Graham Crowden

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Graham Crowden
Graham Crowden.jpg
Born Clement Graham Crowden
(1922-11-30)30 November 1922
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Died 19 October 2010(2010-10-19) (aged 87)
Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland
Occupation Actor
Years active 1956–2008
Spouse(s) Phyllida Hewat
(1952–2010; his death)
Children 4

Clement Graham Crowden (30 November 1922 – 19 October 2010)[1][2] was a Scottish actor. He was best known for his many appearances in television comedy dramas and films, often playing eccentric "offbeat" scientist, teacher and doctor characters.

Early life[edit]

Graham Crowden was born in Edinburgh, the son of Anne Margaret (née Paterson) and Harry Graham Crowden.[3] He was educated at Clifton Hall School and the Edinburgh Academy before serving briefly in the Royal Scots Youth Battalion of the army until he was injured in a bizarre accident. During arms drill he was shot by his platoon sergeant, when the sergeant's rifle discharged.[4] The sergeant reportedly enquired "What is it now, Crowden?", to which Crowden replied "I think you've shot me, sergeant." He later found work in a tannery.

Acting career[edit]

Crowden had a long and distinguished theatrical career, most notably at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre where he performed as The Player King in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the play by Tom Stoppard.

He occasionally played mad scientists in film, taking the role of Doctor Millar in the Mick Travis films of director Lindsay Anderson, O Lucky Man! (1973) and Britannia Hospital (1982) and also playing the sinister Doctor Smiles in the film of Michael Moorcock's first Jerry Cornelius novel, The Final Programme (1973). He also played the eccentric history master in Anderson's if.... (1968). In 1970, he appeared in the popular Thames Television series Callan as The Groper, a de-registered doctor, who had been in Wormwood Scrubs called on by Callan, when unofficial medical assistance was required (e.g. Series 3, "A Village Called G" and likely others between 1967–73 though some are now lost).

In 1975, he made an appearance in "No Way Out" – an episode of the British sitcom Porridge alongside Ronnie Barker, Brian Wilde, Richard Beckinsale and Fulton Mackay, as the prison doctor when Fletcher was complaining of an injured leg.

He was offered the role of the Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who in 1974, when Jon Pertwee left the role but turned it down, informing producer Barry Letts that he was not prepared to commit himself to the series for three years. The role ultimately went to Tom Baker. He appeared in The Horns of Nimon (1979) as a villain opposite Baker. This was the reason why Ian Marter was originally hired, as the producers and directors considered Crowden too old to be seen running about and taking on a larger physical role.

A regular role was in the BBC comedy-drama A Very Peculiar Practice (1986–88) as the alcoholic Dr. Jock McCannon. In 1990, he appeared as a lecherous peer in the BBC comedy Don't Wait Up and in 1991 he played a modest role in the Rumpole of the Bailey episode "Rumpole and the Quacks", portraying Sir Hector MacAuliffe, the head of a medical inquest into the potential sexual misconduct on the part of Dr. Ghulam Rahmat (portrayed by Saeed Jaffrey).

In 1990, he landed the role of Tom Ballard in the sitcom Waiting for God, opposite Stephanie Cole's character Diana Trent, as the two rebellious retirement home residents. The show ran for five years and was a major success.[5]

In 1994, Crowden played the part of Professor Pollux in the BBC TV adaptation of the John Hadfield novel Love on a Branch Line.

Crowden then voiced the role of Mustrum Ridcully in the 1997 animated Cosgrove Hall production of Terry Pratchett's Soul Music.

In 2001, he guest-starred in the Midsomer Murders episode "Ring Out Your Dead" and also played The Marquis of Auld Reekie in The Way We Live Now. Between 2001 and 2002, he played a role in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series The Leopard in Autumn. In 2003, he made a cameo appearance as a sadistic naval school teacher in The Lost Prince. In 2005–08, he starred in the BBC Radio 4 sci-fi comedy Nebulous as Sir Ronald Rolands. In 2008, he appeared as a guest star in Foyle's War.

For many years towards the end of his life, he lived in Mill Hill, London NW7.

Death[edit]

Crowden died on 19 October 2010 in Edinburgh after a short illness. Crowden is survived by his wife, Phyllida Hewat, whom he married in 1952, a son and three daughters, one of whom, Sarah, followed him into acting.

Filmography[edit]

Television roles[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1964 HMS Paradise Commander Shaw
1964 Redcap: The Patrol Major Fraser
1965 Danger Man:That's Two Of Us Sorry Commander Braithwaite
1970 Catweazle:The Enchanted King Gobbling
1971 The Guardians:The Dirtiest Man in the World The Dirtiest Man
1973 The Adventures of Black Beauty: Goodbye Beauty Mr. Crevace
1975 Porridge: Christmas Special – "No Way Out" Prison Physician
1977 '1990': Decoy Dr. Sondeberg
1977 Raffles: Home Affairs Sir Arthur Rumbold
1979–1980 Doctor Who: The Horns of Nimon Soldeed
1985 Bleak House Lord Chancellor
1986–1988 A Very Peculiar Practice Dr. Jock McCannon
1986 All Passion Spent Herbert
1990–1994 Waiting for God Tom Ballard
1991 Rumpole of the Bailey Sir Hector MacAuliffe
1992 The Alleyn Mysteries: Final Curtain Sir Henry Ancred
1994 Love on a Branch Line Professor Pollux
1996 Gulliver's Travels Professor of Politics
2000 The 10th Kingdom Old Retainer
2001 Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible (Episode 'Curse of the Blood of the Lizard of Doom') Professor MacLewton
2001 The Way We Live Now The Marquis of Auld Reekie
2002 Midsomer Murders (Episode Ring Out Your Dead) Reggie Barton
2007 Waking the Dead (Episode Deus ex Machina) Sir Cyril Barrett
2008 Foyle's War (Episode 'Broken Souls') Sir John Sackville (final television appearance)

Film roles[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Bridal Path Man Giving Directions to the Beach Uncredited
1961 Don't Bother to Knock Scoutmaster Uncredited
1962 We Joined the Navy Uncredited
1965 One Way Pendulum Prosecuting Counsel / Caretaker
1966 Morgan - A Suitable Case for Treatment Counsel
1968 If.... History Master: Staff
1969 The File of the Golden Goose Smythe
1969 The Virgin Soldiers Medical Officer
1970 Leo the Last Max
1970 The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer Bishop of Cowley
1971 Percy Alfred Spaulton
1971 The Night Digger Mr. Bolton
1972 Something to Hide Lay Preacher
1972 Up the Chastity Belt Sir Coward
1972 The Ruling Class Kelso Truscott
1972 The Amazing Mr Blunden Mr. Clutterbuck
1973 O Lucky Man! Stewart / Prof. Millar / Meths Drinker
1973 The Final Programme Dr. Smiles
1974 The Abdication Cardinal Barberini
1974 The Little Prince The General
1974 Romance with a Double Bass Count Alexei
1975 The New Spartans
1977 Hardcore Lord Yardarm
1977 Jabberwocky Fanatics' Leader
1977 Three Dangerous Ladies The Butler (segment "The Island")
1981 For Your Eyes Only First Sea Lord
1982 Britannia Hospital Professor Millar
1982 The Missionary The Reverend Fitzbanks
1984 The Company of Wolves Old Priest
1985 Code Name: Emerald Sir Geoffrey Macklin
1985 Out of Africa Lord Belfield
1988 A Handful of Dust Mr. Graceful
1996 The Innocent Sleep George
1998 The Sea Change Chairman of The Board
1998 I Want You Old Man
2002 Possession Sir George
2003 Calendar Girls Richard

References[edit]

Michael Palin, Halfway to Hollywood, p. 162

External links[edit]