4 June 1930 |
After graduating from the prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, he made his West End debut in 1963 with the comedy Shout for Life at The Vaudeville Theatre. Several successful West End roles followed.
Treacher then moved into television drama, making guest appearances in a number of classic series of the 1970s including Dad's Army, Minder, The Sweeney, The Professionals, Dixon of Dock Green, Z-Cars and The Agatha Christie Hour.
In late 1984, he was the first actor to be cast in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, appearing in the first episode on 19 February 1985 as Arthur Fowler, a role he played for the next 11 years. In fact the co-creators, Tony Holland and Julia Smith, had scripted the character with Treacher in mind. He received much critical acclaim for the role, especially for his portrayal of his character's mental decline and subsequent nervous breakdown. The character also endured a succession of misfortunes, not least his wrongful imprisonment for a fraud that he didn't commit, a persistent struggle with unemployment, his daughter Michelle's pregnancy at the age of 16, his son Mark's diagnosis with HIV, and a midlife crisis where he had an affair which led to the breakdown of his marriage.
By 1995, he had requested to be written out of the series, stating "By the time I finished, even the sound of the theme music was making me feel ill. I felt depressed." He also stated in a 2003 BBC documentary interviewing past stars of the show that he was forced to leave with advancing age and the stress of such a gruelling schedule working the long hours on the show was affecting his health and that the doctors told him that if he didn't leave the job soon and relax it would kill him.
Although it was his decision to leave the soap, Treacher was shocked that the show’s bosses chose to kill Arthur off. He has said: "I certainly didn’t ask them to kill him. Oh no, because you never know, you might need to come back and earn a few grand."
Other television appearances
Treacher is also an accomplished radio actor, and has appeared in a BBC Radio 4 Play of the day "Bringing Eddie Home" by John Peacock, based on a true story of the fight by Eastend couple Edna and Jack Wallace to get their son's body brought home from Aden, and the ensuing fight for the rights of British Service service personnel. Treacher played the role of the older Jack Wallace and the play also included other ex EastEnders actors Tilly Vosburgh, Edna Doré, Todd Carty and Joe Absolom.
In 1973, Treacher starred in a British television commercial for the Austin Allegro motor car. In 1983, he also appeared in a British television commercial for Colgate toothpaste where he played a grocer.