If anyone wanted to read or re-read the my eulogy for Gerry Anderson, my Dad at his funeral – I’ve transcribed it here:
“I’d like to start by reading you a reference that was written by Dad’s first ever employer – “Lewis’ Photos of Regent Street”. It was written in December 1944 when Dad was just 15.
“Mr G A Anderson was in the employ of this Company for about six months.
During that time he has shown himself to be honest and reliable, persevering, and always anxious to oblige.
He is leaving the company to better his position, and carries with him the good wishes of all”.
I think you’ll all agree that he went on to better his position – making a huge impact on the lives of millions, and leaving a phenomenal legacy behind him.
His RAF Certificate of Service and Release from 1949 stated:
“Corporal Anderson has been employed as a Radio Telephone Operator during his service in the Royal Air Force. He has proved to be a very capable NCO and RTO, and can be recommended to any employer as industrious and trustworthy”.
I think these documents go to show that: as you age, you don’t change. You just become more so.
Dad always told me that something wonderful happens when you die: You suddenly become a brilliant, amazing person, and nobody says a bad word about you. But he would be the first to admit that he made a lot of mistakes in his life.
So, I’m not going to talk to you about Dad’s television and film achievements, or go through a list of qualities he had. Instead, rather than talking to you about Gerry Anderson the TV producer; I’d like to share with you a few things about my dad.
My dad was not a great one for public recognition, but did enjoy the occasions on which he was recognised by fans of his work. In the early 1990s he was in London at some serviced apartments for a meeting. The caretaker who let him in instantly recognised him and said “Oh! Could I possibly have your autograph please” handing him a pad. Dad gleefully signed his name, and handed back the pad. Confused, and tiliting the pad from side to side, the caretaker said: “What’s this supposed to say? It doesn’t look anything like Donald Pleasance!”. Dejected, Dad proceeded to his meeting.
He loved keeping up with the latest gadgets. He was one of the first people in the UK to buy a VCR from Japan – the Philips N1500 in 1975. The guys at the sorting office had never seen one before, and so it never made it to Dad’s home. Being only a few years after the Post Office tower bombing: It was destroyed in a controlled explosion by the bomb squad! He was just too avant garde for some people.
My dad was amazing at creating drama. Not just in his productions, but in real life too. My brother, sisters and I all remember being told of the dangers of: riding bicycles, playing rugby, driving… even eating and drinking. He would tell us gruesome (but mostly made up) stories illustrating graphically how we might end up injured or worse if we took part in these activities. Terrifying images that stayed with us throughout our lives. But at the heart of it was a deep-seated anxiety to keep us safe and well.
He was once almost arrested at Edinburgh airport as he emerged from the ladies toilets to the sound of several startled women screaming. We all had to hide for a couple of hours afterwards to avoid detection.
My dad once made Thai fish soup with a very special ingredient: anti-fungal skin scrub that was intended for the dog. He insisted on eating a portion of the disgusting concoction before realising his mistake and phoning the vet for advice on how much damage it would do him. This led to our very kind vet adding a message to all future bottles of the shampoo: “Not to be used as an ingredient for soup”.
Finally he decided he would forgo the social stigma and embarrassment of people knowing he had Alzheimer’s disease, and became an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society – helping them raise over £1 million in the process. And it’s this that I’m most proud of him for; beyond all of his amazing television and film achievements.
Dad was very lucky to have some very special people in his life to help him along the journey. To those he worked with – what great teams you made, and what fantastic creations you shaped. To those who stuck by him as his Alzheimer’s progressed, and helped him make the most of his last months – thank you; you’ll never know quite how grateful he was. And to Mum – kinder and more caring than I thought humanly possible, Dad could barely express to me his gratitude for everything you did for him, and how lucky he felt to have you in his life.
Thank you everyone for coming to say goodbye to my dad.”
Please feel free to re-use sections of this, but please credit me, and this website.