Francis Matthews (actor)

Francis Matthews (2 September 1927 – 14 June 2014) was an English actor, best known for playing Paul Temple in the BBC television series of the same name and for voicing Captain Scarlet in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.[1]

Francis Matthews
Born(1927-09-02)2 September 1927
York, England
Died14 June 2014(2014-06-14) (aged 86)
London, England
EducationSt Michael's Jesuit College, Leeds
Years active1951–2012
Angela Browne
(m. 1963; died 2001)
RelativesPaul Shelley (brother)
Maura Matthews (sister)

Early life

Matthews was born in York on 2 September 1927, to Henry and Kathleen Matthews.[2][3] His father was a shop steward at the Rowntree's chocolate factory near York.[2][3] His parents took him often to the theatre, where he gained a love of acting.[2][3] He attended St George's RC Primary School, then St Michael's Jesuit College in Leeds.[2]

He found work as a stagehand at the Theatre Royal in Leeds, and made his theatrical debut in 1945 in the play The Corn Is Green[3] before performing his national service in the Royal Navy.[2] After leaving the military he returned to the stage, appearing in a 1954 touring production of the play No Escape, which starred Flora Robson. He made his West End debut in 1956.[3]


In the 1950s and 1960s, Matthews's film roles for Hammer Studios included the Baron's assistant in The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) and the heroes of Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Rasputin, the Mad Monk (both 1966). On television, from 1969 to 1971, he played Francis Durbridge's amateur private detective Paul Temple in the BBC series of the same name.[4]

Matthews starred opposite Morecambe and Wise in the films The Intelligence Men (1965) and That Riviera Touch (1966), which led to a close friendship with Eric Morecambe. He also appeared throughout the 1960s and 1970s in a variety of TV comedy roles, including Eric & Ernie's Christmas Show, 1977. He appeared alongside George Cole in Charles Woods' sitcom Don't Forget To Write! (1977) as a successful writer.

In 1967, Matthews provided the character voice of Captain Scarlet, in imitation of Cary Grant, for Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Supermarionation TV series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. (He divided his time, during the recording sessions, between his work there and his stage appearances in Noël Coward's play Private Lives.)

In the late 1970s, he served as narrator and host for Follow Me!, a BBC educational programme that offered a "crash course" in the English language to foreign viewers.

In 1986, Matthews and his wife, Angela Browne, appeared together in the BBC adaptation of the Josephine Tey novel Brat Farrar.[4] In 2000, they starred in two Ray Cooney plays on the cruise ship MS Marco Polo, while she was sailing to the Antarctic: Run For Your Wife and Funny Money.

Personal life

Matthews was married to actress Angela Browne from 1963 until her death in 2001; the couple had three sons.[5] Two, Damien Matthews and Paul Rattigan, are actors; the other, Dominic, is an artist and musician. Matthews' younger brother, Paul Shelley, is also an actor; they had a sister, Maura.[6][7]


Matthews died at the age of 86 on 14 June 2014, following a short illness. He was survived by his three sons, five grandchildren, and his two siblings.[6][8][9]



  1. "Francis Matthews: Still on the case Archived 26 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine", Mature Times, 17 July 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2013
  2. Steven, Alasdair (17 June 2014). "Obituary: Francis Matthews, actor". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  3. Gaughan, Gavin (15 June 2014). "Francis Matthews obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  4. Wilkie, Agnes (1986) "Smoothie and the Brat", Evening Times, 15 February 1986, p. 11. Retrieved 19 November 2013
  5. "Angela Browne obituary". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  6. Gaughan, Gavin (15 June 2014). "Francis Matthews obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  8. Alexandra Topping. "Francis Matthews, actor who voiced Captain Scarlet, dies aged 86". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  9. "Francis Matthews". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
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