Vicki Michelle pays tribute to Burt Kwouk as plaque goes up at his former home in West Hampstead
Pink Panther star who lived in Agamemnon Road died last May
16 February, 2017 — By Tom Foot
Barry Cryer and Vicki Michelle unveiled the plaque
ONE of the stars of hit sitcom ’Allo ’Allo! paid tribute to the “intelligent and funny” Pink Panther legend Burt Kwouk after a plaque was unveiled outside his former home.
Vicki Michelle MBE is president of the Heritage Foundation which organised the memorial in Agamemnon Road, West Hampstead, on Sunday.
The Foundation has been putting up plaques for stars of stage and screen since 1990 and Mr Kwouk – who died aged 85 last May – attended the first event, for Peter Sellers in Highgate. He had stayed good friends with Ms Michelle ever since.
She told the New Journal: “Burt was very witty, and had a very British sense of humour. I don’t think he minded the stereotypical characters. And he got amazing parts. “People used to ask him, ‘do you mind playing Chinese people like this?, and he’d say, ‘they can call me anything you like, as long as they spell my name right’.” She added: “I feel like that with [’Allo ’Allo! character] Yvette. Either do it, or someone else will. We are not weak creatures. He was Oriental, he didn’t mind playing that – so that’s not such a bad thing.”
She added: “He was an amazing man, a genuinely lovely person. Everyone knew the Pink Panther, they loved him.”
Mr Kwouk shot to fame playing Cato, Inspector Clouseau’s servant in the Pink Panther films, alongside Peter Sellers. Ms Michelle said she had been hard hit by the deaths of Mr Kwouk and Gorden Kaye, the lead in ’Allo ’Allo!, last month, adding that she would be attending his funeral tomorrow (Friday).
She said: “It’s sad because it brings back all these memories. You suddenly see all these clips again and you say, ‘my god, that’s what we used to be like’. It is such a shame – with Burt we didn’t even know he was ill. He was still coming to the functions. He still came and do the shows.” After the plaque unveiling the group went to the Regent’s Park Marriott for a special event where Barry Cryer, also a good friend of Mr Kwouk, received a lifetime achievement award and Harry Hill told some “wonderful stories”, according to Ms Michelle.
The Foundation helped raise funds for the Bomber Command memorial in Green Park.