George Baker (actor)
- For the Bengali actor-cum-politician, see George Baker (Bengali actor).
1 April 1931|
|Died||7 October 2011
West Lavington, Wiltshire, England
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
(m. 1950–1974, divorced, died 1989)
(m. 1974–1992, her death)
(m. 1993–2011, her death)
Baker was born in Varna, Bulgaria. His father was an English businessman and honorary vice consul and his mother a Red Cross nurse who moved to Bulgaria to help fight cholera. He attended Lancing College, Sussex; he then appeared as an actor in repertory theatre and at the Old Vic. Baker's third wife, Louie Ramsay, who died earlier in 2011, played his onscreen wife Dora in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. Baker was survived by five daughters (four from his first marriage, one from his second).
Baker first made his name in The Dam Busters and his first starring role was in The Ship That Died of Shame with Richard Attenborough. This was followed by a string of Ealing films, and his film the 1950s swashbuckler, The Moonraker has been shown all over the world since 1958. However, over time, Baker became better known as a television actor. He was the second (to Guy Doleman) of many actors to portray the role of "Number Two" in the series The Prisoner, appearing in the series' first episode. He appeared in his own TV comedy series Bowler. He was also in the first episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, playing a company boss interviewing the show's hapless main character. In the acclaimed 1976 drama serial, I, Claudius, Baker played the emperor Tiberius Caesar.
In the late 1970s, he starred as Inspector Roderick Alleyn in four adaptations of the mystery novels of Ngaio Marsh with New Zealand settings, in a production for New Zealand television. From 1988 to 2000, he played Inspector Reg Wexford in numerous television adaptations of mysteries by Ruth Rendell and this is probably the role for which he became best known. In 1993, following the death of his second wife, he married the actress Louie Ramsay, who played Mrs Wexford in the same television series.
He also appeared in The Baron, Survivors, Minder in Series 1's You Gotta Have Friends, Coronation Street (as brewery owner Cecil Newton), in the Doctor Who story Full Circle and masterful turn as a pair of twins in a 2005 episode of Midsomer Murders titled "The House In The Woods".
Baker also appeared in the British comedy television series The Goodies' episode "Tower of London" as the "Chief Beefeater", as well as in the sitcom No Job for a Lady, and he is popularly known for playing Captain Benson, the James Bond ally in the film The Spy Who Loved Me and for playing Sir Hilary Bray, a heraldry expert, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Later, when Bond, played by George Lazenby, impersonates Bray to gain access to Blofeld, Baker's voice was dubbed in place of Lazenby's to provide the accent. Baker also played an (uncredited) NASA engineer in You Only Live Twice.
He played a character called "Jamus Bondus" in an episode of 1970's farcical sitcom Up Pompeii!.
Baker's first theatre work was in repertory at Deal, Kent. His major stage credits include a season with the Old Vic company (1959–61), where he played Bolingbroke in Richard II, Jack in The Importance of being Earnest and Warwick in Saint Joan. In 1965 he started his own touring company, Candida Plays, based at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. He was Claudius in Buzz Goodbody's celebrated, modern-dress Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1975. 
In 1980 Baker wrote Fatal Spring, a play for television dealing with lives of poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves; this appeared on BBC 2 on 7 November 1980. It won him a United Nations peace award. His other writing credits included four of the Wexford screenplays.
- The Intruder (1953) as Adjutant
- The Ship That Died of Shame (1955) as Bill
- The Dam Busters (1955) as Flight Lieutenant D.J.H. Maltby, D.S.O. , D.F.C
- The Woman for Joe (1955) as Joe Harrop
- The Feminine Touch (1956) as Jim
- A Hill in Korea (1956) as Lt. Butler
- The Extra Day (1956) as Steven Marlow
- These Dangerous Years (1957) as Padre
- No Time for Tears (1957) as Dr. Nigel Barnes
- The Moonraker (1958) as The Moonraker
- Tread Softly Stranger (1958) as Johnny Mansell
- Lancelot and Guinevere (1964) as Sir Gawaine
- The Finest Hours (1964) as Lord Randolph (voice)
- Curse of the Fly (1965) as Martin Delambre
- Mister Ten Per Cent (1967) as Lord Edward
- You Only Live Twice (1967) as NASA Engineer (uncredited)
- Justine (1969) as British Ambassador David Mountolive
- Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) as Lord Sutterwick
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) as Sir Hilary Bray
- The Executioner (1970) as Philip Crawford
- A Warm December (1973) as Dr. Henry Barlow
- Three for All (1975) as Eddie Boyes
- The Firefighters (1975) as Station Officer Harrison
- The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976) as Various (English version, voice)
- Intimate Games (1976) as Prof. Gottlieb
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) as Captain Benson
- The Thirty Nine Steps (1978) as Sir Walter Bullivant
- North Sea Hijack (1979) as Fletcher
- Hopscotch (1980) as Westlake
- Time After Time (1986) as Valentine Swift
- Out of Order (1987) as Chief Inspector
- For Queen & Country (1988) as Kilcoyne
- Back to the Secret Garden (2001) as Will Weatherstaff
- Rupert of Hentzau (1964) as Rudolf Rassendyll / King Rudolf V
- The Prisoner: "Arrival" (1967) as The New Number Two
- Bowler (1973) as Stanley Bowler
- Survivors (1975) as Arthur Wormley
- I, Claudius (1976) as Tiberius
- Doctor Who: Full Circle (1980) as Login
- Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986) as Sir Richard of Leaford
- The Ruth Rendell Mysteries (1987–2000) as Det. Chief Insp. Reg Wexford
- Journey's End (1988) as Colonel
- Little Lord Fauntleroy (1995) as Lord Dorincourt
- Midsomer Murders (2005) 'The House in the Woods' as Twins Charlie / Jack Magwood
- Spooks (2005) as Hugo Ross
- Heartbeat (2007) as Maurice Dodson
- New Tricks (2007) as Steve Palmer (Last appearance)
- Baker, George (1989). A Cook for All Seasons. United Kingdom: Boxtree. ISBN 978-1-85283-254-4.
- Baker, George (2002). The Way to Wexford. United Kingdom: Headline. ISBN 978-0-7472-5381-5.
Notes and sources
- Coveney, Michael (16 March 2011). "Louie Ramsey obituary". London: The Guardian: 38. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- Shorter, Eric (10 October 2011). "George Baker obituary". London: The Guardian: 34. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- "Chief Inspector Wexford star George Baker dies aged 80". London: BBC News. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- "Wexford's George Baker dies, aged 80". London: The Daily Telegraph. 8 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- Collin, Robbie (9 October 2011). "George Baker: the man who might have been James Bond". London: The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
- "New touring theatre". London: The Times. 30 July 1969: 6.
- "Personal Choice". London: The Times. 7 November 1980: 25.