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Dudley Sutton

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Dudley Sutton
Sutton in 1961
Born(1933-04-06)6 April 1933
Died15 September 2018(2018-09-15) (aged 85)
Clapham, London, England
Years active1957–2018[1]
(m. 1961; div. 1965)

Dudley Sutton (6 April 1933 – 15 September 2018) was an English actor. Active in radio, stage, film and television, he was arguably best known for his role of Tinker Dill in the BBC Television drama series Lovejoy.

Early life[edit]

Sutton was born in Kingston upon Thames,[2] and educated at a boys' boarding school at Lifton Park, Devon. He served in the Royal Air Force as a mechanic before enrolling in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, from which he was later expelled for responding to rock-and-roll.[3]


After early stage work with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, Sutton became known for his unusual roles in two films directed by Sidney J. Furie.[4][1] He played a frustrated teenager accused with his friends of murder in The Boys (1962) and a gay biker in The Leather Boys (1964), both parts showing his potential for offbeat screen personae.[5] At a reunion of the three surviving stars of the earlier film in London on 17 September 2017, Sutton related that he felt himself privileged that these films had dealt with two matters close to his heart: the iniquity of the death penalty, and gay rights.[6][7]

On stage, he played the title role in the original production of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964), and transferred with it to Broadway the following year.[7][8] From 25 May 1966, he appeared in Tango, a play by Slawomir Mrozek at the Aldwych Theatre alongside Patience Collier, Peter Jeffrey, Mike Pratt, and Ursula Mohan under director Trevor Nunn.[9]

Sutton appeared in many films during his career, including Rotten to the Core (1965), Crossplot (1969), The Devils (1971), Madame Sin (1972), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Fellini's Casanova (1976), Edward II (1991), and The Football Factory (2004).[10]

Among his many television appearances were his roles as Tinker Dill in Lovejoy (1986 and 1991–94) – whose friendship with Lovejoy, the title character, and expertise in the antique trade was the backbone of the show – as Mr Carter in the Beiderbecke Trilogy and as Oleg Kirov in Smiley's People (1982).[7] He also featured as Max Deller, a career criminal involved in a heist of gold bullion in The Sweeney episode "Golden Boy" and in a Christmas special episode of Porridge (1976) as the somewhat-unstable, prison trusty-turned-hostage-taker Reg Urwin, with Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale.[11][12]

Dudley Sutton with Edward Hardwicke in The Goodbye Plane in 2003

In 1999, he appeared in the BBC Radio play Cosmos the Mystic Dog. In 2003, Sutton starred opposite Edward Hardwicke in David Bartlett's film The Goodbye Plane, and in 2004, he made an appearance in the soap opera EastEnders for sixteen episodes, playing Wilfred Atkins, a conman.[7]

In 2003, Sutton found inspiration from the internet "where apparently people say that every time you masturbate God kills a kitten." From that statement, he developed a comic piece about "a young man's emotions and feelings, from the moment he's a baby tugging at his cock onwards." In August 2003, he performed the one-man Killing Kittens show at Edinburgh's Underbelly.[7]

Sutton followed up Killing Kittens with a second autobiographical show Pandora's Lunchbox in 2006.[7] Following a performance as William Blake in Peter Ackroyd's BBC television series The Romantics, Sutton joined the cast of Albion Rising at St Giles in the Fields Church, London, in April 2007.[13][14] He reprised the role in the film of the same name in 2009.[citation needed][15]

Sutton had a small role in the British teenage drama Skins as Freddie's granddad.[7] He also appeared in the episode of Holby City broadcast on 15 March 2011 as a patient who fell down an escalator in a shopping centre.[16] In 2012, he featured in the video "Once And For All" by Clock Opera.[17]

Sutton also appeared in episode three of the BBC comedy series Family Tree ("The Austerity Games"), which was first broadcast in July 2013, and was a guest star in episode three of the BBC series Boomers in 2014.[18][10] He played William Makepeace in Emmerdale in 2014.[10]

In 2015 he appeared as a Roman Catholic rector in the BBC TV series Father Brown episode 3.6 "The Upcott Fraternity".[19] He also appeared in two episodes of the BBC's day time show, Doctors, in August 2015.[20][21] He narrated the 2016 documentary The Future of Work and Death. In November 2017 he played the lead role in a video for the Tom Chaplin song "Midnight Mass".[7]

Personal life[edit]

He married American actress Marjorie Steele in 1961; she had previously been married to the millionaire producer Huntington Hartford. Sutton and Steele had one child together, but divorced in 1965.[4] He had two more children.[citation needed]


Sutton died of cancer on 15 September 2018 at the age of 85. He is survived by three children.[4][22]



  1. ^ a b "Dudley Sutton | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
  2. ^ Dudley Sutton obituary, The Guardian, 16 September 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  3. ^ Smith, Adam (1 October 2010). "Interview with Dudley Sutton". Theatre Archive Project. British Library. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Farquhar, Simon (16 September 2018). "Dudley Sutton obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Obituary - Dudley Sutton, actor best known for Lovejoy". HeraldScotland.
  6. ^ Stockton, Paul (28 October 2017). "Dusty Video Box: Ted talk… The Boys (1962), Original cast reunion and screening, Elstree Studios".
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dudley Sutton: Actor known for his roles in 'Lovejoy', 'EastEnders' and 'Skins'". The Independent. 9 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Dudley Sutton – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com.
  9. ^ "Lively Choice of Plays for Aldwych." The Times (London, England) 22 April 1966: p.17. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "Dudley Sutton". BFI. Archived from the original on 22 February 2016.
  11. ^ "The Sweeney - S1 - Episode 9: Golden Boy". Radio Times.
  12. ^ "Porridge - S2 - Episode 8: The Desperate Hours". Radio Times.
  13. ^ "BBC Four - the Romantics, Nature".
  14. ^ "Blake 250". www.saintjean.co.uk.
  15. ^ "JUDE RAWLINS: Essays & Articles". www.electricfilms.net.
  16. ^ "BBC One - Holby City, Series 13, Too Much Monkey Business".
  17. ^ "Clock Opera 'Once and for All' by Ben Strebel" Archived 6 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Promo News, 4 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  18. ^ "BBC Two - Family Tree, the Austerity Games".
  19. ^ "Father Brown - S3 - Episode 6: The Upcott Fraternity". Radio Times.
  20. ^ "BBC One - Doctors, Series 17, Manhunt".
  21. ^ "BBC One - Doctors, Series 17, Bad Samaritan".
  22. ^ "Lovejoy star Dudley Sutton dies of cancer aged 85". The Irish News. 16 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.

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