Mark Farmer death: Former housemate of tragic Grange Hill star in plea to track down actor's family
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 June 2016
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.
"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."
“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.
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