Laurence Payne

Laurence Stanley Payne (5 June 1919 23 February 2009) was an English actor and novelist.[1][2]

Laurence Payne
Laurence Stanley Payne

(1919-06-05)5 June 1919
London, England, United Kingdom
Died23 February 2009(2009-02-23) (aged 89)
London, England, United Kingdom
Years active1946-1992
Spouse(s)Judith Draper 1974-2009 (his death)
Pamela Alan 1955-?(divorced)
Sheila Burrell 1944-? (divorced)

Early life

Payne was born in London. His father died when he was three years old, and he and his elder brother and sister were brought up by their mother, a Wesleyan Methodist in Wood Green, London.[3] He attended Belmont School and Tottenham Grammar School, leaving at 16 to take a clerical job.[3] After training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1939, he was exempted from war service as a conscientious objector on condition that he went on tour with the Old Vic during the war.[4]


Payne made his professional debut at the Old Vic theatre in 1939 and remained with the company for several years.[5] He then performed at the Chanticleer and Arts theatres in London, also directing and broadcasting for the first times during this period.[3] At Stratford-on-Avon he played, among other parts, Romeo in Peter Brook's 1947 production.[6]

After more work at London theatres, he played leading roles at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic, and after that rejoined the London Old Vic company.[7] At the Embassy Theatre in London he played Hamlet.[4]

His film credits include: The Trollenberg Terror (aka. The Crawling Eye), Vampire Circus, The Tell-Tale Heart and Ben-Hur.[8] His television credits include: Z-Cars, Moonstrike, The Sandbaggers, Airline, Telephone Soup and Tales of the Unexpected.[9][1] See him also as Capulet in a 1976 version of Romeo and Juliet.[10]

He appears in three Doctor Who serials: The Gunfighters, The Leisure Hive and The Two Doctors, playing a different role in each.[11] Perhaps his most famous role was as TV's Sexton Blake (1968–71) on ITV in Britain.[5] It was while filming an episode of Sexton Blake that he lost the sight in his left eye during rehearsal of a sword fighting scene with actor Basil Henson, following a hard sword blow against the side of his head.[3] Peter Moffatt took him straight away to Moorfields Eye Hospital, and Payne was told that, if he could lie still for a week without moving his head, his retina would join up again so preserving his sight. Instead of doing this, Payne went back to work, got hit in a fist fight, and so lost his sight in that eye.

After retiring from acting, Payne continued to concentrate on writing crime/detective novels (his first novel having been published in 1962). By 1993, he had published 11 novels,[12] and he has been called "one of the great humorists of the world of crime fiction".[13] His novel The Nose on my Face was filmed as Girl in the Headlines (1963).[2]

Selected filmography


  1. "Laurence Payne". BFI.
  2. McFarlane, Brian (16 May 2016). "The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition". Oxford University Press via Google Books.
  3. Michael Coveney (6 March 2009). "Laurence Payne: Actor and author best known as the vintage detective Sexton Blake". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  4. Booth, Jenny. "Obituary - Laurence Payne". The Times. London. (subscription required)
  5. "Laurence Payne: Actor best known for playing the detective Sexton". 4 May 2009.
  6. "Laurence Payne".
  7. "Laurence Payne".
  8. "Laurence Payne - Movies and Filmography - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  9. "Laurence Payne".
  10. "Romeo and Juliet (1976)".
  11. "Jacqueline Pearce and Laurence Payne - The Two Doctors: Miscellaneous - The Two Doctors, Season 22, Doctor Who - BBC One". BBC.
  12. "Laurence Payne".
  13. Trevor Royle (1991). "Payne, Laurence". In Lesley Henderson (ed.). Twentieth-century crime and mystery writers. St. James Press. pp. 834–5. ISBN 978-1-55862-031-5.
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