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Tommy Eytle

Guyanese musician and actor Tommy Eytle was best known on television for his long running role as Trinidadian smoothie Jules Tavernier in BBC’s EastEnders which he played from 1990-97.

He also enjoyed success in Britain the fifties and sixties when he appeared in jazz venues and nightclubs with his own calypso band. They were featured on many BBC radio programmes and appeared in the 1957 film The Tommy Steele Story in which Eytle sang and played the guitar.

He was born in Georgetown in what was then British Guiana in July 16 1927. He had four brothers and three sisters and was educated at Central High School, Georgetown.

His parents separated in 1951 and he and his mother and siblings moved to London where he qualified as a surveyor and draughtsman. After forming his own band, he made his screen debut in the low budget crime drama Naked Fury (1959) in which he appeared opposite Kenneth Cope. He went on to play small roles in films such as The Hijackers (1963) with Patrick Cargill and Anthony Booth and many TV series including Adam Adamant Lives, The Saint, Rumpole of the Bailey and Casualty. In the late seventies he had more substantial roles in the BBC Play for Today series where he worked with directors such as David Rose and James McTaggart.

Fondly remembered by EastEnders fans, Jules Tavernier, the widowed Trinidadian womaniser and gambler was a hit with the senior ladies of Walford and he regularly flirted with stalwarts such as Ethel Skinner and Dot Cotton. Jules was an easy-going character who was noted for dispensing pearls of wisdom. Eytle’s appearances as Jules in later years were irregular due to ill health but he was never officially written out of the soap. His last film role was in Bob’s Weekend (1996) in which he starred opposite Ricky Tomlinson.

He died on June 19 2007, aged 79, and is survived by his wife Avis.

Patrick Newley

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