From then on we were all watching our backs. Noele had been the mainstay of the show, and without her the critics
thought it would be finished. True, the ratings dipped for a while but then they soared again.
Sadly, we were to lose another much loved member of the cast. Roger Tonge who had been so kind and protective of
me when he learned I was diabetic, was feeling rather low after a bout of radiation treatment. In the car on the way
to rehearsals one day, he showed me a number of red spots on his forehead.
I wasn't a doctor's daughter for nothing. 'They look like chicken pox to me,' I said. 'Have you been near
anyone with chicken pox or shingles recently?'
'Not chicken pox, but shingles,' said Roger thoughtfully. 'My dad had shingles. I took him to hospital and
they gave him some ointment to rub into his rash every day.'
The upshot was that a week or so later Roger began feeling unwell. At first we all thought he had flu but it turned
out to be chicken pox, caused by the same virus which causes shingles. Somehow Roger drove himself to the Royal Marsden
Hospital where they gave him three blood transfusions and some sort of special drug.
The next day I got a call from his distraught girlfriend Sonia Fox. Later that night Roger's condition had deteriorated
and he was moved to intensive care. He died before morning. He was only thirty-three years old. we missed
A new producer, Philip Bowman, was brought in. We were all uneasy. Nobody felt secure. Anybody's job
could vanish at any time. Length of service, popularity with fans, nothing made any difference.
And then one day, Philip invited Ronnie and I to tea at Brown's hotel in London. He wanted to talk to us, he said.
Ronnie knew immediately. 'It's us next,' he said. I couldn't believe this - Ronnie in particular was such
a favourite with the fans. In my opinion, he'd replaced Noele Gordon as the mainstay of the show. Naively, I didn't
realize that this might be a problem.
Anyway, this particular afternoon, Ronnie and I arrived early, in time to see Philip Bowman revolve into view.
He was wearing a raincoat, which he removed to reveal a sweater underneath. The staff frowned. Brown's is a very
proper place. Philip was informed that he would not be allowed to take tea without a jacket. The only way he could
join Ronnie and me was if he put his raincoat back on. So there we sat in the tea-room, me, Ronnoe and Philip in his
Philip was clearly uncomfortable and took a long time coming to the point. 'We're making a lot of changes to the
show. It's going in a new direction. Totally new direction...And I'm afraid that doesn't include the Hunters.
We want you to go.'
So that was it. Ronnie was right. We were fired. I was stunned, but Ronnie kept cool. He picked
up his cup calmly. 'I don't quite understand, Philip,' he said. 'The viewing figures are eighteen million. We
are number two in the ratings continually. How do you expect to improve the show?'
'Oh no Ronnie,' said Philip. 'I don't want to improve the show. I just want to change it.'
There was no answer to that.