Anthony Baird

Character & Episode: Hamilton in A Sentimental Journey
Born: 11/12/1920, London, England
Died: 27/08/1995, Westminster, London, England

Anthony Baird received his training at RADA. After leaving, he went into reparatory theatre in the London area. He made his screen debut in the short film Bothered by a Beard in 1945, which was written and directed by broadcaster E.V.H. Emmett. 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 (1962-63), played Mr Pearson in Crossroads from 1964 and later appeared in Queenie's Castle in 1970. His last appearance was in Cheetah in 1989.

What he is perhaps best remembered for is that he 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 one of his first roles in film, 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
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, 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 ten identified. That's How Murder Snowballs appears to have marked his television debut. 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
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 (1979), 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.

Alexandra Bastedo

Character & Episode: Carol Latimer in Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?
Born: 09/03/1946, Hove, East Sussex, England
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). In 1970 she was cast as Diana Dalzell in the drama series Codename 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.

James Belchamber

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

An occasional bit part actor who appeared mainly on television, James made his television debut as early as 1948 in the series For The Children. 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).

After the Sixties, his career virtually dried up, with just three television credits in The Upchat Line (1977), Play for Today (The One That Got Away, 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 and was classical trained, appearing in numerous Shakespearean roles in the early Fifties. Her first screen role was in 1958 in the serial Pepe Moreno. Thereafter, her career during the Sixties was mainly in long forgotten television series such as 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, Melbourne, Australia (as Charles Walter Bentley)
Died: 27/08/1995, London, England

As a teenager, Dick played the saxophone in local dance bands in Australia. While still in his teens he was a staple 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.

Dick came to Britain in 1939 and started working in radio. However, when war broke out Dick returned to Australia where he entertained the troops, mainly in the South Pacific and New Guinea. When the war was over, he returned to England and soon appeared on radio in The Navy Mixture, and then teamed up with comedian Jimmy Edwards in Take It From Here. 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). His last role was as Grandad in the popular comedy series Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em which featured Michael Crawford as the hapless Frank Spencer. Dick Bentley died from Alzheimer's Disease aged 88 in 1995.

Harold Berens

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

A busy supporting character actor with a long career which started in 1944. He was also a comedian and learned his trade in the various theatres throughout the country. 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 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.

Paul Bertoya

Character & Episode: Jean-Claude in For the Girl Who Has Everything
Born: 1938, Canada
Died: 28/12/1997

A Canadian actor who amassed less than twenty screen credits in his career. He made his first appearance on television in 1964 starring in The Defenders, an American drama series that starred E.G. Marshall. 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 Man in a Suitcase, also for ITC, with Richard Bradford. Paul soon returned to America and would later appear in series including Mannix and Cannon. His last screen appearance was in the French thriller Honeymoon in 1985.

Michael Bird

Character & Episode: Hamilton in A Sentimental Journey

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 debut was 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.

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. Internet listings document 180 performances only, but they can be notoriously selective. 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 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.

Joby Blanshard

Character & Episode: Police Inspector in But What a Sweet Little Room
Born: 17/11/1919, Beverley, Yorkshire, England
Died: 26/11/1992

A busy character actor for thirty years from the mid-Fifties, Joby generally concentrated on 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.

John Bott

Character & Episode: Joe Dyson in The Smile Behind the Veil
Born: 28/03/1923, Douglas, Isle of Man
Died: 03/05/1994, Washington, USA

An occasional supporting actor who made his debut in the ATV television soap opera Crossroads in 1964. John would appear from time to time, mainly on television, over the next thirty years. Ignoring multiple appearances in the same series, his credits amount to little more than two dozen in number. However, he did make notable contributions to the likes of Churchill's People, The Chinese Detective (as series regular Detective Chief Superintendent Halsey) and Cover Her Face (another regular role, as the Reverend Bernard Hicks). He also met with success on the stage and made his Broadway debut in November 1974 as the Count von Stalburg in Sherlock Holmes at the Broadhurst Theatre. John died of a heart attack whilst in America in 1994.

Edward Brayshaw

Character & Episode: Paul Lang in The Trouble with Women
Born: 18/03/1933
Died: 28/12/1990

A good solid actor, and in his younger days, a good looking man. Edward made his debut in 1958 in the television series Killer Close Up and over the next half dozen years 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, which featured early roles for Jeremy Brett and Brian Blessed. Edward would also feature in 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 1976 he was cast as Harold Meaker in the children's television series Rentaghost. By now Edward was rapidly putting on weight and sadly it is for his Rentaghost role that he is perhaps best remembered today.

Sadly, little is known of his personal life. After notching up just over fifty screen and television credits, he made his last 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. 

Susan Broderick

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

An occasional actress whose career began in 1966 when she appeared in the Michelangelo Antonioni's mystery thriller Blow-Up. Susan also featured in Z Cars, Department S and Jason King. 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.

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 over fifty 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. 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 1972, 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, 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
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 made her feature film debut in 1930 in the crime drama Red Pearls and broke into television nine years later. She would last make her television appearance in the popular series Raffles in 1977. Despite the length of her screen career, she registered only 35 television and film credits during the time. 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.

Denise Buckley

Character & Episode: Susan Lang in The Trouble with Women
Born: 26/04/1945, Abergavenny, Wales

A striking looking actress who made her screen debut in the popular series Emergency Ward 10 in 1965. Over the next fifteen years, she would make over thirty screen and television contributions, including most notably in 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 and has two children.

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. 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

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