John Walker

Character & Episode: Mechanic in You Can Always Find a Fall Guy

 

An occasional supporting actor whose most high profile role was arguably that of Private West in the 1958 BBC sci-fi serial Quatermass and The Pit. Other television appearances followed in The Big Pull, Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars, Dr Finlay's Casebook, Adam Adamant Lives! and in the comedy series George and the Dragon which starred Sid James, Peggy Mount and John Le Mesurier. John's appearance as the mechanic in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) would prove to be his final recorded credit.

 

Gary Watson

Character & Episode: Donald Seaton in The Smile Behind the Veil
Born: 13/06/1930, Shifnal, Shropshire, England (as Garrowby Cawthorne Watson)

 

A well educated person, Gary graduated from Cambridge University in the Fifties and taught English at Westminster City School. He was very popular with the pupils and directed some memorable school plays such as Treasure Island, which starred a young Ken Phillips as Doctor Trelawny. Gary moved into acting and made his television debut in an Associated-Rediffusion Play of the Week called The Last Enemy (transmitted live on 10th October 1956).

 

He spent the next several years learning his trade on the stage, most notably acting alongside Sean Connery in Friedrich Hebbel's 1962 play Judith at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. It was also that year when Gary started to make his mark on television, notably in the BBC serial The River Flows East, in which he played Andrew Giddings, one of the two lead roles. In 1967 he was cast as Armais in the BBC serial adaptation of The Three Musketeers. The cast also included Brian Blessed and Jeremy Brett. Gary also made contributions to The Baron, The Avengers and The Saint during this period of his career. In 1972 he appeared alongside Anthony Hopkins in the sprawling BBC serialisation of Tolstoy's War and Peace. Later, in 1988, he starred in the BBC adaptation of Macbeth playing MacDuff. His final screen appearance would come later that same year, in Hannay.

 

He was also much employed as a reader and narrator, featuring in dozens of commercials throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and is particularly noted for his work in British Transport Films, Lloyds Bank and Nescafe adverts.

 
 

David Webb

Character & Episode: Police Sergeant in Who Killed Cock Robin?
Born: 06/03/1931, Luton, Bedfordshire, England
Died: 30/06/2012, Clapham, London, England

 

Though not instantly recognisable, David had a busy career notching up in excess of one hundred film and television credits. He started his adult life working in his father's bakery, but he had to leave due to an asthma condition. David had earlier attended Luton Grammar School reaching Head Prefect. He then had several jobs prior to attending RADA, from which he graduated in 1952. His first acting job was in York in rep and he later joined other companies in Scarborough, Richmond and Bromley. This led him to being cast in supporting roles on television by the Fifties. David contributed to many well-known series including Coronation Street, The Avengers, Doctor Who and Tales of the Unexpected.

 

David also became an ardent opponent of censorship: in 1976 he helped found the National Campaign for the Reform of the Obscene Publications Act (NCROPA) and would for the rest of his life campaign in support of this cause. In 1983 he stood against the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at her seat in Finchley in the General Election. His work led him to make many television and radio appearances regarding phone-ins and debates. He died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer.

 
 

Timothy West

Character & Episode: Sam Grimes in Vendetta for a Dead Man
Born: 20/10/1934, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England (as Timothy Lancaster West)

 

Timothy has for more than fifty years been an acclaimed and versatile British character actor with well over one hundred screen appearances in addition to his long and successful career in the theatre. He was born into an acting family – his father Lockwood West (1905-89) was a well-known actor for many years – and was educated at The John Lyon School, a boys' independent school in Harrow on the Hill, London, and Bristol Grammar School in Bristol, where he was a classmate of Julian Glover and Dave Prowse, who have both appeared in Star Wars films.

 

Timothy’s acting career started as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1956, and he followed this with several seasons in repertory theatre. He acted at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1959 and was with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1965 at Stratford, where he appeared in The Comedy of Errors, Timon of Athens, The Jew of Malta and Love's Labour's Lost. He was also cast in Peter Hall's outstanding production of The Government Inspector at the Aldwych Theatre with Paul Scofield, and Eric Porter.

 

Having spent years as a familiar face who never quite became a household name, his big chance came with the major television series, Edward the Seventh (1975), in which he played the title role and his real-life sons, Samuel and Joseph, played the King's children. Other major roles have included parts in the feature films Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), The Day of the Jackal (1973), The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Masada (1981) and Cry Freedom (1987).

 

In a lighter vein, Timothy starred as patriarch Bradley Hardacre in Granada TV's satirical Northern super-soap Brass throught three seasons (1982–1990), and made a memorable appearance as the manic and aptly-named Professor Furie in A Very Peculiar Practice in 1986. From 2001-2003, he played the grumpy and frequently volatile Andrew in the BBC drama series Bedtime, with Sheila Hancock playing his long-suffering wife, Alice. At Christmas 2007, he joined the cast of sitcom Not Going Out as recurring character Geoffrey Adams, the father of two central characters. He has since reprised this role in further two episodes.

 

Timothy is president of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, a supporter of the charity Cancer Research UK, and is also an Ambassador of SOS Children's Villages, an international orphan charity providing homes and mothers for orphaned and abandoned children. He currently supports the charity's annual World Orphan Week campaign which takes place each year in February.

 

In his personal life, Timothy has been married since 1963 to Prunella Scales (1932-), an actress who will always be remembered for her role as Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, the classic comedy written by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Timothy and Prunella have each been awarded a CBE – Timothy's being awarded in 1984 and Prunella's in 1992. Their son, Samuel West (1966-), is also a successful actor, and the couple also have another son, Joseph, and a daughter, Juliet. In recent years, Prunella has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and the couple have been very much in the public eye during her illness, fronting a popular Channel 4 television show about their love of canal boat excursions, Great Canal Journeys (2014-2019). Both Timothy and Prunella are keen narrowboaters and both spoke frankly about her dementia during the series, which has been praised by Alzheimer’s Research UK.

 
 

Frank Windsor

Character & Episode: John Sorrensen in My Late, Lamented Friend and Partner
Born: 12/07/1927, Walsall, England (as Frank W Higgins)

 

Born and bred in Walsall, he attended the local Queen Mary's Grammar School. He began his career on radio and made his film debut in 1953 in the film Henry V. His first television series appearance was in the series An Age of Kings in 1960 in which he played the Earl of Warwick. His most famous role was as Detective Sergeant John Watt in Z Cars from 1962 to 1965, and thereafter its spin-off Softly, Softly (later Softly, Softly Task Force) from 1966 to 1976. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1975. He has also had regular roles in the BBC drama Casualty, the ITV drama Peak Practice and he played Major Charlie Grace in EastEnders (1992). He featured in two 1980s Doctor Who stories - The King's Demons and Ghost Light. Frank has also played in numerous stage productions.

 
 

Betty Woolfe

Character & Episode: Martha in But What a Sweet Little Room
Born: 02/11/1901, Lambeth, London, England (as Bertha Helen Sparks)
Died: 08/02/1982, Denville Hall, Northwood, London, England

 

Londoner Betty Woolfe turned to acting late in life, making her screen debut at 50. Consequently, most of the characters that she played were of the late middle-age and elderly variety, usually in supporting roles. Her main credits were in series such as Z Cars, Crossroads and Jumbo Spencer. She did not marry until she was 59 in 1960, and sadly her new husband Francis Woolfe passed away two years later. In common with her But What a Sweet Little Room colleagues Frances Bennett and Doris Hare, she died at the actors' residential care home Denville Hall.

 

Section compiled by Darren Senior

Additional research and presentation by Alan Hayes and Denis Kirsanov

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