Bill Wallis

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Bill Wallis
Born 20 November 1936
Guildford, Surrey[1]
Died 6 September 2013(2013-09-06) (aged 76)[2]
Bath, Somerset

William Wallis (20 November 1936 – 6 September 2013) was a British character actor and comedian who appeared in numerous radio[3] and television roles,[4][5][6] as well as in the theatre.

He attended Farnham Grammar School from 1948 to 1955, where he was head boy. He gained a State Scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge, and while at Cambridge University met Peter Cook and David Frost.[1] When Cook and the team took Beyond the Fringe to Broadway, Wallis took over the roles played by Alan Bennett.

Wallis appeared in a number of television programmes including Chelmsford 123, Doctor at Large (1971), ITV's production of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, the first series of Blackadder (drunken knight), Blackadder II (Ploppy the Jailer), Blackadder Goes Forth (Agent Brigadier Smith), Just Good Friends (A J Styles) and Yes, Prime Minister. In 1988 he appeared as Gestapo-man Werner Beck in award-winning War and Remembrance. He also appeared briefly in the first episode of ITV's Midsomer Murders, apparently driving a Morgan sports car. In fact this was pushed by other cast members, as he did not hold a driving licence. He appeared in Not Only... But Also with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, alongside comic actors John Wells and Joe Melia, singing the comic song "Alan a' Dale," which students of the absurdist strand of British humour such as Monty Python will recognise. He appeared in the original London cast of the unsuccessful Andrew Lloyd Webber/Alan Ayckbourn musical Jeeves in 1975. He presented and narrated a semi-dramatised documentary titled "A Pleasant Terror" on the life and works of M. R. James, broadcast by ITV in December 1995.

Some of his most frequent appearances were on BBC Radio 4 for The Afternoon Play and the Classic Serial, but he was also in the cast of the long-running sketch show Week Ending, and in the first episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 1978, originating the roles of Mr. Prosser and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz. He reprised the latter in the second episode and in one episode of the second series; however, due to unavailability, the roles of Jeltz and (briefly) Prosser were taken over by Toby Longworth. He played Winston Hayballs in Peter Tinniswood's Winston series. He also featured as the third party in the " approached by Ivor Cutler" series of short humorous pieces, including playing the Miner, the Farmer and the Sheet Metal Worker".

His film appearances include The Romantic Englishwoman (1975), The Orchard End Murder (1980), Brazil (1985), The Whistle Blower (1986), The Fool (1990), Splitting Heirs (1993), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1997) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).

He had two children with his first wife, the cellist Jean Spalding, and two children with his second wife, the artist and lecturer Dr Karen Wallis.[7] He suffered from multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer, but was able to continue performing in audio and radio work.[1] Wallis died on 6 September 2013.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Coveney, Michael (17 September 2013). "Bill Wallis obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Obituary - Wallis". Farnham Herald. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  3. ^ The radio companion By Paul Donovan. HarperCollins, 1991
  4. ^ Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams By M. J. Simpson
  5. ^ Bill Wallis, Short Biography: BBC Audiobooks America
  6. ^ Bill Wallis Interview Actor Bill Wallis discusses his work as a reader for audiobooks.
  7. ^ "Karen Wallis". Retrieved 16 September 2013. 

Mentions Wallis being based in Bath

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