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 ancilliary 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’.
Valene Kane still awaits her breakthrough, but is indubitably better than the foot soldier status and 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.
– Victor Frankenstein(2015)
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, Film and TV 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)
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’ 1985. 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 independently produced 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)
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
-Chinese Whispers(Screenplay) 1989
-Arise and Go Now(Screenplay) 1991
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.
Stephen Kennedy, despite a feverish but comparitively 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
– The Agent (2008)
– Father Ted (1996)
– The Vice (2003)
– Casualty (2006)
– The Bill (2007)
– Doctors (2008)
– Silent Witness(2016)
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)
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)