Paul Valentine Birkby
2 May 1941
Chessington, Surrey, England
|Died||3 June 2019(aged 78)|
|Education||Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School|
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|Known for||Blake's 7|
|Spouse(s)||Janet Lees Price|
Paul Darrow (born Paul Valentine Birkby; 2 May 1941 – 3 June 2019) was an English actor. He became best known for playing Kerr Avon in the BBC science fiction television series Blake's 7 between 1978 and 1981. His many television roles included two appearances in another BBC science fiction series, Doctor Who, playing Captain Hawkins in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970) and Tekker in Timelash (1985). He was also the voice of "Jack" on independent radio stations JACKfm and Union JACK, whose lines included dry-witted comments pertaining to current events.
Darrow was born Paul Valentine Birkby in Chessington, Surrey, on 2 May 1941. He received his formal education at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, before studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. While at RADA, he shared a flat with fellow actors John Hurt and Ian McShane.
Darrow worked extensively in theatre and television.
His television appearances include: Emergency – Ward 10, The Saint, Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, Within These Walls, as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1975 BBC series The Legend of Robin Hood, as Mr. Tallboy in the 1973 adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, as Thomas Doughty in the television film Drake's Venture, Dombey and Son, Maelstrom, Making News, Pie in the Sky, Hollyoaks, Toast of London and Little Britain. He provided the voiceover for Biblical quotations in Richard Dawkins's The Root of All Evil?. He had a one-off appearance in the 1990 series of Cluedo, but did not play the murder victim. He was also the presenter of the BBC3 reality series Hercules (2004).
Darrow appeared as the character Avon, for which he was best known, in all but the first episode of Blake's 7. Proud of his work on that series, Darrow acted as its most prolific spokesman, both in the UK and the US, during the late 1980s. In the mid-to-late 1990s, he purchased the rights to Blake's 7 and attempted to produce a big-budget follow-up mini-series, Blake's 7: A Rebellion Reborn. According to Darrow, it would have begun 25 years after the ending of the original series and might have included an ageing Avon passing the torch to a new generation.
His film credits are few, but include roles as doctors in The Raging Moon (1971) and the Bond movie Die Another Day (2002), for which he filmed but much of his material was deleted before the film went on release to cinemas. Darrow appears briefly in the final product.
Darrow recorded voice-overs and straplines for UK JACKfm station in Oxfordshire. He also provided the voice of the character Grand Moff Tarkin in the computer game Star Wars: Empire at War. He also voiced the character of Zarok in the PlayStation game MediEvil; his recordings were re-used in the game's 2019 remake. Darrow appeared in Emmerdale from 13 July 2009, playing Eddy Fox, Alan Turner's friend; he knows Turner as "Tank". He also played the character of Kaston Iago in the Kaldor City audio releases.
Darrow also provided the voice of a main character in the PC game Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising. The actress Glynis Barber, who played Soolin in Blake's 7, provided the voice for the main female character. The game was narrated by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame.
Darrow played the role of Sam Vimes in the 1998/99 touring production of the play based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Guards! Guards!.
In 2004, Darrow was the subject of the fourth volume of MJTV's "The Actor Speaks" audio CDs, featuring frank interviews and dramatic pieces, alongside guest Peter Miles, with a piece specifically written by Tanith Lee.
Darrow narrated the 2008 audio book of Terry Nation's classic children's story Rebecca's World: Journey to the Forbidden Planet (2008)
In December 2011, Darrow voiced the character of Overseer Tremel in the Bioware MMORPG release Star Wars: The Old Republic.
In 2012, Darrow returned to the role of Kerr Avon in Big Finish Productions' Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles, a series of dramatic readings which take place during Series One, Two and Three of the original show. He also reprised the part in Blake's 7: The Classic Audio Adventures, a full-cast audio drama series.
In 2015, Darrow starred as Paul Rand, the enigmatic business man in charge of the business institute Atlas in the interactive video game Contradiction: Spot the Liar!. A sequel was planned in 2016, but never came to fruition.
Darrow was Patron of the University of York Astronomy Society (AstroSoc) from 1981 to 1984.
An extinct crocodile from the Miocene of Australia, Baru darrowi, was named after Darrow.
On 27 October 2018, Darrow appeared on (and won) a celebrity sci-fi edition of the quiz show Pointless, along with fellow Blake's 7 star Michael Keating.
In the mid-1960s Darrow married the actress Janet Lees-Price. They were married almost fifty years, until her death in 2012, and lived in later life in Billingshurst, West Sussex.
Illness and death
In his last years Darrow suffered a decline in health. In 2014, he had an aortic aneurysm, and due to complications during its treatment, surgeons had to amputate both his legs. He died on the morning of 3 June 2019 at the age of 78. The 2019 remake of MediEvil, which featured Darrow as the voice of the main antagonist Zarok, was dedicated to his memory.
- Avon: A Terrible Aspect (1989) (ISBN 0-80651-112-5), a Blake's 7 prequel novel about Avon's father and Avon's own early life.
- Queen: The eYe (1997) (ISBN 9780752203713), a novelisation of the video game of the same name.
- You're Him, Aren't You? (2006) (ISBN 1-84435-236-6), autobiography. (Re-released as an audio book narrated by Darrow in 2016.)
- Lucifer (2013) (ISBN 9781781780473), first of a trilogy of books set after the events of Blake's 7.
- Lucifer: Revelation (2014) (ISBN 9781781783900), second of a trilogy of books set after the events of Blake's 7.
- Lucifer: Genesis (2015) (ISBN 9781781783870), third of a trilogy of books set after the events of Blake's 7.
|1964||Dr Strangelove||Navigator Lt. Sweets||Uncredited|
|1971||The Raging Moon||Doctor|
|2002||Die Another Day||Doctor|
|2006||Battlespace||Horondo the Computer||Direct-to-video|
|1963||The Odd Man||Salesman||Episode: "A Pattern of Little Silver Devils"|
|1965–1966||Emergency-Ward 10||Mr Verity||56 episodes|
|1967||The Saint||Omar||Episode: "The Gadic Collection"|
|1968||Virgin of the Secret Service||Sayid||Episode: "The Pyramid Plot"|
|1968||Frontier||Captain Hume||Episode: "His Lordship"|
|1968, 1978||ITV Playhouse||Anthony Eden / Julian||2 episodes|
|1969||The Newcomers||Cedric McDermott||2 episodes|
|1969||Special Branch||Lawyer||Episode: "Smokescreen"|
|1969||Coronation Street||Doctor||2 episodes|
|1969–1971||The Flaxton Boys||Captain Sterman / Wellington Moth / The Venerable||3 episodes|
|1969, 1973||Z-Cars||Trench/Jerry Shand||3 episodes|
|1970||Manhunt||Eddie||Episode: "The Losers"|
|1970, 1985||Doctor Who||Captain Hawkins / Tekker||Doctor Who and the Silurians/Timelash|
|1971||The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes||Doctor Hart||Episode: "A Message from the Deep Sea"|
|1973||Lord Peter Wimsey||Mr Tallboy||Serial: "Murder Must Advertise"|
|1974||Churchill's People||Marcellus||Episode: "Pritan"|
|1974–1975||Within These Walls||Dr Green||2 episodes|
|1974, 1976||Dixon of Dock Green||Tony Kinsley/Pearce||2 episodes|
|1975||The Poisoning of Charles Bravo||Charles Bravo||3 episodes|
|1975||Prometheus: The Life of Balzac||Cador||Episode: "The Human Comedy"|
|1975||The Legend of Robin Hood||Sheriff of Nottingham||TV miniseries|
|1976||Couples||Ralph Hewitt||6 episodes|
|1976||Killers||Edward Abinger||2 episodes|
|1976||When the Boat Comes In||Barford||Episode: "A Pillowful of Buttercups"|
|1977||Rooms||Peter Wishart||3 episodes|
|1977||Yes, Honestly||Bernard||Episode: "The Man Who Shot Bernard Vallance"|
|1978–1981||Blake's 7||Kerr Avon||51 episodes|
|1979||Penmarric||Robert Yorke||1 episode|
|1980||Hammer House of Horror||Andrews||Episode: "Guardian of the Abyss"|
|1980||Drake's Venture||Thomas Doughty||TV movie|
|1983||Dombey & Son||James Carker||TV miniseries|
|1985||Maelstrom||Oliver Bridewell||TV miniseries|
|1989||Storyboard||George||Episode: "Making News"|
|1990||Making News||George||6 episodes|
|1991||Dark Justice||Perth||Episode: "Nowhere to Hide"|
|1991||Fiddlers Three||Reggie Parsons||Episode: "The Man Most Likely To"|
|1991–1992, 2009||Emmerdale Farm||Eddy Fox/Patrick||12 episodes|
|1992||Haggard||Jack||Episode: "Mad Jack"|
|1992||Science Fiction||Sir Arthur Conan Doyle||Episode: "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Link"|
|1996||Pie in the Sky||Colin Wilkes||Episode: "New Leaf"|
|2000||The Strangerers||C.D.||6 episodes|
|2000||Rough Magik||Mr Moon||TV movie|
|2004||Little Britain||Conservative MP||1 episode|
|2005||Twisted Tales||Mr De Vere||Episode: "Flat Four"|
|2009–2011, 2013–2014||Law & Order: UK||Prentice||7 episodes|
|2014||Toast of London||Duncan Clench||Episode: "Desperate Measures"|
|1996||Gender Wars||Professor Jonathan Henry Smythe||Voice actor|
|1997||Queen: The eYe||Voices||Voice actor, also wrote the novelisation based on the game|
|2000||Imperium Galactica II: Alliances||English version, various voices||Voice actor|
|2001||Hostile Waters||Walker||Voice actor|
|2003||Primal||Ferai Shaman/The Watcher||Voice actor|
|2005||MediEvil: Resurrection||Zarok||Voice actor|
|2006||Star Wars: Empire at War||Grand Moff Tarkin||Voice actor|
|2011||Star Wars: The Old Republic||Overseer Tremel/Additional voices||Voice actor|
|2014||Elite Dangerous||MinuS||Voice actor, DLC pack|
|2015||Contradiction: The Interactive Murder Mystery Movie||Paul Rand||FMV|
|2019||MediEvil||Zarok||Archive sound, dedicated to Paul Darrow|
Radio and CD audio dramas
|1998–1999||Blake's 7||Kerr Avon||2 stories: "The Sevenfold Crown" and "The Syndeton Experiment"|
|2005||Doctor Who - The Monthly Adventures||Guidance||Serial: "The Next Life"|
|2005||The Adventures of Luther Arkwright||Cromwell|
|2010||Rebecca's World - Journey to the Forbidden Planet||Narrator|
|2012–2016||Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles||Kerr Avon/Narrator||17 episodes|
|2013–2020||Blake's 7: The Classic Audio Adventures||Kerr Avon||33 episodes|
- ^ Williamson, Marcus (5 June 2019). "Paul Darrow: Actor who starred in cult TV series Blake's 7 and Doctor Who". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
- ^ "Blake's 7 star Paul Darrow dies after short illness". Aberdeen Evening Express. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- ^ a b c "Blake's 7 actor Paul Darrow dies at 78". BBC. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- ^ Hercules (TV series) at IMDb
- ^ "The many proposed returns of Blake's 7". 20 March 2009.
- ^ "Interview: A conversation with actor and writer Paul Darrow". Flickering Myth. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- ^ "Hostile Waters". Eurogamer.net. 17 March 2001.
- ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: peter benedict (28 May 2009). "Terry Pratchett's GUARDS! GUARDS!" – via YouTube.
- ^ "Baru darrowi - Australian Museum". australianmuseum.net.au. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
- ^ "Pointless Celebrities series 11 - Sci Fi". BBC iPlayer. 27 October 2018.
- ^ Page, Sarah (4 June 2019). "Tributes to Billingshurst-based Blake's 7 actor Paul Darrow". West Sussex County Times. Billingshurst, West Sussex, UK. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- ^ a b Belam, Martin (3 June 2019). "Paul Darrow, cult favourite in Blake's 7, dies aged 78". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- ^ "Some bad and good news about Paul Darrow". eagletransporter.com. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2018.[better source needed]
- ^ "Cult Actors 8 Paul Darrow". 11 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- ^ "Blake's 7 star Paul Darrow dies after short illness". South Wales Argus. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
- ^ @JACKfmOxford (3 June 2019). "Shocked and saddened to announce this news today. We've lost a true gent - the iconic voice of JACK. We're still taking it in. Thanks for everything, Paul Darrow" (Tweet). Retrieved 3 June 2019 – via Twitter.
- Paul Darrow at the British Film Institute
- Paul Darrow at IMDb