George Layton

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George Layton
Born (1943-03-02) 2 March 1943 (age 80)
  • Actor
  • author
  • theatre director
  • screenwriter
  • performer
  • writer
Years active1964–present
  • Vera Hodges
    (m. 1968, divorced)
  • Moya Smylie
    (m. 1977)

George Layton (born 2 March 1943) is an English actor, director, screenwriter and author best known for three television roles – junior doctor Paul Collier in the comedy series Doctor in the House and its sequels Doctor at Large, Doctor in Charge and Doctor at the Top, that of Bombardier 'Solly' Solomons in the first two series of It Ain't Half Hot Mum,[1] and as Des the mechanic in early episodes of Minder. He also appeared in two episodes of The Sweeney and played Norman Simmonds in EastEnders as well as a few early appearances as himself on the light entertainment BBC 1 consumer show That's Life.

Life and career[edit]

Layton was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England.[2] He was born to a family of Czechoslovak and Jewish ancestry and educated at Belle Vue Boys' Grammar School in Bradford during which time, in an interview for Talking Pictures TV Channel in April 2020, he mentioned his work on BBC Children's Hour at the former BBC Studios at Piccadilly, Manchester, where he came under the influence and guidance of Trevor Hill, Violet Carson and Doris Gamble. He then studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he won the Emile Littler award.[3] He went on to leading parts at Coventry and Nottingham and appeared on Broadway in Chips with Everything as well taking over the role of Fagin from Roy Hudd in 1979[4] in the first London revival of Oliver! at the Albery Theatre. He also appeared in an Australian production called Funny Peculiar. His early television work includes Swizzlewick, Enter Solly Gold, United!, Thirty-Minute Theatre, Detective, Toast, What's in It For Me? and Lay Down Your Arms. He also made guest appearances in many classic British series, including The Likely Lads, Z-Cars, The Liver Birds, two episodes of The Sweeney, Minder and played the lead in Len and the River Mob. In 1969 he played a small role in the Doctor Who story The Space Pirates.

Later that year he made his debut as medical student Paul Collier in Doctor in the House. As well as continuing to star in the series and its sequels, in 1971, he began to co-write episodes with former co-star Jonathan Lynn, the first under the pseudonym Oliver Fry to conceal the new writer's identity from his fellow cast members.

At the end of the Doctor in Charge series in 1973 he left the show (although he stayed on as a writer), and the following year he appeared in the first two series of It Ain't Half Hot Mum as Bombardier 'Solly' Solomons. He then joined forces with Jonathan Lynn once again to co-write and co-star in another sitcom My Brother's Keeper. He also appeared in Carry On Behind in 1975 playing a hospital doctor.

Layton was also one of the main presenters on the original series of That's Life!, hosted by Esther Rantzen.

His other television writing credits with Jonathan Lynn include episodes of On the Buses, Nearest and Dearest, Romany Jones and My Name Is Harry Worth.

In the mid-1970s, he and Lynn began to write separately, and Layton became a regular writer of Robin's Nest, in which he also played a guest character. Following this, he created and wrote the sitcoms Don't Wait Up starring Nigel Havers and Tony Britton and Executive Stress with Geoffrey Palmer and Penelope Keith. In 1990, Don't Wait Up won the Television and Radio Industries Club's 'Best Comedy Series' award. In the 1980s,he played the recurring character ‘Des’in the hit comedy-drama Minder. In a 2021 interview with Paul Stenning, Layton described how he left Minder temporarily as he had committed to a pantomime and now bitterly regrets he lost his role in the show.[5]

Layton provided voices for the children's cartoons Pigeon Street and Joshua Jones, and was the voice behind Sydney, a character in the long-running advertising campaign for Tetley tea.

After a brief return to the role of Paul Collier in 1991's Doctor at the Top, he starred in the hit comedy-drama series Sunburn (1999–2000), playing Alan Brooks, area manager of Janus Holidays in Cyprus. His most recent acting appearances have been in Doctors, Holby City and Casualty. In 2006, he made five appearances in Dictionary Corner on the game show Countdown and made a guest appearance in an episode of Heartbeat.

On 18 January 1999 Layton was the subject of This Is Your Life. He has also appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank.[6] Layton's less well-known voiceover work includes TV commercials for various financial products, and narration of promotional videos for property speculators Inside Track.[citation needed]

In August 2012 Layton competed in Celebrity Masterchef.


Layton has written three books of short stories, entitled The Fib and Other Stories, The Swap and Other Stories and The Trick and Other Stories. The tales describe family life in the North of England in the post-Second World War era. The books have been part of the National Curriculum in British schools, and film versions are being planned. Myles McDowell quotes Layton's The Balaclava Story as an example of how adults are often mostly absent from children's fiction.[7]



Year Title Role Notes
1968 Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush Gordon
1969 Mosquito Squadron Pilot Officer uncredited
1975 Carry On Behind Doctor
1976 Confessions of a Driving Instructor Tony Bender
1977 Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers Pvt. Jacobs
1999 Don't Go Breaking My Heart Max
2013 One Candle One Man GKO


Year Title Role
1964 Swizzlewick Eustace Madden
1965 The Likely Lads Mario
1965 Emergency-Ward 10 Gordon Hurst
1965–1966 United! Jimmy Stokes
1968 Len and the River Mob Len Tanner
1969 Doctor Who Technician Penn
1969 Dixon of Dock Green Billy Tate
1969 Z-Cars Grady
1969, 1971 The Liver Birds Joe
1969–1973, 1991 Doctor in the House
Doctor at Large
Doctor in Charge
Doctor at the Top
Junior Dr Paul Collier
1971 Coronation Street Barney Shelton
1974–1975 It Ain't Half Hot Mum Bombardier 'Solly' Solomons
1975 The Sweeney Ray Stackpole
1975–1976 My Brother's Keeper Brian Booth
1979—1981 Robin's Nest Vernon Potter
1979-1982 Minder Des
1981 Pigeon Street Narrator
1986 The Adventure Game Himself
1992 Joshua Jones Narrator &
male voices
1994 Dig & Dug with Daisy Narrator &
1999–2000 Sunburn Alan Brooks
2004 Holby City Howard Martin
2006 Heartbeat Graham Simpson
2007 The Bill Dr. Michael Sanderson
2011–2012 EastEnders Norman Simmonds
2012 Celebrity Masterchef Himself
2014 Boomers Dennis
2015 Doctors Rod Buckwell
2015 Casualty Clive Jones
2015 Vicious Andrew
2018 Casualty Geordie McDale

Selected theatre[edit]

As actor:

As director:


  1. ^ "George Layton". Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  2. ^ George Layton at the British Film Institute
  3. ^ "Honorary Degrees Conferred at Degree Ceremonies held on 10–11 December 1999 / 11–13 July 2000". University of Bradford. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Actor George Layton and pop singer Helen Shapiro who are co-starring..." Getty Images. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  5. ^ "EPISODE ONE – George Layton Interview Pt. 1 - THE MINDER PODCAST". 9 July 2021.
  6. ^ Lily Savage's Blankety Blank. 6 May 2001. ITV.
  7. ^ McDowell, Myles (1976). Fox, Geoff; Hammond, Graham; Jones, Terry; Smith, Frederic; Sterck, Kenneth (eds.). Writers, Critics and Children. New York: Agathon Press. pp. 150. ISBN 0-87586-054-0.

External links[edit]