Monday, 18 July 2016

RIP William Lucas

Veteran actor William Lucas passed away on Friday at the age of 91.

Born William Thomas Clucas in Manchester in 1925, Lucas held down a series of jobs before entering showbusiness including a long-distance lorry driver, a commercial traveller, cook, laundry hand and farm labourer. In the late 1940s, he became an assistant stage manager at Chesterfield Civic Theatre which led to work as an actor in rep and a career on the stage that continued right until the 1990s. His big breakthrough on television was the role of blackmailing car dealer Reg Dorking in the 1955 series A Portrait of Alison, a role which he reprised for the film version that same year.

From there he appeared in the Hammer classic X The Unknown and several BBC Sunday Night Theatre productions as well as big roles in a string of TV series, including the lead role in The Infamous John Friend in 1959, and guest roles in shows such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The New Adventures of Charlie Chan and William Tell.

The 1960s saw further high profile roles on TV with appearances in Danger Man, Ghost Squad, Redcap, No Hiding Place, Z Cars, The Avengers, The Saint and in Sherlock Holmes, in which he played Inspector Lestrade alongside Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock. Film appearances in this decade included The Night of the Big Heat with Cushing and Christopher Lee, Dateline Diamonds, and Bitter Harvest.

Guest appearances in classic and fondly remembered series continued in the 1970s, along with a recurring role as Dennis Maxwell in several episodes of Coronation Street and roles in the films Man at the Top and Operation Daybreak. But the decade also brought him his most famous role; that of Dr James Gordon in the 1972-'74 series The Adventures of Black Beauty, based on the novel by Anna Sewell. It was a role he would subsequently return to in the 1990-'91 series The New Adventures of Black Beauty.

The 80s and 90s saw Lucas star in the Doctor Who serial Frontios alongside Peter Davison's incarnation of the Doctor, The Spoils of War, On The Up and a film role in the adaptation of Watership Down author Richards Adams' novel The Plague Dogs. But he's perhaps best known in this period of his career for his role as another doctor; Stanley Webb in the BBC's ill-fated Spanish based soap opera, Eldorado, which ran from 1992-1993.

Some of his last TV roles included a return to Coronation Street (albeit as a different character this time; a judge) a guest spot in The Bill, and those perennials for actors of a certain age; Last of the Summer Wine and Doctors.


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