Sci-fi Pulse today remembers Tony Scannell, who played one of Ming’s Officers, in the brilliant Space-Opera, Flash Gordon (1980). The news of his death broke earlier this week. Scannell didn’t have a huge part to play, but was among those who had the unenviable task of waking up the evil Emperor, sleeping in his private chamber, aboard the ship that blasted away at the (turns out not so)secret hide-out of Sky City. Regardless of his role’s importance, Scannell was in it. He’s a part of the story of one of the great achievements of sci-fi on film. Here at Sci-fi Pulse, we’re huge fans of the movie and are saddened to hear of the passing of this cast member, and of course the man himself.
Before his acting career, Scannell served in the RAF. Perhaps that may have helped him get the role as one of Ming’s military henchmen. Described as “A wonderful actor” and a “gentle soul” by Katy Manning (who played Jo Grant, appearing alongside Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, in his run on Doctor Who) it’s clear that he left an impression on those that he worked with. This proves that it doesn’t matter if you don’t become a household name, and achieve mega-stardom. It’s the people that you touch along the way that you truly live on in and through. Scannell’s long term partner, Agnes Lillis summed this up perfectly, describing him as the “love of my life”. The two remained together for years and her statement that “Our relationship had many different lives” sums up what is likely true for so many people. Life happens to you and you have to adapt along the way. What matters is that they had each other.
His other roles include appearances on T.V. shows in the late 70s and 80s, including his most famous stint in the legendary ITV police drama show, The Bill (1983-2010). In it, he played D.S. Ted Roach, who was originally cast for only two episodes, but after impressing the show-runners, he saw his character’s stay extended. He reprised the role in 2010, after being invited back, much to the delight of many of his fans. Further examples of his work include theatrical acting, and his final screen appearance in a short-film, House in the Clouds (2020)
With Max Von Sydow’s passing away earlier this year, in March, another member of the Flash Gordon family has been taken in what’s the 40th anniversary of the cult film. Let’s hope that he’s been reunited with his old boss, Ming. It’s a nice thought to think that Scannell was needed once again and called up to the great beyond, even if it was to aid the evil Ming in his dastardly plans! For those who can’t entertain such ideas, then the best way to remember and celebrate his life is to watch the two of them on screen together. It’s not like there’s ever an excuse needed to re-watch Flash Gordon. Be sure to look out for Scannell (the Officer aboard Ming’s ship shortly after Flash escapes from Arboria).
Scannell also leaves behind three adult children, two brothers, and two sisters, and of course the fans of his work, including us here at Sci-fi Pulse. We send our deepest sympathy and condolences to his loved ones. Hail Tony.