Adventures with Ken Campbell: RIP

Ken Campbell Anna ChenPhoto: Ken Campbell and Anna Chen

Saddest news that my ex boyfriend, actor, playwright and theatre director Ken Campbell, died on Sunday age 66.

A wild-eyed, corncrake-voiced genius of the British theatre, he drew me into his orbit after we met through my screenwriting mentor Robert McKee. Romance was sealed over long walks along the River Lee with his dogs Werner and Fred, and a torrent of imaginative love tokens designed to delight, entertain and stimulate my noggin.

Generous with his gifts and appreciative of the talents of others, he encouraged my dramaturgical development. I enjoyed working with him on his one-man show, Recollections of A Furtive Nudist, accompanying him to Bavaria where we saw it translated and performed in German at the Prince Regent Theatre in Munich.

He was a whirlwind of energy, a force of nature who could make you love him or piss you off in equal measure as all his friends will attest. I can still hear him growling, “Yeah, well, madam!” when in fight mode. Or “All right, Pulchritude?” when not.

Some of our finest actors passed through his portals in The Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool, or his Road Show, or his famous marathon stage “happenings” such as The Warp and Illuminatus. This illustrious bunch includes Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, David Rappaport, Bob Hoskins, John Sessions, Chris Langham and Sylvester McCoy. Talking of the Real McCoy, we all thought Ken would have made a great Dr Who and it is a pity we’ll never see him in that role. He WAS Dr Who. I only wish he could regenerate like The Doc.

Rest In Peace, Ken.

BBC News Online
The Telegraph
Guardian — Michael Coveney
Guardian — Theatre

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7 thoughts on “Adventures with Ken Campbell: RIP”

  1. Sorry, Great Beast. Had to delete your comment with funeral details as I now hear it's supposed to be a private send-off, with friends only.

    "Hello pulchritude!" — I must remember to use that myself. Anyway, you'll know about this already, I guess . . .

    * * *

    A leafy farewell has been announced:

  2. From where I stood Ken appeared totally nuts and manic, what energy he appeared to have. Yes he would have made a great Dr Who, but would it have been fair to inflict him on those tin beings, let alone those nice people at the BBC.

  3. Thank you very much, Great Beast.

    Sadder still, I'm in St Ives in Cornwall on the big day, preparing for my stand-up gig on Wednesday. I was looking forward to the day I could say, "Come on then, watch me make with the funnies and gee me up the way only you know how!!!"

    This is an extreme way to get out of it but bloody typical!

    I'll be dedicating Wednesday's gig to him.

  4. I'm very sorry to hear he has died.

    I remember talking to him once,and at length, at a concert by some extreme alternative band (they played didgeridoo and bagpies and banged metal) in some abandoned power station in the 80s – yeah details are hazy – but it was the sort of place you would expect to find someone like him.

    Parts of the conversation are well remembered – mad, lengthy and in a strange language that was yet to be invented

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