Suffolk pub man goes to Albert Square

IT ain't half getting busy with Suffolk folk down at Albert Square!First Suffolk-born June Brown, alias EastEnder's Dot, made the square her home, now former Suffolk pub landlord Melvyn Hayes is moving in.

IT ain't half getting busy with Suffolk folk down at Albert Square!

First Suffolk-born June Brown, alias EastEnder's Dot, made the square her home, now former Suffolk pub landlord Melvyn Hayes is moving in.

Mr Hayes, best known for his role as Bombardier 'Gloria' Beaumont in the 1970s hit sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum, has joined the EastEnders cast for seven episodes and is due to make his debut tonight.

The former landlord of the Brantham Bull pub has finally achieved a career-long ambition to appear on the BBC1 soap and will appear as Dot Branning's driving instructor Mr Rawlins.

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Dot's husband Jim might have thought his problems had stopped with Dot coming round to the idea of having a car, but then a new problem arises when Mr Rawlins develops a crush on her.

London-born Mr Hayes said: "I've been a fan of the show since it started.

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"I remember phoning up my agent and saying, 'Can you put me up for EastEnders?', and he said, 'No, they only want Cockneys.' I said, 'Well, have you read my biography?'

"Over the years I've been to see the producers and we've talked about various parts, but they were only for one or two episodes and they said they wanted to save me for something bigger. I'd always say, 'Be careful. How long are you going to save me for?"

Mr Hayes, now 70, and his wife Jayne ran the Brantham Bull from December 1994 to January 1997 before moving to The Cotswolds.

He was regularly in the news over a disagreement with Suffolk County Council which eventually saw him forced to remove a blackboard from the front of his pub on which he wrote comical messages for passers-by.

When he first took over, one of his first messages read: "We ain't half open Mum!"

Residents were sad to see the sign go because they said the messages brightened the day for motorists on the A137.

Mr Hayes and his wife had been attracted to Suffolk after spending a week in Ipswich in 1992.

Their sixth child, Lily, was born in October, 1996, while the family were at Brantham.

It Ain't Half Hot Mum ended in 1981 but people still approach Mr Hayes on the street, recognising him from the show.

But it is only now that the thrice married father-of-six is about to be recognised for something other than Bombardier Gloria.

Mr Hayes settled in quickly with the rest of the cast, with June Brown, who plays Dot, showing him around the set of his favourite show.

The two would have been able to recount old memories of Ipswich because Brown herself grew up in the east end of Suffolk rather than London.

Brown was born at Creeting St Mary and moved to Ipswich when she was one and attended St John's Primary before winning a scholarship to attend Ipswich High School.

Hayes said: "Mr Rawlins is a bit smitten with Dot.

"And he thinks she feels the same way. But basically she's just being coy with him. It's amazing being a love interest at my time of life.

"It's very strange."

n. What are your memories of Mr Hayes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email


Name: Melvyn Hayes

Date of birth: January 11, 1935

Significant other: Married to third wife Jayne

Career high: In 1960 he signed a seven-year film contract with the Associated British Picture Corporation

Career low: Nobody watched BBC sketch show Revolver in which he starred last year.

Famous for: Playing Bombardier 'Gloria' Beaumont in 70s sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum

Words of wisdom: "People think I'm gay because of Bombardier Gloria. I'm not gay - I've got six children!'

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