Mon, 22 May 2023 at 2:59 pm BST
George Logan, who has died aged 78, was one half of the comedy drag act Hinge and Bracket, who shot to fame on television and radio in the 1970s and 1980s.
The tall, thin Logan, a former computer programmer, played Dr Evadne Mona Hinge, while his comedy partner, Patrick Fyffe, was Dame Hilda Nemone Bracket, daughter of Sir Osbert Bracket, who had left her the family estate at Stackton Tressel, Suffolk.
The women had supposedly become friends while treading the boards with a minor touring opera company, and Dr Evadne, born into an eccentric Scottish family, lived in the east wing of Dame Hilda’s mansion.
When the “dear ladies” as they became known, made their debut with An Evening With Hinge and Bracket at the 1974 Edinburgh Festival fringe, the total cast and crew, which came to six, outnumbered the audience. By the end of the first week, the show was sold out, and by the end of the second, tickets were selling at a premium on the black market.
Hinge and Bracket inhabited a quaint pre-war world of vicar’s tea parties, musical soirées, sherry evenings and cricket on the green; resplendent in cocktail dresses (worn over thick lisle stockings), and ensconced in a chintzy sitting room, the pair would reminisce about their life on stage and their encounters with their neighbours – the local squire, the church organist, the village bobby and others.
From time to time Dame Hilda would rise and, with Dr Evadne seated at the piano, the pair would break into song, works by “dear Mr Novello” and “dear Sir Noël” being particular favourites – along with Gilbert and Sullivan.
The humour came from the camp and slightly catty between-songs banter. Dr Evadne was the racier of the two, her conversation hinting at a wild youth, with Dame Hilda providing the dry put-down and pointed aside. Like Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage, their appeal derived from a combination of gender ambiguity and pretended innocence; indeed, in a small way their career mirrored that of the Australian “housewife superstar”, as they also became a hit in Australia, where audiences loved their parody of genteel British spinsterhood.
Hinge and Bracket insisted on being interviewed in character, and were so pitch perfect that some fans were said to believe that they really were elderly spinsters, rather than young men. According to Gyles Brandreth, when they appeared at a charity gala he organised at the Oxford Playhouse, their co-stars, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Dame Flora Robson, believed Hinge and Bracket to be two elderly lesbians.
“I never found it difficult dressing as a woman,” Logan told an interviewer in 2020: “it was fun. Hinge and Bracket weren’t so much female impersonators as character actors.”
George Logan was born on July 7 1944 in Rutherglen, a small coal-mining town in South Lanarkshire, into a musical and theatrical family. As he recalled in an interview with Gay News in 2016, even as a young child, “I knew I was an alien… I just wasn’t sure what planet I belonged to… As I got older, I read a bit and I haunted the library, but The Trials of Oscar Wilde and Peter Wildeblood’s Against the Law weren’t encouraging of leading a gay lifestyle. At 14 and 15, this was a source of great concern for me.”
Logan was educated at Rutherglen Academy and Glasgow University, also studying piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. His concern about his sexuality evaporated after he discovered the gay scene in Glasgow as a student in the early 1960s – even though homosexuality remained illegal in Scotland until 1980.
When he was 19 Logan and the man he was living with at the time were charged with minor theft and fined £10. “When my father bailed us out, the copper said to him, ‘We’re a little concerned about the relationship between your son, who’s 19, and this man, who’s 28, because we realised they share a bedsit and they also share a bed’, ” he recalled.
“My father said, ‘Well that’s the way it is…’ They continued, ‘Not that we pursue people in such a situation, but your son is actually under age…’ Whatever that means, in those days you were illegal at any age. There was just no sense to it all. I decided that if we couldn’t do it in Glasgow, we’d head off and do it somewhere else.”
In London, Logan worked as a computer programmer, and after moving to a flat in Notting Hill he landed an evening job playing the piano in a Marylebone gay pub. In 1970 he met Patrick Fyffe, who had established himself on the gay club scene as a glamorous soprano named Perri St Claire. One night, while Fyffe was performing his drag act at the Escort Club in Pimlico he discovered that Logan had taken over from the original pianist.
They hit it off and began working on a comedy act featuring Fyffe as a retired opera singer who still thinks she can sing, with Logan as her male accompanist. The idea developed into Hinge and Bracket, and gradually the act, originally written for a predominantly gay audience, became less risqué, the double entendres toned down for a mainstream audience.
Following their Edinburgh Festival triumph, their show, An Evening With Hinge and Bracket, transferred to the Royal Court, then to a 17-week season at the Mayfair Theatre.
An appearance in 1976 in the BBC’s music hall series The Good Old Days led to regular radio and television work, beginning with the BBC Radio 4 series The Enchanting World of Hinge and Bracket (1977 -79).
Hinge and Bracket (BBC One, 1978-81) was followed by Dear Ladies (BBC Two 1983-84, co-written by Fyffe and Logan with Gyles Brandreth); The Random Jottings of Hinge and Bracket (Radio 2, 1982-89) and At Home with Hinge and Bracket (Radio 2, 1990).
Other appearances included two Royal Variety performances and a comic turn in a televised Royal Opera House production of Die Fledermaus (1983), conducted by Placido Domingo and starring Kiri Te Kanawa. In 1987 they starred at the Whitehall Theatre in The Importance of Being Earnest, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play by Lou Stein, with Bracket playing Lady Bracknell and Hinge Miss Prism.
The couple split up for a while after the News of the World carried lurid stories about Logan’s “sordid secret life of gay sex and drugs” (a man he had met at a gay club had sold his story to the paper) and when Fyffe had to take time off to care for his sick mother.
During the 1990s, however, they toured with their own show, appeared in pantomime and played the title roles in the Peter Shaffer play Lettice and Lovage. But their hopes of playing the dastardly sisters in Arsenic and Old Lace were frustrated by the discovery that the playwright, Joseph Kesselring, had left instructions in his will expressly forbidding any performance in which the women were played by men.
After Fyffe’s death from cancer in 2002, Logan worked for a while in a bookshop. In 2005 he and his partner Louie Perone moved to France, where they ran a B&B in the Limousin. They married in 2019.
George Logan, born July 7 1944, died May 21 2023