Dudley Sutton

Dudley Sutton (6 April 1933 – 15 September 2018) was an English actor. Active in radio, stage, television and film, he was best known for his role in the BBC Television drama series Lovejoy.

Dudley Sutton
Born(1933-04-06)6 April 1933
Died15 September 2018(2018-09-15) (aged 85)
Clapham, London, England
Years active1961–2018

Early life

Dudley Sutton was born in Kingston upon Thames [1], and educated at a boys' boarding school at Lifton Park, Devon. He served in the Royal Air Force as a mechanic before enrolling in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, from which he was later expelled for responding to rock-and-roll.[2]


Sutton became known after unusual roles in two films directed by Sidney J. Furie. He played a frustrated teenager accused with his friends of murder in The Boys (1962) and a gay biker in The Leather Boys (1964), both parts showing his potential for offbeat screen personae. At a reunion of the three surviving stars of the earlier film in London on 17 September 2017, Sutton related that he felt himself privileged that these movies had dealt with two matters close to his heart: the iniquity of the death penalty, and gay rights. On stage, he played the title role in the first production of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964). From 25 May 1966, he appeared in Tango, a play by Slawomir Mrozek at the Aldwych Theatre alongside Patience Collier, Peter Jeffrey, Mike Pratt, and Ursula Mohan under director Trevor Nunn.[3]

Sutton appeared in many films during his career, including Rotten to the Core (1965), Crossplot (1969), The Devils (1971), Madame Sin (1972), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Fellini's Casanova (1976), Edward II (1991), and The Football Factory (2004).

Among his many television appearances were his roles as Tinker Dill in Lovejoy (1986 and 1991–94) – whose friendship with Lovejoy, the title character, and expertise in the antique trade was the backbone of the show – as Mr Carter in the Beiderbecke Trilogy and as Oleg Kirov in Smiley's People (1982). He also featured in The Sweeney episode "Golden Boy" and in a Christmas special episode of Porridge (1976) as the somewhat-unstable, prison trustee-turned-hostage-taker Reg Urwin, with Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale.

In 1999, he appeared in the BBC Radio play Cosmos the Mystic Dog. In 2004, he made an appearance in the soap opera EastEnders for sixteen episodes, playing Wilfred Atkins, a conman.

In 2003, Sutton found inspiration from the internet "where apparently people say that every time you masturbate God kills a kitten". From that statement, he developed a comic piece about "a young man's emotions and feelings, from the moment he's a baby tugging at his cock onwards." In August 2003, he performed the one-man Killing Kittens show at Edinburgh's Underbelly.

Sutton followed up Killing Kittens with a second autobiographical show Pandora's Lunchbox in 2006. Following a performance as William Blake in Peter Ackroyd's BBC television series The Romantics, Sutton joined the cast of Albion Rising at St Giles in the Fields Church, London, in April 2007. He reprised the role in the film of the same name in 2009.

Sutton had a small role in the British teenage drama Skins as Freddie's granddad. He also appeared in the episode of Holby City broadcast on 15 March 2011 as a patient who fell down an escalator in a shopping centre. In 2012, he featured in the video "Once And For All" by Clock Opera.

Sutton also appeared in episode three of the BBC comedy series Family Tree ("The Austerity Games"), which was first broadcast in July 2013, and was a guest star in episode three of the BBC series Boomers in 2014. He played William Makepeace in Emmerdale in 2014.

In 2015 he appeared as a Roman Catholic rector in the BBC TV series Father Brown episode 3.6 "The Upcott Fraternity". He also appeared in three episodes of the BBC's day time show, Doctors, in August 2015. He narrated the 2016 documentary The Future of Work and Death. In November 2017 he played the lead role in a video for the Tom Chaplin song "Midnight Mass."

Personal life

He married American actress Marjorie Steele in 1961; she had previously been married to the millionaire producer Huntington Hartford. Sutton and Steele had one child together, but divorced in 1965. He married a further 3 times.[4]


Sutton died of cancer on 15 September 2018 at the age of 85. He is survived by three children, Peter, Barnaby and Fanny.[4][5]

Selected filmography


  1. Dudley Sutton obituary, The Guardian, 16 September 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  2. Smith, Adam (1 October 2010). "Interview with Dudley Sutton". Theatre Archive Project. British Library. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  3. "Lively Choice of Plays for Aldwych." The Times (London, England) 22 April 1966: p.17. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  4. Farquhar, Simon (16 September 2018). "Dudley Sutton obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  5. "Lovejoy star Dudley Sutton dies of cancer aged 85". The Irish News. 16 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
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