Ballard Berkeley

Ballard Blascheck (6 August 1904 – 16 January 1988), known professionally as Ballard Berkeley,[lower-alpha 1] was an English actor of stage and screen. He played Major Gowen in the British television sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Ballard Berkeley
Berkeley as Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers
Born
Ballard Blascheck

6 August 1904
Died16 January 1988 (aged 83)
OccupationActor
Years active1930–1988

Life and career

The son of Joseph and Beatrice Blascheck, he was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He served as a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police during the Second World War, witnessing the Blitz at first hand[1] including the bombing of the Café de Paris nightclub.[2] For his service he received the Defence Medal and the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal.

Berkeley played the role of the bumbling Major Gowen in the BBC TV comedy Fawlty Towers.[3][4] He had played a similar role in 1969 in the legal drama The Main Chance. He portrayed another retired military man (Colonel Freddie Danby) in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, taking over the role from Norman Shelley.

He played a starring role in Fresh Fields as main character Hester's father Guy, was Uncle Greville in To the Manor Born and played Colonel Culpepper in Terry and June. He had small roles in an episode of Citizen Smith (1977) and an adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) and appeared once in The New Avengers as Colonel Foster in the episode "Dirtier by the Dozen". He also had small roles in the BBC sitcoms Hi-de-Hi! ("Empty Saddles", 1983) and Are You Being Served? ("Memories Are Made of This", 1983).

Berkeley was married in 1929 to Dorothy Long.[5]

During the 1930s he performed regularly in the so-called "quota quickies". One of his earliest roles was as the heroic lead in the 1937 film The Last Adventurers.[6] He appeared in the film In Which We Serve (1942) and also in the Hitchcock film Stage Fright (1950). He featured as Detective Inspector Berkeley in two episodes of Edgar Lustgarten's drama series, Scotland Yard ("Person Unknown", 1956 and "Bullet from the Past", 1957). He made a brief appearance in the 1985 American film National Lampoon's European Vacation which starred Chevy Chase. In this film, Berkeley played a British man who is involved in a minor road accident with the Griswalds.

Berkeley later performed the role of Winston—a similar character to "The Major"—in the radio comedy Wrinkles by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant. He played Badedas the Blue, a wizard in the radio comedy series Hordes of the Things. His last role was as the Head of the Army in the animated film version of Roald Dahl's The BFG. He died in 1988 and the film was released the following year.

Selected filmography

References

  1. Profile, timeout.com/london; accessed 30 August 2014.
  2. Mortimer, Gavin (2011). The Longest Night: Voices from the London Blitz. Hachette. p. 53.
  3. Slide, Anthony (1996). Some Joe you don't know: an American biographical guide to 100 British television personalities. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-313-29550-8.
  4. Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials: 1974–1984. VNR AG. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-918432-61-2.
  5. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075326/bio
  6. Profile, radiotimes.com; accessed 30 August 2014.
  1. Berkeley is pronounced "bark-lee".
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