‘THOUSAND APOLOGIES, I AM RANJEET SINGH’
Albert Moses Speaks...
Many of us still may not know that we can proud of one Sri Lankan who is an internationally renowned film star, TV star, producer, director and a writer in the west. Many of us thought he was an Indian Sikh, because he became popular in the sit com series 'Mind your language' as Ranjeet Singh in the late 70s. When he put the turban on, no one ever knew that he was one of our very own fellow countrymen, from Kandy, the one and only Albert Moses. ('Mind Your Language' series is now available in Colombo on CD and DVD)
In 1981, when I moved from the SLBC to ITN as a Technical Assistant to work in the ITN TV transmitting station at Pannipitiya, I eagerly waited for the Mind Your Language video tape because I wanted to watch the programme before it went on air at 8.00pm on Wednesday nights. I used to watch the tape for at least 4 times before it went on air because it was packed with nothing but 100% British humour.
Every sentence was unique, because you have not heard that humour anywhere else before. The script was written by one of the top comedy writers Vince Powell and produced by Stuart Allen. Later series was produced by Albert Moses himself.
My favourite character was none other than Ranjeet Singh (Albert Moses) and I loved when he started fighting with his classmate Pakistani student Ali Nadim (Dino Shafeek), and his 'Thousand apologies.
In 1981 I thought I must meet this wonderful man one day in person. When I came to London in 1984, I looked for any information about him, where he lived or worked but I did not have success. In 1991 when I went to the City of London Polytechnic (now known as London Metropolitan University)for an interview in their media department, prior to the interview I was given a guided tour by a member of staff.
The guy who took me around told me that this job was previously done by famous actor Albert Moses. My eyes were wide opened and I thought I came to the right place. Unfortunately he had left the job months before I went and staff refused to give me any information about him because of the data protection act that no one can disclose any information about a fellow employee to outsiders. But I did not give up my hopes to meet Albert.
|Albert with Kirk Douglas.|
In 1998, when I was searching through the web on a search engine, I suddenly found Albert Moses's official webpage on internet. First thing I did was sending an e-mail asking him to contact me as I was desperately looking for him for a TV interview. He was such a down to earth guy, Albert sent me an immediate reply and we started communicating with each other via e-mails. I told him about my connections with the Sri Lankan electronic media and I wanted to make a TV interview for the Rupavahini. Albert very kindly agreed to give me a TV interview free of charge not only that he even agreed to come to my house for the recording.
On a Saturday morning he arrived at Pinner underground station by train, and he waited for me to come and pick him up from there. I was bit late to pick him up so I had to tell him 'Thousand apologies' for my delay. First thing I asked from Albert was how I should call him, whether Mr. Moses, Sir or Albert. He laughed at me and said " Sisira just call me Albert."
It was a fantastic moment in my life to meet the man himself, in front of me whom I have been longing to see in person. My dear friend Tissa Madawela very kindly offered his services to film the TV interview and we started talking about his life and how he started his career as an actor, writer, producer and a director.
Albert Moses was born in Kandy in Sri Lanka. He has worked at the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya for a while and then migrated to Africa for employment. After a while he decided to come to England to pursue his studies in theatre and drama in a drama school in London. This was where his career began as an actor for TV and Cinema.
During this period he had seen an advert in the news paper calling any suitable candidates to act as a Sikh in the Mind your language comedy series. He went for the audition and he has done his part better than a native Indian Sikh national.
The producer and director have been very happy about his performances and offered him the role as Ranjeet Singh. Albert had many Indian Sikh friends and he has spent few days with them to learn the culture and the way of their life style, food, how they speak and how they even wear the turban. He still remembers how his Indian friends taught him how to put the turban on his head and he has observed how they shake their heads while talking.
Albert himself showed me how he learnt while I was doing the TV interview. It was so hilarious the way he explained to me how he learnt the typical life style of Sikhs in London East End.
Albert Moses has been involved with film and television industry for over 30 years now starting in India where he appeared in 7 films, ending up producing and directing the 8th one. He then moved on to Africa where he made documentaries for a short while. In the UK, Albert has been involved in a great number of diverse projects, several of which were ventures filmed around the globe.
In his younger days, Albert's specialties as an actor included: fencing, dancing, singing, motor-cycle stunts, karate and judo. He is fluent in English, Arabic, Tamil, Sinhalese, moderate German and Sanskrit. One of Albert's popular themes was playing the double of Clarke Gable.
|In a scene from the movie ‘Robe’|
He has played in film, television and theatrical productions with many respected actors including: Kirk Douglas, Oliver Reed, Sir John Gielgud, Roger Moore, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Charles Dance, Kenneth Williams, Benny Hill, Tim Piggott Smith, Pamela Stevenson, Diana Rigg and many others.
During his extensive career, he has also worked with many internationally renowned directors including John Landis, John Houston, Rob Cohen and Alan Parker. He did prominent roles in many theatre productions such as Freeway at National Theatre Phædra Britannica with Dame Diana Rigg. Long March to Jerusalem at Watford Theatre are few of the many.
He starred in movies such as The Man Who Would Be King - A John Houston film with Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer, The Spy Who Loved Me - James Bond Movie with Roger Moore, Stand Up Virgin Soldiers - EMI, Carry On Emmanuelle - as an Indian doctor, The Little Drummer Girl - EMI, The Awakening - Columbia Pictures, An American Werewolf In London - John Landis Movie, The Great Quest - with Oliver Reed, Pink Floyd, The Wall - Alan Parker Film, Octopussy - James Bond Movie (as Saddrudin - undercover British agent in India), Jungle Book II - Walt Disney, East Is East - Channel Four Films, Scandalous - with Sir John Gielguld and Pamela Stevenson.
He became very popular on TV programmes such as Queenie - Hollywood mini-series with Kirk Douglas, On The Buses - London Weekend Television , The Loser - LWT, Certain Lack of Communication - BBC - PLAY OF THE MONTH, The British Empire - BBC Series, Warship - BBC, The Boy Dominic - 3 Episodes - YORKSHIRE TELEVISION, Children of the Sun - BBC - PLAY OF THE MONTH, Bill Brand - 4 Episodes - THAMES TELEVISION, Rogues Rock -2 Episodes - SOUTHERN TELEVISION, Horse In The House - THAMES TELEVISION, Robin's Nest - THAMES TELEVISION, Mind Your Language - LWT sitcom (Nearly fifty episodes broadcast between 1977 and 1979) , Two's Company - LWT, The Fuzz - THAMES TV, The Rag Trade - LWT and recently Holby City - BBC DRAMA and many more.
Although Mind your language series became popular world wide, some UK audiences protested over a racial issue and banned showing the complete series on the British television. Sadly some actors of the series are no longer with us.
The teacher Mr. Jeremy Brown (Barry Evans) was mysteriously murdered some years ago. Swedish student Ingrid Bergman is the daughter of Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman.
Albert loves writing children's stories. He wrote Tales from India, The Hawk and the Turtles, Mustapha Mouse and a Book of Poems containing 87 poems. When I met him he was very kind enough to bring me a set of children's books written by him for my daughter. He also handed over some books for me to be given to Colombo Public Library.
He produced 13 episodes of Mind Your Language and produced and directed Gabriella - Television film on location in Malta. Wrote, produced and directed two thrillers for TV in the Alfred Hitchcock style with a surprise ending, set in Malta called Accidental Death and Revenge.
Wrote the title music as well for both. Also hosted, produced and directed, Song and dance show, Talent Contest, Variety Shows in Malta. Albert is a man of many talents. It is very rare to find a man like him who has a heart of gold, who still loves his motherland Sri Lanka. Although he has been away from Sri Lanka for many years, he still supports many charities in Sri Lanka.
He funds many homes for children in Sri Lanka donating his hard earned money. He still enjoys a plate of Sri Lankan rice and curry than English fish and chips. He has not forgotten his roots.
Albert was recently made a Knight of the Order of St John, in recognition of his charity work for children. He currently lives in the leafy suburbs of Hertfordshire County teaching English, free of charge to Eastern European migrant workers. He spends his money and time for many charities in the UK as well.
He loves to come to Sri Lanka and get involved with making films and TV productions. He told me that he is very much happy to accept any offers by any producers who are willing to seek his services for any productions in Sri Lanka. You may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish him well, good health and long life. Albert, my dear friend we Sri Lankans are proud of you. You are famous from Hollywood to Hollywood and from East End to West End and on the British TV and world wide. We all wish you more and more courage and strength to make many more productions for our viewing pleasure.
- The Sunday times - LK