Graham Crowden

Clement Graham Crowden (30 November 1922 – 19 October 2010)[1][2] was a Scottish actor. He was best known for his many appearances in television comedy dramas and films, often playing eccentric "offbeat" scientist, teacher and doctor characters.

Graham Crowden
Clement Graham Crowden

(1922-11-30)30 November 1922
Died19 October 2010(2010-10-19) (aged 87)
Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland
Years active1956–2008
Spouse(s)Phyllida Hewat
(1952–2010; his death)

Early life

Graham Crowden was born in Edinburgh, the son of Anne Margaret (née Paterson) and Harry Graham Crowden.[3] He was educated at Clifton Hall School and the Edinburgh Academy before serving briefly in the Royal Scots Youth Battalion of the army until he was injured in a bizarre accident. During arms drill he was shot by his platoon sergeant, when the sergeant's rifle discharged.[4] The sergeant reportedly enquired "What is it now, Crowden?", to which Crowden replied "I think you've shot me, sergeant." He later found work in a tannery.

Acting career

Crowden had a long and distinguished theatrical career, most notably at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre where he performed as The Player King in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the play by Tom Stoppard.

He occasionally played mad scientists in film, taking the role of Doctor Millar in the Mick Travis films of director Lindsay Anderson, O Lucky Man! (1973) and Britannia Hospital (1982) and also playing the sinister Doctor Smiles in the film of Michael Moorcock's first Jerry Cornelius novel, The Final Programme (1973). He also played the eccentric history master in Anderson's if.... (1968). In 1970, he appeared in the popular Thames Television series Callan as The Groper, a de-registered doctor, who had been in Wormwood Scrubs called on by Callan, when unofficial medical assistance was required (e.g. Series 3, "A Village Called G" and likely others between 1967–73 though some are now lost).

In 1975, he made an appearance in "No Way Out"  an episode of the British sitcom Porridge alongside Ronnie Barker, Brian Wilde, Richard Beckinsale and Fulton Mackay, as the prison doctor when Fletcher was complaining of an injured leg.

He was offered the role of the Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who in 1974, when Jon Pertwee left the role but turned it down, informing producer Barry Letts that he was not prepared to commit himself to the series for three years. The role ultimately went to Tom Baker. He appeared in The Horns of Nimon (1979) as a villain opposite Baker. This was the reason why Ian Marter was originally hired, as the producers and directors considered Crowden too old to be seen running about and taking on a larger physical role.

A regular role was in the BBC comedy-drama A Very Peculiar Practice (1986–88) as the alcoholic Dr. Jock McCannon. In 1990, he appeared as a lecherous peer in the BBC comedy Don't Wait Up and in 1991 he played a modest role in the Rumpole of the Bailey episode "Rumpole and the Quacks", portraying Sir Hector MacAuliffe, the head of a medical inquest into the potential sexual misconduct on the part of Dr. Ghulam Rahmat (portrayed by Saeed Jaffrey).

In 1990, he landed the role of Tom Ballard in the sitcom Waiting for God, opposite Stephanie Cole's character Diana Trent, as the two rebellious retirement home residents. The show ran for five years and was a major success.[5]

In 1994, Crowden played the part of Professor Pollux in the BBC TV adaptation of the John Hadfield novel Love on a Branch Line.

Crowden then voiced the role of Mustrum Ridcully in the 1997 animated Cosgrove Hall production of Terry Pratchett's Soul Music.

In 2001, he guest-starred in the Midsomer Murders episode "Ring Out Your Dead" and also played The Marquis of Auld Reekie in The Way We Live Now. Between 2001 and 2002, he played a role in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series The Leopard in Autumn. In 2003, he made a cameo appearance as a sadistic naval school teacher in The Lost Prince. In 2005–08, he starred in the BBC Radio 4 sci-fi comedy Nebulous as Sir Ronald Rolands. In 2008, he appeared as a guest star in Foyle's War.

For many years towards the end of his life, he lived in Mill Hill, London NW7.


Crowden died on 19 October 2010 in Edinburgh after a short illness. Crowden is survived by his wife, Phyllida Hewat, whom he married in 1952, a son and three daughters, one of whom, Sarah, followed him into acting.


Television roles

1964HMS ParadiseCommander Shaw
1964Redcap: The PatrolMajor Fraser
1965Danger Man:That's Two Of Us SorryCommander Braithwaite
1970Catweazle:The Enchanted KingGobbling
1971The Guardians:The Dirtiest Man in the WorldThe Dirtiest Man
1973The Adventures of Black Beauty: Goodbye BeautyMr. Crevace
1975Porridge: Christmas Special – "No Way Out"Prison Physician
1977'1990': DecoyDr. Sondeberg
1977Raffles: Home AffairsSir Arthur Rumbold
1979–1980Doctor Who: The Horns of NimonSoldeed
1985Bleak HouseLord Chancellor
1986–1988A Very Peculiar PracticeDr. Jock McCannon
1986All Passion SpentHerbert
1990–1994Waiting for GodTom Ballard
1991Rumpole of the BaileySir Hector MacAuliffe
1992The Alleyn Mysteries: Final CurtainSir Henry Ancred
1994Love on a Branch LineProfessor Pollux
1996Gulliver's TravelsProfessor of Politics
2000The 10th KingdomOld Retainer
2001Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible (Episode 'Curse of the Blood of the Lizard of Doom')Professor MacLewton
2001The Way We Live Now The Marquis of Auld Reekie
2002Midsomer Murders (Episode Ring Out Your Dead)Reggie Barton
2007 Waking the Dead (Episode Deus ex Machina)Sir Cyril Barrett
2008Foyle's War (Episode 'Broken Souls')Sir John Sackville(final television appearance)

Film roles

1959The Bridal PathMan Giving Directions to the BeachUncredited
1961Don't Bother to KnockScoutmasterUncredited
1962We Joined the NavyUncredited
1965One Way PendulumProsecuting Counsel / Caretaker
1966Morgan - A Suitable Case for TreatmentCounsel
1968If....History Master: Staff
1969The File of the Golden GooseSmythe
1969The Virgin SoldiersMedical Officer
1970Leo the LastMax
1970The Rise and Rise of Michael RimmerBishop of Cowley
1971PercyAlfred Spaulton
1971The Night DiggerMr. Bolton
1972Something to HideLay Preacher
1972Up the Chastity BeltSir Coward
1972The Ruling ClassKelso Truscott
1972The Amazing Mr BlundenMr. Clutterbuck
1973O Lucky Man!Stewart / Prof. Millar / Meths Drinker
1973The Final ProgrammeDr. Smiles
1974The AbdicationCardinal Barberini
1974The Little PrinceThe General
1974Romance with a Double BassCount Alexei
1975The New Spartans
1977HardcoreLord Yardarm
1977JabberwockyFanatics' Leader
1977Three Dangerous LadiesThe Butler(segment "The Island")
1981For Your Eyes OnlyFirst Sea Lord
1982Britannia HospitalProfessor Millar
1982The MissionaryThe Reverend Fitzbanks
1984The Company of WolvesOld Priest
1985Code Name: EmeraldSir Geoffrey Macklin
1985Out of AfricaLord Belfield
1988A Handful of DustMr. Graceful
1996The Innocent SleepGeorge
1998The Sea ChangeChairman of The Board
1998I Want YouOld Man
2002PossessionSir George
2003Calendar GirlsRichard


Michael Palin, Halfway to Hollywood, p. 162

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