6 August 1904
Margate, Kent, England
|Died||16 January 1988
Ballard Berkeley (born Ballard Blascheck; 6 August 1904 – 16 January 1988) was an English actor of stage and screen, remembered for his role in the British television sitcom Fawlty Towers, in which he played the character of Major Gowen.
Life and career
The son of Joseph Edward Maximilian Blascheck and Beatrice Letchford Pewtress Blascheck (1872-1961), he was born in 1904 in Margate, Kent. Berkeley served as a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police during World War II, witnessing the Blitz at first hand.
Berkeley played the role of the bumbling Major Gowen in the BBC TV comedy classic Fawlty Towers. He had played a similar role in 1969 in the legal drama The Main Chance. He portrayed another retired military man (Colonel Freddie Danby) in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, taking over the role from Norman Shelley.
He played a starring role in Fresh Fields as main character Hester's father Guy, was Uncle Greville in To the Manor Born, and played Colonel Culpepper in Terry and June. He had small roles in a 1977 episode of Citizen Smith and the 1980 adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy, and appeared once in The New Avengers as Colonel Foster in the episode 'Dirtier by the Dozen'.
During the 1930s, he performed regularly in the so-called "quota quickies". One of his earliest roles was as the heroic lead in the 1937 film The Last Adventurers. He appeared in the 1942 film In Which We Serve – he also appeared in the Hitchcock film Stage Fright. In 1956, he starred as Detective Inspector Berkeley in one episode of Edgar Lustgarten's dramatic series, Scotland Yard (TV series) (‘Person Unknown’ (31:47). He made a brief appearance in the American film National Lampoon's European Vacation which starred Chevy Chase. In this film, Berkeley played a British man who is involved in a minor road accident with the Griswalds.
Berkeley later performed the role of Winston - a similar character to "The Major" - in the radio comedy Wrinkles by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant. He played Badedas the Blue, a wizard in the radio comedy series Hordes of the Things. His last notable role was as the Head of the Army in the animated film version of Roald Dahl's The BFG; he died before it was released.
This list is incomplete.
- East Meets West (1936)
- The Last Adventurers (1937)
- Black Eyes (1939)
- The Saint in London (1939)
- In Which We Serve (1942)
- They Made Me a Fugitive (1947)
- Stage Fright (1950)
- Mister Drake's Duck (1951)
- The Frightened Man (1952)
- The Blue Parrot (1953)
- Operation Diplomat (1953)
- Dangerous Cargo (1954)
- The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954)
- See How They Run (1955)
- My Teenage Daughter (1956)
- After the Ball (1957)
- Just My Luck (1957)
- Further Up the Creek (1958)
- Cone of Silence (1960)
- Impact (1963)
- Night Caller from Outer Space (1965)
- Hostile Witness (1968)
- Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976)
- The Playbirds (1978)
- National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)
- Slide, Anthony (1996). Some Joe you don't know: an American biographical guide to 100 British television personalities. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 0-313-29550-6.
- Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials: 1974-1984. VNR AG. p. 141. ISBN 0-918432-61-8.