Frank Middlemass

Last updated

Frank Middlemass
Actor Frank Middlemass.jpg
Photo: Don McPhee, 1982
Francis George Middlemass

(1919-05-28)28 May 1919
Died8 September 2006(2006-09-08) (aged 87)
Northwood, London, England
Years active1957–2005
Parent(s)Thomas Middlemass
Mary Elizabeth Hoggett
FamilyDorothy Mary (born 1907)
Margery Elizabeth (born 1909)
Jean Theresa (born 1916)

Francis George “Frank” Middlemass (28 May 1919  8 September 2006) was an English actor, who even in his early career played older roles. He is best remembered for his television roles as Rocky Hardcastle in As Time Goes By , Algy Herries in To Serve Them All My Days and Dr. Alex Ferrenby in Heartbeat . Middlemass was also active in the Royal Shakespeare Company and was the fourth and final actor to play Dan Archer in The Archers .

English people Nation and ethnic group native to England

The English people are a nation and an ethnic group native to England who speak the English language. The English identity is of early medieval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Angelcynn. Their ethnonym is derived from the Angles, one of the Germanic peoples who migrated to Great Britain around the 5th century AD. England is one of the countries of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living there are British citizens.

Actor person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

<i>As Time Goes By</i> (TV series) TV series

As Time Goes By is a British romantic sitcom which aired on BBC One from 1992 to 2005, running for nine series and three specials.


Early life

Middlemass was born in Eaglescliffe, on the North Riding of Yorkshire-County Durham border, the son of a shipping company director. [1] He was brought up in Newcastle upon Tyne, and educated in Stockton-on-Tees. [2] He entered the army at the age of nineteen and was wounded in the Dunkirk retreat [3] He left the army when he was thirty and was by then a lieutenant colonel. [3]

Eaglescliffe town

Eaglescliffe is a small town in the borough of Stockton-on-Tees in North East England. It is on the north bank of the River Tees and for ceremonial purposes is in County Durham. The bridge at Eaglescliffe on the border with Yarm marked the last crossing point of tidal section of the River Tees until a five-arch stone toll bridge was built in 1771 in Stockton on Tees. This bridge was replaced in 1887 by the Victoria Bridge, now a grade ll listed building. The opening of the Tees Barrage in Stockton in 1995 made the section of the Tees through Eaglescliffe non-tidal. Eaglescliffe is divided by railway lines which lead from Yarm to Stockton and can only be crossed by vehicles at the north and south of the town, although there are two pedestrian bridges and an underpass.

North Riding of Yorkshire

The North Riding of Yorkshire is one of the three historic subdivisions (ridings) of the English county of Yorkshire, alongside the East and West ridings. From the Restoration it was used as a lieutenancy area, having been part of the Yorkshire lieutenancy previously. The three ridings were treated as three counties for many purposes, such as having separate quarter sessions. An administrative county was created with a county council in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888 on the historic boundaries. In 1974 both the administrative county and the Lieutenancy of the North Riding of Yorkshire were abolished, being succeeded in most of the riding by the new non-metropolitan county of North Yorkshire.

County Durham County of England

County Durham is a county in North East England. The county town is Durham, a cathedral city. The largest settlement is Darlington, closely followed by Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees. It borders Tyne and Wear to the north east, Northumberland to the north, Cumbria to the west and North Yorkshire to the south. The county's historic boundaries stretch between the rivers Tyne and Tees, thus including places such as Gateshead, Jarrow, South Shields and Sunderland.

Middlemass started his acting career in rep in Penzance, Cornwall and then went on to join the Old Vic Company. [3] While with them he toured North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Lebanon, Russia, Poland and the Far East., [1] and performed in Twelfth Night opposite Vivien Leigh. [4] During the 1960s, he toured with Ian McKellen's Actors' Company and performed at the Nottingham Playhouse. He performed opposite Peter O'Toole in Waiting for Godot . [1]

Penzance town in Cornwall, UK

Penzance is a town, civil parish and port in Cornwall, in England, United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is about 64 miles (103 km) west-southwest of Plymouth and 255 miles (410 km) west-southwest of London. Situated in the shelter of Mount's Bay, the town faces south-east onto the English Channel, is bordered to the west by the fishing port of Newlyn, to the north by the civil parish of Madron and to the east by the civil parish of Ludgvan.

Cornwall County of England

Cornwall is a county in South West England in the United Kingdom. The county is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar which forms most of the border between them. Cornwall forms the westernmost part of the South West Peninsula of the island of Great Britain. The furthest southwestern point of Great Britain is Land's End; the southernmost point is Lizard Point. Cornwall has a population of 563,600 and covers an area of 3,563 km2 (1,376 sq mi). The county has been administered since 2009 by the unitary authority, Cornwall Council. The ceremonial county of Cornwall also includes the Isles of Scilly, which are administered separately. The administrative centre of Cornwall, and its only city, is Truro.

The Old Vic theatre in London, England

The Old Vic is a 1,000-seat, not-for-profit producing theatre, located just south-east of Waterloo station on the corner of the Cut and Waterloo Road in Lambeth, London, England. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, and renamed in 1833 the Royal Victoria Theatre, in 1871 it was rebuilt and reopened as the Royal Victoria Palace. It was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 and formally named the Royal Victoria Hall, although by that time it was already known as the "Old Vic". In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian Baylis, assumed management and began a series of Shakespeare productions in 1914. The building was damaged in 1940 during air raids and it became a Grade II* listed building in 1951 after it reopened.

His first television role was in 1958, in Dixon of Dock Green . His other early television appearances included Z-Cars , Softly, Softly , The Avengers and Jackanory . [3] During the 1970s and 1980s he appeared in Doctor at Large , War and Peace (a memorable performance as Mikhail Kutuzov), Crown Court , Last of the Summer Wine , Ripping Yarns (Murder at Moorstone's Manor), Upstairs, Downstairs , Poldark (1975), Fall of Eagles (as Russian Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin), The Sweeney and Emmerdale Farm . [5] He played Sir Charles Lyndon in Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975). [6]

<i>Dixon of Dock Green</i> BBC television series

Dixon of Dock Green was a BBC television series about daily life at a London police station, with the emphasis on petty crime, successfully controlled through common sense and human understanding. The central character was a mature and sympathetic police constable, George Dixon, played by Jack Warner in all of the 432 episodes, from 1955 to 1976.

<i>Z-Cars</i> British television drama series

Z-Cars or Z Cars is a British television drama series centred on the work of mobile uniformed police in the fictional town of Newtown, based on Kirkby, Lancashire. Produced by the BBC, it debuted in January 1962 and ran until September 1978.

<i>Softly, Softly</i> (TV series) television series

Softly, Softly is a British television drama series, produced by the BBC and screened on BBC 1 from January 1966. It was created as a spin-off from the series Z-Cars which ended its fifth series run in December 1965. The series took its name from the proverb "Softly, softly, catchee monkey", the motto of Lancashire Constabulary Training School.


Middlemass played the philandering butcher Mr. Lyon in the final episode of the third season of the British series Upstairs, Downstairs in 1973, but it was not until 1980, when he appeared in the post-World War I drama To Serve Them All My Days , that he first took a leading role in a British series. [1] He followed this up with a notable performance as The Fool to Michael Hordern's King Lear , and also played Brezhnev in Tom Stoppard's Squaring the Circle. [7] [8] He went on to play minor characters in Yes Minister , Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (as Lord Derby), Juliet Bravo , Only When I Laugh , All in Good Faith , Yes, Prime Minister , Oliver Twist (as Mr. Brownlow), Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady , and Miss Marple , in the 1989 episode "A Caribbean Mystery" (as Major Palgrave). [5] From 1992 to 1993, he appeared in twenty episodes of the police drama Heartbeat as Dr. Alex Ferrenby. Following that in 1993, Middlemass first appeared in the sitcom As Time Goes By as Rocky Hardcastle, a role that continued regularly until 2002, and then also in the 2005 two-part reunion specials, his final television appearance. [9] He appeared in both British TV adaptations of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes , "The Blue Carbuncle" playing Peterson in the BBC adaptation and Henry Baker on the Granada TV series. [10] [11]

<i>Upstairs, Downstairs</i> (1971 TV series) UK 1971-1975 television series

Upstairs, Downstairs is a British television drama series produced by London Weekend Television (LWT) for ITV. It ran for 68 episodes divided into five series on ITV from 1971 to 1975.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

<i>To Serve Them All My Days</i> (TV series) British television drama series

To Serve Them All My Days is a British television drama series, adapted by Andrew Davies from R. F. Delderfield's 1972 novel To Serve Them All My Days. It was first broadcast by the BBC over 13 episodes in 1980 and 1981. It was broadcast in Australia in 1981 by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and in 1982 by PBS in the United States as part of their Masterpiece Theatre anthology series.

Other work

Middlemass also appeared on radio, most notably playing patriarch Dan Archer, the fourth actor to play the role, in the long-running radio soap opera The Archers. [3] He played this role from 1982 until 1986, when the character was killed off. [1]

Radio technology of using radio waves to carry information

Radio is the technology of signalling or communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device called a transmitter connected to an antenna which radiates the waves, and received by a radio receiver connected to another antenna. Radio is very widely used in modern technology, in radio communication, radar, radio navigation, remote control, remote sensing and other applications. In radio communication, used in radio and television broadcasting, cell phones, two-way radios, wireless networking and satellite communication among numerous other uses, radio waves are used to carry information across space from a transmitter to a receiver, by modulating the radio signal in the transmitter. In radar, used to locate and track objects like aircraft, ships, spacecraft and missiles, a beam of radio waves emitted by a radar transmitter reflects off the target object, and the reflected waves reveal the object's location. In radio navigation systems such as GPS and VOR, a mobile receiver receives radio signals from navigational radio beacons whose position is known, and by precisely measuring the arrival time of the radio waves the receiver can calculate its position on Earth. In wireless remote control devices like drones, garage door openers, and keyless entry systems, radio signals transmitted from a controller device control the actions of a remote device.

A soap opera is an ongoing drama serial on television or radio, featuring the lives of many characters and their emotional relationships. The term soap opera originated from radio dramas being sponsored by soap manufacturers.

Other voice work includes the albums and radio plays: Carol and the Advent Calendar, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [12] and Hordes of the Things . [13] [14]

Frank also made the BBC Radio appeal for Headway, the National Head Injuries Association, and raised a substantial amount of money. Letters from admirers came along with some of the cheques.

He also appeared in films, including roles in Otley (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Say Hello to Yesterday (1970), Madame Sin (1972), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Island (1980), as the voice of the Caterpillar in Dreamchild (1985), and Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War (2002). [15]

He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984 and his Shakespearean roles included Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet , Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost . [3] Middlemass also appeared widely in classic plays such as Rosmersholm , Heartbreak House and You Never Can Tell . [16]

Later years

Even in his eighties, Frank Middlemass was still performing on stage, notably in The Importance of Being Earnest [2] and toured with a one-man show called Frankly Speaking. [1] In his final years, he made appearances in Kavanagh QC , Casualty , The 10th Kingdom , Doctors and Midsomer Murders . [17] In 2005, As Time Goes By returned for two reunion specials, aired in Christmas that year, and this was his final television appearance. [18] Middlemass never married, and for forty years he had a room in the house of his close friend, actor Geoffrey Toone, who died in 2005. [1] [19] They were often assumed to be lovers. [20] Middlemass died, aged 87, in Northwood, London.


1969 Otley Bruce
1969 Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed Guest - Plumber
1971 Say Hello to Yesterday Station Master
1972 Madame Sin Dr. Henriques
1975 Barry Lyndon Sir Charles Lyndon
1980 The Island Windsor
1983A Swarm in MayDr. Sunderland
1985 Dreamchild CaterpillarVoice
1991 The Lost Language of Cranes Alex
2002 Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War Bernard

Related Research Articles

Joan Sims English actress

Irene Joan Marion Sims was an English actress remembered for her roles in the Carry On films, including Carry On Nurse (1959), Carry On Cleo (1964) and Carry On Camping (1969). She played Mrs. Wembley, the cook with a liking for sherry in On the Up (1990–92), and Madge Hardcastle in As Time Goes By (1994–98).

Richard Hurndall British actor

Richard Gibbon Hurndall was an English actor.

Bill Maynard English comedian and actor

Walter Frederick George Williams, better known by the stage name Bill Maynard, was an English comedian and actor.

Jack Watling British actor

Jack Watling was an English actor.

Simon Williams is an English actor known for playing James Bellamy in the period drama Upstairs, Downstairs. Frequently playing upper middle class or aristocratic upper class roles, he is also known for playing Charles Cartwright in the sitcom Don't Wait Up and Charles Merrick in medical drama Holby City. Since 2014, he has played the character of Justin Elliott in the long-running BBC Radio 4 series The Archers.

Geoffrey Toone Irish actor

Geoffrey Toone was an English character actor and former matinee idol, born in Ireland. Most of his film roles after the 1930s were in supporting parts, usually as authority figures, though he did play the lead character in the Hammer Films production The Terror of the Tongs in 1961.

John Bailey (British actor) British actor

John Bailey was a British screen and TV actor who had a long screen, stage and TV career. He was born in South East London.

Jerome Willis British actor

Jerome Barry Willis was a prominent British stage and screen actor with more than 100 screen credits to his name.

Patrick Magee (actor) Northern Irish actor

Patrick George McGee, known professionally as Patrick Magee, was a Northern Irish actor and director of stage and screen. He was known for his collaborations with Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, as well as creating the role of the Marquis de Sade in the original stage and screen productions of Marat/Sade. He also appeared in numerous horror films and in two Stanley Kubrick films, A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon.

Terry Scully was a British theatre and television actor.

Graham Seed is an English actor.

Garfield Morgan British actor

Thomas Timothy Garfield Morgan, known professionally as Garfield Morgan, was an English actor who appeared mostly on television and occasionally in films.

John Sharp (actor) British television actor

John Herbert Sharp was a British actor, often on television.

Edward Chapman (actor) English actor

Edward Chapman was an English actor who starred in many films and television programmes, but is chiefly remembered as "Mr. Wilfred Grimsdale", the officious superior and comic foil to Norman Wisdom's character of Pitkin in many of his films from the late 1950s and 1960s.

Colin Douglas (actor) British actor

Colin Douglas was an English actor. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, Douglas was educated at the Farm School in Cumberland. Following his elder brother Jock, he emigrated to New Zealand when he was sixteen, working in sheep farming and lumberjacking, but only stayed for five years before auditioning to study at RADA, after begging his father to let him return to try to become an actor. He did some time in repertory, but the Second World War halted his career. In the armed forces he went to Catterick and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, became Captain and Adjutant in the Border Regiment, and served in the 1st Airborne Division. During the Allied invasion of Sicily his glider, like many others, was released too early, and the crew were in the sea for two days. He was also dropped by glider at Arnhem, during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden but in later years was reluctant to talk about it. He was appearing on stage in Alan Plater's play Close the Coalhouse Door when he heard he had been chosen for a leading part in A Family at War. This popular series ran for 52 episodes from 1970.

William Marlowe British actor

William Marlowe was a British theatre, television and film actor.

John Phillips (actor) actor, born 1914

William John Phillips MC was an English actor. He is known for the role of Chief Superintendent Robins in the television series Z-Cars and for his work as a Shakespearean stage actor.

Ishaq Bux Indian actor

Ishaq Bux was an Indian actor.

Del Henney was a character actor, perhaps best known for his role as Charlie Venner in Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971).

David Pugh is an English actor, who is perhaps best known for playing Billy in the episode "Two of a Kind" of the first series of the British television series The Adventures of Black Beauty, premiered on 24 February 1973.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Frank Middlemass". 11 September 2006 via
  2. 1 2 Woddis, Carole (11 September 2006). "Obituary - Frank Middlemass". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Obituary - Frank Middlemass". London: The Times. 12 September 2006.
  5. 1 2 "Frank Middlemass".
  6. "Barry Lyndon (1975)".
  7. "BFI Screenonline: King Lear On Screen".
  8. "Squaring the Circle (1984)".
  9. BBC. "As Time Goes By".
  10. "The Blue Carbuncle (1968)".
  11. "The Blue Carbuncle (1984)".
  12. "Douglas Adams - The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy Part Two: The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe (Vinyl, LP)". Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  13. [ dead link ]
  14. Hordes of the Things : Andrew Marshall, John Lloyd, Full Cast, Consultant in Anaesthesia Royal United Hospital Bath and Honorary Senior Lecturer Patrick Magee, Paul Eddington, Simon Callow. ISBN   9781408426234 . Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  15. "Frank Middlemass".
  16. "Production of You Never Can Tell - Theatricalia".
  17. "Frank Middlemass".
  18. "BBC One - as Time Goes By, Series 10, Christmas Special Part Two".
  19. 01:45 (2005-06-15). "Geoffrey Toone". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  20. Carole Woddis. "Obituary: Frank Middlemass | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-05-04.