Tribute to Douglas Simmonds
DOUGLAS SIMMONDS 1958 - 2011
Dave Anderson as asked me to put
together a small tribute to a man we all knew and loved
as Doughnut from Double Deckers, this man of course was
I first got to know Doug about 2 1/2 years ago as a
result of Facebook. I spent many evenings talking to
Doug about Double Deckers, our childhoods, our adult
lives and about issues affecting our private lives often
into the early hours. In June 2010 I was attending a
fans Gathering of the 70s comedy "On The Buses". I
managed to persuade Doug to attend and indeed he did.
The Hammer Film versions and DD were both filmed in the
When Doug arrived he was mobbed by fans for autographs
and pictures. He spent then spent ages talking to myself
and Rob Hickey, a man who knows loads about many
programmes filmed in the area including On The Buses and
The Double Deckers.
We took Doug to a school in the area where one of the
Double Deckers episodes was filmed and we spent sometime
talking about DD. Doug actually claimed he didn't act,
he just played himself.
Before leaving Doug gave me some Double Deckers
memorabilia including a Song Sheet of the Theme Music
and a Christmas Card from the show. Following the
meeting we stayed friends and on the 15th March the
great... gentle man passed away at the young age of 52.
I cant say I knew him well but what I
can say is I will treasure our meeting and our private
conversations on Facebook forever. RIP Doug, sadly
missed but remembered fondly by all his family, friends
and Double Deckers Fans.
Doug first contacted me in 1995 when he
introduced himself and expressed interest in the DD
website I had started. He sent me a box of photos he
received from producer Roy Simpson to share with DD
fans. He told me about some special moments on the set
of the DD including a surprise birthday party for him on
the day they were filming the episode, "Happy Haunting".
As an adult he was very surprised by how many people
still recognized him. I had a standing invitation to
visit him if I was ever in the London area. I would call
Doug on his birthday but since I lived in the US I never
had the honor of meeting him in person. I am grateful
for having had the opportunity of speaking with Doug on
many occasions, hearing about what he was doing, his
hobbies and collections, and even receiving Christmas
cards from him. I still miss him.
Doug was my very first childhood friend.
He lived with his mother, father and brother Peter on
the ninth floor of Wilberforce Court on the Spur Road
Estate, Edgware (on the outskirts of northwest London);
I lived with my family on the first floor. We used to
get into all sorts of trouble together; strictly against
parental orders, we would 'go over the min' - that is,
we would visit the large derelict site, awash with
rubble and broken glass, adjacent to our council estate
which had been a Ministry of Defense establishment
during the war. We used to enter the estate caretaker's
workshop when he was absent and 'borrow' things of
interest, including, as I recall, his bicycle. And it
was together that we smoked our first cigarettes in an
unused bike shed. We both claimed to have enjoyed the
experience! (I gave up smoking at the ripe old age of
Two days ago I had an urge to drive past the place where
I spent the first 21 years of my life - I think that's
what prompted me to search for Doug's name on Google.
Wilberforce Court is still there, although it looks
almost slum-like now. In the 1960s, the block was full
of (mostly) decent working class folk like Doug's and my
families; I think that is not the case today.
Doug and I were friends before either of us had started
our education; I can remember being taken by my mum to
somewhere called 'school', having no idea what it was,
but being surprised and pleased to find my friend Doug
was already there. I remember on one occasion Doug
turning up for school one day wearing his carpet
slippers, having walked the mile long journey in them
without apparently noticing! The incident caused much
hilarity in class, but that really was the sort of chap
Doug was at the time - good entertainment value! On
another occasion Doug brought a small padlock to primary
school and he and I spent a happy playtime locking and
unlocking it to the school gate, which faced directly
onto the busy Edgware Road. Our activity was brought to
a halt by Miss Heafey who confiscated the key but left
the padlock on the gate. It remained there, on show and
slowly rusting, for at least thirty years until the
gates were replaced. I occasionally used to go past
those gates and think, "I 'm one of only two people
who know how that padlock got there".
We were both at Edgware Primary School before moving up
to the Junior School next door at the age of 8, which I
suppose must have been in 1966. In your interview Doug
mentions playing a bear in the school play - I remember
this very well. Earlier, we had put on a play called
The Moonrakers, which I only recently discovered was the
work of Malcolm Williamson, the Australian composer who
was Master of the Queen's Music at the time, and who was
very keen on producing musical plays (or 'cassations')
for young people. Our teacher, Mrs. Brain, must have
been inspired by Williamson's effort and decided to
write a musical play of her own as a follow-up. I can't
recall the title, but the subject matter was the circus
- hence the presence of a bear. As I write, I can still
hear in my head the chorus tune from all those years
ago. I can't recall the plot either, but I think it
must have involved the loss of the bear in some way, as
I remember a fragment of the words as "...and bring
back Bruin, our loveable bear".
I had no idea that it was Mrs. Brain who suggested Doug
audition for the part of Doughnut - I'm sure I never
thought about it at all when I was young, and it was
only much later that I assumed that the opening had come
through Doug's dad, who, if my memory serves correctly,
was a cameraman for the BBC. (Doug's dad,
incidentally, was as thin as a rake. Doug's portly
frame came entirely from his mum's side!)
I always had fun watching The Doubledeckers, seeing my
friend on TV and spotting the numerous familiar
locations in and around Elstree where (I think) the
programmes were made. It really was quite special.
In 1969, aged 11, Doug went to one senior school and I
went to another, and we saw less of each other
thereafter. The Simmonds moved to new accommodation in
Bredon Court, a new block of flats which had been built
on the old ministry site, and I think they subsequently
moved to private accomodation later, no doubt aided by
the extra income that Doug's work would have brought in.
After that, we lost contact.
It is a remarkable coincidence that both of us should
have ended up working in the life sciences industry. It
would have given me great pleasure to have made contact
with Doug after all that time - we would have had a
great deal to talk about.
If you have memories you would like to share about Doug, please send to me at
email@example.com and we will add to this page.