Michael Radford

Character & Episode: Male Hiker in The Smile Behind the Veil
Born: 24/02/1946, New Delhi, India

Born in India to a British father and an Austrian Jewish mother, Michael was educated at Bedford School before he attended Worcester College, Oxford. After teaching for a few years, he went to the National Film and Television School, becoming a student there in its inaugural year.

Michael is well known for being a director and writer; he only has three screen acting credits to his name, all minor with only a few seconds of screen time. After leaving education, he began work as a documentary film maker and worked for the BBC from 1976 to 1982. He then left to pursue a directing career, coming to international attention with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), his adaptation of George Orwell's most famous novel. It starred John Hurt as Winston Smith, alongside Richard Burton who was giving his final film performance. The film was made in the time and place (London, April–June 1984) in which the book was set. Michael is most widely known as the writer and director of the 1994 film Il Postino, which he adapted from the novel Ardiente Paciencia by Antonio Skármeta. The massive international success of the film (for many years it was the highest grossing non-English language film ever made) led to international acclaim for Radford and the star of the film Massimo Troisi, who had died tragically the day after filming on Il Postino was completed. The film won many international film awards including a BAFTA for Radford, who was also nominated for the Best Director and Adapted Screenplay Academy Awards. In 2004, Radford directed The Merchant of Venice. Three years later he was responsible for Flawless, a diamond heist story set in 1960 which starred Demi Moore and Michael Caine. His most recent film is Elsa & Fred (2014), a romantic comedy starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer.

Married twice, Michael has three children, and speaks fluent Spanish, French, Italian and some Mandarin. In 2013 he took part in the Clipper Round the World Sailing Race, in which he raced one of twelve identical 70 foot racing yachts from London to Rio. For someone who appeared in only a small role in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Michael has led a remarkably interesting and enriched life.

John Rae

Character & Episode: Mr Alexander in A Sentimental Journey
Born: 19/07/1896, Perth, Scotland
Died: 02/1985, Droxford, Hampshire, England

John Rae started in theatre as early as 1918. However, it would be twenty years before he appeared on television in an adapted play in 1938. Over the next forty years he would appear regularly as a dependable middle-aged to elderly actor in a number of now largely forgotten films.

From the mid-Fifties, his main output consisted of television guest appearances on a number of shows that included Crossroads, Gideon Way, Dr Finlay's Casebook and The Onedin Line. John's last appearance was in the drama series Bouquet of Barbed Wire in 1976. John is also notable for featuring in two of the three legendary Quatermass television serials of the Fifties, appearing in Quatermass II (1955) as McLeod and in Quatermass and the Pit (1958) as a works foreman.

Michael Rathborne

Character & Episode: Man in Laundromat in All Work and No Pay
Born: 06/04/1923, York, England
Died: 22/01/1971, Kensington, London, England

An actor whose a screen appearances were infrequent, Michael was the son of an Irish major in the Durham Light Infantry, his mother being a trained ballet and musical theatre dancer. The marriage was said to be a difficult one. In the Second World War, Michael saw active service as a captain in his father's regiment.  At the age of twenty-one he was promoted to acting major in the Burma Campaign of 1944-45, and was wounded in fighting. After the war, he made his screen acting debut in the BBC’s Sunday Night Theatre play strand in 1952. Other contributions, which often went uncredited, included the television serial Quatermass II (1955), Doctor Who (as a taxi driver in The War Machines, 1966) and The Mini Affair (1967). His last appearance was as an employment office clerk in Connecting Rooms in 1970. In his private life, he was married to actress Diana van Proosdy (1929-2007), and their daughter, Pippa Rathborne, is also an actress.  Either in Burma, or from childhood exposure to contaminated water in Egypt, where his father had been stationed, he contracted the liver disease which eventually killed him, aged 47.

Cyril Renison

Character & Episode: Andrews in But What a Sweet Little Room
Born: 1903, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, England
Died: 08/12/1993, London, England

An occasional screen actor notching up just over 20 known appearances in nearly two decades. Cyril's first appearance was in 1955 in the crime drama As I Was Saying, and over the next five years or so he was fairly busy in this medium. Other notable contributions around this time were to series such as Quatermass II (1955) and The Avengers (two appearances, one in 1961 and another in 1962 alongside Patrick Macnee, Ian Hendry and latterly Honor Blackman). As the Sixties progressed, his career lost momentum. His last screen appearance came in 1973 when he had a minor role in O Lucky Man!, the comedy fantasy film which starred Malcolm McDowell.

Marjorie Rhodes

Character & Episode: Mrs Pleasance in For the Girl Who Has Everything
Born: 09/04/1897, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England (as Millicent Wise)
Died: 04/07/1979, Hove, East Sussex, England

A popular character actress, prolific in the theatre, Marjorie first appeared on screen in 1938. She was busy mainly in films during the war figuring mainly in small roles. She continued this trend right up to the end of the Fifties, notching up nearly sixty appearances on film and television. She often played landladies, aunts or busybodies. By the late Fifties she was appearing more regularly on television and made notable contributions to such series as The Army Game, Dixon of Dock Green and All Gas and Gaiters. Still busy in theatre, Marjorie was nominated for a Broadway Tony Award in 1965 as best actress for the play All in Good Time. Her last screen appearance was in 1974 in an episode of Z Cars. During her career she clocked up more than one hundred television and film credits.

John Richmond

Character & Episode: Lord Manning in Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?
Born: 14/06/1912, Hendon, Middlesex, England
Died: 08/11/1992, Thursley, Surrey, England

An occasional bit player actor who made his screen debut in the TV play Reunion in 1948 for the BBC. In the Fifties he guested in such series as The Grove Family, Emergency Ward 10 and was a cast regular in the detective series Sergeant Cork. Later roles came in Special Branch, The Pallisers and the Sir John Mills Quatermass. His last screen appearance was in 1984 in the series Strangers and Brothers. Despite quite a long career he only made forty credited appearances, though he was also a noted narrator on radio. John was married and had three children.

Robert Russell

Character & Episode: Harry in The Trouble with Women
Born: 24/05/1936, Kent, England
Died: 12/05/2008, Maidenhead, Berkshire, England

Robert was a tall actor (6 foot 3 inches), thick set with dark receding hair and often a beard. For more than twenty years he was a useful supporting actor, mainly in television. Though born in Kent, he spent nine childhood years in South Africa, and upon leaving school there, he worked for a time in a gold mine. On returning to England he trained as an actor at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. He then developed his skills in theatre, becoming a regular member of the National Theatre touring company.

During his screen career Robert amassed more than seventy credits in film and television. Early on, he was stereotyped in police roles, but by the mid-Sixties he was cast in more interesting roles, for instance in the Saint episode The Man Who Liked Lions and as Anger in Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's Bedazzled (1967). His most memorable supporting role came in 1968 when he played John Stearne alongside Vincent Price in the cult horror film Witchfinder General. On television at the turn of the decade he could be seen in The Avengers, The Champions and Department S, while he could briefly be spied on the big screen playing a policeman in Carry On Loving (1970).

Robert's association with ITC film series continued into the Seventies, with appearances in The Persuaders!, The Protectors and the Space:1999 episode Mission of the Darians. Robert also appeared two Doctor Who stories; as an uncredited guard in The Power of the Daleks (1966) and a fine turn as The Caber in Terror of the Zygons (1975). In 1977 Robert was cast as Matvey in the historical drama Anna Karenina. A year later he played the leader of a religious cult on a penal planet in the Blake's 7 episode Cygnus Alpha. In 1979 he featured in the children's drama The Feathered Serpent alongside Diane Keen and Patrick Troughton. Robert's television credits continued into the Eighties and included roles in The Enigma Files (1980), Sorry! (1981) and Hammer House of Horror (1985). After this, Robert virtually retired from the industry. His only other screen appearance was in 1993 when he played the inronically named Shorty in the sci-fi film Strange Horizons. Robert died of a heart attack at home in 2008.

Michael Ripper

Character & Episode: Punter in It's Supposed to be Thicker Than Water
Born: 27/01/1913, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Died: 28/06/2000, London, England

Interested in acting from a young age, Michael was encouraged to enter public speaking competitions by his father, a speech therapist by profession. Michael's father was also involved in amateur dramatics, so from a young age Michael was introduced to the medium, putting him in good stead for a career that lasted for sixty years. In that time, Michael would appear in well over two hundred films and television series, and become a recognised, well-liked and reliable supporting character actor.

Michael entered the theatre in 1929 after winning a scholarship. He made his film debut in 1936 in Father and Son, and worked as an assistant director for Walton Studios in the early years of his career. When his acting career quickly blossomed, he left directing to concentrate on work in front of the camera and on stage. He would come to worldwide notice through his 25 year relationship with Hammer Film Productions, appearing in 35 of the company's films, mostly in the horror genre with which Hammer became synonymous. For Hammer he played parts  such as innkeepers, gravediggers and poachers, often with an air of comedy. His most notable Hammer Films include The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Mummy (1959), Brides of Dracula (1960), The Camp on Blood Island (1958), Captain Clegg (1962), The Scarlet Blade (1963), Plague of the Zombies (1966) and The Mummy's Shroud (1967). Occasionally he was disguised almost beyond recognition, and yet his raspy voice remained unmistakable. Some roles were minor, but his penultimate role for Hammer Films was a significant supporting part as a landlord in Scars of Dracula in 1970. Michael holds the record for the most Hammer film appearances, and while there is no doubting Ripper's talent and dependability, this achievement undoubtedly also owes something to his close friendship with Hammer producer Anthony Hinds.

Michael suffered from a thyroid condition which meant after 1952 his power was reduced, so he did well to remain successful on screen and in theatre. He is also well remembered for his role as the liftman in four of the St Trinian's comedies, and on television for his role as Thomas the chauffeur in the BBC comedy Butterflies (1978–83) and as Burke, one of the two criminals in the children's television series Freewheelers (1968–71). His other TV roles include Phunkey in The Pickwick Papers (1985) and as Drones Porter in Jeeves and Wooster (1990–91). In his personal life, he was married three times and had a daughter from his first marriage. He listed his hobbies as photography, woodworking and classical music.

Section compiled by Darren Senior

Additional research and presentation by Alan Hayes

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