Paul Ditchfield is an English-born South African actor, musician and entertainer best known as one of the founding members of the comedy music group The Bats.
Born in Manchester, England, Paul sailed to South Africa with hi father, mother and younger sister Sandra on the Winchester Castle, a Union Castle Liner, arriving in Durban in January 1947.
He attended Colin Mann primary school in the Government village, Rand Airport, Germiston and matriculated from Germiston Boy's High school in 1956.
At the age of 13 his first paid job was playing piano for Olive Steiner's dance academy. He became the Sergeant Side drummer for the School's brass band and won a drumming trophy at a Wembley School band competition in Johannesburg. He was also the Germiston Caledonian Pipe band side drummer and won the SA National Solo side drumming trophy while representing Germiston Callies Pipe band.
Paul did one year of a BA at Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg. Thereafter he worked at Barclays Bank in Simmonds street, Johannesburg until 1964, during which time he played piano on the weekends for The Vikings.
Paul is a prolific songwriter who plays keyboards and bass and he formed The Bats pop group in 1964 with Eddie Eckstein, the late Barry Jarman and the late Jimmy Dunning.
The Bats' first single record - All I Got - made No. 1 on the South African charts. When The Bats played in England and Germany they made it to No. 8 on the Radio London charts with their own composition, Listen To My Heart. It was recorded at Decca's London studio and produced by Tony Clark (one of The Moody Blue's producers).
While Paul was in London he played bass on Eddie Grant's Baby Come Back and some other hits of Eddie Grant's group The Equals.
Paul's song Oh God It's Beautiful made the finals of The Tokyo World Song Festival in 1972. It was sung in Tokyo to worldwide TV coverage by Eddie Eckstein to a 52-piece orchestral arrangement by Hennie Bekker.
When the The Bats temporarily disbanded in 1980 Paul became a movie and stage actor and TV presenter. He did live to air presenting, was a talk show host, game show host and hosted numerous music specials across all TV channels.
His favourite theatre roles were playing Barnum (for which he received Dalro/Gallo Best Actor award), and playing Norman Petty in the musical Buddy Holly, for which he was also musical director.
He met his wife, fellow entertainer Judy Ditchfield, while playing Hans Christian Andersen at the Natal Playhouse. They have two children, Keaton and Thomas. Paul has three other children: Oliver, Tracey-Jane and Warren. He is a grandfather to six grandchildren.
Feature films he has acted in include Stop Exchange, Follow that Rainbow, Kick or Die, Curse of the Crystal Eye, Stander, Flight of the Phoenix, Number 10, Mountains Of The Moon, Konfetti, Hoof of Africa, Red Tide, and Reconnect.
He has also acted in numerous television movies including Operation Delta Force, Shark Attack and 12 Days of Terror; and has appeared in the mini-series Rhodes and MacGyver and the new Citan.
Television series he has acted in include 102 Paradise, Passeur d'enfants, Scout's Safari, Suburban Bliss, Wild at Heart, Settlers, Miss Candida, Trucking, Mponeng, Erfsondes, Jacob's Cross and Donkerland.
His television presenting credits include Bash Kenako, Kellogg's Jackpot, M-Net Shopping Basket, Gillette Numbers Jackpot, Tele Games, Revue Plus, Escapade, Liquifruit Chit Chat and Video 2.
Paul has an extensive theatre resumé, including performances in the stage musicals Last Great Drive-In Movie Picture Show, Oklahoma, Grease, Ticket to Ride, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Buddy Holly, Hans Christian Andersen and Barnum.
He also acted in a number of stage farces including Sextet, Run for Your Wife and Wife Begins at 40.
Dalro/Gallo Award: Best Actor in a Musical for Barnum.
SARI Awards 1972 (South African Record Industry): for his song Who's That Girl, recorded by The Bats.
AA Vita Award: Best Musical, for Buddy Holly.
SA Champs: Pipe band Side drum champ, representing Germiston Caledonian Pipe Band.
Arts and Culture Award for service to music.