Frank Whitten

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Frank Whitten
Born Frank Edgar Richard Whitten
(1942-11-15)15 November 1942
Te Aroha, Waikato Region, New Zealand
Died 12 February 2011(2011-02-12) (aged 68)
New Zealand
Occupation Actor
Years active 1984–2010
Spouse(s) Jana Boková (1970–1979)

Frank Edgar Richard Whitten (15 November 1942 – 12 February 2011) was a New Zealand television actor. He was more recently known for playing Ted "Grandpa" West in the New Zealand television show Outrageous Fortune.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Frank Whitten was born in Te Aroha and grew up in the Waikato Region in the 1940s and 50s. Around 1963, "with very little experience and even less money", he left for England to become an actor. He also spent time as an improvisational tutor at leading British drama school the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and by 1970 was the school's vice-principal.[1] Over the next eighteen years, Whitten worked in a children's community theatre company he co-founded called Common Stock, which developed plays with, and for, working-class children.[2]


In 1982 Whitten returned to New Zealand and began acting in theatre. Two years later, he appeared as an exploitative guru of a commune in Trespasses, the movie spin off of police show Mortimer's Patch. The same year, Whitten played the enigmatic farmer who strides into the isolated rural world of a young child in Vigil, the first feature directed by Vincent Ward. In the mid-1980s he joined the serial Heroes, playing roadie to a group of young musicians. He followed this role by playing one of the main roles on historical drama Heart of the High Country, based on the novel by English author Elizabeth Gowans.[3]

Whitten had a role in the short film Accidents, and small roles in the romance Arriving Tuesday, Zilch, The Returning, and two international thrillers, Chill Factor and Hot Target. In 2003, he appeared in P.J. Hogan's live action remake of Peter Pan.

On television, he made guest appearances on Erebus: The Aftermath, Gloss, The Chosen, Ray Bradbury Theatre and Mysterious Island, and a lead role in the award-winning miniseries The Leaving of Liverpool.

In 2007, his ongoing role on as "Grandpa" Ted West on Outrageous Fortune won him a best supporting actor award at the New Zealand Screen Awards.

For twelve years, he played the older man in the Speight's "Southern Man" series of television commercials, well known for his character's catchphrase, "Good on ya, mate!"[3]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Heroes Leslie Series regular, 9 episodes
1985 Heart of the High Country Reg Bowen Main role
1986 Open House Tony Van Der Berg "Happy Birthday" (S01E01)
1989 The Brotherhood of the Rose unknown Miniseries
1989 The Shadow Trader Kevin McCarthy Episode 1
1990 The New Adventures of Black Beauty Gilbert de Mauria "Deceptive Appearances" (S01E05)
1990 The Ray Bradbury Theater Mr. Cooger "The Black Ferris" (S04E04)
1992 The Leaving of Liverpool Brother Jerome unknown
1992 The Ray Bradbury Theater Odd Martin "The Dead Man" (S06E07)
1992 The Ray Bradbury Theater Mailman "Great Wide World Over There" (S06E14)
1993 Phoenix Stan Cutler "In on the Joke" (S02E08)
1993 Police Rescue Glasel "Speeding" (S03E08)
1993-1994 Secrets Tom Jacobs Main role
1995 Heartbreak High Bob Season 2, Episode 5
1995 Mysterious Island Ayrton Main role
1996 Naked: Stories of Men Father Dunfree "Coral Island" (S01E01)
1996 Sun on the Stubble Pastor Miniseries, unknown episodes
1996 City Life Carl Jones Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8
1997 Murder Call Blackie "Heartstopper" (S01E16)
1998 Good Guys, Bad Guys Beau Kinsella "100% Proof" (S02E09)
1999 All Saints Ken Burns "If These Walls Could Talk" (S02E05)
2001 Changi Dr. Potter "Private Bill" (S01E03)
2003 All Saints Albert Tolz "Destiny's Child" (S06E03)
2004 All Saints Joe McLean "When Worlds Collide" (S07E24)
2004 Love My Way Kel "Stick Sisters" (S01E05)
2005-2010 Outrageous Fortune 'Grandpa' Ted West Main role


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Vigil Ethan Ruir
1988 The Clean Machine Premier John Morgan
1990 Ring of Scorpio John Walker Drama
1997 The Ripper Dr. Pearce Thriller
1998 The Chosen Eddie O'Connor Drama
1999 Airtight Escher Action / Drama / Romance / Sci-Fi / Thriller
2005 Hell Has Harbour Views Giles Taffy QC Drama / Comedy


Frank Whitten penned the stage drama Trifecta.


Frank Whitten died on 12 February 2011, aged 68.[4][5] The official media statement stated that "[he] died peacefully in his sleep"[6] following a short battle with cancer[7]


  1. ^ a b Megahey, Leslie: Esteemed drama teacher and actor who was prominent in radical theatre, The Age, 11 April 2011.
  2. ^ Craig, Sandy (1980). Dreams and deconstructions: alternative theatre in Britain. Amber Lane Press. ISBN 0-906399-19-X.
  3. ^ a b Frank Whitten Biography, NZ On Screen.
  4. ^ Outrageous Fortune actor Frank Whitten has died -
  5. ^ Murray, James (13 February 2011). "Frank Whitten - Outrageous Fortune's Grandpa has died". 3 News. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  6. ^ Official Media Statement on Whitten's death
  7. ^ Rodger, Kate (14 February 2011). "Co-stars pay tribute to Outrageous Fortune's Frank whitten". 3 News. Retrieved 30 September 2011.

External links[edit]