Michael E Briant
aka Michael Tennant
professional acting job, after going to the
in Archer Street W1, when I was 12 years old, was as an 'Elf
& Rainbow Child' in the Anton Dolin production of 'WHERE
THE RAINBOW ENDS' at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Before an
un-amazed audience, including my father who doubted my potential but
permitted me to have another 3 years at Conti's, my performance was
memorable only to me.
The following year for the 1955-1956 Christmas season of , 'WHERE
THE RAINBOW ENDS' also at
the Royal Festival Hall I played the lead role of CRISPIAN CARY and from
then on the educational facilities at CONTI took 2nd place to acting career
the Rainbow Ends is
a children's play, originally written for Christmas 1911 by Clifford
The incidental music was
composed by Roger Quilter.
Where the Rainbow Ends is
a fantasy, containing themes of British imperialism that would nowadays not be
It concerns a group of children separated from their parents. Travelling on a
magic carpet, they face various dangers on their way to rescue their parents,
and are guarded and helped by Saint
I was so lucky. Lots of 'acting' jobs came my way -
particularly important was a series of different plays at
REP. It was far more fun and interesting going to rehearsals in the
daytime and 'shouting in the evening' than going to school.
Lots of telly came my way with leads in quite long running
drama series like:-
THE LITTLE ROUND HOUSE,
MR PAPPINGAYS SHIP,
THE MONEY MOUNTAIN
My first venture into feature films
was a Pinewood movie designed to be a sequel to the highly successful
TRUE AS A TURTLE
Sir Harold Brazier
A wonderful cast of actors and was directed by Wendy Toye.
In a way it introduced me to 3 of the most important elements of my life -
The location filming was all in France where I
eventually lived for over a decade.
It gave me enough money to buy a Palliard
Bolex 8mm cine camera and from then on I started making movies and became a
set in a world of boats and sailing - I made a circumnavigation
in my own small sailing boat.
Lots of other theatre came my way
including several tours for Carl Clopet
Productions managed by my dear friend Norman Atkyns who later acted in several
of my own productions. I played the boy in the BROWNING VERSION up and down the
country as well as CHARLIE in CHARLEY'S AUNT and lots more.
in those days meant traveling by train to the next town on Sunday and finding
digs. Going to the new Theatre on Monday evening and sorting costumes and makeup
- then 6 evening shows and two matinees giving lots of time to see the town then
Sunday morning onto the train with all the rest of the company and off to the
next town with the scenery in the luggage van.
As I entered my late teens the leading/important roles became harder to find
- they were finding me out - and for a summer I worked as an ASM
and actor at the Little Theatre - Great Yarmouth.
experience doing weekly rep in a holiday resort theatre. Quite hard work -
Monday morning sort costumes and props and do a dress rehearsal in the afternoon
- Evening give first performance of that weeks new play which sometimes involved
setting the props, getting into my costume and makeup - calling the main actors
- playing God Save the Queen, taking the house lights down and bringing up the
lights for the 1st scene, running down into the wings, making an entrance and
'giving' whatever was role for the week. Tuesday would start
with a read through and blocking of the next weeks play, rehearsals Wednesday
Thursday Friday and playing in the evening with matinees on Wednesday and
Saturday night after the show striking the set and cleaning the
stage and putting up the new set for next weeks play and staggering off to bed
after midnight to have a day off on Sunday unless there were props to make or
This summer season taught me the art of the possible, how to
'run' a flat and do a quick scene change in a blackout. Later as a television
director this knowledge was invaluable. I knew what scenically could
or could not be done and how long it should take.
I toured for a while with a children's theatre performing in schools up and
down the UK. Based in Birkenhead the company required me to drive the van
containing the scenery and other actors, put up the set, play the leading role
of the Pied Piper and play the flute - all of which I did with more enthusiasm
than skill - lots of fun - the more shows we did in a day the more we were paid
so sometimes they got us doing 3 schools in the morning and 3 in the afternoon.
Not certain that practice makes perfect...
Harry Wharton (As Michael Tennant) in London's Victoria Palace Christmas production of BILLY
BUNTER and later played FRANK NUGENT (As Michael Briant) in the
1961 BBC television
production. A few commercials, some radio, small parts in small films, bits and
bobs in BBC television productions like Armchair Theatre and The Grove
Family. Doing OK but having spent my childhood playing leads or principle
roles I was finding it hard to just do a couple of lines. Big difference between
being a child actor and an adult actor. - You can't fool all of the people
all of the time'.
Campion (Billy Bunter)
Kynaston Reeves, Jack Melford, Raf de la Torre, John Woodnutt (Mr. Quelch)
Anthony Valentine, Julian Yardley, John Charlesworth (Harry Wharton)
Brian Roper, Peter Greenspan, Keith Faulkner, Cavan Kendall (Bob Cherry)
Laurence Harrington, Michael Briant, Jonathan Margetts, Peter Marden, Michael
Danvers-Walker (Frank Nugent)
Barry Barnett, Brian Tipping, Ron Moody, David Spenser (Hurree Ram Set Jam
David Coote, Melvyn Baker, Colin Campbell, John Breslin, Barry McGregor (Johnny
Peter Scott, Ian Hobbs (Horace Coker)
Cavan Malone (Lord Mauleverer)
members of the cast over the years were: Ronald Adam, Jeremy Bulloch, Gregory
Warwick, Michael Tennant= Michael Briant William Strange, Hugh Ward.
later to be famous, Michael Crawford
|When the publishers Classic TV Press asked me to write
these memoirs I was very flattered but somewhat unsure.
The title sums
up the question I have been asking myself for years.
The book is available from
More about it
link is for Maggie -
We were at Conti's together -Tony was my
friend, your lover and you were a Bluebell girl and so beautiful.
Everything in the number and intro, is how it was - miss