Anthony Baird

Character & Episode: Hamilton in A Sentimental Journey
Born: 01/01/1919, Hillhead, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland (as Antony Broderick Baird)
Died: 27/08/1995, Westminster, London, England

 

Born in Glasgow, Anthony Baird first moved to London in 1936 after giving up a job as a farm worker. After a time where he had to sleep rough to make ends meet, he applied for the Leverhulme Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and was successful. He broke his training as an actor to join the Army after the outbreak of the Second World War, and was stationed in Dover throughout its long bombardment before he was discharged on medical grounds. Eventually, he returned to Scotland, where, on the Edinburgh stage in a non-speaking role, he was spotted by a talent scout from Ealing Studios, who persuaded Anthony to travel to Ealing for a film test. He made his big screen debut in the classic Michael Balcon ghost story Dead of Night in 1945, the same year as he also made a film short Bothered by a Beard, in which he played a customer of the demon barber, Sweeney Todd. Anthony enjoyed a long career in film and television, working until 1989.

 

His main film credits were in Passport To Treason (1956) and The Ipcress File (1965) which starred Michael Caine. On television, he appeared in The Avengers (1962 and 1963), played Mr Pearson in Crossroads from 1964 and later appeared in Queenie's Castle in 1970. His last appearance was in Braxton in 1989. During the course of his career, he was credited with several spellings of his first name, beginning as 'Antony', changing to 'Anthony' around 1960 (though many credits were still given as 'Antony'), with his final credit being as simply 'Tony'. He was even credited as 'Anthonay' for his contribution to the TV mini-series The Flame Trees of Thika, a typographic error if ever there was one!

 

Anthony married Evelyn Millicent Amelia Hardwick (1919-2007) in Croydon, Surrey, on 13th January 1940. The couple had four children: Patricia, Antony, Peter and Felicity. Despite this, Anthony lived for three years from 1958 with Carry On actress Joan Sims (1930-2001). Joan's parents did not approve of the relationship. After Joan told her mother during a visit that she was living with Tony, her father wrote her a stern letter, condemning the relationship. Joan replied, telling her parents that they had to come to terms with Tony being an extremely important part of her life. For the next six months she had no contact with her parents. However, Joan was a devoted daughter and found the separation from her parents difficult. She continued living with Tony, but the relationship floundered and the pair eventually split. Joan said that it was due to her success and Tony's failure as an actor, though the parental disapproval did not help matters. Joan would never marry, though Tony later did. He made one appearance in a Carry On film - he played a guard in Carry On Spying (1964) - though this went before the camera several years after the end of his relationship with Joan.

 

Anthony is arguably best remembered for his role in the horror portmanteau Dead of Night (1945) as Hugh Grainger, though he also featured in guest roles in The Avengers and Danger Man on television.

 
 

Simon Barnes

Character & Episode: Man with Cards in That's How Murder Snowballs
Born: 13/09/1939 (as Simon Peter Barnes)
Died: 28/10/2006, Landovery, Carmarthenshire, Wales

 

Simon Barnes was an actor and writer who, for the greater part of his career, devoted the greater part of his time to the Landovery Theatre Company, of which he was a director, having founded it in 1975. He not only ran the theatre for thirty years, he renovated the building he had chosen for it and helped equip it.

 

He trained with the Actors' Workshop in London and began his career in 1962 on a wage of £7 a week as a member of the Colchester Repertory Theatre. He excelled there, rose to the position of stage manager (albeit with no increase in salary!) and met his future wife Jacqueline 'Jacky' Harrison (1936- ), an actress who had made a cameo appearance in Kubrick's Lolita (1962).

 

By 1973, having worked in several reps and infrequently on screen, his interests turned to writing for the theatre and television. To begin with, produced and performed his own childrens series for Greenwich Cablevision, Free For All. He also won a BBC Radio drama competition, and wrote a number of plays and scripts.

 

Simon then left London to pursue his writing career and, with Jacky, moved to Wales, where they bought and restored a derelict cottage in Llandovery. Two years later, he located a suitable venue - the Old Institute - and founded the Landovery Theatre Company. Once upon and running, he pioneered the Landovery Drama Festival comprised of new plays. He wrote and produced in excess of twenty plays for the company, acted regularly, and inspired many to go into careers in acting, production and direction.

Among his writing for the Landovery company he wrote a series of ‘radio’ plays, performed on stage by actors in dinner jackets, in the style of early radio. His performance in this comedy series – as C.P. the eccentric actor manager, trying to keep his ailing, poverty stricken theatre alive and kicking – reflected much of what he had been through with the Llandovery theatre over many years.

 

His screen credits are few, with currently less than a dozen identified. That's How Murder Snowballs appears to have been only his second credited role on television, the first being in an episode of the soap opera Honey Lane in January 1969. He had previously worked as a screen extra, though currently his only known appearance in such a role is in a 1963 episode of the police drama No Hiding Place called No Previous Convictions. Probably his most prominent screen role was as a regular in Dave Allen’s comedy series in 1972, though he also appeared in Play for Today (1970), Justice (1971) and his last appearance was an uncredited role in an episode of Motormouth in 1992.

 

Simon was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. After surgery which appeared to facilitate a full recovery, the disease returned in early October 2006 and he had succumbed to it at age 67 by the end of the month. His wife Jacky was with him at the end.

 
 

Patrick Barr

Character & Episode: Philip Yateman in You Can Always Find a Fall Guy
Born: 13/02/1908, Akola, India (as Patrick David Barr)
Died: 29/08/1985, Wandsworth, London, England

 

Indian born, Patrick's father was a judge, though after retirement he would become a theatrical manager. Patrick was educated at Radley College and later went to Oxford University. In 1929 he won a blue in the University Boat Race. Leaving university, Patrick first went into engineering; he would not turn to acting until he was 24. He soon made his first screen appearance in 1932 when he played a torturer in The Merry Men of Sherwood, a short film for the Delta company. He would appear in a number of films and television productions leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Patrick would also have a long stage career. He made his West End stage debut in 1936 in The Country Wife staged at the Old Vic. A year later, he would appear on stage in New York. During the war, Patrick, a conscientious objector, served with the Free French Ambulance Unit in North Africa. For his bravery, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. It was while in Africa that he met his wife Jean Williams, whom he would marry after just ten days.

 

After the war, he resumed his acting career and would appear regularly in the West End for the next 15 years. He also appeared in several notable films during the late Forties and the Fifties such as The Blue Lagoon (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Dam Busters (1955). He also appeared in a number of television shows and would twice win the Television Actor of the Year award, increasing his standing as an actor and opening the door to better roles and higher pay. In the Sixties, he appeared in a number of films and well known television series, including The Avengers (Take Me to Your Leader), Doctor Who (The Moonbase) and Department S (The Bones of Byrom Blain). He continued to be busy during the Seventies, appearing in the horror film The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The First Great Train Robbery (1978), as well as in numerous television shows. One of his last roles was in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy. Sadly, Patrick would die two years later in 1985. He had a daughter Belinda, who was also an actress.

 
 

Keith Barron

Character & Episode: Jarvis in When Did You Start to Stop Seeing Things?
Born: 08/08/1934, Mexborough, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died: 14/11/2017, England

 

Keith Barron was born in Mexborough, in what is today South Yorkshire, to Zillah (née Rothery) and Alexander Barron, a wholesale provisions supplier. On leaving Mexborough Technical College, he went into the family business but had ambitions to act that had been inspired by childhood visits to local music halls. He gained experience with Mexborough Theatre Guild’s amateur dramatics company alongside a future fellow actor (and Randall and Hopkirk guest star), Brian Blessed.

 

In 1961, Keith decided to widen his acting experience and sought roles in television. Among his first roles were three December 1961 appearances: in the John Hopkins serial A Chance of Thunder on the 13th, a BBC North play, The Night of the Match, a day later, and finally Dragonsfield, an episode of the first series of The Avengers on the 30th. The following year he became well-known to UK television viewers as the easy-going Detective Sergeant Swift in the Granada TV series The Odd Man and later its spin-off It's Dark Outside. His major breakthrough, however, was as Nigel Barton, an avatar of the writer Dennis Potter in his plays Stand Up, Nigel Barton and Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton in BBC1's The Wednesday Play (1965) anthology series – he later played a very similar character in Potter's Play For Today offering Only Make Believe (1973).

 

Back in the Sixties and Seventies, Keith appeared in a number of well-known series including The Further Adventures of Lucky Jim (in the title role, 1967), Strange Report (1969), Armchair Theatre (two plays, 1964 and 1973) and No Strings (1974). He made two appearances in Upstairs, Downstairs (1974) as Australian Gregory Wilmot. In the 1980s he had a prominent role in the Doctor Who serial Enlightenment, which starred Peter Davison as the Doctor. He also did many voiceovers on British TV commercials. In 1989 he starred on television in a moving story of relationships in a Midlands new town, Take Me Home, with Annette Crosbie as his wife and Maggie O'Neill as his girlfriend.

 

On the big screen, he appeared in Baby Love (1969) and the David Puttnam film Melody (1971) as Mr Latimer. One of his best-loved and best-remembered roles was in the 1980s sitcom Duty Free, though he would come to regret the role as the series' success led to him being pigeonholed as a comedy actor when he had proved himself more than capable of serious roles too. In the 1990s he co-starred in the sitcoms Haggard (1990-92) and All Night Long (1994). In the 2000s he was a regular character on the ITV Sunday night drama Where the Heart Is (2000-04).

 

Keith remained busy right up to shortly before he died. He appeared as himself as the guest celebrity in dictionary corner on several episodes of the Channel 4 words and numbers game Countdown. He was the star on Bunn and Co., a radio show that was broadcast from March 2003 to April 2004 on BBC Radio 4. An appearance on the BBC's Test the Nation IQ test show on 2nd September 2006 gave him an IQ of 146. Keith’s last television role was in Not Going Out early in 2017. Keith had appeared in well over one hundred and thirty film and television productions and was a familiar face on television for almost forty years.

 

In his personal life, Keith married Mary Pickard, a stage designer, in 1959, a relationship that endured until his death after a short illness in 2017. The couple had two sons, Jamie, who became an actor, and Mark. Mark works as a writer, under the name Mark Dawson. In the early Eighties, Keith had managed a restaurant in Hayle, Cornwall, and in his later years he lived in the Surrey town of East Molesey.

 
 

Alexandra Bastedo

Character & Episode: Carol Latimer in Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?
Born: 09/03/1946, Hove, East Sussex, England (as Alexandra Lendon Bastedo)
Died: 12/01/2014, Worthing, West Sussex, England

 

A stunning beauty, Monty Berman compared her to Grace Kelly. According to Alexandra, her mother was of French, German and Italian descent. Her Canadian-born father of Spanish, Dutch, Scottish and native Indian extraction. As a child she attended Brighton and Hove High School and Worthing School of Drama, gaining nine O level and four A level certificates. She was noted for her multilingual skills, speaking Italian, Spanish, French and German. These skills brought her to the door of 10 Downing Street to assist with translations and landed her the role of co-presenter of Miss World competitions with Peter Marshall in the 1980s.

 

As an actress she will always be remembered for her role as Sharron Macready in the 1968 British espionage/science fiction adventure series The Champions, for which she was reputedly paid just £100 an episode. She also figured in several other ITC series in guest roles, including two episodes of The Saint (The Crime of the Century, 1965 and The Counterfeit Countess, 1967), Department S (The Man Who Got a New Face, 1969), Jason King (Variations on a Theme, 1971) and The Adventurer (Action!, 1972).

She has been cited as a sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s, though her image still persists today and she retains a large fan following. She was known worldwide as "La Bastedo". Though she never really quite made it as an actress, Alexandra notched up more than fifty credited film and television appearances. She had made her debut in the 1963 comedy thriller 13 Frightened Girls!, having gained the role after winning a competition to appear in the film, beating 4,000 other entrants. At this time in her life she had wanted to become a vet. Several roles for the BBC followed, including what was arguably her big acting break, as Lindy Carroll in the popular BBC1 soap opera Compact (1965) alongside Frances Bennett (But What a Sweet Little Room) and Ronald Allen. Over the next couple of years, she had a few minor roles in such films as Doctor in Clover (1966), That Rivera Touch (1966) with comedians Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, and the chaotic James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967). Later she was cast as Diana Dalzell in the drama series Codename (1970) which starred Clifford Evans in the lead role and she rounded off a busy decade by starring in the Michael Bird thriller serial The Aphrodite Inheritance for the BBC. Although she virtually retired in 1980 she would occasionally make cameo appearances and play minor roles on television and in films (for instance she appeared in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous playing a 1960s model associate of Edina and Patsy, and in 2005 had a small role in the blockbuster Batman Begins). In 1991 she appeared in a notable stage production of the psychological thriller Dangerous Obsession by N.J. Crisp, opposite Marc Sinden and John Challis, at The Mill, Sonning. Her final screen appearance was in EastEnders in 2008 when she played a character called Cynthia.

 

In 2002 she appeared in the documentary Where Are They Now, a documentary which gave an insight into her private life. She was once the president of her local RSPCA branch, but gave up her position in 2008 so she could dedicate more time to her own fast growing animal sanctuary at her home in West Chiltington, West Sussex. Alexandra wrote a memoir, Beware Dobermanns, Donkeys and Ducks, as well as several books on caring for cats and dogs. She was a lifelong vegetarian and patron to a number of animal welfare organisations including Compassion in World Farming, Wildlife Aid Foundation, National Animal Welfare Trust, Greyhounds in Need, and Natu. Before she married Patrick Garland in 1980, Alexandra had dated David Frost and Omar Sharif but turned down the advances of Steve McQueen who, she recalled, propositioned her with the line, "My wife doesn't understand me." In the case of Sharif, the liaison lasted only a few weeks because of the actor's bridge-playing habit, his odd hours, and the fact that he took telephone numbers from other women. Her husband Patrick died in 2013 and Alexandra tragically succumbed to cancer the year after.

 
 

Norman Beaton

Character & Episode: Policeman in Money to Burn
Born: 31/10/1934, Georgetown, Guyana (as Norman Lugard Beaton)
Died: 13/12/1994, Georgetown, Guyana

 

An actor well known for his role as Desmond Ambrose in the successful Channel 4 sitcom Desmond’s which ran from 1989 until 1994 and consisted of 48 episodes. Norman was born in Georgetown in Guyana and attended the Queen's College until he was expelled for truancy and poor grades. Norman though would make amends as he later attended the Government Teachers' Training College and graduated with distinction.

 

Initially, Norman seemed more interested in music and he was a member of a calypso band called The Four Bees. He was a good calypso singer scoring a Number 1 hit in Trinidad and Tobago with Come Back Melvina in 1959. In 1960 though he moved to London, working in a shipping department of a bookshop. Norman later qualified as a teacher, becoming the first black teacher to be employed by the Liverpool Education Authority. It was a career he did not enjoy and in his spare time started to write plays and would gain some success on stage.

 

As a result of his writing he decided to give acting a go and worked initially in Bristol, but later moved to Sussex, where he played the leading role in a musical he had written, Sit Down, Banna at the Connaught Theatre. Norman made his television debut in 1967 in The Wednesday Play. His career would be mainly based in television.

 

His contribution to the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) series is playing a policeman and only has a few seconds of screen time. This was common for many of Norman’s early roles. In the early 1970s, Norman began to perform in plays in London's West End. In 1970 he played the role of Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest, which he described in his autobiography as "the most important role of my acting career." In 1975, he helped to establish the Black Theatre of Brixton. In the same year, Norman played Nanki-Poo in The Black Mikado, a modern version of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.

 

His real breakthrough role came in the family comedy The Fosters, in which he played Samuel Foster in 1976-77. The series ran to 27 episodes and featured Lenny Henry, Isabelle Lucas and Carmen Munroe, and was popular and arguably a forerunner to Desmond’s. He played the lead role of Willie Boy in the 1987 comedy Playing Away about a West Indian cricket team invited to play a rural white team. He appeared as a guest on The Cosby Show in 1991 (episode: There's Still No Joy in Mudville), and in Little Napoleons. He also appeared in several movies including The Mighty Quinn (1989).

 

Sadly, although only in his late fifties, his health was deteriorating, and he decided to move back to Guyana. Tragically, he collapsed in the airport and died shortly afterwards. Norman had been married three times and had five children.

 
 

James Belchamber

Character & Episode: Mark in That's How Murder Snowballs
Born: 12/03/1926, Surrey, England

 

James Belchamber graduated from RADA in 1945. He seems to have made his television debut at a time when he was working as a stage actor with the Glyndebourne Children's Theatre, which staged a production of Androcles and the Lion at the second Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the summer of 1948. They reperformed this play for BBC Television, with the programme airing on 10th October 1948, during time set aside for young viewers. Fellow Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) actor John Garvin also appeared in this production. Other notable contributions included The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1958, alongside Michael Griffiths, Randall and Hopkirk's Inspector Nelson), Z Cars (1963), The Saint (1964) and The Avengers (Quick-Quick Slow Death in 1966 and Get-A-Way! in 1968). His television work was restricted to bit parts, though he was engaged for meatier roles on occasion in the theatre.

 

After the Sixties, his career virtually dried up, with just three television credits in The Upchat Line (1977), Play for Today (Not for the Likes of Us, 1980) and Great Expectations (1981) prior to his last known appearance in 1984 in an episode of Miracles Take Longer.

 

After a sixty-year relationship with fellow actor Bernard Archard (1916-2008), the two registered a civil partnership in 2006.

 
 

Frances Bennett

Character & Episode: Ann Fenwick in But What a Sweet Little Room
Born: 22/12/1930, India (as Felicité Jan Shirley Barrington)
Died: 05/03/2014, Denville Hall, Northwood, London, England

 

Although born in India, Frances came to England with her parents when still an infant. On leaving school, she would study at RADA (graduating in 1949) and was classically trained, appearing in numerous Shakespearean roles in the early Fifties. She began her career under the stage name Felicity Barrington, as which she made her television debut in The Coventry Nativity Play (BBC Television, 24th December 1949, with a second live performance on 29th December 1949) as 'Second Woman'. Her subsequent television career in the Fifties and Sixties was in mainly in long forgotten series such as the serial Pepe Moreno, A Life of Bliss, Compact and Mr Rose, to name but a few. During the Seventies, she featured in a couple of films including the critically lambasted sex comedy Can You Keep It Up For a Week. She continued also in a succession of guest roles on television, notably in Albert and Victoria, Moody and Pegg and Disraeli. Her last screen appearance was in 1989 when she appeared in the mini-series Chelworth.

 

In her personal life, she had one daughter (Joanna Monro, an actress and television presenter) to actor Sonnie Hale. Frances was married to agent John McMichael in 1965 until his death in 2000. She died at the actors' home Denville Hall.

 
 

Dick Bentley

Character & Episode: Mesmero in It's Supposed to be Thicker Than Water
Born: 14/05/1907, Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (as Charles Walter Bentley)
Died: 27/08/1995, Camden, London, England

 

The son of James Walter Bentley, a baker born in England, and his Australian wife Rose Annie, née Black, Dick was educated in Melbourne, Australia, before gaining employment with the family bakery business. As a teenager, Dick was an instrumentalist in local dance bands in Australia, having learned to play the violin from the age of seven. By his own admission, he wasn't a particularly good violinist, and so he learnt to play the clarinet and saxophone, too, and also to sing, his burgeoning versatility keeping him in demand. While still in his teens he was a regular on the Melbourne cabaret circuit as a comedian and singer, his act consisting of playing a few bars of music deliberately badly, interspersed with jokes and legitimate musical numbers, and by 1927 was a member of the Footwarmers, a Melbourne-based amateur music ensemble. Soon, he was also a part of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Dance Band, in which he played both sax and clarinet. In 1936, he had won himself both a part in a stage musical comedy - Wild Violets - and a spot in the ABC radio comedy show Oh Quaite! in which he had an opportunity to demonstrate his skills as a mimic and musical impressionist.

 

Dick came to Britain in 1938 and started working in radio, first on Radio Luxembourg and then on the BBC. When war broke out, Dick toured in late 1939 in the revue Youth Takes a Bow, and in April 1940, married Petronella Marcelle ‘Peta’ Curra at Holborn registry office. The couple moved to Australia later in the year, with Dick finding work in radio comedy and wrote his own scripts. He was a big success, becoming one of Australia's highest paid entertainers. In 1945, Dick went on tour to entertain the troops, mainly in the South Pacific and New Guinea.

 

The war over, he returned to Britain in 1947 and was soon gainfully employed there on radio, compering talent shows Beginners Please! and Show Time. He also appeared in Navy Mixture, and then teamed up with another of its stars, the comedian Jimmy Edwards, in Take It From Here, which ran from 1947 until 1960. Meanwhile, he kept himself in the public consciousness in Australia by making three series for ABC Radio of Gently Bentley, made respectively in 1951, 1955 and 1966.

 

Dick would occasionally appear on television, and in 1954 had his own series called And So to Bentley. He would also appear in a number of Royal Command Performances. On film he made notable appearances alongside Robert Mitchum in The Sundowners (1960) and Barry Humphries in The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972), both filmed in Australia. However, his career undoubtedly dwindled as radio became secondary to television, but he continued to make appearance, both dramatic and comedic, on the small screen. His last role was in the popular comedy series Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em as the grandfather of Michael Crawford's hapless Frank Spencer character. Dick Bentley died from Alzheimer's Disease aged 88 in 1995. His wife Peta predeceased him in 1991; they had no children.

 
 

Harold Berens

Character & Episode: Tony Lang in That's How Murder Snowballs
Born: 04/03/1903, Glasgow, Scotland (as Isidor Harold Berenbaum)
Died: 10/05/1995, London, England

 

Harold Berens was a busy supporting character actor whose lengthy screen career began in 1944 in the film Candlelight in Algeria. He was also a comedian and learned his trade in the various theatres throughout the country.

 

After Berens left school, he followed his father’s trade and became a shirt salesman, building a showbusiness clientele, styling himself as 'Shirtmaker to the Stars'. One of Berens' customers was the Canadian broadcaster Carroll Levis, who recognised that Berens had promise as a performer and recommended him for a BBC audition. Soon he became an entertainer on radio. His earliest broadcasts were in 1936 as comedy compere to Maurice Winnick and his Band in outside broadcasts from the Dorchester Hotel. His big break, fronting his own show on Radio Luxembourg, came in 1939 just two days before the outbreak of the Second World War.

 

Harold claimed to have appeared in more than two hundred films but to date he has only been identified in about a quarter of this total. His main television and film credits include Man from Tangier (1957), The Avengers (1962), Danger Man (1965), as an interviewer for the Tally Ho news sheet in The Prisoner (1967),  Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969) and Trail of the Pink Panther (1982). He was also active on radio and performed in the long running series Ignorance is Bliss. In 1992 he made his last screen appearance in Carry On Columbus as Cecil the torturer, his only contribution to the series.

 

In his personal life, Harold married his secretary, Veronica O'Connor, on 25th March 1949 in London. The couple divorced in 1960.

 
 

Paul Bertoya

Character & Episode: Jean-Claude in For the Girl Who Has Everything
Born: 08/05/1938, Canada (as Paul Bertoia)
Died: 28/12/1997

 

Paul Bertoya was a Canadian actor who amassed fewer than twenty screen credits in his career. Before he became an actor, Paul worked in a clothing store. In the early 1960s, harbouring dreams of getting into films, he went to Rome with his friend, the actor Stephen Young, and once there they sat in a casting office hoping someone would want to use them. Finally, they were hired to work on the Joseph L. Mankiewicz film epic, Cleopatra (1963) starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. In Paul's first job as a film extra, he was catapulted to all extremes of the social structure: one day he would be shooting arrows at Rex Harrison, the next he would find himself cast as a Roman slave, and the day after he'd be lording it as a Roman senator. This baptism of fire led to further work of the same kind and the money improved too – he was paid $20 a day on Cleopatra, but was soon receiving $250 a week (on the 1963 film The Leopard) and then $350 a week (on the 1963 film 55 Days at Peking).

 

He made his first appearance on television in 1964 starring in The Defenders, an American drama series that starred E.G. Marshall. He also worked in television in his native Canada, on series including Festival (1964). Before moving to Britain he also featured in an episode of Mission: Impossible. His stay in Britain was brief, but in addition to his role in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) he also appeared in a prominent role as Silvio de Mancini in Man in a Suitcase (a somewhat bizarre and atypical episode called The Jigsaw Man), also for ITC, with Richard Bradford. Paul soon returned to America and would later appear in series including Mannix, The Mod Squad and Cannon. His last screen appearance was in the French thriller Honeymoon in 1985. He was married to interior designer Gail Kenaston (1938-1999) – the adopted daughter of silent film star Billie Dove – from 1965 to 1972.

 
 

Michael Bird

Character & Episode: Hamilton in A Sentimental Journey
Born: 08/10/1914, Southampton, Hampshire, England (as Ernest Michael Bayley Bird)
Died: 03/1986, King's Lynn, Norfolk, England

 

A steady supporting actor who, in a career spanning twenty years from the early Fifties, notched up more than fifty television and film credits. His first credit seems to have been in the feature film Vengeance is Mine (1949). His television debut appears to have been in 1952 in the television programme Jan at the Blue Fox, a short lived drama series. Later in the decade, he would appear in other notable series of the time including The Ambermere Treasure and The Grove Family (which is generally accepted as being the first British TV soap opera). Most of his career was confined to television and during the Sixties he made guest appearances in Steptoe and Son, Z Cars and Dixon of Dock Green. His final television appearance was in 1973 in the anthology series Love Story when he played a landlord.

 

Michael married Rosemary Marriott, a stage manager, in 1946, and their daughter Antonia Bird (1951-2013) was a respected film and television director.

 
 

Norman Bird

Character & Episode: Elliot in But What a Sweet Little Room
Born: 30/10/1924, Coalville, Leicestershire, England (as John George Norman Bird)
Died: 22/04/2005, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England

 

A popular character actor who in 1990 claimed that Stay Lucky, a comedy series with Dennis Waterman, provided his 200th TV appearance (although internet sources list fewer than this). At 16, Bird left school and spent six months working in an office before studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. During the Second World War, he served with the Royal Air Force, being demobbed in 1947. At RADA he studied with Richard Attenborough and Bryan Forbes and would remain friends with them for the rest of his life. He went into theatre and appeared in repertory companies in Henley-on-Thames, Dundee and Northampton. In 1950, Norman joined Sir John Gielgud's company, understudying for Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not For Burning, which toured the United States. He made his West End debut in Peter Brook's production of The Winter's Tale at the Phoenix Theatre in 1951. His first film appearance was as the foreman in An Inspector Calls (1954). Norman quickly established himself as a good character actor. Often he had a moustache and an air of worried resignation - he seemed to specialise in downtrodden roles. Describing himself as "the man with the cardigan", his doleful looks ensured that he was usually cast as henpecked husbands, petty officials or interfering busybodies.

 

He had also appeared regularly on radio and met his wife Nona Blamire (1931-2012), who played Joan Hood in radio's The Archers. They married in 1953. His main contribution was to guest in many well-known television series. To name a few, these included The Avengers, The Baron, The Saint, Steptoe and Son and Rising Damp. Norman could play either straight or comedy roles with equal skill. In 1992, he and his wife moved to Bridgnorth, Shropshire, to be nearer to their two daughters and five grandchildren. Away from television, he was a quiet family man who enjoyed gardening and walking.

 
 

Caroline Blakiston

Character & Episode: Karen Howarth in Never Trust a Ghost
Born: 13/2/1933, Chelsea, London, England (as Caroline Georgiana Blakiston)

 

Caroline Blakiston is a fine, RADA-trained character actress who has worked in repertory theatre the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, and has been involved in nearly one hundred screen productions, mainly on television. Her somewhat aristocratic air was not without reason, as her parents, Hugh Noel Blakiston and Rachel Georgiana Russell, were members of the British nobility.

 

In her early roles, up until the early Seventies, Caroline tended to play blondes but later reverted to her natural brown hair. She was 28 when she made her television debut in 1961 in Dance with Death, a first series episode of The Avengers, alongside stars Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee. A year later she won her first recurring role on television in the ABC children's adventure series City Beneath the Sea, playing Dr Ann Boyd. Her guest appearances include two further, memorable contributions to The Avengers as well as an appearance in The Baron.

 

Her most notable television series include The Forsyte Saga, The Caesars, The Mallens, Emergency Ward 10 and the satirical comedy Brass (in which she featured in all three series as Lady Patience Hardacre). She also made regular appearances as Aunt Agatha in the BBC remake of Poldark whilst in her eighties.

 

She has written a memoir, Black Bread and Cucumber, which brings together her diaries chronicling her experiences performing Chekhov in Russian to Russian theatre audiences. She also adapted these diaries into a one-woman show which she has taken on tour in the UK, the Middle East, Hong Kong and, aptly, Russia. She was awarded the Russian Golden Globe, given annually to foreigners who have made significant contributions to Russian theatre.

 

In her personal life, she married actor Russell Hunter (1925-2004) in 1970. Russell is well remembered for playing Lonely in Callan, the 1967-1972 spy series which also starred Edward Woodward. She and Russell had met when they appeared together in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, in 1966. The couple had two children – Adam Hunter and Charlotte Hunter – but ended up divorcing in 1979. Perhaps her most notable film appearance was as Mon Mothma in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi in 1983.

 
 

Joby Blanshard

Character & Episode: Police Inspector in But What a Sweet Little Room
Born: 07/11/1919, Beverley, Yorkshire, England (as John Henry Blanshard)
Died: 26/11/1992, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England

 

A busy character actor for forty years from the mid-Forties, Joby Blanshard initially concentrated on stage work as a member of Theatre Workshop, acting to begin with under his real name John Blanshard. From the 1950s, he turned his attention far more towards television and would guest star and appear as a regular in a number of well-known series. The most prominent of these included Coronation Street, Z Cars, Doomwatch, The Brothers and When The Boat Comes In. His last appearance was in 1986 when had a minor role in First Among Equals, a series which starred Jeremy Child and Clive Swift.

 

In his personal life, Joby was twice married. His first marriage, to Carolyn Maldarelli of New York in 1949, lasted only until 1953 and ended in divorce. He remarried in 1956, to Isabel Sutherland (1921-1988), a noted Edinburgh-born singer and of the post-war British Folk Revival and a pioneer of the Lowland Scots unaccompanied style of ballad-singing in London folk clubs. She and Joby became collectors, particularly in the North-East of Scotland, and their recordings are deposited in the Folktrax Archive.

 
 

John Bott

Character & Episode: Joe Dyson in The Smile Behind the Veil
Born: 28/03/1923, Douglas, Isle of Man (as John Ronald Henry Bott)
Died: 03/05/1994, Washington, USA

 

John Bott worked occasionally as a supporting actor, joining the profession in early middle age and making his first screen appearance in the mid-1960s. Prior to this he worked in several other trades; one such job was as a travel agent, while another was as a BBC radio presenter on the topical agricultural weekly series Farm Fare in 1955 for the BBC Home Service. John would appear regularly, mainly on radio and the stage with occasional television appearances, for the rest of his career.

 

He made his theatrical debut in weekly repertory theatre at the Bath Theatre Royal. Further 'rep' seasons followed in Northampton and Worcester and these led to his West End debut when he joined the cast of Conduct Unbecoming at the Queen's Theatre. He spent six years with the acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company, with whom he made his Broadway debut in November 1974 as the Count von Stalburg in Sherlock Holmes at the Broadhurst Theatre, and toured with them again to New York in Tom Stoppard's Travesties. Major stage roles followed at the Oxford Playhouse, Bristol Old Vic, Greenwich Theatre, Birmingham Rep and The Watermill, Newbury, as well as in Vienna and Hong Kong.

 

On radio, he was for some time a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company and became a well-known radio voice for his two roles in the long-running BBC soap opera The Archers, as Paddy Redmond and John Tregorran. In 1986 he starred in a one-man show for BBC Radio 3, Man from Mann, about the Manx poet Thomas Edward Brown.

 

His television credits are not expansive but he did make notable contributions to the likes of Crossroads, Churchill's People, Anna of the Five Towns, The Chinese Detective (as series regular Detective Chief Superintendent Halsey) and Cover Her Face (another regular role, as the Reverend Bernard Hicks).

 

John died of a heart attack whilst in America in 1994. His son Michael (born 1954), daughter Rosamunde (born 1959) and daughter-in-law all went into showbusiness and his wife was a painter.

 
 

Tom Bowman

Character & Episode: Security Man in Money to Burn
Born: 14/11/1920, Liverpool, England (as Thomas Horne Bowman)
Died: 08/01/1997, Banbury, Oxfordshire, England

 

A bit part actor who started his screen career in the first half of the 1950s, with his earliest identified role arriving in 1954 in the film Dangerous Cargo, uncredited, as a policeman. For the next twenty years, besides being employed on radio and stage, he would appear also on television, generally in small roles. Tom's notable contributions were to series including Richard the Lionheart (1962), Doctor Who (1966) and Z Cars (1968 and 1969). One of his last appearances was in The Magical World of Walt Disney in 1974.

 
 

Penny Brahms

Character & Episode: Girl in Luxury Flat in When the Spirit Moves You
Born:
1951, Hampstead, London, England (as Penelope Brams)

 

Penny Brahms was a photographic model and film and television actress of the 1960s and 1970s, who was often employed to add glamour to a production. Her most notable appearance feature in the films 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), Games That Lovers Play (1971) and Percy (1971), in which she is seen a supporter at a football match.

 

Penny has, it seems, been married four times. Her first marriage was to property dealer Clive Raphael, who died in a plane crash in central France on 6th March 1971, allegedly leaving her just a shilling and some nude photographs of herself – the Will was later discovered to have been forged by an unscrupulous 'friend'. Brahms remarried in 1972. Her second husband, playboy and amateur jockey Michael 'Dandy Kim' Caborn-Waterfield, owned the first Ann Summers shop, near Marble Arch, which he named after a former girlfriend. The couple had a daughter, but the marriage did not last. She moved to Paris, where she reinvented herself as 'Jamais' and resumed her modelling career. Now, she fell in love with American oil entrepreneur, David Lyons, and the pair married and based themselves in the USA, where they enjoyed a reckless lifestyle. Unfortunately, he was deemed to have committed fraud and the couple went on the run, with a warrant out for his arrest. Lyons ended up in jail and the marriage again, was dissolved. Her fourth marriage was to Jeremy Scott, a scriptwriter who wrote for British television series including The Avengers.

 
 

Edward Brayshaw

Character & Episode: Paul Lang in The Trouble with Women
Born: 18/10/1933, Central Coast, New South Wales, Australia (as Edward John Brayshaw)
Died: 28/12/1990, London, England

 

Edward Brayshaw was a good, solid actor, and in his younger days, blessed with striking good looks. He was born in 1933 in Australia but was actually brought up in New Zealand. Edward made his screen debut during the 1950s, with one of his early roles coming in 1957 in the television play Sound of Thunder for Australian state broadcaster ABC. Between then and 1963 he appeared in a number of largely forgotten television plays. His first well-remembered role was as the lead Harry Brent in the thriller series A Man Called Harry Brent in 1965; the series also featured a young Gerald Harper. The following year, Edward played Rochefort in the serial The Three Musketeers (1966-67), which featured early roles for Jeremy Brett and Brian Blessed. Edward would also feature in its sequel, The Further Adventures of the Three Musketeers, in 1967. Other guest appearances included in two Doctor Who serials (The Reign of Terror and The War Games), The Champions and in 1975 he was cast as Harold Meaker in the children's television series Rentaghost. By now, Edward was rapidly putting on weight and perhaps sadly it is for his Rentaghost role that he is perhaps best remembered today.

 

Sadly, little is known of his personal life. He made his final screen appearance in Uncle Jack and Operation Green, a family fantasy series. Edward would die later that year of throat cancer, aged just fifty-seven; a memorable actor who sadly faded away too early after a promising start. 

 
 

James Bree

Character & Episode: Mullett in The Man from Nowhere
Born: 20/07/1923, East Coker, Somerset, England (as James Rutherfoord Worsfold Thomson)
Died: 01/12/2008, London, England

 

Growing up, James was educated at Radley College near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and during the Second World War served in the Royal Air Force. From 1947 to 1949 trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where he won the Fogarty Prize for Best Performance. Despite not being a well-known face, James' television and film career spanned more than forty years, during which time he featured in well over one hundred and thirty film and television productions, although many of his roles were minor. James however did contribute to a number of well-known series, including The Money Man (1958), The Prisoner (1967), The Newcomers (1967), The Avengers (two episodes in 1963 and 1968), The Persuaders! (1971), The Donati Conspiracy (1973), Secret Army (1977), The Jewel in the Crown (1984) and several guest appearances in Doctor Who (The War Games, 1969; Full Circle, 1980; The Trial of a Time Lord, 1986). He seems to have made his television debut in 1953 in the BBC's Harlequinade, written by Terence Rattigan in which he appeared as Tom Palmer.

 

On film he made an excellent contribution to the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), although his performance as Blofeld's attorney Gumbold would fall victim to the editor's scissors and was excised from initial home video and television editions. Fortunately, it would later be reinstated for the film's DVD and Blu-ray releases.

 

James later would appear at several Doctor Who and The Prisoner conventions and took part in several fan-made video documentaries investigating the production and legacy of The Prisoner.

 

In his personal life, James added 'Bree' to his surname after inheriting some Warwickshire land from Archdeacon William Bree, his great Uncle. James was a founder member of Peter Hall’s Royal Shakespeare Company, set up in 1960, and he was also a good friend of Peter Cushing. Sadly, James’ last decade of life was in poor health after a stroke left him without the power of speech and forced his retirement from the acting profession. 

 
 

Susan Brodrick

Character & Episode: Carol in Who Killed Cock Robin?
Born: 27/03/1945, Hampstead, London, England (as Susan Margaret Brodrick)

 

Susan Brodrick trained as an actress at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating in 1966. Her screen career began in the same year when she appeared in Michelangelo Antonioni's mystery thriller Blow-Up. Susan also featured in Z Cars, Department S and Jason King, sometimes credited - incorrectly - as Susan Broderick. One of more prominent roles was as Kate Nickleby in the television series Nicholas Nickleby in 1968. Susan also had minor roles in two horror movies, Countess Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (both 1971). Her last screen appearance was in the television movie The Winter's Tale in 1981. In her personal life, she was married to actor Robert Swann (1945-2006), with whom she had three children: Tabitha (born 1972), Benedick (b. 1976) and Jessica (b. 1978).

 
 

Ray Brooks

Character & Episode: Marty in The Man from Nowhere
Born: 20/04/1939, Brighton, East Sussex, England (as Raymond Michael Brooks)

 

At the age of 16, Ray became the assistant manager of a theatre but it was an acting career that he really wanted to pursue. He quickly graduated to the stage, and since has appeared in many top theatre productions such as Snap and Absent Friends. In 1959 he won his first film role in the controversial John Krish drama Captured, a hard-hitting film about Korean War prisoners of war which was banned and not seen in public until the BFI released it on disc in 2013.

 

Ray's television debut a year later in The Secret Kingdom for the BBC was thankfully less troubled. He appeared in five episodes of this serial as Figgins. During 1963 and 1964 he was a regular cast member alongside Sid James in two series of the sitcom Taxi! and the legendary ITV soap opera Coronation Street, in which he appeared intermittently between December 1963 and October 1964 as Norman Phillips, the nephew of talent agent Lenny Phillips. In 1965 he got his first big break in the Richard Lester film The Knack… and How to Get It, in which he had a prominent role alongside Michael Crawford and Rita Tushingham. The following year he appeared in Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., the second big screen outing for television's Doctor Who, with Peter Cushing and Bernard Cribbins. Later that year he appeared in the controversial play Cathy Come Home as Reg Ward with Carol White, a landmark role which cemented his reputation.

 

From the late 1960s onwards, Ray began developing his career in voice work, especially for commercials. He also released an album of songs entitled Lend Me Some of Your Time (Polydor, 1971), though this was not a commercial success. However, he used his voice to arguably better effect in nine weeks' worth of episodes as storyteller on Jackanory between 1969 and 1979. It was in 1971 that he narrated the immensely popular children’s television series Mr Benn. Later, in 1985, he was narrator for The Pickwick Papers, a twelve-week BBC Classic Serial adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel.

 

He made one appearance in the Carry On series, as Georgio, who has a one-night stand with June Whitfield’s character in Carry On Abroad (1972). Ray continued in supporting roles on television until 1983 when he played Robbie Box, the central character in Big Deal, which ran for thirty episodes until 1986 and starred Sharon Duce as his screen wife.

 

He has appeared infrequently on television since 1994 but has continued to make commercial voiceovers. He reappeared in 2006 in EastEnders and played Joe Mercer, who married the character played by former Are You Being Served? actress Wendy Richard. On her departure he was written out of the series in early 2009, having made well over one hundred appearances in the soap. In recent years he has also written several books, the first of which was In recent years he also wrote several books, the first of which was his autobiography Learning My Lines: An Actor's Life (Book Guild Publishing, 2009), followed by the novel Echoes (released in 2012). Ray has been married since 1963 to Sadie Elcombe and has three children. One of his sons, Will, was a football journalist. Sadly his daughter Emmy died in 2003. Ray has a website: www.raybrooksbooks.com.

 
 

Arthur Brough

Character & Episode: Snowy in That's How Murder Snowballs
Born: 26/02/1905, Petersfield, Hampshire, England (as Frederick Arthur Baker)
Died: 28/05/1978, Folkestone, Kent, England

 

A late starter in television who made his debut aged 50 in 1956 when he appeared in BBC’s Sunday Night Theatre, Arthur Brough had by then worked in theatre more than twenty-five years. Over the next twenty years he would appear mainly on television in more than sixty productions. He will be best remembered for his role as Mr Ernest Grainger in the long running BBC comedy Are You Being Served? (1972 to 1977), and also featured in its feature film spin-off, though sadly he died not long after filming was complete.

 

Originally, Arthur wanted to become a teacher but, unable to break into the profession, he ended up in a solicitor’s office. Unhappy with this, Arthur joined an amateur dramatic society and would later attend RADA, graduating in 1928. It was while in a theatre troupe that he met his wife Elizabeth Addyman. The couple would marry in 1929 and remain together until her death in early 1978. Their daughter, Joanna Hutton, became the first female curator of the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, during the 1960s.

 

Arthur created his own drama company in Folkestone and later would establish new repertory companies in Bradford, Blackpool, Keighley, Leeds and Southampton, as well as tour all over the country. The war put a halt to his activities and he enlisted in the Royal Navy; he helped with the evacuation of Dunkirk, his ship returning to the rescue soldiers stranded on the beach several times. After the war, he went back to Folkestone to resume his theatre career. He had a company called The Arthur Brough Players and helped many actors get their first breaks in theatre these included Peter Barkworth (The Power Game), Polly James (The Liver Birds), Anne Stallybrass (The Onedin Line), Barry Morse (Space: 1999) and Trevor Bannister, who would later appear with him in Are You Being Served?

 

The mid-Fifties, a boom period in the industry, saw Arthur move into films and then television. One of his first jobs away from the stage was the film The Green Man (1956) with Alastair Sim, in which he played the landlord of the eponymous hotel. He had a minor role opposite Jayne Mansfield in the 1960 film The Challenge, and went on to make guest appearances in TV shows such as Upstairs, Downstairs, Dad's Army, Z Cars, The Persuaders! and Jason King. He also continued to appear in theatrical productions, including Half a Sixpence (1967), playing a shopkeeper. The Folkestone Rep continued until 1969, closing when Arthur’s wife Elizabeth began to suffer ill-health.

 

In the early 1970s, Arthur was cast as Ernest Grainger in the BBC situation comedy Are You Being Served?, written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. Initially a one-off entry in the Comedy Playhouse strand (transmitted 8th September 1972), it was well-received and commissioned for a series in May 1973. Set in an outdated department store, Brough played the senior menswear salesman, with assistants Mr Humphries (John Inman) and Mr Lucas (Trevor Bannister). The show became enormously popular and ran until 1985, well after Arthur's death. It was after the death of his wife that a devastated Arthur said that he would quit acting. However, he only lasted another six weeks himself. Apparently, Arthur was quite a character, often pulling pranks on his fellow actors. He was, though, popular with his fellow professionals and at the time of his death all spoke well of him.
 

 

Gabrielle Brune

Character & Episode: Mrs Gabrielle Howe in Who Killed Cock Robin?
Born: 12/02/1912, Bournemouth, Dorset, England (as Gabrielle May Hudson)
Died: 18/01/2005, Chichester, Sussex, England

 

Although Gabrielle had a long career (lasting nearly fifty years) her work was confined mainly to the theatre. She registered more than thirty television and film credits during her lifetime, making her feature film debut in 1930 in the crime drama Red Pearls. Her first radio appearance followed in August 1934 on the BBC National Programme in the musical comedy operetta Wild Violets, and in 1939 she registered her first credited television role in the BBC's The Gate Revue. Her stage name was arrived at by adopting her mother's maiden name, Brune (her mother was an actress and singer, Adrienne - originally Phyllis Caroline - Brune).

 

In the early Fifties she made notable contributions to a couple of films, most notably Mandy (1952), The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953) and Three Steps to the Gallows (1953). From the Sixties to the end of her career she generally made cameos in television series. Gabrielle would make her final television appearance in the popular series Raffles in 1977.

 

In her personal life, Gabrielle appears to have been married three times, with her first marriage in 1935 having been to the actor Raymond Francis (1911-1987). The actor performed under a stage name, his real one being Reginald George Thompson, and hence Gabrielle at times referred to herself as 'Mrs G.M. Thompson'. One such occasion was in 1938 when she was interviewed about her first professional trip to the USA in a report that appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 20th April 1938. Though the marriage was over by the early 1940s, Raymond Francis went on to enjoy television fame as Detective Police Superintendent Lockhart in the three connected series Murder Bag, Crime Sheet and No Hiding Place between 1957 and 1967. Both Gabrielle and Raymond would remarry.

 

Gabrielle's second marriage was in 1942 to an American Army officer, Major Walter J. Currie (1903-1977) in London, and her third in April 1947 to Paul Humphrey Armytage Bowman (1921-2003), the 5th Baronet Bowman of Holmbury St. Mary. Gabrielle and Paul divorced in 1974; the marriage produced one child, a daughter, Amanda, born in 1946.

 
 

Denise Buckley

Character & Episode: Susan Lang in The Trouble with Women
Born: 26/04/1945, Abergavenny, Wales (as Elizabeth Denise Buckley)

 

A striking-looking actress who studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Denise earliest known credit was in the popular series Emergency Ward 10 in 1965. Over the next fifteen years, she would make more than thirty screen and television contributions, including most notably in The Wednesday Play (Dennis Potter's Where the Buffalo Roam), The Prisoner, The Avengers, Department S and Tycoon. Her last screen appearance was in 1982 in the drama series Ennal's Point which starred Philip Madoc. Denise has been married since 1970 to Scott Marshall, a casting agent, and the couple have two children, Liza Marshall, who became a television producer, and son Jesse.

 
 

Alfred Burke

Character & Episode: Henry Foster in All Work and No Pay
Born: 28/02/1918, Peckham, London, England
Died: 16/02/2011, Barnes, London, England

 

Known throughout his life as Alfie to friends and colleagues, Alfred Burke was born in south east London to Irish parents and was educated at Leo Street Boys' School and Waltham Central School. He left school in 1933 to take a job as an office boy with a firm that specialised in repairing railway wagons. Soon afterwards he became a steward in a City club for businessmen, but left after an uncharacteristic dispute with a barmaid which ended with her squirting a soda siphon in his face.

 

He dared not tell his parents that he was out of work, so he ran away to Brighton, returning to London to take a job in a silk warehouse in Cheapside. He began to perform with a local amateur dramatic group run by a headteacher who persuaded him to apply for a London county council scholarship to RADA. He took up his place in 1937.

 

Two years later he appeared on stage professionally for the first time, in The Universal Legacy at the Barn Theatre in Shere, Surrey. The Second World War then intervened. Alfie registered as a conscientious objector, and was directed to work on the land. After the war, he went back to theatre work at Farnham, Surrey, where he met Barbara Bonelle, a stage manager, who became his wife.

In the late 1940s, he joined the Young Vic company and went on to spend time in Manchester at the Library Theatre, at the Nottingham Playhouse and in London, appearing in Pablo Picasso's play Desire Caught By the Tail at the Watergate Theatre. He was at Birmingham Rep for the three parts of Henry IV, which transferred to the Old Vic in London in 1953.

 

Alfie made his screen debut as an uncredited dancer in The Kid from Brooklyn in 1946, but it would be not until 1955 that he again featured on the screen. From then until his final role as Professor Armando Dippett in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002, Alfred would notch up more than 130 television and film credits.

 

By the late 1950s, Burke had established himself as a stage actor and a character actor in films such as Bitter Victory (1957) and No Time to Die (1958). He played the industrial agitator Travers in The Angry Silence (1960), in which a worker (Richard Attenborough) is shunned by his colleagues for refusing to take part in a strike. In 1964 he appeared in the science-fiction movie Children of the Damned, a sequel to Village of the Damned (1960).

 

On TV, he took guest roles in The Saint (two episodes, 1963 and 1964), The Avengers (three episodes, 1961, 1962 and 1966) and Z Cars (two episodes, 1962 and 1964), as well as six Armchair Theatres and 13 editions of ITV's Play of the Week. In 1964 his own script, Where Are They Now?, written under the pen name of Frank Hanna, was produced as a Play of the Week.

 

The following year, he slid into the arms of a welcoming public as Frank Marker - the eponymous Public Eye - a fascinating, career-defining role for ABC Television (and later Thames Television). His portrayal of the down-at-heel private eye, more Jeff Randall than John Steed - quite unglamorous and down to earth - made the series one of the most popular and highly rated dramas on British television. When what survived of the show (most of the ABC episodes are lost) was released on DVD between 2004 and 2009 by Network, it prompted a small-scale reappraisal of this long forgotten series, and many commentators now regard Alfie's performances as Marker as being among the very best seen in the golden age of British TV.

 

In between his commitments to Public Eye, Alfie had leading roles at the Leeds Playhouse in Luigi Pirandello's Henry IV, in 1970, and in Pictures in a Bath of Acid, as the writer August Strindberg, in 1971.

 

Later television roles included regular roles in several television series which included The Brontës of Haworth (1973), all 26 episodes of the wartime drama Enemy at the Door (1978-80) and The Borgias in 1981. From the mid-Eighties, his work output slowed considerably, though he still made occasional appearances on film, stage and television, and appeared at television retrospectives. From his marriage to Barbara Bonelle he had two sets of twins: Jacob and Harriet (born 1956) and Kelly and Louisa (b. 1960). Alfie died of a chest infection at the ripe old age of 92; three years earlier he had made his final stage appearance, as the Shepherd in a new version - by Frank McGuinness - of Sophocles' Oedipus at the National Theatre. A life well lived, a career much admired.

 

Section compiled by Darren Senior

Additional research and presentation by Alan Hayes and Denis Kirsanov

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