill’s epic tome The Second World Battle.

Rodska’s 1969 marriage to Jacqueline Mousny led to divorce. He’s survived by their kids, Ben and Camille; his second spouse, the actor Barbara Kellermann, whom he married in 2017 after 19 years collectively; his stepson, Freddie; and two grandchildren, Louis and Xavier.


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