Valene Kane

Born Newry 30th January 1987

Exuberant and positive Central School of Speech and Drama graduate in the mid 2000s, where she made numerous appearances in in-house productions such as Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’ and as favourite daughter Cordelia in a 2005 staging of ‘King Lear’, directed by Anthony Tuckey.

In 2007, in a National Youth Theatre venture with the Soho Theatre, she played Caroline, in Marcy Kahan’s quirky drama ‘20 Cigarettes’ and a year later during the Henley Fringe Festival, appeared as heiress Lady Lydia Languish in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s satirical comedy of manners, ‘The Rivals’. At the Mercury Theatre, Colchester in 2009, she was a delightfully flirtatious, teenage poteen pusher, Girleen Kelleher in the final play of Martin McDonagh’s Leenane trilogy, the cynically comical, ‘The Lonesome West’. In her film debut that same year, writer/director Ivan Kavanagh’s award winning, independently produced, emotive family drama ‘The Fading Light’, she gave a wonderfully expressive performance as Yvonne, one of two sisters returning home to Dublin to care for their dying mother.

She worked continuously on stage and screen from 2010/13, in a number of fringe theatre projects, short plays and promenade pieces, reduced budget feature films and a critically acclaimed television series. Notable legitimate theatre appearances, was her central role as Nance Desmond in T.C. Murray’s forgotten Irish tragedy, ‘Autumn Fire’, set in 1920s Co. Cork. Murray’s minor classic was given due respect in director Veronica Quilligan’s worthy production, presented at the Finborough Theatre, London in March 2012. On screen she was cast in an also- starring role as Dara, in director Kieron J. Walsh’s N. Irish produced mystery drama, ‘Jump’ 2012, shot on location in Derry, with a strong Ulster born cast including Martin McCann, Ciaran McMenamin and Richard Dormer.

She received deserved recognition in the title role of August Strindberg’s ‘Miss Julie’, director Paul Stacey’s fine adaptation performed at the fledging Reading Rep in 2013. Although brief, her appearance in Allan Cubitt’s Belfast set television series ‘The Fall’ in 2013, was her most significant in terms of exposure, playing medical student Rose Stagg, ex-girlfriend and nearly victim of Jamie Dornan’s serial killer Paul Spector. Two films in 2014 saw her again in ancillary roles, director Yann De Mange’s Yorkshire shot and N. Ireland set, ‘71’ and Sean Spencer’s routine thriller ‘Panic’. A year later she enjoyed an elevated credit as Willow, in director Matt Winn’s horror thriller feature, ‘The Hoarder’ and in 2016, had a recurring role as DS Lisa Merchant in the television crime drama series, ‘Thirteen’. A torrent of screen activity in 2017/18 included  starring roles in writer/director Conor Allyn’s low-budget thriller ‘ExPatriot’ and in the misfiring Australian television comedy series, ‘The Other Guy’, both 2017.

The best of her big screen efforts in 2018 was arguably director Timur Bekmambetov’s political drama ‘Profile’, in which she played undercover journalist Amy, on a mission to infiltrate the digital propaganda channels of ISIS. A cluster of screen appearances for the remainder of 2018 through to 2020 put her range to the test in a miscellany of diverse storylines. In ‘Death and Nightingales’, Allan Cubitt’s 2018 television adaptation of Eugene McCabe’s late 19th century, Fermanagh set drama, she played Catherine Winters, opposite Jamie Dornan and Ann Skelly.

In 2019 she proved a suitable casting as barrister Olivia Harley, in director Declan Recks’ Belfast set television film ‘Counsel’, co-starring Joanne Crawford as solicitor Kaye Reynolds. A year later she was crime family member Jacqueline Robinson, in three episodes of writer/director Gareth Evans’ violent ‘Gangs of London’, which also featured Michelle Fairley as her mother Marian Wallace.

Valene Kane, although in recent years clearly prolific, still awaits her major breakthrough, but is indubitably better than the largely undemanding screen product hitherto offered her.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:


– Wordplay: The Miracle Worker(2008) Union Theatre, London

– The Tunnel(2012) Old Red Lion Theatre, London

– Distortion(2021) The Mac, Belfast


– Wargames(2011)

– Victor Frankenstein(2015)

– Nowhere Special(2020)


– Casualty(2013)

Whitford (Thomas Wheeler) Kane


Born Larne 30th January 1881
Died Manhattan, New York, USA 17th December 1956

Classic thespian, director, writer and all round aesthete, who was a principle mover and shaker in Irish Theatre during the early years of the 20th Century. He was a founding member of the highly regarded Ulster Literary Theatre and in England toured with William Mollinson’s Shakespeare Company and the Ben Iden Payne Repertory Company, before making his London debut as Francis Moore in Rutherford Mayne’s ‘ The Troth ‘ at the Crown Theatre, Peckham in 1908.

His first high profile credit was arguably his appearance in the premiere of John Galsworthy’s fantasy comedy ‘ The Pigeon ‘, starring Gladys Cooper and staged at the Royalty Theatre, London in 1911. Later that year he undertook an American tour with The Irish Players Of America, a hybrid of the still fledgling Abbey Theatre, Dublin, visiting Boston, Washington and New York and made his independent Broadway debut as Daniel Murray in Cork born Rutherford Mayne’s comedy, ‘ The Drone ‘ at Daly’s Theatre in 1912.

Kane became a permanent fixture on the American stage during WW1 and into the twenties, appearing most notably in ‘Tiger Tiger ‘ at the Belasco Theatre, New York in 1918, in a cast which Included Belfast born Thomas Louden. The following year at the same venue he appeared in his own co-written play ‘Dark Rosaleen ‘, which featured two future Hollywood screen giants, Charles Bickford and Thomas Mitchell. Now established on the New York stage he was offered substantial roles throughout the twenties. Noteworthy among some quality work were’ The Idle Inn’ at the Plymouth Theatre in 1921 which boasted a cast that included yet another screen icon, Edward G. Robinson. He then gave the first of his many jaunty performances as First Grave Digger in ‘Hamlet ‘ at the Sam H. Harris Theatre in 1922 which had the larger than life John Barrymore in the title role. Further Broadway successes included ‘The Outsider ‘ at the 49th Street Theatre 1924 and the long running musical ‘ Grand Street Follies ‘ at the Neighbourhood Theatre in 1925.

After a long period in the shadows, he re-emerged as Burbage in the heavy duty ‘Elizabeth the Queen ‘ presented at the Guild Theatre, New York in 1930 and followed this with another gravitas dripping performance as Launcelot Gobbo in ‘The Merchant of Venice ‘ at the Royale on Broadway in 1931. At the Theatre Masque New York in 1933 he played John Twohig in Lennox Robinson’s comedy ‘Is Life Worth Living ‘ and appeared at The Martin Beck Theatre with a young James Stewart in the historical drama ‘ Yellow Jack ‘ in 1934. That year also saw his stage efficacy insulted to the core, playing the barely credited role of Millar in his first Hollywood film ‘ Hide Out’, a routine MGM melodrama which no doubt left the unimpressed Kane questioning the credentials of the brash new industry.

He would not return to films for almost ten years, choosing instead to enthusiastically work the New York stage circuit in a myriad of superior productions including ‘Searching for the Sun ‘ at the Cort on 58th Street, ‘ Parnell’ at the 48th Street Theatre, both 1936 and ‘ King Richard II ‘ at St.James Theatre 1936. In 1938 he joined Orson Welles, John Houseman and the recently formed Mercury Theatre players for the ‘ Shoemakers Holiday’, with Welles directing an outstanding cast including Joseph Cotton and Vincent Price. A few weeks past his 60th birthday and still very much a Broadway regular, he played Sir Patrick Cullen in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘ The Doctor’s Dilemma’ at The Shubert Theatre in 1941 and a year later at the Martin Beck Theatre, Doctor Winter, in John Steinbeck’s ‘ The Moon is Down’.

Kane was persuaded to tempt fortune again in Hollywood, taking a small role in the 1944 biopic ‘ The Adventures of Mark Twain’, but once again he found the experience dispiriting and returned to his own vision of acting utopia. His main source of work now comprised of playing elderly gentlemen and characters such as the Reverend Endicott in the comedy play ‘It’s a Gift ‘ at the Playhouse New York in 1945, were not always guaranteed as a surplus of talented mature players waited eagerly in the wings. His third advance on Hollywood was borne out of necessity and lasted much longer. He was now subject to such moribund role playing as his bit part in director Joe Mankiewicz’s ‘ The Ghost and Mrs Muir ‘ in 1947, followed by a series of pedestrian comedy/dramas including ‘ The Knockout ‘ 1947, ‘ My Dog Rusty ‘ and ‘ Who Killed Doc Robbin ‘ both 1948.

His last big screen appearance was as usual cosily unchallenging, appearing as Dr Boyd in ‘ The Judge Steps Out ‘ 1949. Back on familiar ground on the Broadway stage and in a Shakespearian play to boot, he was Corin in ‘ As You Like It ‘, a 1950 Cort Theatre production with Katherine Hepburn transcendent as Rosalind.

Following a break from mainstream American theatre, he made what was to be his last Broadway appearance, taking the role of Samuel in Sean O’Casey’s ‘ Red Roses For Me’, which ran for a short period from December 1955 until January 1956 at the Booth Theatre, in a cast which included fellow Ulsterman Barry Macollum. His final stage commitment, a modicum of work during the summer of 1956,  in the newly built American Shakespeare Festival Theatre  in Stratford, Connecticut and with John Houseman as artistic director, proved a most fitting swansong for the now ailing actor.
Whitford Kane was a devoted keeper of the theatrical flame, who, in the thirties and forties taught drama at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago and the Neighborhood Playhouse School in New York. During a fifty year career he rubbed shoulders with the great and the good of American stage and screen but who personally found Hollywood an unwelcome distraction to his chosen art form.

Other Theatre and Film credits:


– Uncle Sam’s Money(1914) 48th Street Theatre, New York

– The Critic(1915) Princess Theatre, New York

– Hobson’s Choice(1916) Teller’s Theatre, New York
– The Madras House (1921) Neighbourhood Playhouse Theatre, New York
– The Pigeon (1922) Greenwich Village Theatre, New York
– Children of the Moon (1923) Comedy Theatre, New York
– Cyrano de Bergerac (1932) New Amsterdam Theatre, New York
– The First Legion (1934) 46th Street Theatre, New York
– Excursion (1937) Vanderbilt Theatre, New York
– Boyds Daughter (1940) Booth Theatre, New York – Kathleen (1948) Mansfield Theatre, New York

– The Walls of Jericho (1948)


Emma Kearney

Born Portglenone, Co Antrim 1981

Able, underused and almost exclusively television constrained, whose early promise afforded her a spell aged sixteen, with the National Youth Theatre, London in 1997. A modicum of experience with Ballymena based Slemish Players and Lyric Youth Theatre, Belfast, proved invaluable for her three year course at Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre, beginning in 2001.

Notable roles among the school’s productions were as the quick witted lady-in-waiting Rosaline, in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ in 2001 and her jaunty Maggie Mundy in Brian Friel’s cherished ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ in 2003, directed by Roger Haines. Upon graduation in 2003, she appeared as the warm-hearted Bridget in another Friel classic ‘Translations’, performed at the Library Theatre, Manchester, directed once again by Roger Haines.

Her screen debut that year was brief, playing a nurse in the angst ridden, twenty something series ‘Hollyoaks’, followed by a number of minor credits during 2004/05, which were of little value and included her character Sarah Wright in an episode of Phil Redmond’s legal drama ‘The  Courtroom’ in 2004. On stage in Greater Manchester in 2006, she took supporting roles in three productions, brimful with social commentary.

In March at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, she played brash waitress Doreen in Terence Rattigan’s master work ‘Separate Tables’, two one-act plays set in a Bournemouth hotel in the 1950s and directed by Sarah Frankcom. In June at the Coloseum, Oldham, she appeared as Mab in Morna Regan’s debut play ‘Midden’, a family drama featuring Larne born Valerie Lilley and directed by Natalie Wilson. In October 2006 she was cast as Linda in director Robin Herford’s adaptation of Richard Cameron’s community drama ‘The Mortal Ash’, also staged at the Coloseum, Oldham.

Further television work, although modest, did include two episodes of Jimmy Gardner’s one season drama ‘Goldplated’in 2006 and a year later found herself for a short period, in soap heaven, securing a four episode stint in ‘Emmerdale’, as Rita Brannigan, girlfriend of vet Paddy Kirk. After a three year break from theatre, she returned in 2009 as MI5 agent Thelma, in the touring production of Hugh Whitemore’s factual espionage thriller ‘Pack of Lies’, directed by Christioher Morahan. In 2010 she was offered the part of the calculating Janet Grantham, appearing in all six episodes of writer Tony Pitts’ short lived BBC 3 comedy series ‘The Gemma Factor’, which starred actor/writer Ross Adams.

That year also marked the start of a lengthy break from both stage and screen, only re-emerging in 2022, following an absence of twelve years. Emma Kearney’s career, despite her obvious capabilities, has been fitful at best and as a result of her latest sabbatical, faces a problematic future in her quest to recover even hints of her early promise.

Other Theatre and TV credits:


-The Cherry Orchard (2001) Capitol Theatre, Manchester

-The Provok’d Wife (2002) Capitol Theatre, Manchester

-The Taming of the Shrew (2002) Capitol Theatre, Manchester


-Omagh (2004)

–Ideal (2005)

-Shameless (2006)

-Torn Up Tales (2008)

– Doctors (2010)


Sean Kearns

Born Newry 27th April 1965

Remarkably efficient character actor, principally on stage, with sporadic appearances on screen, who emerged from the influential Newry based Newpoint Players in the early eighties, making appearances as a 16 year- old in productions such as ‘Habeas Corpus’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, both 1981, alongside another teenage talent John Lynch.

As a member of Michael Poynor’s Ulster Theatre, he played an ensemble role in an enthusiastic revival of John –Michael Tebelak’s musical ‘Godspell’, at the Grand Opera House, Belfast in 1983, with James Nesbitt as Jesus, Claire Cathcart and fellow Newpoint Player Gerard O’Hare. On his professional debut in 1985, again with the directors Ulster Theatre Company, he was cast as the Cowardly Lion in L. Frank Baum’s perennial favourite ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

Into the mid to late 80s he was pushing for recognition in plays as diverse as Marie Jones’ bittersweet, ‘The Girls In the Big Picture’, which premiered at the Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen in 1986, taking a supporting role as young farmer Willie Jo Ferguson. In 1988 at the Lyric, Belfast he was Heathcliffe’s nemesis Hindley Earnshaw, in John Boyd’s dramatization of ‘Wuthering Heights’, directed by Roy Heayberd.

He was then offered the part of the charismatic Lord Henry Wotton, in Sam McCready’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, presented at the Arts Theatre, Belfast in January 1989. At the end of that year at the Lyric, he took multiple roles in John McClelland’s thought provoking ‘Charlie Gorilla’, in a cast including Dan Gordon and Birdy Sweeney. His screen introduction in 1987 was fleeting, appearing as a policeman in the drama series ‘First Sight’, starring Maureen Lipman and Phyllis Logan.  Flexing his range at the beginning of the 90s, he proved a capable theatre performer across a number of genres. Noteworthy work included four premieres, beginning with Marie Jones’ three-hander ‘The Blind Fiddler of Glenadauch’ at the Rock Theatre, Belfast in 1990.

In 1991 at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin, he played the doctor, Brendan in writer Declan Hughes’ social drama ‘Digging for Fire’, a Rough Magic production directed by Lynne Parker. Still in Dublin and in the summer of 1993 he appeared as Trojan War hero Menelaus in Brendan Kennelly’s reworking of Euripedes ‘The Trojan Women’ at the Abbey and played dual roles in Marie Jones’ adaptation of Gogol’s ‘The Government Inspector’, a Dubbeljoint presentation which opened at the Rock Theatre two months later.

Further stage work in the 90s saw him both as Daddy Warbucks and Lt O’Malley  in the Robin Midgley directed, ‘Annie: The Musical’, at the Lyric, Belfast in 1996 and during a busy 1997 made two further appearances there, excelling as the childlike Lennie Small in John Steinbeck’s American masterpiece, ‘Of Mice and Men’. On the Abbey’s Peacock stage that year, he was the indecisive Gordon, one of three Rathcoole brothers in the premiere of Gary Mitchell’s tense Belfast thriller, ‘In a Little World of Our Own’, ably directed by Armagh born Conall Morrison, with an inspired cast featuring Stuart Graham and Lalor Roddy.

This preceded two other premieres in 1998/99, with him as farmer’s son Alexander Abraham in Joseph Crilly’s dark socio-political drama ‘Second Hand Thunder’, staged at the Playhouse in Derry and at the Belltable Theatre, Limerick he played the slow-witted Sir Jonathan Bull in Elizabeth Kuti’s translation of Frances Sheridan’s mid 18th century comedy of manners, ‘A Trip to Bath’, retitled ‘The Whisperers’.

His screen endeavours in the same period were functional, but did include roles in two acclaimed feature films. An also-supporting credit in writer/director Jim Sheridan’s 1997 Golden Globe nominated ‘The Boxer’, starring Daniel Day- Lewis and had a more purposeful part as the heartless schoolteacher Dotty O’Neill, in Alan Parker’s biopic ‘Angela’s Ashes’, based on the poverty stricken childhood of writer Frank McCourt.

His stage career took flight in the new millennium, with an astonishing work rate, embracing all manner of productions in a myriad of venues. In the years 2000/2005 he appeared in his usual quota of premieres, beginning with Marie Jones’ biographical ‘Ruby’, starring Julia Dearden as the troubled Belfast born singer, with him in several guises. Directed by Ian McElhinney, it opened at the Lyric Theatre in April 2000.

Two plays at the Gate Theatre, Dublin followed in 2002/03, both directed by Patrick Stanford. In his indifferent revision of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Stanford cast him as the boorish clergyman William Collins and a year later played dual roles as Brocklehurst/Briggs, in ‘Jane Eyre’, another of Stanford’s attempts at reinventing the English classics . Another premiere in 2003, Owen McCafferty’s translation of Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist play ‘The Chairs’, was a little kinder to him, a two-hander, playing Old Man opposite Carol Scanlan’s Old Woman and staged at the Market Place Theatre, Armagh.

He then gave an imaginative performance in the titular role of Kabosh Theatre Company’s musical, ‘Todd (The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)’, directed by Karl Wallace and composed by Conor Mitchell, which premiered at the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast in 2004. His last film appearance to date, in an otherwise limited screen career, was in a supporting role as Chief Scoutmaster Theobold Dring in Terence Ryan’s film adaptation of Spike Milligan’s surreal novel ‘Puckoon’, released in 2003.

His stage profile was raised a degree or two from 2006, registering numerous credits with the RSC and at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Before that though he was the stuttering Iggy, one of five dysfunctional Irish brothers in a revival of Tom Murphy’s powerful social drama, ‘A Whistle in the Dark’, with Damian O’Hare as the hardman Harry and performed at Manchester Royal Exchange in 2006.

During April/May 2008 he was recruited by the RSC to play the Prince of Arragon in director Tim Carroll’s adaptation of ‘The Merchant of Venice’, at The Courtyard, Stratford and as Hortensio in Conall Morrison’s touring production of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. He continued his Shakespearean sojourn and again with Morrison, with his portrayal of the bumbling courtier Rosencrantz in ‘Hamlet’, performed at the Lyric, Belfast in July 2008, later transferring to the Abbey in Dublin.

At Shakespeare’s Globe in 2009 he was a perfect fit for the wrestler Charles, in Thea Sharrock’s alluring reading of ‘As You Like It’, with Naomi Frederick as Rosalind and Jack Laskey as Orlando. Further classic roles in 2010 included his condemned prisoner, the drunk, Barnardine, in Michael Attenborough’s take on ‘Measure for Measure’ at the Ameida, London, alongside Strabane born Lloyd Hutchinson as the flamboyant Lucio. Back at the Globe he filled multiple roles In Dominic Dromgoole’s ‘Henry IV Parts One and Two’, starring a spirited Roger Allam as the lovable scoundrel Falstaff.

In January 2011 at the Criterion Theatre, London he joined the cast of the long running ‘The 39 Steps’, Patrick Barlow’s frenetic adaptation of John Buchan’s abiding thriller, as Man One to Dermot Canavan’s Man Two. In October of that year he landed the role of boxing coach, George in Lee Hall’s ‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’, now resident at the Victoria Palace, London, remaining with the show for almost eighteen months.

He returned to Belfast and the Lyric Theatre in June 2013, for a revival of Marie Jones’ pacy comedy ‘Weddins, Weeins and Wakes’, directed by Ian McElhinney, who cast him as Da opposite Marty Maguire, Kerri Quinn and Jones herself. He was back in London at the end of the summer, at the Victoria Palace Theatre, appearing as Jimmy Rabbite’s Da in the premiere of Jamie Lloyd’s reworking of Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel and quasi-musical film, ‘The Commitments’, which ran for two years until 2015.

More or less without a break he moved the short distance to the Apollo Theatre, assuming the character of the humane goat Dr Dillamond, in Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz’s long established musical ‘Wicked’. Now approaching four unbroken years on the London stage, he took a supporting credit as Robin Freeboys in the new cast of director Mark Bell’s ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’, set in 1958 Minneapolis, which played at the Criterion in 2017.

Another spell in Belfast offered him decent parts in two contrasting productions at the Lyric in the autumn of 2018. He put his versatility to the test, appearing first in an assortment of roles in Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry’s homage to Terri Hooley, ‘Good Vibrations’. At the other end of the spectrum he was outstanding as Empire cheerleader Lord Beaverbrook, in a revival of Thomas Kilroy’s WW2 propagandist piece ‘Double Cross’, directed by Jimmy Fay.

He was to add yet another mega musical to his CV, when he was offered the part of deceitful company man Freddie Newlands in Sting’s Tyne and Wear docklands epic, ‘The Last Ship’, which after a UK national tour in 2016, took to the road again, playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto during February and March 2019, prior to a North American tour to begin early in 2020.

In the interim he was persuaded to play Steve Hubbell, Stanley Kowalski’s card playing buddy, in Emma Jordan’s first-rate interpretation of Tennessee Williams’ landmark power play, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, at the Lyric, Belfast in May 2019, with a superlative Aoibheann McCann as the vulnerable, neurotic Blanche Dubois. At the Edinburgh Festival he had a supporting role as the abusive father in Meghan Tyler’s outrageously dark comedy ‘Crocodile Fever’, set in trouble- torn South Armagh and starring Lisa Dwyer Hogg and Lucianne McEvoy.

He rejoined the cast of ‘The Last Ship’ in December 2019, in preparation for the impending  American tour, which began at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles in January 2020, Next stop was the Golden Gate Theatre, San Francisco and at the conclusion of this run the show fell victim to the Covid 19 pandemic and was immediately aborted.

Sean Kearns’ stage career may arguably be measured by his enthusiastic commitment to musical theatre, a genre in which he has flourished, but a more balanced assessment should conclude that in the tradition of the trusty trouper, he gives everything his best shot.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:


-The Terrible Twins’ Crazy Christmas(1988) Riverside Theatre, Coleraine

-Hard To Believe(1995) Cleeres Theatre, Kilkenny

-The Sound of Music(1997) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Toupees and Snare Drums(1998) Abbey Theatre, Dublin

-The Asylum Ball(2000) SFX City Theatre, Dublin

-Smiling Through(2005) Contact Theatre, Manchester

-God In Ruins(2007) Soho Theatre, London

-The Musician(2008) Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast

-A New World(2010) Shakespeare’s Globe, London

-Bedlam(2010) Shakespeare’s Globe, London

-Pinocchio(2016) The Mac, Belfast

-Bouncers(2019) The Mac, Belfast

-Into the Woods(2022) Lyric Theatre, Belfast


-The Informant(1997)



-The Children of the North(1991)


-As the Beast Sleeps(2002)

John Keegan

Born 1950
Died Belfast 13th February 1998

Uncomplicated and gifted actor, who was already an established stage performer at the time of his death in 1998. In his comparatively short career he found work in all mediums, emerging first with the Lyric Players in two 1979 productions, as Peter Grant in John Boyd’s ‘Facing North’ and playing multiple roles in Armand Gatti’s political drama ‘The Second Life of Tatenberg Camp’.

In 1980, again at the Lyric, he played Martin Boyle in Tommy McArdle’s adaptation of Eugene McCabe’s television play ‘Heritage’ and a year later made his film debut as Liam Doyle, in Pat Murphy’s Belfast set ‘Maeve’, in a cast which also featured a young Brid Brennan. Now regarded a Lyric regular, he was better placed for more substantial parts and in 1982 took leading roles in Martin Lynch’s ‘The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty’ and John Boyd’s Wildean snapshot, ‘Speranza’s Boy’. 1982 also saw his first television appearance in the much lauded mini series ‘Harrys Game’, playing a peripheral character credited as Ardoyne Man, but had a co-starring role in his next small screen project, Mike Leigh’s ‘Four Days In July’ 1984. In his second film, ‘Life Force’ 1985, he struggled to make the credit list and in the late eighties was working sporadically in theatre, he did however appear at the Kings Head London, in Christina Reid’s award winning drama, ‘Did You Hear the One About the Irishman…?’ 1987.

His position improved in the late eighties, early nineties, with several film and television roles, most notably playing Sean Scanlon in the mini series ‘Crossfire’ 1988 and Det Sgt Hughes in Ken Loach’s Cannes Film Festival award winning, ‘Hidden Agenda’ 1990. He was back on the Belfast stage in 1991 in the Lyric’s production of Ron Hutchinson’s ‘Pygmies in the Ruins’ and the same year had a decent role in the locally set television series ‘So You Think You’ve Got Troubles’, in a cast which included James Ellis, Harry Towb and Stella McCusker.
At the Tricycle Theatre in 1993 he played Victor, in Bill Morrison’s ‘A Love Song For Ulster’ and the following year took the role of Father Donnelly in Barry Devlin’s BBC ‘Screen Two’, 1950s Ulster set comedy, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. One of his last stage appearances was in the the Irish premiere of Sam Shepherd’s ‘Simpatico’ presented at the Old Museum Arts Centre in 1997 and made a final bow on screen as Father Flynn, in the successful Irish comedy ‘Divorcing Jack’ 1998.

John Keegan, although a proven stage player, was not offered sufficient screen work to fully assess his capabilities, but he did in that limited window and in his relatively short life, reveal a glimpse of what otherwise might have been.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:


– Accidental Death of an Anarchist (1982) Lyric Theatre, Belfast
– Boyd’s Shop (1984) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

– Ourselves Alone(1985) Royal Court Theatre, London
– Fanshen (1988) NT Cottesloe, London
– The Difficulty of Concentration (1991) Druid Theatre, Galway

– Henry VI: The Battle for the Throne(1994) RSC (tour)

– A Casualty of War (1993)
– The Ambassador (1998)


Dermot Kelly

Born Enniskillen 18th May 1917

Died Hampshire 18th February 1980

Colourful, well travelled comic character, on the legitimate stage since 1936 and with a busy, albeit low-key screen career which began in 1948. With his boundless repertoire of Irish types, he was rarely without work and would in the 1960’s cash in on the most endearing of his characterizations. Not yet fourteen, he joined a tented theatre company, colloquially known as fit-ups, travelling the backwater of rural Ireland in the 1930s. He made his Abbey Theatre debut on the main stage in August 1936, taking the role of telegraph boy Fardy Farrell in director Ria Mooney’s adaptation of Lady Gregory’s comedy, ‘Hyacinth Halvey’.

In April 1937 he enrolled in the Abbey’s Experimental Company, founded by Ria Mooney, performing exclusively on the Peacock stage and appeared in the opening production, Mervyn Wall’s social drama ‘Alarm Among the Clerks’ cast as a street singer, which formed part of a double bill with Nino Bartholomew’s ‘The Phoenix’. Later that year on the Abbey stage, he was designated ensemble duties in the premiere of Frank Connor and Hugh Hunt’s political drama ‘The Invincibles’, in a cast headed by Cyril Cusack and Liam Redmond.

In 1939 Longford Productions invited him to join the cast of Lord Dunsany’s comic fantasy ‘The Strange Lover, which they presented at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, directed by Peter Powell. He then took a minor role in Jack B. Yeats’ tense drama ‘Harlequin’s Positions’, an Experimental production co-directed by Ria Moony and Cecil F. Ford and staged at the Abbey in June 1939. He was back on the main stage in October 1940 in a revival of Lennox Robinson’s zany comedy, ‘Drama at Inish’ aka ‘Is Life Worth Living?’, playing Michael the Boots, opposite newcomer, Holywood born Harry Brogan. During the early years of WW2 he made numerous appearances at the Abbey and included the 1941 premiere of Bernard McGinn’s tragicomedy ‘Remembered For Ever’, with Dennis O’Day and Belfast native Eithne Dunne.

Proving a genuine audience pleaser, given the appropriate role, he found himself ideally cast as the exasperated sibling Peter Geoghegan in the 1942 revival of Lennox Robinson’s tried and trusted comedy ‘The Whiteheaded Boy’. In October 1942, in writer George Fitzmaurice’s first Abbey play, the north Kerry set comedy ‘The Country Dressmaker’, he played the ineffectual son Jack Clohessy, alongside theatre giants such as Eileen Crowe, F.J. Mc Cormick and Hollywood star Maureen O’Sullivan, who following her marriage to writer/director John Farrow, would work henceforth on an irregular basis. Part one of his Abbey career ended in November 1946, with the premiere of Michael Joseph Molloy’s Galwegian folklore celebration, ‘The Visiting House’, in which he played one of a number of Haws and was directed by Michael J. Dolan.

His screen debut in 1948 was brief, appearing as Boxer in director Charles Crichton’s tragicomedy ‘Another Shore’ , starring Robert Beatty and Moira Lister and partly shot in Greystones, Co Wicklow. In the 1950s his stage output without the Abbey was scant, but did register credits in a number of significant premieres in other Dublin theatres. In November 1954, director Alan Simpson offered him dual roles in Brendan Behan’s first play, ‘The Quare Fellow’, which following its rejection by the Abbey and Gate theatres, opened at the bijou Pike Theatre and was an instant success. He worked with Alan Simpson again in the Irish premiere of Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, playing the Tramp Vladimir, which was presented at the Pike Theatre in October 1955 and featured the gifted Donal Donnelly as the enslaved Lucky.

At the Gate Theatre, Dublin in March 1958, he took the role of Louis McClure in the premiere of Hugh Leonard’s surreal comedy, ‘Madigan’s Lock’, in a cast boasting Godfrey Quigley and Norman Rodway and directed by Jim Fitzgerald. Later that year he was modestly cast as the farmer Philly Cullen in the first presentation of Mairin and Nuala O’Farrell’s ‘The Heart’s a Wonder’ a musical adaptation of ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, which after enjoying a full house run at the Gaiety in Dublin, transferred to London’s West End and the Westminster Theatre in September 1958. He resumed his screen career that year, following a long absence and was seen fleetingly as a British soldier in Belfast born director Brian Desmond Hurst’s 1953 war drama, ‘The Malta Story’. It would be a further five years before his next screen appearance, credited as McKeefry in Blanaid Irvine and Patrick Kirwan’s comedy ‘Sally’s Irish Rogue’, a reworking of George Shiels’ ‘The New Gossoon’, directed by George Pollock and starring American stage and screen actor Julie Harris. This was followed in short time by a further dose of Irish whimsy, ‘Broth of a Boy’, again directed by George Pollock, from another Irvine and Kirwan adaptation, Hugh Leonard’s ‘The Big Birthday’. The film was made more noteworthy as the swansong of Abbey and Hollywood legend, Barry Fitzgerald. With a hint of things to come, his first sighting as a screen tramp was in John Millington Synge’s dark comedy ‘The Shadow of the Glen’, aired by the BBC in 1959, with a cast of unknowns, Kelly excepted and produced by Rosemary Hill.

The years 1960/66 proved his most productive period, beginning in June 1960, with his role as the wisecracking Blarney Finnigan in the comedy series ‘Mess Mates’, appearing in thirteen episodes alongside Sam Kydd, Archie Duncan and Fulton Mackay among others. Between 1961/64, he worked on fifteen screen productions, almost all portraying Irish characters. Most notable were director Ken Annakin’s crime caper ‘Crooks Anonymous’ and Arthur Dreifuss’ television adaptation of Behan’s ‘The Quare Fellow’, starring Patrick McGoohan, both 1962. A test introduction in an episode of ‘The Arthur Haynes Show’ in May 1962, preceded a permanent slot from January 1963, in which his tramp and Haynes’ vagrant developed a short sketch routine of deadpan banter, which proved popular enough to sustain a run of fifty eight appearance on the weekly top- rated show until April 1966.

Despite his screen commitments, he appeared in two prestigious stage plays during 1961/62. At the Globe Theatre, London he played stable lad Martin Mahoney in the premiere of M.J. Farrell (pen name of Molly Keane) and John Perry’s racecourse farce, ‘Dazzling Prospect’, directed by John Gielgud. A year later in another premiere, he co-starred as Boot Boy Vincent, in Seamus Byrne’s social drama ‘Little City’, rejected by the Abbey, because of its central theme, the Gate Theatre, unfazed, presented it during the 1962 Dublin Theatre Festival, directed by Barry Cassin. Further film work in the early 1960s included the Ray Galton/Alan Simpson crime comedy ‘The Wrong Arm of the Law’, with Peter Sellers and a routine crime thriller, writer/director John Gillings’ ‘Panic’, starring Glyn Houston, both released in 1963. Although a minor role, but certainly his highest profile credit to date, he played an unnamed jockey in the pick- a- star, any star, BAFTA nominated, 1964 rom/com anthology, ‘The Yellow Rolls Royce’, written and directed by Anthony Asquith. For the remainder of the 1960s he made inconsequential ethnic driven guest appearances in a number of prominent television series of the day and endured similar constricted casting in a handful of mediocre films. He however made an effort to redress the imbalance on his return to the Abbey in 1969/70 appearing in fivr plays, three of which were premieres.

Vincent Dowling cast him as Thadie Mahon in Thomas Kilroy’s 16th century political drama ‘The O’ Neill’, which opened on the Peacock stage on the 30th May 1969. A second new work in August that year, saw him as Richard Brennan in ‘Swift’, director Rhona Woodcock’s adaptation of Eugene McCabe’s personal study of the supposed madness of Jonathan Swift. In September 1969 he was given the role of priest’s clerk Bartholomew Keerby in a revival of George Fitzmaurice’s 1945 fantasy drama ‘The Dandy Dolls’, which formed a double bill with ‘The Well of Saints’ and was the Abbey’s contribution to the 1969 Dublin Theatre Festival. Completing the fourth of his Abbey plays in 1969 was the second of O’Casey’s Dublin trilogy, ‘Juno and the Paycock’, playing the part it seemed was written for him, that of the craven and sycophantic Joxer Daly, with the prolific Barry Keegan and Abbey constant Angela Newman as Captain Jack and Juno Boyle. On the Peacock stage in January 1970, he was credited as Bert, a guard in the premiere of Wesley Burrowes’ absurdist piece, ‘The Becauseway’, directed by Vincent Dowling and featuring Pat Laffin and Aideen O’Kelly as protagonists George and Dolly.

He worked periodically on screen in the 1970s, guesting in episodes of ‘Sykes’ and ‘Life at Stake’, both 1978. His final contribution to television was his character, the handyman, appropriately named Kelly, in six episodes of the first series of the campy police comedy ‘Spooner’s Patch in 1979, co-written by Ray Galton and Johnny Speight, it starred Ronald Fraser as the eponymous Inspector and Patricia Hayes as Mrs Cantaford.

Dermot Kelly’s stage career was largely played out at the Abbey in Dublin, where in his decade long tenure from the mid 1930s and his brief homecoming at the end of the 1960s, he worked with the great and the good of Irish theatre. He was an inventive actor, infinitely better than the makeweight cast member assumed by his screen persona.


Other Theatre, Film and TV Credits:


-The Glorious Uncertainty (1940) Abbey Theatre, Dublin

-The Rising of the Moon (1940) Abbey Theatre Tour

-Boyd’s Shop (1940) Abbey Theatre Tour

-Paul Twining (1941) Abbey Theatre Tour

-The Bribe (1943) Abbey Theatre

-The Player Queen (1944) Abbey Theatre

-The Knacker’s Yard (1962) Arts Theatre, London

-All Things Bright and Beautiful ( 1962) Phoenix Theatre, London


-Cover Girl Killer (1959)

-Devil’s Bait (1959)

-Headline Hunters (1968)

-Subterfuge (1968)


-The Mad O’Haras (1958)

-Knight Errant Limited (1960)

-The Skewbald (1961)

-Maigret (1962)

-Gideon’s Way (1964)

-Orlando (1967)

-Till Death Us Do Part (1967)

-The Champions (1969)

-Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969)

-Z Cars (1963/1970)



Trudy Kelly

Born Belfast 1929

Unfeigned and composed, former member of the Belfast based amateur dramatic group, the Clarence Players, with whom she won a festival Best Actress Award in 1967, for her title role performance in Brian Friel’s wistfully melancholic, ‘The Loves of Cass McGuire’. In January 1968 she was recruited by Harold Goldbatt’s occasional Ulster Actors Company, appearing at the Grove Theatre, Belfast in Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s ‘The Heiress’, an adaptation of Henry James’ 1880 novel ‘Washington Square’. In April of 1968 she made her Lyric Theatre debut as Mistress Quickly in Luigi Pirandello’s ‘Henry IV, staged at the old Derryvolgie Avenue site, some months prior to the long awaited relocation to the newly built Laganside setting. In November the same year at the Grove, in another Ulster Theatre Company production for the Queen’s Festival, she took the role of Mrs Clotsworthy in St. John Greer Ervine’s enduring comedy ‘Boyd’s Shop’, directed by Goldblatt and featuring erstwhile Group Theatre grande dames, Elizabeth Begley and Margaret D’Arcy. Further appearances at the Lyric in 1969 included multiple parts in Sean O’Casey’s drama, ‘Pictures in the Hallway’ and as prostitute Doll Common in Ben Johnson’s early 16th century comedy, ‘The Alchemist’.

In the early seventies she confirmed her place as a Lyric regular, filling a multitude of diverse roles which included a noteworthy credit as Louis Rolston’s daughter Barbara in John Boyd’s ‘The Farm’ in 1972, as Kelly, in Patrick Galvin’s political drama ‘Nightfall to Belfast’ in 1973 and dual roles in his 1974 necromantic drama ‘The Last Burning’, set in late 19th century Tipperary. In Galvin’s third offering as writer-in-residence at the Lyric, the tragicomedy ‘We Do it For Love’ 1975, she was wasted as Mrs Ellis, a character with little bite in a cast of formidable players. However she was back on form later the same year as the calculating Widow Quin, in an impressive revival of Synge’s ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, directed by Sam McCready, with Stella McCusker as Pegeen Mike.

In the mid to late seventies she was active in both  mainstream Belfast theatres. She played the charwoman Mrs Gogan in O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars’ at the Lyric and was troubled American wife, Julia Maher in John Murphy’s Mayo set family drama ‘The Country Boy’ at the Arts, both 1977. At the Lyric in 1979 she was a copybook Mother Peter in Mary J. 0’Malley’s irreverent 1950’s London, convent school comedy, ‘Once a Catholic’, directed by Michael Poynor and featuring a callow Ciaran Hinds as a teddy boy.

She was busier still into the eighties, making an appearance at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, as the censorious Mrs Courtney in the premiere of Graham Reid’s largely neglected ‘The Closed Door’ and back at the Lyric was Protestant mother, Sarah Thompson in the Tommy McArdle/ Eugene McCabe troubles drama, ‘Heritage’, both 1980. In January and March 1981 she appeared in two productions at the Arts Theatre, during a season of Irish plays, presented by Roy Heayberd’s Ulster Actors Company; beginning with Hugh Leonard’s autobiographical ‘Da’ and closing with Graham Reid’s damning troubles narrative, ‘The Death of Humpty Dumpty’. Patrick Galvin’s final commission for the Lyric, the expansive operetta ‘My Silver Bird’, which opened in May 1981, accommodating an unceasing character list and the inevitable double-ups, which she avoided in her role of Elizabeth I of England, was directed by Lyric founder Mary O’Malley.

Her screen debut in 1982 was not insubstantial, taking a co-starring credit as Eileen Sweeney, mother of Mary Jackson’s lead character in writer/director Pat Murphy’s ‘Maeve’, a ground breaking small budget film, with a cast composed almost exclusively of Belfast theatre players. Then followed an industrious period of both stage and screen work, which produced several imposing performances, most notably her Grandmother in Christina Reid’s intergenerational drama ‘Tea in a China Cup’ at the Lyric in 1983, in the venerable company of Elizabeth Begley and Sheila McGibbon. The more consequential of her peripheral small screen efforts, were arguably her guest role as Madge in an episode of the locally produced comedy series ‘Foreign Bodies’ and as Mrs McIllvaine in Anne Devlin’s drama ‘The Venus de Milo Instead’, Danny Boyle’s first directorial project, both broadcast in 1987. Another keenly observed observation was that of the mouthy, salt of the earth, Maisie Madigan in a spirited revival of O’Casey’s masterwork ‘Juno and the Paycock, again at the Lyric in 1988.

There was an appreciable reduction in her stage appearances in the nineties, but she started the decade in fine fettle and at the Lyric in 1991, played the sagacious maid La Poncia in Frank McGuinness’ adaptation of Lorca’s self styled drama of women, ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’. A short association with the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast, began with two convincingly delivered monologues produced by Pointsfield Theatre Company, Ruth Hooley’s 1994 troubles related, ‘What the Eye Doesn’t See’ and Nell McCafferty’s sex infused ‘A Really Big Bed’ in 1995. At the same venue in June 1995, she appeared as grieving mother Bronwen Donnelly, opposite Olivia Nash’s Kathleen McCrossan in Damian Gorman’s traumatic two-hander ‘Loved Ones’.

In a prolific stage career, played out for the most part at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast during the 70s and 80s, Trudy Kelly proved a high calibre, dexterous actor, whose plausibility never waned.

Other Theatre and TV credits:


-Danton’s Death(1972) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Within Two Shadows(1972) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Guests(1974) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Romersholm(1975) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Facing North(1979) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-All the King’s Horses(1979) Arts Theatre, Belfast

-The Exorcism(1979) Arts Theatre, Belfast

-Riders to the Sea/The Tinkers Wedding(1980) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-John Gabriel Borkman(1982) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Speranza’s Boy(1982) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Summer Class(1986) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Pygmalion(1986) Mercury Theatre, Colchester


-Gates of Gold(Play For Today) 1983

-Murder in Season(Taggart) 1985

-Final Run(1988)

-Chinese Whispers(Screenplay) 1989

-Arise and Go Now(Screenplay) 1991

Stephen Kennedy

Born Derry 17th June 1970

Industrious but constrained character player with a solid grounding in Irish theatre, training at the Gaiety School of Acting from 1990 and who quickly put his studies to the test, making his first legitimate stage appearance in Robin Glendinning’s troubles inspired ‘Donny Boy’, at the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast in 1991. A contract with the Abbey followed, and in February of 1992 on the Peacock stage, he appeared as the maladroit, illegal Irish immigrant,  Desmond, in Janet Noble’s New York set comedy/drama ‘ Away Alone ‘. This was quickly followed by another decent role as Ned Crowley, in Sean Macmathina’s rarely seen rural Irish political drama ‘The Winter Thief’.

Later in 1992 at the same venue he took the role of Larry, in Antoine O’Fatharta’s bittersweet ‘Silverlands’, in a cast which also featured Armagh born Richard Dormer and in 1993 in his first film appearance, he was seen briefly as a supermarket manager, in director Stephen Frears’ working of Roddy Doyle’s comedy drama ‘The Snapper’. 1995 was a relatively busy year, with small parts in director Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s violent Belfast set feature, ‘Nothing Personal’, the television mini-series ‘The Hanging Gale’ and on stage at the Abbey he took a central role as Dublin stand-up, Jack, in Colin Teevan’s black comedy ‘Vinegar and Brown Paper’.

His 1996 output was largely unexciting, with only the Gate Theatre’s production of Derek Mahon’s adaptation of Jean Racine’s ‘Phaedra’, worthy of mention. A possible career making appearance as Father Mac’s novice priest nephew, Timmy Joe Galvin, in the hugely successful Wicklow set television series, ‘Ballykissangel’, brought him his most high profile and continuous screen role to date. He worked on the series from 1996/97, and shortly afterwards moved from Dublin to England, where in February 1998 he made his debut at The Other Place in Stratford, in director John Crowley’s short season of Irish plays entitled ‘Shadows’, alongside grande dame of Ulster theatre Stella McCusker. Also that year as a new member of the RSC he was rewarded with the role of Claudio in the company’s less than full blooded production of ‘Measure for Measure’, staged at the RST, in a cast led by Robert Glenister and Clare Holman.

He was on more familiar ground at the Royal Court, Upstairs in 2000, cast as UDA man Stanley Brown in Gary Mitchell’s unyielding ‘The Force of Change’ and in 2003 was back, this time on the Jerwood stage in another of Mitchell’s Rathcoole reflections, ‘Loyal Women’. His role of Terry, a former long term paramilitary prisoner grappling with life on the outside, was somewhat absorbed in a cast of much more potent female characters.

2004 proved a pivotal year, with a starring role in another television series, ‘Making Waves’ and his emergence as Ambridge’s gay chef, Ian Craig, in middle England’s iconic radio series ‘The Archers’. During 2006 his theatre stock continued to rise, with an admirable performance as McCann, in Bristol Old Vic’s production of Pinter’s ‘The Birthday Party’ and on screen in his first film assignment in over ten years, he had a bit part in director Richard Eyre’s edgy drama ‘Notes on a Scandal’.

With his ‘Archers’ character now firmly established, he was enjoying a rewarding spell from 2006, working on stage, screen and radio and included significant roles in ‘The Agent’ at the Old Red Lion London in 2007, Virginia Woolf’s ‘Waves’ and ‘Women of Troy’, both for the National Theatre in 2008. A co-starring guest appearance as bereaved father Andy Heal, in an episode of ‘A Touch of Frost’ 2008, followed a string of low key parts on the small screen between 2006/08, all of which were of little value to him in terms of career advancement. On his away days from ‘ The Archers ‘ he continued to build a credible stage persona with roles such as The Chaplain in Tony Kushner’s 2009 adaptation of ‘ Mother Courage and her Children ‘, a NT production on the Olivier stage and as Socrates in Owen McCafferty’s biting comedy, ‘ Shoot the Crow ‘ at the Waterfront Studio, Belfast in 2011.

Subsequent to his supporting role as James Peaceful, in director Pat O’Connor’s 2012 adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s poignant WW1 set novel, ‘Private Peaceful, he took prominent roles in a number of productions on the London stage. In the summer of 2014 he was cast as the equitable Sheriff, Heck Tate, in an open-air performance of ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’, in Regent’s Park and later that year at the Young Vic, played debt- ridden landowner Boris, in Simon Stephens’ translation of ‘The Cherry Orchard’. A brief cameo as a wistful voter, in James Graham’s 2015 election night drama, ‘The Vote’, a simultaneous telecast from the Donmar Warehouse, was certainly effective, but by and large enveloped within the confines of a star-turn loaded cast. During 2016 he added substantially to his theatre CV with appearances as Frank at the Lyric, Belfast in ‘Educating Rita’, as Fluther Good on the National Theatre’s Lyttleton stage and at the Old Vic in director Deborah Warner’s inventive interpretation of ‘King Lear’, starring a glorious Glenda Jackson.

Stephen Kennedy, despite a feverish but comparatively recent stage history and a screen persona gaining momentum, remains a largely unknown, able performer, in the wider scheme of things.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:


– The Honey Spike(1993) Abbey(tour)
– Double Helix (1995) Cleeres Theatre, Kilkenny

– The Lime Tree Bower(1998) The Other Place, Stratford
– Juno and the Paycock (1999) Donmar Warehouse, London

– Popcorn(2002) Liverpool Playhouse
– Forty Winks (2004) Royal Court, London
– The Lunatic Queen (2005) Riverside Studios, London

– Cyrano de Bergerac(2007)  Bristol Old Vic

– King John(2016) Rose Theatre, Kingston-Upon-Thames

– Sweet Charity(2019) Donmar Warehouse, London


– The Agent (2008)

– Father Ted (1996)
– The Vice (2003)
– Casualty (2006)
– The Bill (2007)
– Doctors (2008)

– Silent Witness(2016)

– Stan Lee’s Lucky Man(2016)

– The Salisbury Poisonings(2021) 



John Keyes (Keys)


Born Belfast 1937

Died Belfast 2nd September 2010

Writer, director and wishful histrion from his early teens, who found after school jobs, first as an assistant stage manager/general dogsbody at the Arts Theatre, then in Fountain Street Belfast and aged fourteen at the Group in Bedford Street. His debut, an uncredited walk-on part in the premiere of Donagh MacDonagh’s verse comedy ‘God’s Gentry’ in August 1951, featured a youthful James Greene as Monks Mongan, Arts leading man Terence Pim as shopkeeper John Melody, James Ellis as a police sergeant no less and all directed by the impassioned Hibby Wilmot.

His professional career began aged eighteen, when he was accepted into Anew McMaster’s company, making an unverifiable appearance in the open-air ‘Pageant of St Patrick’, held at Croke Park, Dublin in May 1955. In England in 1957, he toured with the diminutive Arthur Askey in Glenn Melvyn and Geoffrey Orme’s long running comedy ‘The Love Match’, which predictably also enjoyed a cinematic release in 1955. A juvenile lead understudy in Meredith Willson’s ‘The Music Man’ at the Adelphi Theatre, London in 1961, starring Van Johnson, was followed by a coming down to earth, when signing for a season with the itinerant, but grandly titled London Repertory Players. Showing his stage expertise, he was most conspicuous in what was a Players favourite, Diana Morgan’s comedy ‘Your Obedient Servant’, presented at the Queen’s Hall, Minehead, Somerset in 1962.

In another London Repertory season during March/April 1965, this time based at the Royalty Theatre, Chester, a new face was introduced, twenty- two years old Magherafelt born Oliver Maguire, who was then on the cusp of a stage/screen breakthrough. In a predominately comedy filled programme, Keyes drew excellent reviews for his performance as the hypersensitive son Clive, in Peter Shaffer’s universally applauded family drama, ‘Five Finger Exercise’.  Among other highlights that season were Monte Doyle’s thriller ‘Signpost to Murder’and Kenneth Horne’s comedy ‘Love in a Mist’. He returned to Belfast and the Arts Theatre in August 1965 for Ray Cooney and Tony Hilton’s ‘One for the Pot’, which starred Catherine Gibson, J.J. Murphy and Maurice O’Callaghan, but despite the experienced cast the production directed by Hibby Wilmot, fell short of highline farce.

In December 1968 he took the role of dilettante Hallam Matthews in John Whiting’s period comedy ‘A Penny for a Song’, staged at the Lyric Theatre’s new home in Ridgeway Street Belfast, with Lawrence Beattie as Commander George Selincourt  and direction by Christopher Fitz- Simon. Early in 1970, he, together with Roma Tomelty, founded 70s Productions, dedicated to introducing the works of Shakespeare to schools around Northern  Ireland and featured the plays ‘Henry IV Part One’, ‘Othello’ and ‘Richard III’. In 1971 at the Grove Theatre, Belfast, he was in the cast of the 70s Productions revival of Joseph Tomelty’s acclaimed comedy ‘Is the Priest at Home?’, directed by Roma Tomelty and included her sister Frances and naturally a cameo for the author himself. His involvement with schools theatre continued with the latest incarnation, Interplay, which performed Shakespeare’s so called problem play ‘Measure for Measure’ at the Arts, Belfast in April 1978, directed by Tony Newby Lee. Cast as the wise and loyal Escalus, he played opposite a fast emerging Liam Neeson who took dual roles, as the inebriate Froth and executioner Abhorson.

At the Lyric in August 1982 he was the manservant Lane, in director Christopher Fitz-Simon’s production of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, with Stella McCusker as the browbeating Lady Bracknell and a glorious Margaret D’Arcy as Miss Prism. A year later at the same venue, under the direction of Des McAleer, he delivered an understated portrayal of Adam Bothwell, in a revival of St John Ervine’s Ulster comedy ‘Friends and Relations’, in a heavyweight cast including Mark Mulholland, Brid Brennan and Louis Rolston.

He made his long overdue screen debut playing a prison governor, in writer Harry Barton’s BBC Northern Ireland produced ‘Fire at Magilligan’, with Derek Lord and old friend Oliver Maguire, screened in June 1984. Following this he registered a number of credits in further BBC N. Ireland productions such as Bernard McLaverty’s Belfast set social drama, ‘The Daily Woman’ in 1986 and John McGahern’s ‘The Rockingham Shoot’ in 1987. He took a minor but telling role as a poker-faced Belfast QC in Michael Eaton’s controversial ‘Troubles’ docudrama ‘Shoot  to Kill’ in 1990 and in 1993 was a credible prison chaplain in David Drury’s  television film ‘Bad Company’, a dramatization of the circumstances surrounding the case of the Bridgewater Four.

He worked with Roma Tomelty again, when her Centre Stage Company offered him the role of novelist/activist Dasheill Hammett, opposite her playwright and left -wing Lillian Hellman, in Declan Hughes’ debut play, ‘I Can’t Get Started’, which undertook a short tour during April/May 1993. Back at the Lyric with the Belfast Theatre Company  in 1995, he gave a marvellous performance as the Old Man with David Calvert as the Servant in director Paddy Scully’s two-handed adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s darkly comic ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. Two years later, again at the Lyric, and in another Belfast Theatre Company production , he played the college president in Paddy Scully and Michael McKnight’s modification of Brian Moore’s novel ‘The Feast of Lupercal’, in a cast headed by J.J. Murphy and Alan McKee. In what was an irregular final few years, he made his last stage appearance in his own one-man show, paying homage to one of his heroes, the theatrical titan Micheal Macliammoir, also name checking a favourite play in the process. He staged ‘The Importance of Being Micheal’ at the Culturlann McAdam O’Fiach, Belfast in February 2002, later transferring to the Wimbledon Studio Theatre, London.

John Keyes immersed himself in theatre whilst still at school, later honing his skills on the arduous repertory season circuit, generally in the English hinterland and in almost fifty years as a professional actor, registered numerous first-rate performances across the full spectrum of genres.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:


-Where the Rainbow Ends (1958) New Victoria Theatre, London

-Sailor Beware (1960) English Tour

-The Bride and the Bachelor (1961) English Tour

-The Happy Marriage (1965) Royalty Theatre, Chester

-Mary, Mary (1965) Royalty Theatre, Chester


-Flashpoint (1997)


-A Woman Calling (1984)

-Truckers (1987)

-God’s Frontiersmen(1989)


Randal Kinkead

Born Lisburn 20th July 1929

Died London 29th January 2014

Judicious and altruistic actor, a Trinity College, Dublin graduate whose professional career was relatively short, spanning the 1950’s/1960’s. A keen member of the university drama group, who soon after his graduation in 1951, joined Anew McMaster’s company, then undertaking an extensive tour of Ireland. There he rubbed shoulders with another young thespian of similar age, Harold Pinter, also cutting his teeth in the frenetic world of a touring company. He would fill incidental roles in McMaster’s largely Shakespearean programme and in 1952, following his Irish soujourn, gained further experience with the Perth Repertory Company in Scotland.

His screen debut came in 1954, appearing as a monk in director Stephen Harrison’s historical television drama ‘Montserrat’, Lillian Hellman’s adaptation of Emmanuel Robles’ 19th century Venezuela set novel, starring Denholm Elliott as the principled Captain Montserrat.

In his big screen introduction he was offered another bit part, playing a reporter in the award winning post WW2 drama ‘The Divided Heart’ 1954, an Ealing Studios production, directed by Charles Crichton. Television appearances in 1955/56 included an uncredited role in Tony Richardson’s 1955 adaptation of ‘Othello’, featuring the largely unknown American, Gordon Heath. A year later he made a brief appearance in an episode of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, with George Dolenz, father of the grinning Monkee, Micky, as the denigrated avenger.

For the remainder of the fifties he supplemented meagre screen work with infrequent suburban theatre engagements. His fringe credit as Lucien Lunel in writer/director Rex Tucker’s six part comedy series ‘The Young Lady from London’, screened in November/ December 1959, exemplified the level of roles available.

He found little improvement at the turn of the sixties, with several inconsequential parts during 1960/61. In terms of production aesthetic, the best of these was arguably director George R. Foa’s Sicilian set drama ‘Lazarus’, starring Maxine Audley and Duncan Macrea, broadcast in February 1960. A final screen sighting in 1961 saw him as a French servant in ITV’s ‘Play of the Week’, ‘Faraway Music’, ending a luckless dalliance with a medium then awash with willing and able performers. He returned to academia in the mid-sixties, establishing himself as a progressive and socially conscious teacher in a variety of senior positions in the Greater London area.

Other TV credits:

-The Olive Jar(1955)

-The Scarlet Pimpernel(1956)

-Flight of the Dove(1957)

-World Theatre/ Blood Wedding(1959)

-Saturday Playhouse(1960)


Sam Kydd

Born Belfast 15th February 1915
Died London 26th March 1982

Definitive bit player, who appeared it seems, in every British film made from the mid forties through to the late fifties. At the outbreak of WW2 he was working as a compere with a dance band and as a member of the Territorial Army, was subject to automatic draft. Ater less than a week of active service he was captured in France and imprisoned in Poland for the duration of the war, where with like minded POWs, he soon began to organise theatre workshops and general entertainment.

Before all of this however, he had notched up two uncredited film roles, making his debut in director Harry Lachman’s 1940 low budget crime drama ‘They Came By Night’, followed by a walk-on part in director Lance Comfort’s historical biopic ‘Penn of Pennsylvania 1942. Following his liberation by the Russian Army in 1945, Kydd, had with consideration decided on an acting career and lost no time in this pursuit, notching up

a string of bit parts, the first was Basil Deardon’s ‘The Captive Heart’ 1945, in which he, due to his POW experiences , was also employed as technical adviser. He had to wait until 1948 before he was offered a role which at least had a couple of lines of dialogue, playing a Sergeant in Terence Fisher’s wartime romance, ‘A Song For Tomorow’.

Between 1948/49, he appeared in twenty five films, with peripheral to barely glimpsed roles, the most noteworthy of these included ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ 1948, Henry Cornelius’ wonderful Ealing comedy classic ‘Passport to Pimlico’ and ‘The Hasty Heart’, both 1949. In the fifties his work rate reached an extraordinary average of fourteen films a year and with the new medium of television available to him, he most definitely was in danger of working himself to a standstill.

Once again the majority of parts he played were of a minor nature but included many keynote British films of the fifties, such as ‘The Blue Lamp’ 1950, ‘The Cruel Sea’ 1953, ‘Father Brown’ 1954, ‘The Quatermass Xperiment’ and Alexander Mackendrick’s sublime, ‘The Ladykillers’, both 1955. His television debut amidst this maelstrom was in a Sunday Night Theatre play ‘The Wonderful Visit’ 1952, playing a tramp in a cast including a first sighting of rising comedy star Kenneth Williams. The latter half of the decade also produced a few gems, ‘Reach for the Sky’ 1956, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ 1958 and in 1959, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and John Boulting’s excellent comedy ‘I’m All Right Jack’, starring a gloriously on-form Peter Sellers.

His status was elevated slightly in the sixties, with more roles of substance now on offer to him, he was Croaker Jones in the television comedy series ‘Messmates’ 1960 and a major breakthrough in terms of general audience awareness, was his Orlando O’Connor, Patrick Allen’s sidekick in the popular drama series, ‘Crane’ 1963. In the spin-off ‘Orlando’ 1965, he saw his name heading the credits for the first time in his career, this series proved more popular than its predecessor, lasting for four seasons until 1968.

Television work in the sixties overwhelmed what was for him a rather meagre big screen output but he did appear in some critically acclaimed films, most notably Guy Green’s ‘The Angry Silence’ 1960 and ‘The Killing of Sister George’ 1968. By the seventies he had developed into a convincing character actor and was still in demand for those minor but necessary roles, though the quality of product had dipped somewhat and included such diverse projects as ‘Ten Rillington Place’ 1970 and ‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner’ 1974.

He also made many guest appearances on a range of television shows, with ‘The Persuaders’ 1971, ‘New Scotland Yard’ 1973 and ‘Great Expectations’ 1975, the best of a distinctly drab lot. Towards the end of his long and colourful career, he managed to keep his profile afloat, popping up on screen in some watchable films including ‘Yesterday’s Hero’ 1979 and ‘The Mirror Crack’d’ 1980 and that year appeared before his biggest audience to date as Frankie Baldwin in ‘Coronation Street’.

Sam Kydd’s last ever screen appearance was in the comedy series ‘Terry and June’, screened in November 1981 and with it brought to a close, perhaps the most prolific career in the history of minor British charactor actors.

Other Film and TV credits:

– Trent’s Last Case (1953)
– Cockleshell Heroes (1956)
– Yangtse Incident (1957)
– The Iron Maiden (1962)
– Too Late the Hero (1969)
– Dad’s Army (1972)
– Eye of the Needle (1981)

– Love for Lydia (1977)
– The Shillingbury Blowers (1979)
– Minder (1982)