George Sewell

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George Sewell
Actor George Sewell.jpg
Born(1924-08-31)31 August 1924
Died2 April 2007(2007-04-02) (aged 82)
London, UK
Years active1963–2006
Spouse(s)Helen (?–2007; his death)

George Sewell (31 August 1924 – 2 April 2007) was an English actor, best known for his television roles, but also active on stage and in films[1]

Early life and career[edit]

The son of a Hoxton printer and a florist,[2] Sewell left school at the age of 14 and worked briefly in the printing trade before switching to building work, specifically the repair of bomb-damaged houses. He then trained as a Royal Air Force pilot, though too late to see action during the Second World War.[2]

Following his demob, Sewell joined the Merchant Navy, serving as a steward for the Cunard Line on the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth for their Atlantic crossings to New York. He worked as a street photographer, assisted a French roller-skating team, and was drummer and assistant road manager of a rumba band.[2] He also travelled Europe as a motor coach courier for a holiday company.[3]

Acting career[edit]


Sewell had not considered acting until, aged 35,[2] he met the actor Dudley Sutton by chance in a pub.[3] Sutton recommended that Sewell audition for a production by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop of Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be. Sewell did so, and made his acting debut as a policeman in the show both at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East and in the West End.[3] He went on to star in two other Littlewood productions, Sparrers Can't Sing (1962) and as Field Marshal Haig in Oh! What a Lovely War (1963), which later opened in Paris and on Broadway.[3] The experience garnered from stage acting led to a long career in both film and television.


For many years, Sewell was the gritty face of crime and law enforcement in a huge array of television series. Amongst his early roles, he was the tallyman in the television play Up The Junction (1965), a criminal who runs off with a teenage girl in Softly, Softly (1966), a hard-nosed building engineer in The Power Game (1965–66), a cowardly informer in Man in a Suitcase (1967), and a seedy private eye in Spindoe (1968). In 1969 he played an escaped convict called Jansen in the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode called "Vendetta for a dead man".[4] In 1970, he played Colonel Alec Freeman in Gerry Anderson's live-action science-fiction drama UFO.[5] Also in 1970 he played resistance leader Pierre Allard in three episodes of the ITV series Manhunt – 14 (One Way Home), 17 (The Ugly Side of War) and 22, (Intent to Steal) which were filmed in 1969 and aired in January 1970.[6][7][8]


In 1973, Euston Films re-invigorated the TV series Special Branch, formerly a videotaped series starring Derren Nesbitt.[9] Sewell was brought in to play the lead character of DCI Alan Craven.[10] The show ran for two seasons with Sewell, and served as a stylistic forerunner of crime drama The Sweeney (in which Sewell also appeared, this time as a villain). Sewell was to parody this role as Supt Frank Cottam in the Jasper Carrott/Robert Powell comedy, The Detectives.[11]

He also played a Detective Baker who turned out to be a burglar in the Rising Damp episode The Prowler.[12]

Later roles[edit]

Later television appearances include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), in which he played Mendel, and the Doctor Who story Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), in which he played builder's merchant and fascist leader Ratcliffe.[13][14] He also appeared frequently in films, notably This Sporting Life (1963), Poor Cow (1967) and Get Carter (1971).[15]

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1973 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews while filming scenes for the TV series Special Branch.[16]

Personal life and death[edit]

George Sewell died from cancer on 2 April 2007 at the age of 82.[17] His brother, Danny Sewell, a former boxer, also became an actor.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
1963 This Sporting Life Jeff
1963 Sparrows Can't Sing Bert
1963 A Place to Go Market Trader Uncredited.
1963 The Informers Fred Hill
1966 Kaleidoscope Billy
1967 Deadlier Than the Male Car Park Assassin Uncredited.
1967 Robbery Ben
1967 Poor Cow Customer in Pub Scenes deleted.
1968 The Vengeance of She Harry
1969 The Haunted House of Horror Bob Kellett
1969 Doppelgänger Mark Neuman
1971 Get Carter[18] Con McCarty
1973 Diamonds on Wheels Henry Stewart
1973 UFO - Allarme rosso... attacco alla Terra! Col. Alec E. Freeman Italian-language series UFO compilation film.
1973 Kill Straker, a Question of Priorities Col. Alec E. Freeman UFO compilation film, known in the Italian-language series as "UFO - Distruggete Base Luna".
1974 UFO - Prendeteli vivi! Col. Alec E. Freeman Italian-language series UFO compilation film.
1974 UFO - Contatto Radar... stanno atterrando...! Col. Alec E. Freeman Italian-language series UFO compilation film.
1974 Invasion: UFO Col. Alec E. Freeman UFO compilation film, known in the Italian-language series as "UFO - Annientate SHADO... Uccidete Straker... Stop".
1975 Operation Daybreak Heinz Panwitz, Chief Investigator
1975 Barry Lyndon Barry's Second
1979 Running Blind Slade
1979 Winterspelt Colonel
1981 If You Go Down in the Woods Today Knocker
1998 Let's Stick Together Carter


Year Title Role Notes
1965-1967 Z-Cars Det. Insp. Brogan/Joe Carter/Harris
1969-1971 Paul Temple Sammy Carson
1969 Public Eye Jakeman episode: Welcome to Brighton?
1970 Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Eric Jansen episode: Vendetta for a Dead Man
1970 Manhunt Pierre Allard
1970 UFO Col. Alec Freeman
1971 Public Eye Harry Brierly
1973-1974 Special Branch Det. Chief Insp. Alan Craven
1975 Rising Damp Baker "The Prowler", 10 January 1975
1978 The Sweeney Vic Tolman "Bait", 19 October 1978
1979 Running Blind Slade
1979 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Mendel
1981 Minder Frank episode: Rembrandt Doesn't Live Here Any More
1982-1983 Andy Robson Peter Mueller
1984 Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense Det. Inspector Grant episode: Mark of the Devil
1987-1990 Home James! Robert Palmer
1988 Doctor Who Ratcliffe Remembrance of the Daleks
1993-1997 The Detectives Superintendent Cottam


  1. ^ "Obituary at".
  2. ^ a b c d Purser, Philip (11 April 2007). "Guardian, 11 April 2007". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Times, 14 April 2007". London. 14 April 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  4. ^ "George Sewell".
  5. ^ "BFI Screenonline: U.F.O. (1970-71)".
  6. ^ "One Way Home (1970)". BFI.
  7. ^ "The Ugly Side of War (1970)". BFI.
  8. ^ "Intent to Steal (1970)". BFI.
  9. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Special Branch (1969-74)".
  10. ^ "A Copper Called Craven (1973)". BFI.
  11. ^ "Never without Protection (1994)". BFI.
  12. ^ "The Prowler (1975)". BFI.
  13. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) Credits".
  14. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Remembrance of the Daleks - Details".
  15. ^ "George Sewell". BFI.
  16. ^ "George Sewell".
  17. ^ a b Purser, Philip (10 April 2007). "Obituary: George Sewell" – via
  18. ^ Sewell obit in The Telegraph

External links[edit]