Wednesday 27 November 2013

'Now, about that overdraft...'

Born on this day in 1920 was Henry Merryfield. A big strapping 9lb baby, he was immediately nicknamed Buster by his granddad, and Buster he remained, to the point where scarcely anyone knew his real name. As Buster Merryfield, he achieved fame late in life, playing the seafaring Uncle Albert (catchphrase 'During the war...') in the massively successful sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
 Something of a fitness fiend, Buster had been a boxing champion in his day, and was a PT and jungle warfare instructor 'during the war' - at which time he also got his first taste of the biz we call show, serving as an entertainment officer. However, when hostilities ceased, he was already married and about to become a father, so he elected to take the safe option - returning to the then National Westminster Bank, where he has been employed before the war.
  The amazing thing is that he stayed there until his retirement. While spending much of his spare time in amateur theatricals, Buster Merryfield didn't turn professional until after he had retired from what was by then NatWest. He had clocked up 40 years of service, man and boy, and risen to be manager of the Thames Ditton branch in Surrey. Surely this was the most unlikely bank manager ever - and surely the only bank manager ever to make the switch to much-loved sitcom stalwart. He must also have been alone among bank managers in having his face framed by such a mighty beard - what would Captain Mainwaring say?

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