Alfred Burke

Alfred Burke (28 February 1918 – 16 February 2011)[1] was an English actor, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Frank Marker in the drama series Public Eye, which ran on television for ten years.

Alfred Burke
Born(1918-02-28)28 February 1918
Peckham, London, England
Died16 February 2011(2011-02-16) (aged 92)
Barnes, London, England
Years active1946–2008

Early life

Born in London's south-east district of Peckham, the son of Sarah Ann O'Leary and William Burke,[2] he was educated at Leo Street Boys' School and Walworth Central School. Burke started work aged 14, working in a railway repair firm in the City of London after leaving school. He became a club steward and also worked in a silk warehouse, joining a local amateur dramatics group before moving to Morley College and winning a scholarship to RADA in 1937. His acting career started two years later at the Barn Theatre in Shere, Surrey. His budding career was interrupted by the Second World War, when he registered as a conscientious objector, and was directed to work on the land.[1]


In the late 1940s, he worked with the Young and Old Vic and other companies. His London debut was in 1950 at the Watergate Theatre, appearing in Pablo Picasso's play Desire Caught by the Tail. He then spent three years with Birmingham Repertory Theatre (1950–53) and appeared in the 1954 West End hit Sailor Beware!.[3]

Burke built a solid reputation across a wide range of character roles in films and on television. His acting career included: The Angry Silence, Touch and Go, Interpol, Yangtse Incident and Buccaneers, as well as such televised plays as The Tip and Treasure Island.

His most famous role was the enquiry agent Frank Marker in the ABC/Thames television series Public Eye, which ran from 1965 to 1975. His low-key, understated but always compelling portrayal of the down-at-heel private eye made the series one of the most popular and highly rated detective dramas on British television.

After Public Eye ended Burke appeared in a host of guises, from Long John Silver to Pope John Paul II's father. In the television series Minder he appeared in the episode Come in T-64, Your Time Is Ticking Away as Kevin, partner to Arthur Daley in his latest scheme, a minicab service. He was also the formidable headmaster "Thrasher" Harris in Home To Roost. He played Dr Anderson in the Bergerac episode titled Poison. Later he was seen as Armando Dippet in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

On stage Burke appeared in several productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Roberto Zucco, The Tempest, Peer Gynt, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, Two Shakespearean Actors, All's Well That Ends Well and Antony and Cleopatra. In 2008 he appeared at the National Theatre as the Shepherd in a new version of Sophocles' Oedipus by Frank McGuinness.[4]


Burke died from a chest infection on 16 February 2011, twelve days before his 93rd birthday, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. He was survived by his wife, Barbara (née Bonelle) and their four children: Jacob and Harriet (twins), and Kelly and Louisa (twins).

Selected filmography

Television roles


1963On the KnockerFrank

Selected drama appearances

1956-64ITV Play of the WeekThirteen appearancesIncluding adaptations of "The Birthday Party" and "The Crucible"
1959-69Armchair TheatreSix appearances
1961-66The AvengersThree appearances"Dragonsfield", "The Maritius Penny", "The Girl from Auntie"
1963-64The SaintTwo appearances"The Wonderful War" and "Starring the Saint"
1965–75Public EyeFrank Marker
1969Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)Henry FosterSeries 1, Episode 3: "All Work and No Pay"
1973The Brontes of HaworthThe Reverend Patrick Bronte
1978–80Enemy at the DoorMajor Dieter Richter
1979MinderKevinSeason 1, Episode 8
1980Tales of the UnexpectedHerbertSeason 3, Episode 1: 'The Flypaper'
1981The BorgiasGiuliano della Rovere6 Episodes, 1981
1988Sophia and ConstanceMr Critchlow

Selected theatre


  1. Dennis Barker (18 February 2011). "Alfred Burke obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  2. Alfred Burke Film Reference biography
  3. Hayward, Anthony (19 February 2011). "Alfred Burke: Actor best known for his portrayal of the seedy private detective Frank Marker in 'Public Eye'". Independent. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  4. "Oedipus – Productions". National Theatre. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
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