Alan Igbon, actor who played roguish Loggo in Boys from the Blackstuff – obituary

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Igbon, top left, next to Michael Angelis and other cast members of Alan Bleasdale's Boys from the Blackstuff  - Television Stills
Igbon, top left, next to Michael Angelis and other cast members of Alan Bleasdale's Boys from the Blackstuff - Television Stills

Alan Igbon, who has died of pneumonia aged 68, made his biggest impact as a television actor when he played “Loggo” Logmond in Boys from the Blackstuff, Alan Bleasdale’s battle cry for the unemployed in Thatcher’s Britain.

The landmark 1982 drama turned out to be more significant than Bleasdale envisaged when he started planning a series to follow The Black Stuff, about a gang of Liverpool tarmac layers finding work in Middlesbrough.

That original 1980 Play for Today production, screened when fewer than a million were out of work, preceded Norman Tebbit’s “on your bike” advice (he actually said his father in the 1930s had “got on his bike and looked for work” instead of rioting).

But it gave a taste of what was to come and marked out Igbon’s character as the easy-going, jokey one.

The Black Stuff, Play for Today: Bernard Hill, Peter Kerrigan, Michael Angelis, Alan Igbon - Alamy
The Black Stuff, Play for Today: Bernard Hill, Peter Kerrigan, Michael Angelis, Alan Igbon - Alamy

He was also light-fingered, seen taking his next-door neighbour’s bottle of milk as he leaves home to get into the van leaving Liverpool, then pick-pocketing a hitchhiker’s wallet – before handing it back.

At a service station, Loggo asks the woman serving his drink whether she has any Hermesetas. “No, only tea or coffee,” she replies as he steals a stash of teabags. “It’s a love potion,” he fantasises. “Gets you going. Three Hermesetas in your tea and you’re anybody’s.”

As the blend of heartbreak and humour continues, Loggo more than once takes it on himself to restrain manic, battle-scarred Yosser Hughes (played by Bernard Hill).

Igbon in Coronation Street, 2003 -  ITV/Shutterstock
Igbon in Coronation Street, 2003 - ITV/Shutterstock

By the time the play was turned into a fully fledged series, based back in Liverpool, unemployment had risen to more than three million, Loggo was working illegally for a building company and Yosser had invented a national catchphrase, “Gissa job!”

Radio Times described the landmark drama as “farce, tragedy and tussles with the DoE”.

Later, when Igbon played Teddy, minder to Robert Lindsay’s Derek Hatton-like council leader, in Bleasdale’s seven-part political drama GBH (1991), he revealed the tough environment he lived in as a child in Manchester.

“Kids I grew up with became gangsters, thieves, pimps, pushers and druggies,” said the actor, who still returned to the area and visited old friends serving jail sentences. “But the guns make life cheap there now… I’ve been in pubs and clubs lots of times when guns have been pulled out.”

Alan Olanrewaju Igbon was born on May 29 1952 to an Irish mother, Mary (née Kennedy), and a Nigerian father, Lawrence Igbon, a postmaster, and brought up in Manchester’s Hulme district.

He kept out of trouble by taking up boxing and fought more than 60 bouts as a young welterweight.

Alan Igbon in Crown Court, 1975  - ITV/Shutterstock
Alan Igbon in Crown Court, 1975 - ITV/Shutterstock

After studying at the Actors Forum in London, he first made an impression on stage in Lord Nelson Lived in Liverpool 8 (1974) at Liverpool Playhouse, starring as a youth who believes he is a descendant of the sea admiral, then playing a gang leader in a national tour of On the Out (1978).

When Bleasdale’s Scully short stories were performed as a stage play at the Contact Theatre, Manchester, in 1977, with Igbon starring as the Liverpool “scallywag”, the writer saw not just his relaxed nature, but also a “mesmerical, dangerous” performance and a team player.

Director Alan Clarke cast him as Meakin, one of the more thoughtful, intelligent inmates, in the 1979 film version of the prison drama Scum – both distraught and outraged when his friend commits suicide – and there was a switch to TV sitcom to play Sheldon, a Rastafarian and one of two half-brothers with different outlooks, alongside Paul Barber’s police officer, in The Front Line (1984-85).

He took two roles in Coronation Street: Steve Baker, an Army friend of Bet Lynch’s illegitimate son, in 1975, and Tony Stewart, estranged father of Jason Grimshaw, in 2003.

Igbon is survived by his partner, Sam, and their son.

Alan Igbon, born May 29 1952, died December 9 2020

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