Robin Bailey

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For other people named Robin Bailey, see Robin Bailey (disambiguation).
Robin Bailey
Born William Henry Mettam Bailey
(1919-10-05)5 October 1919
Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, England
Died 14 January 1999(1999-01-14) (aged 79)
Wandsworth, London, England

William Henry Mettam Bailey (5 October 1919 – 14 January 1999) was an English actor. He was born in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

Although often chosen for upper class and tradition-bound roles such as Mr Justice Graves in Thames Television's Rumpole of the Bailey, Bailey is perhaps most fondly remembered for his portrayal of Uncle Mort in I Didn't Know You Cared, the BBC's adaptation of Peter Tinniswood's stories about an extended Yorkshire family. The television series ran from 1975 to 1979, and is available on DVD. Bailey continued to play Uncle Mort in a series of radio programmes. Bailey also collaborated with Tinniswood on the television and radio series Tales from a Long Room, playing the Brigadier, an eccentric cricket-lover with a fund of extraordinary tales about the game and its players.

Theatre[edit]

In 1959 Bailey was engaged by the Australian theatrical producers J.C. Williamson Limited to play the part of Professor Henry Higgins in their production of the Lerner & Lowe musical My Fair Lady. The production was a duplicate of the New York City production. Although Bailey was not a drawcard in Australia or anywhere for that matter, Williamson's had a policy then in casting their lead players that an unknown they could bill as "direct from the West End" would always draw better than an Australian. Bailey also had a pleasing resemblance to Rex Harrison who had created the Higgins part in London and New York, on record and in the eventual film of the work. Bailey like Harrison was not a singer and like Harrison dealt well with the talksical songs of the show.

Williamson's also imported a female lead Bunty Turner who likewise carried no weight but had an uncanny resemblance to Julie Andrews who had created the role of Eliza Doolittle in New York and London and would be supplanted by Audrey Hepburn in the film.

The play was a huge success in Australia and a second company was created so it could continue its run in Melbourne and make its essential move onto Sydney where the Empire Theatre was being rebuilt and renamed Her Majesty's Theatre especially for the Sydney season of My Fair Lady. Bailey moved to Sydney with the production and the Williamson production of My Fair Lady between the two companies, toured all over Australia, South Africa and New Zealand for more than five years. It would inarguably become the highest grossing Australian theatrical production of all time, based on the number of paid admissions.

Bailey later visited Australia to play Martin Lynch-Gibbon in A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch from a novel by the playwright, a role he had created in London and New York. This had been an attempt to exploit the popularity Bailey had gained in My Fair Lady but like its overseas predecessors, was unsuccessful.

Bailey's Broadway theatre experience consisted of two flops, the 1963 musical Jennie and the 1964 comedy A Severed Head.

Television appearances[edit]

In 1983, he took over from the late Arthur Lowe in the title role of Roy Clarke's BBC television sitcom Potter, about a busybody former sweet manufacturer with time on his hands following retirement. The series co-starred John Barron as the Vicar. Potter ran for three series, the first two with Lowe and the third with Bailey.

He also played Charters in the 1985 mini-series Charters and Caldicott (the supposed latter-day adventures of two supporting characters from The Lady Vanishes) co-starring Michael Aldridge as Caldicott.

Other notable roles included suave civil servant Grainger in The Power Game (1966), and Channel 4 television series in 1985), Neville Chamberlain in The Gathering Storm and Prime Minister Gresham in The Pallisers. He played the role of Mr Fuzziwig in KYTV's The Making of David Chizzlenut episode in 1993. He also played Mr Justice Gerald Graves in Rumpole of the Bailey (1987 to 1992). His final television appearance was as Lord Probyn (Kavanagh's wife's father) in Kavanagh QC in 1997.

Other work[edit]

Bailey performed several books on tape, reading books by Agatha Christie, Catherine Aird, Nevil Shute and Ruth Rendell.

Agatha Christie

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • The Clocks
  • Sparkling Cyanide
  • Ordeal by Innocence

Catherine Aird

  • A Religious Body
  • A Late Phoenix
  • The Stately Home Murders
  • Henrietta Who?
  • A Dead Liberty
  • Parting Breath
  • The Complete Steel

Nevil Shute

  • A Town Like Alice
  • The Rainbow and the Rose
  • No Highway
  • The Far Country
  • Ruined City

Ruth Rendell

  • No More Dying
  • Wolf to the Slaughter
  • The Veiled One
  • Murder Being Once Done

Family[edit]

He was married to Patricia Mary Weekes from 6 September 1941 to her death on 2 October 1993. They had 3 children. His son Simon Bailey is Keeper of the Archives at Oxford University.

He died aged 79 in 1999 in Wandsworth,[1] London, of respiratory failure.

Selected filmography[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]