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|Born||Laurence Stanley Payne
5 June 1919
London, England, UK
|Died||23 February 2009
London, England, UK
Pamela Alan (divorced)
Sheila Burrell (divorced)
Laurence Stanley Payne was born in London. His father died when he was three years old, and he and his elder brother and sister were brought up by their mother, a Wesleyan Methodist in Wood Green, London. He attended Belmont School and Tottenham Grammar School, leaving at 16 to take a clerical job. After training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1939, he was exempted from war service as a conscientious objector on condition that he went on tour with the Old Vic during the war.
Payne made his professional debut at the Old Vic theatre in 1939 and remained with the company for several years. He then performed at the Chanticleer and Arts theatres in London, also directing and broadcasting for the first times during this period. At Stratford-on-Avon he played, among other parts, Romeo in Peter Brook's 1947 production.
After more work at London theatres, he played leading roles at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic, and after that rejoined the London Old Vic company. At the Embassy Theatre in London he played Hamlet.
His film credits include: The Trollenberg Terror (aka. The Crawling Eye), Vampire Circus, The Tell-Tale Heart and Ben-Hur. His television credits include: Z-Cars, Moonstrike, The Sandbaggers, Airline, Telephone Soup and Tales of the Unexpected. See him also as Capulet in a 1976 version of Romeo and Juliet.
He appears in three Doctor Who serials: The Gunfighters, The Leisure Hive and The Two Doctors, playing a different role in each. Perhaps his most famous role was as TV's Sexton Blake (1968–71) on ITV in Britain. It was while filming an episode of Sexton Blake that he lost the sight in his left eye during rehearsal of a sword fighting scene with actor Basil Henson, following a hard sword blow against the side of his head. Peter Moffatt took him straight away to Moorfields Eye Hospital, and Payne was told that, if he could lie still for a week without moving his head, his retina would join up again so preserving his sight. Instead of doing this, Payne went back to work, got hit in a fist fight, and so lost his sight in that eye.
After retiring from acting, Payne continued to concentrate on writing crime/detective novels (his first novel having been published in 1962). By 1993, he had published 11 novels, and he has been called "one of the great humorists of the world of crime fiction".
- Train of Events (1949)
- Glad Tidings (1953)
- Dangerous Exile (1957)
- Ill Met by Moonlight (1957)
- A Tale of Two Cities (1958)
- The Trollenberg Terror (1958)
- Ben-Hur (1959)
- The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)
- The Singer Not the Song (1961)
- The Third Alibi (1961)
- The Queen's Guards (1961)
- Barabbas (1961)
- The Court Martial of Major Keller (1961)
- Crosstrap (1962)
- Mystery Submarine (1963)
- Vampire Circus (1972)
- Romeo and Juliet (1976) (TV)
- "Laurence Payne". BFI.
- Booth, Jenny. "Obituary - Laurence Payne". The Times. London. (subscription required)
- Michael Coveney (6 March 2009). "Laurence Payne: Actor and author best known as the vintage detective Sexton Blake". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "Laurence Payne". fantasticfiction.co.uk.
- Trevor Royle (1991). "Payne, Laurence". In Lesley Henderson. Twentieth-century crime and mystery writers. St. James Press. pp. 834–5. ISBN 978-1-55862-031-5.