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Appreciation: Charles Thake

Philip Farrugia Randon writes:

When I heard about the death of Charles Thake, I felt a sudden deep sadness.

For most people, he was a prominent actor, a solid stage persona but for me he meant something much more than that.

Many, many years ago, when I was still about 16 years old, I had started my television and radio adventures, which kept on going all through my university days and even later. I had started with a weekly children’s programme on television. The director was Alan Meadows and the producer was Charles Thake.

I was indeed so fortunate to start with such a giant who taught me many lessons without pontificating; he shared much experience without much ado. Thanks to him, I had several big names as regular participants in my programmes, such as Ġemma and Pauli Portelli, and many others.

Charles would follow the programme silently and then he would religiously list what I needed to work on more assiduously.

I remember his gentle way of imparting comments and his infectious smile at the very end when he would chuckle and tap me on the back with redeeming good and encouraging words.

So for me, Charles was not the comic actor who sowed smiles and laughter but a godfather who helped me build my own future in broadcasting on solid grounds. He was a highly intelligent person who was also gifted with acute introspection. A fine gentleman who shared his kindness with the less fortunate without any fanfare.

I can still remember noticing him generously donating gifts to underprivileged children who he regularly invited to participate in those programmes.

What hit me was not the good deed but the way he did it surreptitiously. I only noticed it by pure chance and he was completely unaware I was close by. I am now almost sure that he shared a good part of what he had earned that day. I never divulged this because I do not think Charles would have appreciated my big mouth. But now, dear Charles, I felt I had to share this small secret.

He followed my career with interest and he enjoyed discussing other programmes I worked on later. He would tell me: “Please don’t be boring and tell me you agree. Just plainly tell me I am wrong.” I never contradicted him because, as I often told him, he would be “boringly right”.

Saying that Charles Thake was a household name does not do justice to this gentleman. He did not merely enter the houses of the Maltese; he entered their hearts and shared their fears, laughter, sorrows and idiosyncrasies. He was loved for what he did, for how he did it and why he did it.

I will always treasure his soft-worded advices.

He taught me that gentleness was not a by-product of weakness but an incisive and effective way to reach the hearts and minds of those you want to help and assist.

Curtain call, dear Charles.

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