In Loving Memory: Nick Keeping 1950-1999
Nick as Hotspur in “Henry IV – Part One”, 1967
(Karen played Lady Percy in the same school production.)
When we started work on the “Drama Evenings” (LINKED) page on our original website in 1999, we hadn’t seen Nick for a few years. We’d missed him. For many years he had always come round on Christmas Day with presents for all our kids, who always looked forward to seeing “Uncle Nick”. Often he joined us for Christmas lunch. Somehow the years passed and we lost touch. You shouldn’t, but we did.
On Saturday (13th March), we started calling round to tell all our old cast members about the page and that it was about to go up on the site. Peter had bumped into Chris Owen on the beach that morning who had said that Nick needed a heart operation. We were so keen for Nick to see the old pictures, to remember the great times.
On Monday morning the page was ready to go up when we heard the news. Nick had died in Poland of a heart attack, age 49.
Nick introduced us to each other.
Nick was Guy’s Best Man.
Nick was one of the witnesses at our wedding.
Nick was the first to arrive with presents and good cheer when our kids were born.
Nick played Father Christmas for kids (brilliantly) at our Christmas parties.
Nick was always the life and soul of the party.
If the cards had been dealt differently, Nick could have become a great actor. His talent was extraordinary. Every time we worked with him on stage we felt that charisma, that star quality. Instead he became an inspirational teacher, then turned his talents to marketing.
Peter still remembers a discussion with Nick sometime in 1971 about how to teach the first lesson with a class of beginners. Nick said that he had the ultimate ice-breaking activity. Naturally, Peter wanted to see it. “You’ll have to pretend to be a student, though,” he said.
“But they’ll speak to me before the class. They’ll find out I’m English …”
“No, they won’t,” said Nick, “Just say ‘Albanian’ if anyone speaks to you.”
So Peter joined the solemn group of beginners waiting for their first lesson. A couple of friendly students addressed him, one in German, another in Spanish. He just pointed to his chest and said “Albanian.” It worked Nick came in and sat straight down and started calling the register. As he was calling it he started leaning further and further back in his chair. The chair was on two legs. A few more names, a bit further. Then crash! Nick went straight over backwards onto the floor. And lay there. He groaned. The class looked at each other in consternation. What were they supposed to do? The groan got louder, more plaintive. Then students got up, moved forward, started trying to speak in English, trying to help. Nick gave it 30 seconds then leapt to his feet, “Good morning!” And the class was under way. Pure theatre from the first minute. Next to our teacher’s room in the beginners’ group we had a cupboard with wigs, costumes, hats, telephones, realia, ironing boards, bunches of plastic flowers. For Nick, every lesson was an event. That was Nick.
No one who met Nick will ever forget him
Nick performing “My Way” his favourite song.
Nick as Inspector Sniff in Muldoon Manor