David Spenser

David Spenser (born David De Saram: 12 March 1934 20 July 2013)[1] was a Sri Lankan-born British actor, director, producer and writer. Spenser played the title role in a 1948 radio production of Richmal Crompton's Just William, and also appeared in popular films and TV series including Doctor Who.[2][3] His documentary about Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies won an International Emmy Award. He was the elder brother of actor Jeremy Spenser.

David Spenser
David De Saram

12 March 1934
Died20 July 2013 (aged 79)
OccupationActor, television producer, radio producer
Years active1945 – 1972

Aged 11 he appeared in plays on BBC radio's Children's Hour. He was cast in Just William by the author of the books, Richmal Crompton.[2]

He played Harry in the first production of Benjamin Britten's opera Albert Herring.

One of his first TV appearances was in the ABC serial Secret Beneath the Sea. Spenser later appeared in episodes of Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, and The Saint.[2] In 1967 Spenser appeared as Thonmi in the Doctor Who serial The Abominable Snowmen alongside the second doctor, Patrick Troughton.[2] Spenser later worked as a radio producer for the BBC. He produced several radio plays including Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now in 1988, and Christopher Isherwood's Mr Norris Changes Trains in 1984.[2]

Spenser wrote a historical drama about the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaton, The City of the Horizon. It was broadcast in 1972 and 1976.[2] Spenser subsequently produced documentaries about figures such as Benny Hill, Angus Wilson, Dodie Smith and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies.

He was survived by his brother, and by his partner Victor Pemberton.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1954Conflict of WingsCorporal, Flying Control
1959The Stranglers of BombayGopali DasUncredited
1962Play It CoolReporter #1Uncredited
1962In Search of the CastawaysSouth American Guide
1964The Earth Dies ScreamingMel
1967Battle Beneath the EarthMaj. Chai
1967Some May LiveInspector Sung
1968Carry On... Up the KhyberBungdit Din's servant


  1. John Tydeman David Spenser obituary, The Guardian, 1 August 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013
  2. "Original Just William radio star David Spenser dies aged 79". BBC News Online. 21 July 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  3. http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/individual/255722
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