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7 May 1908|
London, England, U.K.
|Died||24 June 1985
West Sussex, England, U.K.
Valentine Dyall (7 May 1908 – 24 June 1985), the son of veteran actor Franklin Dyall, was an English character actor. His very distinctive sepulchral voice made him especially popular as a voice actor and he was known for many years as "The Man in Black", the narrator of the BBC Radio horror series Appointment with Fear.
1930s to 1950s
In 1934, Dyall appeared with his father at the Manchester Hippodrome in Sir Oswald Stoll's presentation of Shakespeare's Henry V, playing the roles of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Captain Gower and a cardinal of France. He also appeared in one movie with his father, the 1943 spy thriller Yellow Canary starring Anna Neagle and Richard Greene; Dyall's part was that of a German U-boat commander attempting to kidnap a British agent from a ship in the Atlantic, while his father played the ship's captain. In the same year, he played a small role as a German officer in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and, the following year, played the Duke of Burgundy in Laurence Olivier's 1944 film rendition of Henry V. In 1946, he appeared, uncredited, as the character Stephen Lynn in the romantic film drama Brief Encounter; Lynn is protagonist Alec Harvey's friend whose unexpected arrival spoils Alec's opportunity of consummating his romance.
During the 1950s, Dyall made a number of guest appearances in episodes of the BBC Home Service radio comedy series The Goon Show, parodying his familiar radio persona. In "The Canal", for example, he plays, "due to very cheap dry cleaners", "The Man in Grey". Much later, he featured in the radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, playing Gargravarr. In the TV and LP versions, he voiced the computer Deep Thought.
In 1960, Dyall played the witch Jethrow Keane in The City of the Dead (known as Horror Hotel in the United States) and, in 1963, appeared in Robert Wise's film The Haunting as Mr. Dudley, the sinister caretaker of the haunted Hill House. Also in 1963, Dyall played the central character Lord Fortnum in Spike Milligan and John Antrobus's stage play The Bed-Sitting Room set in the aftermath of nuclear war. The play opened at the Mermaid Theatre on 31 January. In 1967, he voiced the character of evil mastermind Dr. Noah in the James Bond parody movie Casino Royale, and also provided the voice of the mummy narrator in Secrets of Sex (1969).
With Dusty Springfield, Dyall co-hosted the BBC music variety series Decidedly Dusty in 1969. The BBC wiped their archives of this and many of their 1960s musical variety programmes (allegedly in the 1970s, just before the dawn of home video) and no other video copies have surfaced, although there are bootleg-quality fan-made audio recordings that have survived.
1970s and 1980s
In 1975, at London's Royal Court Theatre, Dyall played Dr. Rance in a major revival of Joe Orton's play, What the Butler Saw. Between 1977 and 1979, he made regular appearances as Dr. Pascal Keldermans in all three seasons of the BBC TV series Secret Army. He then joined the cast of the BBC's Doctor Who, portraying the Black Guardian in several serials (The Armageddon Factor in 1979 and the Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment trilogy in 1983) and voicing the role of Captain Slarn for the Doctor Who radio serial Slipback. During this time, he also played the character Norl in the Blake's 7 episode "City at the Edge of the World" and Lord Angus in the 1983 Black Adder episode "Witchsmeller Pursuivant". Also in 1983, he joined many other Doctor Who cast and crew members at Longleat for the Doctor Who 20th Anniversary celebrations.
In 1984, Dyall appeared as Lorrimer in the BBC Miss Marple episode "The Body in the Library". Dyall's last role on television was as Marcade in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Love's Labour's Lost. His role as Captain Slarn in the Doctor Who radio serial Slipback was recorded shortly before his death and broadcast posthumously.
- 1944 Hotel Reserve
- 1946 Night Boat to Dublin
- 1948 Woman Hater
- The Story of Shirley Yorke (1948)
- 1957 Suspended Alibi
- 1963 The Haunting
- 1964 The Horror of It All
- 1968 The Wrong Box
- 1977 Come Play with Me
- 1982 Britannia Hospital
- Milligan, Spike & Antrobus, John, The Bedsitting Room, Tandem: London, 1973. First published in Great Britain by Margaret & Jack Hobbs, 1970. Published by Universal-Tandem, 1972. © 1970 Spike Milligan and John Antrobus
- McCann, Graham (2006). Spike & Co. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-89809-7. p. 158.