George Cole (actor)

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George Cole
Born (1925-04-22) 22 April 1925 (age 90)
Morden South London, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1940–present
Spouse(s) Eileen Moore (m. 1954–62)(divorced)
Penny Morrell (m. 1967) [1]

George Edward Cole, OBE (born 22 April 1925) is an English film and television actor whose career has spanned more than 70 years in show business. He played Arthur Daley in the long-running ITV drama show Minder, and Flash Harry in the early St Trinian's films.


Cole was given up for adoption at the age of ten days and adopted by the Cole family. He left school to be a butcher's boy but landed a part in a touring musical, and chose acting as a career. He appeared in a film with British stage and film actor Alastair Sim, and Sim and his family took in Cole and his adoptive mother when he was 15. They helped him lose his Cockney accent and he stayed with the Sim family until he was 27.[2]

Cole began appearing in films in the early 1940s, debuting in the 1941 film Cottage to Let. He attributes the success of his career to Alastair Sim, who became his mentor. Cole appeared in a total of 11 films with Sim, starting with Cottage to Let, and ending with the somewhat obscure 1961 independent film The Anatomist.

He also acted opposite Laurence Olivier in The Demi-Paradise (1943) and Olivier's film version of Henry V (1944). He is the last surviving member of the large cast of Henry V. His career was interrupted by his service in the Royal Air Force from 1944 to 1947.

He was well known for his lead role in the 1953-1969 radio comedy A Life of Bliss where from the eighth episode (David Tomlinson played Bliss in the first seven episodes), he played an amiable but bumbling bachelor, David Alexander Bliss, with his dog Psyche, voiced by Percy Edwards.[3] It lasted for six series and just 34 of the 118 episodes made of the radio series now survive. This became a TV series in 1960.

He became familiar to audiences in British comedy films in the 1950s. Cole appeared with Sim in Scrooge (as the young Scrooge) in 1951, but his best known film role was as "Flash Harry" in the St Trinian's films (two of which also star Sim), and in the comedy Too Many Crooks (1959). He also starred in the 1973 film Take Me High alongside Cliff Richard and Deborah Watling.

His most memorable television role was as crooked used-car dealer Arthur Daley in the Thames Television series Minder which he played from 1979 to the show's conclusion in 1994. Prior to this, he had played a struggling writer in the BBC sitcom 'Don't Forget To Write!' (1977-79). Another memorable role was that of Sir Giles Lynchwood in the BBC's 1985 adaptation of the Tom Sharpe novel Blott on the Landscape, which also starred Geraldine James. David Suchet, Julia McKenzie and Simon Cadell.

George has recently been cast in a new crime-horror film called Road Rage, in the role of Cyril, which will be released in cinemas in 2015.


Cole released his autobiography, The World Was My Lobster, in 2013.

Television roles[edit]

Doctor Syn, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, was produced as a three-part television film in colour by Walt Disney in 1963, a miniseries before the term was ever coined. It was shot on location in England and was directed by James Neilson. It starred Patrick McGoohan of Danger Man/Secret Agent and The Prisoner fame in the title role, with George Cole as Mipps. A Man Of Our Time (1968) (TV series - Rediffusion London) Minder (1979 on) (TV series - Thames/Euston Films).

Cole appeared as a guest star in the Gerry Anderson produced UFO series. In the episode Flightpath, Cole plays Paul Roper, a blackmailed SHADO operative, who opens the door for a possible alien attack on Moonbase. Roper redeems himself by destroying the aliens but ultimately sacrifices himself in the process. He also made a guest appearance as Mr Downs, Tom Good's bank manager, in a special edition of the BBC sitcom The Good Life in 1978, filmed in front of Her Majesty The Queen.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ The World was my Lobster George Cole & Brian Hawkins P125 ISBN 9781782194699
  2. ^ "STAR PROFILE: By George! What a career.". Coventry Evening Telegraph. 2004-02-14. Retrieved 2010-08-10. 
  3. ^ Barry Took (1998). Laughter in the Air: An Informal History of British Radio Comedy. Robson Books Ltd. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-903895-78-1. 

External links[edit]