Kenneth Cope

Kenneth Charles Cope (born 14 April 1931) is an English actor. He is best known for his roles as Marty Hopkirk in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Jed Stone in Coronation Street and Ray Hilton in Brookside.

Kenneth Cope
Kenneth Charles Cope

(1931-04-14) 14 April 1931
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Years active1954–2009
Renny Lister (m. 1961)
ChildrenMartha Cope
Nick Cope
Mark Cope
For the musician, see Kenneth Cope (musician).

Early life

Kenneth Cope was born on 14 April 1931 in Liverpool.[1]


In Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969–1970), Cope played the ghostly private eye Marty Hopkirk opposite Mike Pratt's very much alive Jeff Randall. He had previously had a regular role in Coronation Street as the shady Jed Stone (between 1961 and 1966, and in 2008), and also in the satirical series That Was The Week That Was (1962–1963). In 1967 he appeared as Tom Savage in "The Bird Who Knew Too Much" episode of The Avengers.[2] He also appeared in three episodes of Minder playing different characters: (Bury my Half at Waltham Green as newly released prisoner Arthur Stubbs; 'Bring me the head of Arthur Daley' as police informer Phelan; and as 'Scooter' in Waiting For Goddard). Cope's appearance in Coronation Street led to the recording of a novelty pop single "Hands Off, Stop Mucking About" with Tony Hatch. Although the song was not a hit it led to Cope being given a regular slot as a disc jockey with Radio Luxembourg.[3]

He played Subutai in the 1965 film of the life of Genghis Khan, and in the same year appeared in Dateline Diamonds playing Lester Benson. He also took leading roles in two "Carry On" films. In Carry On at Your Convenience (1971) he played Vic Spanner, the obnoxious shop steward central to the film's trade union and industrial problems storyline and rival in the film's romantic sub-plot. In Carry On Matron (1972) he took the more sympathetic role of Cyril Carter, the son of a thief who is forced to impersonate a female nurse as part of his father's attempt to rob a maternity hospital. Once there Cyril finds love with a real nurse.

In 1975–76 he wrote three series of the BBC children's television series Striker, starring the young Kevin Moreton and inspired by the local youth football team in the village of Islip, Oxfordshire, where the Cope family was then living.

Cope later appeared in the Doctor Who story Warriors' Gate (in 1981), and guest starred in four episodes of Casualty, as well as taking roles in Juliet Bravo, The Bill, Waking the Dead, A Touch of Frost, Minder ('Waiting for Goddard') and Kavanagh QC.

In 1984 Cope starred in an ill-conceived surreal sitcom about a failing themed cowboy village on the outskirts of Merseyside called Bootle Saddles. He played the lead character Percy James, who was passionate about the park despite the poor financial returns. The series appeared to be less of a parody but more a sort of homage to 1950s and '60s westerns, with episodes structured loosely around epics like High Noon and The Magnificent Seven. The characters rarely strayed out of their diegetic cowboy personas, despite the contemporary setting. The series was axed after one season.

In 1997 Cope played dodgy ex-copper Charlie Fairclough alongside David Jason in an episode of A Touch of Frost entitled "True Confessions."

From 1999 to 2002 he played Ray Hilton in the Channel Four soap opera Brookside.

Cope was offered a cameo role in the 2000–2001 revival of Randall and Hopkirk starring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, but turned it down. He did, however, feature on the "Behind the Scenes" section of the Series 1 DVD, wishing the cast of the remake well. He also provided the foreword to a Randall and Hopkirk retrospective book (by Geoff Tibballs), published in 1994.

In 2008, Cope's Coronation Street character Jed Stone returned to the ITV soap after 42 years' absence, appearing as part of a storyline involving property developer Tony Gordon. The character was kept onscreen for several months before being written out again.

Cope now resides in Southport, and writes a weekly column for the weekly Visiter newspaper.

Personal life

Cope married actress Renny Lister, whom he had met when she worked on Coronation Street, in 1961. They have three children.

His daughter Martha Cope is also an actress. His sons Nick Cope and Mark Cope were members of the rock group the Candyskins. In 1974, with his wife, Cope opened a restaurant in Watlington, Oxfordshire named "Martha’s Kitchen" after his daughter.[4][5]

He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2000, but six years later he was told this was a misdiagnosis.[6]

Cope, who now suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,[7] is still an avid supporter of Everton.

In January 2014 Cope appeared as a character witness during the trial of former Coronation Street colleague William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in the series.[8]



  1. Born: 14 June 1931, Liverpool (14 April 1931). "Kenneth Cope | BFI". Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  2. "The Bird Who Knew Too Much". BBC. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  3. "Kenneth Cope". Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  4. "Actor Kenneth Cope with his wife Renny in their restaurant called..." Getty Images. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  5. "Kenneth Cope". IMDb. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  6. Riches, Chris (5 January 2009). "TV star hit by cancer blunder". Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  7. Corrie actor Kenneth Cope was told he was dying Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Unreality TV. Retrieved 15 January 2012
  8. Joe Thomas (7 February 2014). "Kenneth Cope relief at William Roache sex offences trial verdict". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
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