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Tommy Eytle

Actor and jazz singer

Born: 16 July, 1927, in Guyana.

Died: 19 June, 2007, in Reading, aged 79.

WITH much bravura Tommy Eytle played Jules Tavernier - the man with the roving eye and oodles of charm - in EastEnders for over 80 episodes. With his grizzly grey beard and round rimless glasses Eytle was a somewhat unlikely lover - but Eytle made the character very much his own. Tavernier flirted outrageously with all the women (including the indomitable Ethel Skinner and Dot Cotton) in Walford.

Eytle arrived in Albert Square in July 1990 and was to be a regular for seven years. His character was a loveable rogue who enjoyed wagers on the horses and gambled, perhaps, more than was good for him. But Eytle brought to the character a strong sense of credibility and made him a jovial, laid-back man with a strong sense of family values - taking especial care of his highly strung son, Celestine. Many important story lines centred around Eytle's disciplining of his children but the most notorious came in 1992 when Eytle's character discovered that his granddaughter was having an affair with another relation.

Eytle had a particularly poignant scene with his sworn enemy in Albert Square, Steve Eliot, when Tavernier was mugged and Eliot came to his rescue. Eytle handled the reunion with much skill and avoided the episode descending into caricature. Eytle left EastEnders in 1997 - latterly his commitment to the programme had to be reduced because of his own poor health.

Thomas Daniel Hicks Eytle was educated in Georgetown and then qualified as a land surveyor. He came to Britain in 1951 and worked as a surveyor but taught himself the guitar. He formed a calypso band and often performed in many London clubs throughout the 1950s. He did not, however, confine himself to performing calypsos but became a greatly admired jazz guitarist and vocalist. His husky, dark singing voice brought an extra dimension to many of the numbers he sang.

At this time Eytle also built a reputation as an actor. Initially, he was seen in numerous dramas (The Saint, Quiller, Rumpole of the Bailey, Casualty etc) before joining EastEnders. He made his large screen debut in 1959 in Naked Fury, then came Joseph Losey's The Criminal and Eytle's final appearance on screen was in Bob's Weekend in 1996 that starred Ricky Tomlinson.

Eytle is survived by his wife, Avis.

 
 
 

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