Jimmy Ellis widow in tribute to Z-Cars co-star Fielding after actor's death at 73
The widow of Belfast actor Jimmy Ellis has paid an emotional tribute to her husband's Z-Cars co-star Doug Fielding who died yesterday, describing them as a "pair of lovable rascals".
Fielding, who also appeared in EastEnders as a policeman, was 73.
He appeared alongside Ellis's Inspector Bert Lynch as Sergeant Alec Quilley from 1968 to 1978.
The actor, who appeared in a number of touring plays including Arsenic And Old Lace at Belfast's Grand Opera House, returned to the city five years ago for the funeral of Ellis, a man he called his "dear friend".
"That was the last time I saw Doug," said Ellis' widow Robina.
"He came to the wake at the Europa Hotel and he was devastated at losing Jimmy."
She added that she was deeply upset after hearing about Fielding's passing.
"He was at our wedding," she added.
"And Jimmy was best man at Doug's second wedding.
"The two of them were inseparable in their Z-Cars days. It was a wonderful friendship.
"They worked hard and they played hard.
"They really were lovable rascals who got up to all sorts. I know if Jimmy had been alive he would have had lovely things to say about Doug."
Robina said that Ellis and Fielding had a reputation as practical jokers during the live transmissions of Z-Cars.
She added: "Frank Windsor, who played the detective John Watt, sometimes had pieces of paper with his lines on them just in case he forgot what he should be saying.
"On one occasion Jimmy and Doug saw that the paper was underneath a sandwich on a plate and they decided it would be funny to stick it inside the two bits of bread.
"Poor Frank had no alternative but to eat the sandwich with the paper inside it.
"The policemen's cars were all fake, of course.
"But Jimmy and Doug discovered the windscreen washers were real and they were forever soaking other actors during the broadcasts!"
Several years ago Fielding appeared in a documentary reflecting on the success of Z-Cars.
He said that he had been hired for two months but ended up staying on the show for 10 eventful years.
He added: "Jimmy Ellis used to say we were like matadors having fresh bulls thrown at us every single week, with many different types of actors coming in.
"We were always mucking about."
Another actor who was featured in the documentary was Sam Kydd, from the Village area of Belfast.
Fielding said that while he and Ellis were filming outside a supermarket a woman grabbed them and marched them to the scene of a robbery, refusing to believe they weren't actual policemen.
On another occasion in a particularly tough area, he said he, Ellis and their crew had to be rescued by genuine policemen after they were threatened by a violent ex-con who thought the Z-Cars officers were real.