Simon MacCorkindale

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Simon MacCorkindale
Maccorkindale 200.jpg
MacCorkindale in 2008 at the opening of a Headway Clinic in Swindon
Simon Charles Pendered MacCorkindale

(1952-02-12)12 February 1952
Died14 October 2010(2010-10-14) (aged 58)
London, England
OccupationActor, director, producer, writer
Years active1973–2010
Spouse(s) Fiona Fullerton (1976–82; divorced)
Susan George (1984–2010; his death)

Simon Charles Pendered MacCorkindale [1] (12 February 1952 – 14 October 2010) was a British actor, film director, writer and producer. He spent much of his childhood moving around due to his father serving as an Officer with the Royal Air Force. Poor eyesight prevented him following a similar career in the RAF, so he instead planned to become a theatre director. Training at the Theatre of Arts in London, he started work as an actor, making his West End debut in 1974. He went on to appear in numerous roles in television, including the series I, Claudius and Jesus of Nazareth , before starring as Simon Doyle in the film Death on the Nile (1978). This proved to be a breakthrough role and allowed him to move to the United States, where he appeared in a variety of films and TV series including Quatermass (1979), The Riddle of the Sands (1979), The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) and Jaws 3-D (1983).

An officer is a person who has a position of authority in a hierarchical organization. The term derives from the late Latin from officiarius, meaning "official".

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

<i>I, Claudius</i> (TV series) 1976 TV miniseries

I, Claudius is a 1976 BBC Television adaptation of Robert Graves' I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Written by Jack Pulman, it starred Derek Jacobi as Claudius, with Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, George Baker, Margaret Tyzack, John Hurt, Patricia Quinn, Ian Ogilvy, Kevin McNally, Patrick Stewart, and John Rhys-Davies. The series covers the history of the early Roman Empire, told from the perspective of the elderly Emperor Claudius who narrates the series.


In 1983, MacCorkindale starred in the short-lived series Manimal as the lead character, Dr. Jonathan Chase, before taking up the longer-running role of lawyer Greg Reardon in Falcon Crest . Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s he directed and produced many stage, TV and film productions through his company Amy International Artists, such as the film Stealing Heaven (1988). Moving to Canada, he starred as Peter Sinclair in the series Counterstrike for three years. He returned to the United Kingdom in 2002 and joined the cast of the BBC medical drama Casualty , appearing in the role of Harry Harper for six years until 2008.

<i>Manimal</i> television series

Manimal is an American action–adventure series that ran from September 30 to December 17, 1983, on NBC. The show centers on the character Dr. Jonathan Chase, a shape-shifting man who can turn himself into any animal he chooses. He uses this ability to help the police solve crimes.

<i>Falcon Crest</i> television program

Falcon Crest is an American prime time television soap opera that aired for nine seasons on CBS from December 4, 1981 to May 17, 1990. The series revolved around the feuding factions of the wealthy Gioberti/Channing family in the Californian wine industry. Jane Wyman starred as Angela Channing, the tyrannical matriarch of the Falcon Crest Winery, opposite Robert Foxworth as Chase Gioberti, Angela's nephew who returns after the death of his father. The series was set in the fictitious Tuscany Valley northeast of San Francisco.

<i>Stealing Heaven</i> 1988 film by Clive Donner

Stealing Heaven is a 1988 film directed by Clive Donner and starring Derek de Lint, Kim Thomson and Denholm Elliott. It is a costume drama based on the French 12th century medieval romance of Peter Abelard and Héloïse and on a historical novel by Marion Meade. This was Donner's final theatrical film, before his death on 7 September 2010.

Early life

MacCorkindale was born on 12 February 1952 in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, [1] [2] to Scottish parents Gilliver Mary (née Pendered) and Peter Bernard MacCorkindale OBE, [3] [4] [5] [1] who died in September 2007. [5] Simon had a brother, Duncan. [6]

Ely, Cambridgeshire cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England

Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, about 14 miles (23 km) north-northeast of Cambridge and about 80 miles (129 km) by road from London. Æthelthryth founded an abbey at Ely in 673; the abbey was destroyed in 870 by Danish invaders and was rebuilt by Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester, in 970. Construction of the cathedral was started in 1083 by a Norman abbot, Simeon. Alan of Walsingham's octagon, built over Ely's nave crossing between 1322 and 1328, is the "greatest individual achievement of architectural genius at Ely Cathedral", according to architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner. Building continued until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539 during the Reformation. The cathedral was sympathetically restored between 1845 and 1870 by the architect George Gilbert Scott. As the seat of a diocese, Ely has long been considered a city; in 1974, city status was granted by royal charter.

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Their father was an RAF Group Captain station commander. MacCorkindale spent some of his childhood in Edinburgh, where his father was stationed for a period, [7] although Peter MacCorkindale's changing postings necessitated 17 moves to places across Europe. [1] He attended Haileybury and Imperial Service College from 1965-70, where he was Head Boy and a member of the Air Training Corps. Originally intending to enlist in the RAF, he abandoned this plan at the age of 13 when his eyesight began to deteriorate. [2] [8] MacCorkindale considered joining the diplomatic corps to become an ambassador, but instead opted to become a stage director after developing an interest in theatre. [2] [8]

Edinburgh Capital city in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

Haileybury and Imperial Service College school in Hertfordshire, England

Haileybury is an independent school near Hertford in England. Originally a major boys' public school, it is now co-educational, enrolling pupils at 11+, 13+ and 16+ stages of education. Over 780 pupils attend Haileybury, of whom more than 500 board.

Air Training Corps British cadet organisation

The Air Training Corps (ATC) is a British volunteer-military youth organisation. They are sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Air Force. The majority of staff are volunteers, and some are paid for full-time work – including Commandant Air Cadets, a Full Term Reserve Service RAF officer, at the rank of Air Commodore. Although many ATC cadets go on to join the RAF or other services, the ATC is not, nor has it ever been a recruiting organisation for its parent Service.

MacCorkindale had been a fan of theatre since writing a play at the age of eight, joking that it was "unproduceable" because "it required an enormous cast and a considerable amount of rum drinking." [4] Making his acting debut at the same age, he went on to appear on stage and work behind the scenes of numerous school and theatre group productions throughout his childhood. [9]

Persuading his parents that he would find a "sensible job" if a career as a director was not sustaining him financially by the age of 25, MacCorkindale decided not to study at university and instead attended the Studio 68 drama school at the Theatre of Arts in London. [1] [8] In his time at drama school, he took acting classes so that he "could better understand actors and, hopefully, be a more competent director."[ citation needed ] MacCorkindale opted to continue acting after graduating from the Theatre of Arts; he decided to amass more experience in the role to have better confidence as a director. [8]

Acting career

Early work (1973–79)

"I had an enormous amount of fun. I was very lucky. I got to work in a lot of popular shows, got to know a lot of well-known people and as a result I got into that whole A-list circle. I went to some extraordinary parties, made a name for myself and managed to make it last for 30 years. I'm a lucky bunny and long may it last."

—MacCorkindale on his career [7]

MacCorkindale started his acting career in theatre, touring the United Kingdom with a repertory theatre group. His first professional stage performance was in a 1973 run of A Bequest to the Nation at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. He made his West End theatre debut in a production of Pygmalion in 1974, appearing alongside Alec McCowen and Diana Rigg in the role of "Sarcastic Bystander". [2] [6] [8] In 1973, the series Hawkeye, The Pathfinder had given MacCorkindale his first TV credit. [10] He went on to appear in a number of other TV series, including Within These Walls , Sutherland's Law , [2] I, Claudius (as Lucius Caesar) and Jesus of Nazareth . [7]

MacCorkindale's film debut came in 1974 with Juggernaut . [2] He was cast as Simon Doyle in the 1978 film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile at the age of 25. He became a friend of co-star Bette Davis, reflecting, "There was a feeling of being in awe of these people but I had a certain amount of pioneer courage, so I didn't let it get to me. But there were days when I thought, 'I'm about to do a scene with this cinema legend, am I up to it?' But people were very gracious. I was never the whipping boy because I was less experienced." [7] The role boosted MacCorkindale public profile and he considered it to be his career break. [7] He won the London Evening Standard Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer for this part. [2] MacCorkindale went on to star as sailor and spy Arthur Davies in The Riddle of the Sands (1979), the film adaptation of the celebrated Erskine Childers' novel. [10] [11]

MacCorkindale played astronomer Joe Kapp in Nigel Kneale's TV serial Quatermass (1979), starring alongside John Mills. He had previously starred in an episode of Kneale's series Beasts and enjoyed appearing in the role of Kapp, finding it a change from the typecast romantic roles that he had become accustomed to playing, [12] while noting that it was "challenging" conveying the character's strong Jewish faith. [8] Kneale later expressed disappointment with MacCorkindale's performance, commenting, "We had him in Beasts playing an idiot and he was very good at that". [13]

Manimal, Falcon Crest and film roles (1980–86)

Following the success of Death on the Nile, MacCorkindale moved to the United States in 1980. Although warned that it would limit his chance of finding work, MacCorkindale refused to adopt an American accent when auditioning, believing that his British diction would help fill a "niche". [2] [7] However, for two years he failed at the audition stage for all major parts on account of his nationality. The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) told MacCorkindale that he was not an "eight o'clock actor", which he took to mean that "at that time of night they didn't want viewers watching someone who sounded intellectual or who had an accent that was alien to their ears and, therefore, hard work when it came to listening." [8] During this time he appeared in single-episode roles in series such as Dynasty , Fantasy Island , Hart to Hart , Matt Houston and The Dukes of Hazzard , [2] [8] [10] as well as playing David Clement, an aristocrat, in the mini-series Manions of America . [2] [8]

He was eventually cast in the adventure series Manimal for NBC in 1983, in which he played the lead character Professor Jonathan Chase, an Englishman who assists police in the fight against crime with his ability to transform into animals. The role impressed MacCorkindale, who considered Chase to be a "very cerebral individual". [8] He also "found himself in the first wave of British stars to make it big in America," along with Joan Collins in Dynasty, which led to a further influx of British actors finding work in the United States. [2] [7] Filming on Manimal would often run for as long as 14 to 16 hours per day, and MacCorkindale would sometimes be required to work at weekends to be made up with the prosthetics necessary for Manimal's transformation sequences. The low ratings that resulted in the cancellation of Manimal after one season and eight episodes was in part due to NBC broadcasting the series at the same time as Dallas on CBS, Manimal losing out to the more popular "soap". Budget cuts also contributed to the series' cancellation as it was the network's most expensive series. Manimal has since acquired a global cult following. [8] [14]

In 1984, he was cast as Angela Channing's (Jane Wyman) lawyer Greg Reardon in the soap opera Falcon Crest , without requiring an audition. MacCorkindale asked for the character, originally an American named Brad, to be rewritten as English, and also directed one episode. [2] He rejected a contract extension after appearing in 59 episodes [10] and left the series in 1986 because he "felt that the work I was doing was fun and lucrative but not as stretching as I felt I wanted or needed. I also was finding fault with much of the work, not only Falcon Crest, but everything. I was actually ready to quit acting and try producing so I could put myself on the line." [2]

MacCorkindale appeared in the films Caboblanco (1980) and The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982, as Prince Mikah), [15] and starred as Philip FitzRoyce in the third part of the Jaws film series, Jaws 3-D (1983). [16] In the mid-1980s, MacCorkindale was considered for the role of James Bond as a possible successor to actors Sean Connery and Roger Moore, but was not cast. [1] Jaws 3-D proved to be his last major film role. [10]

Counterstrike and other Canadian projects (1990–2000)

In the 1990s, MacCorkindale returned to acting after a hiatus in which he had focused on production work. He appeared in a number of projects in Canada, which he felt "could be at the crossroads of international production." [14] From 1990 to 1993, MacCorkindale played former Scotland Yard inspector Peter Sinclair in the Toronto-filmed USA Network series Counterstrike , alongside Christopher Plummer. [2] [14] He was offered the part by producer Robert Lantos, who wanted to work with MacCorkindale while for his part the actor wished to return to acting after three years running Amy International. With production complete on several episodes, feeling that the show was "too plot-driven rather than character-driven", MacCorkindale thereafter became a writer for the series. He was appointed an executive production consultant that ensured that he "could make quicker [on-set] judgments on behalf of the production." [17]

Following Counterstrike, MacCorkindale appeared in the final episode of the TV drama E.N.G. , whereafter his "media tycoon" character was planned to be the star of a spin-off alongside actress Sara Botsford, but the project was abandoned. [14] He starred in numerous TV films throughout the 1990s, including a part as the villain in The Girl Next Door. MacCorkindale was glad to "gradually [switch] to villains" as "that's more fun than [playing] the straitlaced hero." [14] MacCorkindale also reprised the role of Dr Chase from Manimal in an episode of Night Man in 1998, which incorporated computer-generated imagery for the transformations as opposed to prosthetic makeup, and also directed an episode of the series. [8] Other appearances included the TV series Earth: Final Conflict and the 2000 TV film The Dinosaur Hunter. [14] [18]

Casualty and final roles (2002–10)

Having rejected an offer to play Captain Jonathan Archer in the American science-fiction TV series Star Trek: Enterprise , [19] MacCorkindale returned to the UK in 2002 and joined the cast of the BBC One medical drama Casualty , in the role of clinical lead consultant Harry Harper. [20] Following his casting, he said in an interview with the Daily Record that he was a long-time fan of the series, commenting that it was "great to be joining an established show with a great bunch of people." [21] In contrast, Neil Bonner of the Liverpool Daily Post quoted him as stating that he had never seen an episode of the show in its then-16-year history. MacCorkindale was surprised to be offered the role of Harper given the many years that he had spent working in North America, but having settled in Exmoor found Bristol to be an accessible production base. [22] [23] MacCorkindale was "never too comfortable as a young actor" and "always felt that [his] best time in the business would be around [the age of 50]." MacCorkindale commented that he "loved [his] time on Casualty," and spent time researching all the medical terminology that his character used to ensure that he understood it. [24] He also appeared as Harper in the Casualty spin-off series Holby City and Casualty@Holby City . [2] Many reviewers were disparaging of MacCorkindale's performances in Casualty: Rupert Smith of The Guardian deemed MacCorkindale "fantastically wooden", [25] while fellow Guardian journalists Sarah Dempster and Jim Shelley commented on MacCorkindale's "loud" delivery of his lines. Shelley described the character of Harper as a "human Foghorn Leghorn", [26] while according to Dempster, Casualty was "above all [...] about Simon MacCorkindale, shouting. Then panting, alarmingly, as he peers through some blinds. And then shouting again." [27]

In January 2007, MacCorkindale was given a five-month sabbatical from Casualty because a plotline required that his character be temporarily removed from the series. He took the opportunity to tour the United Kingdom in a revival of the Agatha Christie murder mystery play The Unexpected Guest . He then returned to Casualty, but having re-discovered his taste for theatre, left the series permanently in 2008 to appear as Andrew Wyke in a UK tour of Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth . [24] By the time that MacCorkindale quit Casualty, he had appeared in 229 episodes of the series.

In August 2008, he replaced Simon Burke as Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp in the London Palladium production of The Sound of Music , remaining with the show until its closure in February 2009. [28] After small parts in the films 13 Hrs and A Closed Book , [29] [30] he returned to TV as Sir David Bryant in the 2010 series of New Tricks , in what proved to be his final TV appearance. [1] [31]

Production work

MacCorkindale produced, directed and wrote a number of film, television and theatre productions throughout his career. In the 1980s, he directed three performances of the play Sleuth , starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Howard Keel and James Whitmore, [7] and a Los Angeles production of The Merchant of Venice , and starred in the one-man show The Importance of Being Oscar at the Globe Playhouse in 1981. [2]

After his departure from Falcon Crest, MacCorkindale returned to the United Kingdom in 1986 to form a production company. The following year, he established Amy International Artists, based at Shepperton Studios, with his wife Susan George, and also Apollo Films International. [10] He subsequently directed, wrote and produced a number of projects for Amy International, [8] [24] including the film Stealing Heaven (1988) (concerning the medieval French philosopher Abelard and his passion for Heloise), [2] and the film Djavolji Raj (1989) (That Summer of White Roses), which stars George and features romantic theme music composed by MacCorkindale. [10] MacCorkindale and George purchased the rights to each project because they wished to "make the pictures that we just totally and literally believe in", regardless of their commercial success. [32]

Working in partnership with Chris Bryant, MacCorkindale wrote and directed the television film The House That Mary Bought (1995), [2] and with Paul Stephens co-produced the film Such a Long Journey (1998), for which he was nominated for the Genie Award for Best Motion Picture. [14] MacCorkindale then wrote the screenplay for a biographical film of the missing peer Lord Lucan, which he also planned to produce and act in, although financial problems resulted in the cancellation of the project in 1996. [1] He served as co-executive producer for the 2000 syndicated TV series Queen of Swords , and as co-producer for the 2002 series Adventure Inc. . [10] MacCorkindale also co-produced the third season of Relic Hunter in 2002. [33] [34]

Personal life

MacCorkindale was married twice. His first wife was actress Fiona Fullerton; the couple married in 1976 and divorced in 1982. Following his divorce from Fullerton, MacCorkindale began a relationship with actress Susan George, whom he had first met in 1977; they married secretly in Fiji on 5 October 1984 [35] and later held a second ceremony with family and friends in Berkshire, England. [36] They had no children. [36] With George, MacCorkindale lived on and managed an Arabian stud farm based in Exmoor. [1]


MacCorkindale was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006, and underwent an operation to remove a section of his bowel during a two-week break from filming Casualty. Although the tumour was excised and the cancer went into remission following the surgery, one year later doctors discovered it had metastasised to his lungs. He continued to act during his treatment, returning to film his final series of Casualty in late 2007; he did not disclose his illness to his colleagues, and found it surreal when scripts required his character to inform patients that they had cancer or another incurable disease. He spent much of his fortune on private cancer treatment in the United States, with limited success. [37] In November 2009, he publicly revealed that the disease was terminal, [20] and he died on 14 October 2010 at a clinic in London. [31]



1974 Juggernaut No. 1 Helmsman
1978 Death on the Nile Simon Doyle
1979 The Riddle of the Sands Arthur Davies
1980 Caboblanco Lewis Clarkson
1981Macbeth Macduff
1982 The Sword and the Sorcerer Prince Mikah
1982 An Outpost of Progress Kayerts
1983 Jaws 3-D Philip FitzRoyce
1987 Shades of Love: Sincerely, Violet Mark JamiesonDirect-to-video release
1988 Stealing Heaven N/AProducer
1989 That Summer of White Roses N/AProducer, composer and writer
1998 Such A Long Journey N/AProducer
1999 Wing Commander Flight Boss
2010 A Closed Book Andrew Boles
2010 13Hrs Duncan Moore


1973Hawkeye, the PathfinderLieutenant CarterAppeared in three episodes
1974 Play of the Month RolfEpisode 9.8: "The Skin Game"
1975 Sutherland's Law Ian SutherlandEpisode 4.5: "No Second Chance"
1976Romeo and Juliet Paris TV film
1976Hunter's WalkHousemanEpisode 3.1: "Intent"
1976 I, Claudius Lucius Episode 1.2: "Waiting in the Wings"
1976 Beasts Peter GilkesEpisode 1.4: "Baby"
1976–78 Within These Walls Dr. DadyAppeared in three episodes
1977RomancePaul VerdayneEpisode 1.2: "Three Weeks"
1977 Jesus of Nazareth LuciusTV miniseries
1977 Just William CharlieEpisode 1.12: "William and the Sleeping Major"
1978 The Doombolt Chase Lt. Cmdr. MadockEpisode 1.1: "Court of Shame"
1978 Will Shakespeare Sir Thomas Walsingham Episode 1.1: "Dead Shepherd"
1979 Quatermass Joe KappTV serial; appeared in all four episodes
1979 The Dukes of Hazzard Gaylord Duke (Roger Blevin)2.13: "Duke of Duke"
1980 Hammer House of Horror Harry WellsEpisode 1.11: "Visitor from the Grave"
1981 Manions of America David ClementTV miniseries
1981 Fantasy Island Gaston du BrielleEpisode 5.3: "Cyrano/The Magician"
1982 Hart to Hart Arthur RomanEpisode 4.3: "Million Dollar Harts"
1982 Dynasty Billy DawsonEpisode 3.4: "The Will"
1982Falcon's GoldHank RichardsTV film
1983 Manimal Dr. Jonathan ChaseAppeared in all eight episodes
1984 Obsessive Love Glenn StevensTV film
1984 Matt Houston Robert TylerEpisode 3.3: "Eyewitness"
1984–86 Falcon Crest Greg Reardon Appeared in 59 episodes
1989PursuitManley-JonesTV film
1990–93 Counterstrike Peter SinclairAppeared in 65 episodes
1994 E.N.G. Maxwell HardingEpisode 5.14: "Cutting Edge"
1995 The Way to Dusty Death Johnny HarlowTV film
1995At the Midnight HourRichard KeatonTV film
1995Family of CopsAdam NovacekTV film
1995The House That Mary BoughtN/ADirector and writer
1996 No Greater Love Patrick KellyTV film
1997While My Pretty One SleepsJack CampbellTV film
1997 La Femme Nikita Alec ChandlerEpisode 1.4: "Charity"
1998La guerre de l'eauPeter GregoryTV film
1998Running WildWalton Baden SmytheTV film
1998 Night Man Professor Jonathan ChaseEpisode 2.6: "Manimal"
1999The Girl Next DoorSteve VandermeerTV film
1999 Poltergeist: The Legacy Reed HortonAppeared in five episodes
1999 Mentors Oscar Wilde Episode 1.6: "Wilde Card"
2000 Earth: Final Conflict Dennis RobillardEpisode 3.14: "Scorched Earth"
2000The Dinosaur HunterJackTV film
2001 Dark Realm Brad CollinsAppeared in two episodes
2001 Queen of Swords Captain Charles WentworthEpisode 1.15: "Runaways"; also series co-executive producer
2001–02 Relic Hunter Fabrice De ViegaAppeared in three episodes and co-executive producer in the third series.
2002–2003 Adventure Inc. N/ACo-producer
2002–08 Casualty Dr. Harry Harper Appeared in 229 episodes
2004–05 Holby City Dr. Harry HarperAppeared in two episodes
2005 Casualty@Holby City Dr. Harry HarperAppeared in three specials
2010 New Tricks Sir David BryantEpisode 7.5: "Good Morning Lemmings", (final television appearance)

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