Ian Carmichael

Ian Gillett Carmichael, OBE (18 June 1920 – 5 February 2010)[1] was an English actor. He had roles in the films of the Boulting brothers, including Private's Progress (1956) and I'm All Right Jack (1959), and later played Dorothy L. Sayers's gentleman detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, on television and radio. Carmichael also had a career on stage.

Ian Carmichael
Ian Gillett Carmichael

(1920-06-18)18 June 1920
Died5 February 2010(2010-02-05) (aged 89)
Years active1939–2010
  • Jean Pyman (Pym) Maclean
    (m. 1943; died 1983)
    Kate Fenton (m. 1992)

Early life

Carmichael was born in Kingston upon Hull, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.[2] The son of an optician,[3] he was educated at Scarborough College and Bromsgrove School,[3] before training as an actor at RADA. He made his stage debut as a robot at the People's Palace in Mile End, East London in 1939.[4]

With the outbreak of the Second World War his acting career was interrupted by service with the Royal Armoured Corps as a commissioned officer in the 22nd Dragoons. He served in the Normandy campaign, losing the tip of one finger in an accident with the turret hatch of a Valentine tank, and reached the rank of major before returning to civilian life in 1947.[5]


Before the war, Carmichael left his family business in Hull to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and to sing in talent contests at the Hammersmith Palais de Danse.[6] In the years that followed his demob from the British Army in 1947, Carmichael worked mostly on stage. In 1949 he toured for seven months in The Lilac Domino, in which he was half of a comedy double act with Leo Franklyn. He played the part of Otto Bergmann in a West End revival of Wild Violets, then appeared in several revues. One which began at the Lyric, Hammersmith, in 1951, moved into the West End as The Globe Revue of 1952, and later that year Carmichael was the song-and-dance star of High Spirits at the Hippodrome Theatre. Further revues followed.[7]

After minor film roles, Carmichael portrayed serious characters on screen in Betrayed (1954), starring Clark Gable and Lana Turner, and in The Colditz Story (1955). He had greater success, however, performing in a series of comedy films for the Boulting brothers, including Private's Progress (1956), Brothers in Law (1957), and I'm All Right Jack (1959). He appeared in similar films for other producers including School for Scoundrels (1960) and in the "Pride" segment of The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971).[8]

During the 1960s and 1970s, he worked in television, including the sitcom Bachelor Father, based on the story of a real-life bachelor who took on several foster children. For the BBC he was Bertie Wooster, opposite Dennis Price as Jeeves, in several series of The World of Wooster, based on the works of P. G. Wodehouse.[9] In later years, he was heard on BBC radio as Galahad Threepwood, another Wodehouse creation. In the 1970s and 1980s, he played Lord Peter Wimsey in several radio and television series based on the mystery novels by Dorothy L. Sayers.[10]

Carmichael continued to act until shortly before he died. In 1999, he appeared in the BBC serial Wives and Daughters. In the ITV series Heartbeat, and its spin-off The Royal, he played the Hospital Secretary T. J. Middleditch (2003–07 and 2009 ). He also spent much time in recording audio books: Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome, and most of the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers.[11]

He was appointed an OBE in the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours List.[12]

Personal life

Carmichael was married twice: firstly to Jean Pyman (Pym) McLean, from 1943 until her death from cancer in 1983 (they had two daughters, Lee and Sally) and then to the novelist Kate Fenton, from 1992 until his death in 2010.[13] Ian Carmichael died of natural causes at the age of 89, at his home in Grosmont, North Yorkshire, on the North York Moors on 5 February 2010.[14] He had five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.[15] His autobiography, Will the Real Ian Carmichael... was published in 1979.[8]

Filmography and other works

See also


  1. "Actor Ian Carmichael dies at 89". BBC News. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  2. "Ian Carmichael". Britmovie.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
  3. Barker, Dennis (6 February 2010). "Ian Carmichael obituary". The Guardian. London, UK: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  4. Strachan, Alan (8 February 2010). "Ian Carmichael: Actor who played likeable toffs in golden age of". The Independent. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  5. "Ian Carmichael: actor". The Times. London, UK. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  6. "BBC News - Obituary: Ian Carmichael". BBC News. 6 February 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  7. Harrison, David (6 February 2010). "Veteran actor Ian Carmichael dies aged 89". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  8. Slide, Anthony (1996). Some Joe you don't know : an American biographical guide to 100 British television personalities (1 ed.). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 41–42. ISBN 9780313295508.
  9. Batty, David (6 February 2010). "Actor Ian Carmichael dies". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  10. Weber, Bruce (9 February 2010). "Ian Carmichael, Comic British Actor, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  11. Harrison, David; Donnelly, Laura (6 February 2010). "Ian Carmichael, actor with a zest for life". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  12. "No. 56963". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2003. p. 10.
  13. "Wife touched by messages following death of Ian Carmichael". The Whitby Gazette. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  14. "Old Bromsgrovian and veteran actor Ian Carmichael has died". Bromsgrove School. Archived from the original on 17 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  15. "Veteran actor Ian Carmichael dies". uk.news.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2017.


  • Will the real Ian Carmichael– : an autobiography, London: Macmillan, 1979, (400 pp.), ISBN 0-333-25476-7
  • This Charming Man; the life of Ian Carmichael, Robert Fairclough, London: Aurum, 2011 (336 pp.), ISBN 9781845136642
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