27 February 1942 |
|Other names||Aimi McDonald|
|Known for||At Last the 1948 Show|
Aimi MacDonald (born 27 February 1942) is a British actress and dancer. She is best known for her role as "The Lovely" Aimi MacDonald in the television sketch comedy show, At Last the 1948 Show (Rediffusion, 1967).
Background and early career
MacDonald went to ballet school and entered show business at 14. She was a dancer, working during her teens in Britain and the United States. While performing with a troupe in Las Vegas, she met Elvis Presley at the Silver Slipper casino, remarking years later that he would "jam with the rest of them" and on his ability as a jazz guitarist.
MacDonald married an American musician at 17 and they had a daughter named Lisa. The marriage did not last and MacDonald returned to Britain, appearing during the 1960s in musicals in London's West End and in cabaret. She played in the first London production of the musical The Boys from Syracuse (Jewel Courtesan) in 1963 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, alongside Bob Monkhouse and Ronnie Corbett. She recalled that she had to keep working to support herself and her daughter and that this was sometimes a struggle.
At Last the 1948 Show
MacDonald came to national attention in At Last the 1948 Show, for which she had been spotted by David Frost. At the opening and closing of the show and between longer sketches, she would present short pieces on the theme of her loveliness. Her excitable, squeaky voice was likened to "a choir of frantic mice". Forty years later a journalist referred to MacDonald as "bubble-and-squeak Aimi".
Almost half a century after the show ended, the phrase "I'm the lovely Aimi Macdonald" was still used occasionally. With the exception of lines in the "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch ("Try telling the young people of today that ..."), it was the only enduring catchphrase from the show.
Macdonald's acting on television included The Avengers, Man at the Top, The Saint, Man About the House, Dixon of Dock Green and Rentaghost. Her appearance in The Avengers ("Return of the Cybernauts", 1967) was as a mini-skirted secretary, similar to her 48 Show role, whose tights were laddered as she was swept aside by a large robot. Macdonald played Wendy in the film Take a Girl Like You (1970), based on the novel by Kingsley Amis, and also appeared in the David Niven horror comedy Vampira (1974), the film version of the TV series Man About the House (1974), the sex comedy Keep It Up Downstairs (1976), and the James Bond spoof No. 1 of the Secret Service (1977). Stage roles in London included Susie in George and Ira Gershwin's Lady Be Good with Lionel Blair in 1968 and Honey Tooks in Robin Hawdon's farce, The Mating Game (1972). She also recorded a single, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" produced by Radio London Programme Director Ben Toney, which was released on Polydor in 1967 but it was not a hit. In 1969 Aimi, together with Ronnie Carroll, recorded an album based on Burt Bacharach and Hal David's stage show musical "Promises, Promises", and the following year she released a solo album "What's Love All About", produced by Johnny Franz.
Between 1968 and 1983, Macdonald appeared occasionally on the BBC radio panel game Just a Minute. As the only female panellist of four, she was subjected to the jibes of comedian Kenneth Williams that women should not be permitted to take part.
Press stories and later life
MacDonald's private life attracted interest in the press. She shared a mansion in Ascot, Berkshire with racehorse owner Geoffrey Edwards, remarking that she was "living in sin... it's lovely. I shall probably live in sin for the rest of my life". She owned a racehorse named Weep No More. Her name was linked to politicians, including Labour Minister John Stonehouse (whose secretary and mistress Sheila Buckley named her as one of his lovers) and future Conservative Prime Minister John Major. MacDonald has denied relationships with both men, or ever having met "poor John Major", though she did recall Stonehouse as "tall, dark" and "very attractive to women". In her sixties she observed that "everyone gets hysterical if I say hello to a politician today... It's very annoying to be branded a scarlet woman".
MacDonald opened a lingerie shop in west London but sold it during a downturn in the economy in the early 1990s. She returned to show business, taking part in a few nationwide tours, including a 2003 production of Cliff Richard's musical film Summer Holiday starring Darren Day, in which she played the mother of former Hear'Say singer Suzanne Shaw. Reviewers referred to Macdonald as a "sixties starlet".
In 2007 MacDonald visited Uganda as an ambassador for the London charity African Revival. The purpose was to link schools in Gulu and the United Kingdom. She last appeared in a guest role in the BBC TV programme Doctors in 2008..
- Aimi MacDonald at the Internet Movie Database
- Benny's Place – Who's Who of Hill's Angels – Page 4
- The Oldie, March 2007
- Theatreprint programme for The Mating Game (Apollo Theatre, London, 1972)
- London Cast Recording. The Boys from Syracuse. Decca Record Company Limited, 1963. LK 4564.
- See The Oldie, March 2007
- William Hall in The Oldie, March 2007
- See, for example, Barry Johnston (2006) Round Mr Horne; William Hall in The Oldie, March 2007; CSMA Motoring & Leisure, September 2007
- Welcome to "Just a Minute"
- Quoted in The Oldie, March 2007
- See, for example, http://archive.southwalesargus.co.uk/2003/7/25/66548.html
- CSMA Motoring & Leisure, September 2007