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Charles Murray Plumley

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Charles Murray Plumley, who passed away just after Easter at the age of 91, was one of the most remarkable and versatile servants The Stage has ever had. Joining the paper in the thirties, with the exception of service throughout the Second World War, during which he was with the Desert Rats in the North African campaign, he was with The Stage for more than 40 years, working in all departments.

Though I worked with him from 1972 until his retirement in 1980, in common with the rest of the staff I knew very little about him, save that we had been near neighbours in Southgate. Though he had been an assiduous and perceptive reviewer of all types of entertainment for many years, his wife’s distressing illness was already taking up much of his time and severely curtailed his evening activities. Eventually they moved to Brighton, where Mavis, who was known as Gay and who was the niece of leading stage and screen actress Flora Robson, died about ten years ago.

‘Plum’, as he was affectionately known by all my colleagues, except by our esteemed light entertainment editor Sidney Vauncez (Simon Blumenfeld), who insisted on calling him ‘Plolmondeley’, was the regional editor when I worked alongside him, compiling his pages on Thursday and Friday, because Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to his other main duty, that of ‘night man’, which also meant ‘early morning man’, at our printers in Colchester.

On Tuesdays most of the editorial staff, including myself, would go to Colchester on an early train and work at the printers until the pages were finished but not finally proofed. Plum would arrive in the afternoon and check the final proofs until the shift finished. Any left over would be dealt with by the night staff, which entailed an early start on Wednesday. Writing as somebody who used to do this job when Plum was on holiday, it was a boring and arduous task, especially when we published summer and Christmas specials, but Plum did it uncomplainingly for many years at several different printers outside London.

His reliability was such, however, that he could be trusted to turn his hand to practically every task. When Sidney Vauncez was on holiday he became light entertainment editor for a week or two and he similarly stepped in for other colleagues in accounts, advertising and circulation. always in a steady and rock-like fashion.

He leaves a son, Russell.

Peter Hepple

Frank Comerford writes:

Charles Plumley was the last surviving member of The Stage’s pre-war staff, also of the staff which I inherited when I joined the company in 1953 and succeeded my father as managing director in 1954. His editorial work included reviewing, news editing and most aspects of production and he was involved enthusiastically in the updating of the paper’s treatment of news. However, as is the way with smaller publishing companies, his talents were put to work widely and certainly there were few areas of The Stage’s operations with which he was not familiar and to which he had not made a big contribution. He had a unique position in the company and enjoyed the warm regard of the staff. I found him very congenial and appreciate very much the loyal support and help which he gave me in so many ways over a quarter of a century.

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