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During National Service in Malaya in the 1950s, Bruce wrote for the Poetry Society. He discovered that by writing long, thin poems that crept onto a second page he could receive ten shillings instead of the usual five bob. Even so, there didn’t seem to be much future in it. He went to RADA and became an actor. During lean periods he wrote radio plays all over the world. The BBC produced a Saturday Night Theatre of his adaptation of Frank Swinnerton’s Nocturne. Swinnerton, in a letter of congratulation, told him that others had tried to adapt it and failed.
There were midweek theatres like ‘Rien ne va Plus’ and afternoon theatres like ‘Decisions Decisions’. He wrote stage plays (‘A Bird in the Hand’ and ‘Die Laughing’) that toured. His TV career took off in the BBC sit-com ‘Butterflies’, in which he wooed, without success, the beautiful Wendy Craig for 5 years. Specialising in hopeless lovers he starred in ‘Last of the Red Hot Lovers’ at the Strand Theatre. Then he spent years in musicals – ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and then ‘Oliver’ (3 years) at the London Palladium, ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (2 years) at Her Majesty’s – until he eventually returned to writing. With Noel Botham, he co-authored Catch That Tiger and The Book of Royal Useless Information. Following Noel’s death, he has struck out on his own with Wedding Bells and Chimney Sweeps and Birds, Bees & Educated Fleas. In October 2013, Bruce featured in the popular BBC television series ‘New Tricks’. He has also had a number of films optioned, so watch this space.
Birds, Bees and Educated Fleas (John Blake, Feb 2015) The lyrics of Cole Porter go on to say, "Let's Do It. Let's fall in love." But how do animals do it? What are their intimate boudoir secrets? This book tells you all you need to know, and more, from Aardvarks to Zebras
Wedding Bells and Chimney Sweeps
(John Blake, April 2014) Tracing the background to all the traditions and superstitions pertaining to weddings. With a selection of 'marriage lines' that aren't always found in the books of quotations.
Catch That Tiger(John Blake, 2012) Written like a novel, it is based on factual events during 1943. The Germans built an enormous 60-ton tank called The Tiger. Churchill wanted to capture one and study the technology. He dispatched a technical officer to North Africa and told him to 'park it in my back yard.' The Major brought back the Tiger despite Germans determined to stop him, and displayed it in Horseguards Parade.
The Book of Royal Useless Information (John Blake, 2012) Contains all those bits about the reigning elite that are left out of the history books. Who would have thought that the head of Henry IV was so alive with lice when he was being crowned that the Archbishop dropped the coronation ring? Never to be seen again
Swinnerton’s ‘Nocturne’ One night in the life of one small London family in the early years of the 20th Century. The aspirations and loves of their entire lives are spelt out in just four hours.
Rien ne va Plus – Casino In roulette, money can be thrown on the table before the wheel is spun and changed into chips. Forged money often slips though, but the casino is one step ahead.
Decisions Decisions A cab driver’s passenger has a heart attack en route and is taken to A&E. The driver then finds his briefcase, containing half a million pounds. And a ransom note for a kidnapped child.
THEATRE ACTING ROLES:
Father Brown: The Closed House Murder Father Brown, a short, short-sighted priest with ‘a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling’ investigates the death of a deaf and dumb chef at an extravagant private party in Paris.
A Bird in the Hand A stage farce. A self-confessed Casanova thinks he can woo any woman with impunity until he meets his match. She infatuates him and he becomes her houseboy.
Die Laughing A comedy. A man, convinced of his imminent death, insists on conversing in such a way that whatever he is saying may be his ‘famous last words’. This makes him not only difficult to talk to but infuriating to be with. Someone tries to kill him to shut him up.
Eyewitness A thriller. An off duty detective gets blinded in a failed bank heist. A year later, although blind, he tracks down his assailant to an isolated cottage where two half-sisters live together. They shared a boyfriend who has returned to them. All three are suspects. The detective nails the culprit using only three of his senses: smell, touch and hearing.