Mark Farmer death: Former housemate of tragic Grange Hill star in plea to track down actor’s family
- Credit: Archant
A former friend of tragic Grange Hill star Mark Farmer, who grew up beside the River Lea, is looking for a way to pay his respects in the wake of the actor’s death.
Mark died of cancer at 53 a few weeks ago. Now Derek Chandler, his friend and housemate until 1994, wants to track down his family.
“He was such a character – quite a laugh,” remembered Derek, 78. “He was a bit of a comedian, which is probably why he got on on the stage.
“He was on some good programmes so he must have impressed people. He impressed me when I met him.”
As a child, the TV star lived with his lock-keeper stepfather near the Princess of Wales pub in Lea Bridge Road. He met Derek nearby in the early 1990s and despite the 25-year age difference they became firm friends.
“One of my friends used to sing at this pub and that’s where I met Mark,” remembered Derek, now 79. “We got talking and I said to him: ‘Have you been on television?’”
Indeed he had – not only had Mark starred as Gary Hargreaves in Grange Hill from 1979 until 1981, but he’d also played Johnny Jarvis in Minder for much of the 1980s.
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The men kept in touch and eventually Mark took Gary’s spare room.
But when Derek moved to Ireland a couple of years later the pair lost touch. Although he tried to find his friend after returning to London years later, the search was fruitless.
It wasn’t until reading a newspaper report in April that he learnt the truth about his friend’s death.
“It was so tragic,” he said. “I was so sad. It’s like losing a family member.
“I’d like to show my respects and, if there’s a grave, place some flowers there.”
Mark’s death came less than a year after his Grange Hill co-star Terry Sue-Patt was found dead at his Walthamstow home aged 50.
If you can help put Derek in touch with Mark’s family, contact Ramzy at the Gazette news desk: 020 8477 3813