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Burdis started acting at eleven years old when he trained at the Anna Scher Theatre in Islington. He appeared in an episode of the classic BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son when he was fifteen, but his first major role was at the age of sixteen, in the Thames Television series You Must Be Joking! , which he also co-created and wrote. He also starred with Phil Daniels in Four Idle Hands.
In 1978 Burdis auditioned for a presenting job on the BBC children's programme Blue Peter as a replacement for John Noakes. Richard Marson's book celebrating the show's fiftieth anniversary records this fact and film of the audition was shown at a BAFTA celebration in October 2008.
Burdis played the part of cowardly inmate Eckersley in the controversial movie Scum in 1979. He had played the same role two years earlier in a BBC television version of the story, although this was not transmitted for many years due to its graphic nature, hence the cinematic re-make. Burdis appeared in the Minder episodes "Not a Bad Lad, Dad" and "Hypnoting Rita", and played Joe in the musical drama The Music Machine (1979). He later had a small role alongside Daniel Day-Lewis in the film Gandhi (1982).
Burdis then played a supporting role as Richard, a gay neighbour in Channel 4's short-lived sitcom Dream Stuffing in 1984. After this, he played ambitious photographer Nick Tyler in the BBC comedy Three Up, Two Down. His character was the son and son-in-law respectively of the two lead characters, played by Michael Elphick and Angela Thorne. The series rated over 17million viewers and went on for 5 seasons.
He went forward to produce the feature films The Passion of Darkly Noon starring Brendan Fraser - Ashley Judd and The Reflecting Skin starring Viggo Mortensen - Lindsay Duncan
Burdis has subsequently concentrated more on writing, producing and directing. He was the producer of The Krays (1990), and also co-wrote-produced and directed the movies Final Cut (1998) and Love, Honour and Obey (2000). He also created, co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in the television police fly on the wall docu-comedy Operation Good Guys for three series. The series was awarded the Silver Rose for Best Sitcom and the Prix de la Presse, voted for by the International Press, at the Montreux Golden Rose Festival.
he appeared in the BBC Two comedy drama series Manchild for two series, along with Nigel Havers, Anthony Head and Don Warrington.
Ray Burdis wrote and directed the film, 'The Wee Man' which was filmed at 3 mills studios in Bow with Carnaby films.