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Burke in The Angry Silence
28 February 1918|
Peckham, London, England
|Died||16 February 2011
Barnes, London, England
Burke was born in Peckham, London, the son of Sarah Ann O'Leary and William Burke. He was educated at Leo Street Boys' School and Waltham Central School. He started work aged 14, working in a railway repair firm in the City of London after leaving school. He became a club steward and also worked in a silk warehouse, joining a local amateur dramatics group before moving to Morley College and winning a scholarship to RADA in 1937. His acting career started two years later at the Barn Theatre in Shere, Surrey. His budding career was interrupted by the Second World War, when he registered as a conscientious objector, and was directed to work on the land.
In the late 1940s, he worked with the Young and Old Vic and other companies. His London debut was in 1950 at the Watergate Theatre, appearing in Pablo Picasso's play Desire Caught By the Tail. He then spent three years with Birmingham Repertory Theatre (1950-53) and appeared in the West End hit Sailor Beware! (1954).
Burke built a solid reputation across a wide range of character roles in films and on television. His acting career included: The Angry Silence, Touch and Go, Interpol, Yangtse Incident and Buccaneers, as well as such televised plays as The Tip and Treasure Island.
His most famous role was the enquiry agent Frank Marker in the ABC/Thames television series Public Eye, which ran from 1965 to 1975. His low-key, understated but always compelling portrayal of the down-at-heel private eye made the series one of the most popular and highly rated detective dramas on British television.
After Public Eye ended Burke appeared in a host of guises, from Long John Silver to Pope John Paul II's father. In the television series Minder he appeared in the episode Come in T-64, Your Time Is Ticking Away as Kevin, partner to Arthur Daley in his latest scheme, a minicab service. He was also the formidable headmaster "Thrasher" Harris in Home To Roost. More recently he was seen as Armando Dippet in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
On stage Burke appeared in several productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Roberto Zucco, The Tempest, Peer Gynt, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, Two Shakespearean Actors, All's Well That Ends Well and Antony and Cleopatra. In 2008 he appeared at the National Theatre as the Shepherd in a new version of Sophocles' Oedipus by Frank McGuinness.
Burke died on 16 February 2011, aged 92, from a chest infection and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. He is survived by his wife, Barbara (née Bonelle) and their four children: Jacob and Harriet (twins), and Kelly and Louisa (twins).
- Interpol (1957)
- Yangtse Incident (1957)
- Let's Be Happy (1957)
- Bitter Victory (1957)
- High Flight (1957)
- Law and Disorder (1958)
- The Man Upstairs (1958)
- Operation Amsterdam (1959)
- Model for Murder (1959)
- Moment of Danger (1960)
- The Angry Silence (1960)
- The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960)
- Dead Lucky (1960)
- She Knows Y'Know (1962)
- The Pot Carriers (1962)
- Crooks Anonymous (1962)
- On the Beat (1962)
- Children of the Damned (1963)
- The Nanny (1965)
- Night Caller from Outer Space (1965)
- Guns in the Heather (1969)
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1970)
- The House on Garibaldi Street (1979)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
|1963||On the Knocker||Frank|
|1965-75||Public Eye||Frank Marker|
|1978-80||Enemy at the Door||Major Dieter Richter|
|1979||Minder||Kevin (season 1, episode 8)|
- Dennis Barker (18 February 2011). "Alfred Burke obituary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-02-18.
- Alfred Burke Film Reference biography
- Oedipus – Productions – National Theatre
- Alfred Burke at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview with Alfred Burke – British Library sound recording