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Melia was born in Berkshire and attended St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, the oldest Roman Catholic college in England. Before taking up acting he was a teacher. At one stage he ran a bar in Spain and thought about applying for a pub tenancy in England. However the idea was vetoed by his wife, former actress turned teacher, Celia Melia.
He began acting in television in the early 1970s, usually playing heavies or policemen, though he spent four years performing classic plays with the National Theatre. He played the part of the Teraleptil Leader in the long-running science fiction show Doctor Who in 1982, in a story titled The Visitation. In 1990, he joined the BBC One soap opera EastEnders as pub landlord Eddie Royle; however he only lasted just over a year in this role as his character was killed off in September 1991. His character was stabbed by Nick Cotton (John Altman) who was later tried for the murder but cleared.
His rugged features have led to parts in numerous crime dramas: The Sweeney, Fox, The Bill, Minder in the Series 1 episode Monday Night Fever, C.A.T.S. Eyes, Campion, The Chinese Detective, Dempsey and Makepeace, Rumpole of the Bailey, Inspector Morse, Maigret, The Detectives, Daylight Robbery and New Tricks.
He has also had parts in many other established dramas including When the Boat Comes In, Coronation Street, Casualty and most recently Doctors and Emmerdale. He is also known for having appeared on Doctor Who in full alien costume as the Terileptil Leader in the 1982 story The Visitation; and had a minor part on Blake's 7.
He lives in Hampton Wick, Surrey with his wife, Celia. They have two children, Tom and Charlotte, who have both appeared as extras in the EastEnders market square. In 2010, he guest starred in Dani's House.
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