Michael J Bird Tribute Website

News from the Michael J Bird Website
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September 2017

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Michael Bird (Jnr.) has added another of his father's books to the collection available on the Kindle.

"Foreign Office Confidential" was Bird's first published book and is unrelated to any of the subsequent TV series. It is a semi-documentary account of unusual events in the service of the Queen’s Messengers. The Messengers are selected from retired senior officers in the armed services. Their role is to carry sealed packages to British embassies and consulates across the world. They have no idea what the packages contain and under the Vienna Convention the white bags they carry cannot be touched, weighed or x-rayed – something that occasionally brings the Messengers into conflict with officialdom. A Messenger’s duty is simply to deliver the bag and to deal with whatever problems arise.

The inspiration for the book was an old friend and character, Colonel M. J. O’Brien-Twohig, who had served as a King’s Messenger and told Bird stories from his time with the service. The ‘silver greyhounds’ are bound by the Official Secrets Act, so Bird fictionalised the stories while retaining the essence of Twohig’s experiences.


Betty Arvaniti, who appeared in both Who Pays the Ferryman? and The Dark Side of the Sun, was 78 last month. Website visitor Chris Williams was in touch with Betty's son who reported that she is well, still acting, and planning her next production with her theatre group in Athens.


I have adopted Michael Bird's episode title from The Aphrodite Inheritance (it cropped up again in The Outsider) to report, with the greatest sadness, the death of two of Michael Bird's little company of players.

Stefan Gryff, who had the distinction of playing in three series - The Lotus Eaters, Who Pays the Ferryman? and The Aphrodite Inheritance - died on 3rd June. Website visitor Stephen Griffiths spotted Gryff's name in the Autumn Equity newsletter in a long list of actors who had died since their previous edition. Neither Stephen nor I could find an obituary in the mainstream press, and I half hoped it wasn't true, but Stephen traced it on the Government's Wills and Probate website. The death was registered in Winchester.

And Trevor Baxter, Dr Phillimore from The Dark Side of the Sun and Dr Dr Albrigsten in Maelstrom died on 16th July, aged 84. Baxter's death was quite widely reported in the press - principally because of his Dr Who connection. This obituary is on the 'Big Finish' website.

Both gentlemen were extremely helpful to me in the early days of the website, and in writing my book, and it feels as though I have lost two friends.


Fans of Bird's YTV series The Winning Streak will be interested to know that the MG Metro 6R4 prototype 'mock up' that was built for the static shots for the series is now owned by Nicky Lindon webbie for "6R4.net", an enthusiasts' website on the model of car featured in the series. Nicky tells me he plans to restore the car basicallly back to new but retaining its patina.

Nicky also kindly sent me some photos from filming of The Winning Streak which I have added to the website.


Finally I would just mention the nice shot of Elounda by moonlight on the BBC creations page was taken by website visitor Anna Pereboom.

Michael J Bird Tribute Website

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