Peter Wyngarde

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Peter Wyngarde
Peter Wyngarde Allan Warren.jpg
Wyngarde in 1976, by Allan Warren
Occupation Film and television actor
Years active 1946–1994

Peter Paul Wyngarde is an actor best known for playing the character Jason King, a bestselling novelist turned sleuth, in two British television series: Department S (1969–70) and Jason King (1971–72).


Early life[edit]

Wyngarde's date and place of birth, his birth name and his family origins are all disputed.

Wyngarde is usually said to have been born in Marseille, France,[1] although in 1960 he gave his place of birth as Singapore.[2]

There is persuasive evidence that his birth name was Cyril Louis Goldbert, and that his father was Henry P. Goldbert who was born in Russia and later became a naturalised British citizen in Singapore.[3] He claims that his mother was French, a racing driver, "looked like Claudette Colbert and had affairs all over the place"[4]. He claims the French actor Louis Jouvet was his uncle[citation needed]. Some sources say Cyril Goldbert was not Wyngarde's real birth name, just a joke he made with an interviewer, but the author J. G. Ballard has written that he and his family knew Wyngarde as Cyril Goldbert when they were interned in during World War II.[5][6][7][8][9]

According to Ballard's autobiography Miracles of Life, "[Cyril Goldbert], the future Peter Wyngarde ... was four years older than me..."[5] Ballard was born in November 1930, giving Wyngarde as estimated birth year of 1926. However according to records compiled in 1943 at the Lunghwa Camp where Ballard and Wyngarde were both detained, Cyril Goldbert was born in 1928.[10] Immigration records from Wyngarde's arrival in the UK in 1945 say he was 18 at the time, with a birth year of 1927, and his appearance on the 1948 electoral roll for people aged 21 and over, suggests a date of birth of 1927 at the latest. Immigration and travel records from Wyngarde's trip to the USA in 1960 give a birth year of 1929. Wyngarde himself says he was born in 1933 and some sources use this date.[11][12]

Due to his father's work with the British Diplomatic Service Wyngarde's childhood was spent in a number of different countries[citation needed]. In 1941, while his parents were away in India, he went to stay with a Swiss family in Shanghai.[citation needed] The Japanese Army took over Shanghai's International Settlement on 8 December 1941, and as a British citizen he was interned in the Lunghua civilian internment camp on 10 April 1943.[13] His younger half-siblings, Adolphe (later Henry) Goldbert (1930-2011)[14] and Marion Colette Simone Goldbert, later Wells (1932-2012),[15] were under Swiss protection and thus exempt from internment.[10][15][16]

Acting career: 1940s to 1970s[edit]

There is no trace of a Peter Wyngarde arriving in the UK, but Cyril Goldbert arrived in December 1945, sailing from Shanghai on the Cunard White Star Line vessel the Arawa.[17]

There is no further trace of Cyril Goldbert but by 1946, Peter Wyngarde was working as a professional actor. He took the adult role of Morris Albert in a production of Noel Coward's Present Laughter which opened on 7 August 1947 at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham.[18] By 1948, he was 21 years old and on the London Electoral Roll as Peter Wyngarde.[19]

From the mid-1950s Wyngarde had roles in feature films, television plays and television series guest appearances. One of these, a television adaptation of Julien Green's novel South (1959, originally Sud), in which Wyngarde featured in a lead role, is thought to be the earliest television play with an overtly homosexual theme.[20] He appeared as Pausanias opposite Richard Burton in the film Alexander the Great (1956), played a lead role in the film The Siege of Sidney Street (1960), and appeared as Sir Roger Casement in an episode in the Granada TV's On Trial series produced by Peter Wildeblood. Wyngarde's other film work was limited but had impact. In Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961), he had brief (unspeaking) scenes as the leering Peter Quint with Deborah Kerr and Pamela Franklin. The following year he was the lead actor in the occult thriller Night of the Eagle.

By the late 1960s, he was a regular guest star on many of the popular UK series of the day — many of which were espionage adventure series — including The Avengers, The Saint, The Baron, Sherlock Holmes, The Champions, The Troubleshooters, Love Story, I Spy and The Man In Room 17. He also played the authority figure Number Two in The Prisoner ("Checkmate", 1967).

Wyngarde became a British household name through his starring role in the espionage series Department S (1969). His Jason King character often got the girl and as she is about to kiss him, he manages to avoid it, much to the annoyance of co-actor Joel Fabiani. After that series ended, his character, the suave womaniser Jason King, was spun off into a new action espionage series entitled Jason King (1971), which ran for one season (26 one-hour episodes). The series was sold overseas and Wyngarde briefly became an international celebrity, being mobbed by female fans in Australia. A revival in October 1973 of The King and I, featuring Wyngarde in the male lead role, and initially with Sally Ann Howes as Anna, ran for 260 performances at the Adelphi Theatre in London.[21]

Later life and career[edit]

In 1983, he appeared in the thriller Underground opposite Raymond Burr at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, and at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London.[22]

During the 1980s and 1990s he made a number of TV appearances, including Doctor Who (Planet of Fire, 1984), Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense (1984) and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994). He also appeared as Sir Robert Knight in the film Tank Malling (1989) with Ray Winstone.

In recent years he has been a regular guest at Memorabilia, a science fiction and sporting memorabilia fair at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.[citation needed] He appeared as a guest of Simon Dee in the Channel Four one-off revival of his chat show Dee Time in 2003. In 2007, Wyngarde participated in recording extras for a box-set of The Prisoner, including a mock interview segment titled "The Pink Prisoner".

In January 2014 he narrated an episode of the BBC's Timeshift documentary strand, Sherlock Holmes: The Many Faces of a Master Detective.[23] In the 2015 documentary series for Channel Four, It was Alright in the 1960s, Wyngarde expressed his unease at having to don blackface to play a Turkish man in The Saint, but said that he had done it only in the hope that a theatre director might pick him to play Othello.[24]


In 1970, Wyngarde recorded an album for RCA Victor entitled simply Peter Wyngarde, featuring a single, "La Ronde De L'Amour/The Way I Cry Over You". However, Wyngarde did not deliver a set of easy listening standards as might be expected, but a most unusual collection of spoken word/musical arrangements produced by Vic Smith and Hubert Thomas Valverde. A promo single of the track "Rape" (entitled "Peter Wyngarde Commits Rape") was also issued in 1970.[25]

In 1998, the album was reissued on compact disc by RPM Records, now titled When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head. According to Wyngarde himself (quoted in the liner notes of the CD re-issue), prior to the RCA deal, EMI Records had also been interested in cashing in on his fame and suggested issuing an album of him performing a selection of Sinatra songs. However, RCA allowed him carte blanche, assuming that the record would be a failure and could be used by them as a tax loss. However, when the initial pressings quickly sold out and it showed a profit, they declined to press any more copies.

Track listing:

  1. "Come In"
  2. "You Wonder how these Things Begin"
  3. "Rape"
  4. "La Ronde de L'amour"
  5. "Jenny Kissed Me"
  6. "Way I Cry over You"
  7. "Unknown Citizen"
  8. "It's when I Touch You"
  9. "Hippie and the Skinhead"
  10. "Try to Remember to Forget (Riviera Cowboy)"
  11. "Jenny Kissed Me and it Was..."
  12. "Widdecombe Fair"
  13. "Neville Thumbcatch"
  14. "Once Again (Flight Number Ten)"
  15. "Pay No Attention"
  16. "April"

Personal life[edit]

Wyngarde has always kept his private life to himself, and in interviews he has often spoken about how much he enjoys being single.

In the early 1950s he was married briefly to the actress Dorinda Stevens.[26]

Peter Wyngarde shared a flat in Earls Terrace, Kensington with the actor Alan Bates for some years in the 1960s.[27] In his biography of Bates, Donald Spoto claims that the two were in a decade-long romantic relationship,[28] but other sources say the friendship was platonic.

He still lives in Kensington today.[citation needed]



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ 1993 with Andrew Billen
  5. ^ a b Ballard, J. G. (2008). Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton: an autobiography. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-0-00-727072-9. 
  6. ^ The regeneration game — TV repeats, The Times, London, 30 November 1991.
  7. ^ TV Review: Walking On The Wilde Side, Evening Standard, London, 17 July 2001.
  8. ^ Mr Showbiz Byline Chris Young, Evening Times, Glasgow, 6 April 2002.
  9. ^ Television: TV Heroes, The Independent, London, 23 January 2003.
  10. ^ a b Document FO 916/1345, The National Archives, Kew, England.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Civil Assembly Organization entry list, British Residents' Association, June 1943.
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ UK Incoming Passengers Lists via Port of Departure: Shanghai, China Arrival Date: 30 Apr 1946 Port of Arrival: Southampton, England Ship Name: Strathmore Search Ship Database: Search for the Strathmore in the 'Passenger Ships and Images' database Shipping line: P and O Steam Navigation Company Ltd Official Number: 164521
  17. ^ UK Incoming Passengers index. Name: C Golbert Birth Date: abt 1927 Age: 18 Port of Departure: Shanghai, China Arrival Date: 14 Dec 1945 Port of Arrival: Southampton, England Ship Name: Arawa Search Ship Database: Search for the Arawa in the 'Passenger Ships and Images' database Shipping line: Cunard White Star Official Number: 140148
  18. ^
  19. ^ London Electoral Roll, 1948, Camden, Hampstead area
  20. ^ Mark Brown, "Newly unearthed ITV play could be first ever gay television drama", The Guardian, 16 March 2013.
  21. ^ Adrian Wright, West End Broadway, Woodridge: Boydell Press, 2012, p. 92.
  22. ^ British Theatre Guide, 1983.
  23. ^ "Timeshift, Series 13, How to be Sherlock Holmes: The Many Faces of a Master Detective, Web exclusive: Peter Wyngarde on double detection (audio)". BBC Four. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Peter Wyngarde Discography". Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  26. ^ London Electoral Register for 1953 shows Dorinda Wyngarde and Peter Wyngarde living at 9 Holland Park, Kensington
  27. ^ London Electoral Register 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965: Allan [sic] Bates and Peter Wyngarde living at 1(1) Earls Terrace, Kensington
  28. ^

External links[edit]