Wigan character actor Roy Kinnear must have been one of the most recognised faces on stage and screen during the 1960s and 70s.
He starred alongside David Frost, Millicent Martin and Lance Percival in the trail-blazing satirical TV programme That Was the Week That Was as well as the Dick Emery Show, Man About the House and Cowboys.
Kinnear also appeared in numerous films including the Beatles’ movie Help, the Three Musketeers and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
But he was not the only member of the Kinnear clan to hit the big time. His father, also called Roy, played international rugby for Scotland and Great Britain – and his son, Rory, is an established stage and screen actor.
Rory recently starred as agent Bill Tanner alongside Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond films, including Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, and has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He won the 2014 Olivier Award for best actor for his portrayal of the villainous Iago in the National Theatre production of Shakespeare’s Othello.
Patriarch of the Kinnear dynasty, sportsman Roy senior, was born in Edinburgh in February 1904. He played centre for Heriot’s Rugby Club and won caps for Scotland and the British Lions.
From 1927 to 1933, he switched codes from rugby union to rugby league to play for Wigan, again at centre. He was a member of the team that defeated Dewsbury to win the 1929 Challenge Cup at Wembley.
In the same year he was capped for Great Britain against Australia and also played for the Other Nationalities rugby league team consisting of non-English players living in the UK.
Roy senior made 182 appearances for Wigan scoring 81 tries. He died at the age of 38 in 1942 playing rugby for the RAF.
Actor Roy Kinnear was born in Wigan in January 1934 and made his stage debut in 1955. He first found national fame in the 1962 topical sketch show That Was the Week That Was presented by David Frost.
A case of mistaken identity cost Kinnear a leading role in the 1964 film Zulu while he was on the programme.
Producer and actor Stanley Baker wanted Kinnear to play the role of Victoria Cross recipient Frederick Hitch and asked the casting director to recruit the That Was the Week That Was actor whose name started with K.
The problem was that the casting director signed up fellow performer David Kernan. Baker then decided to stick with him!
It made little difference to Kinnear’s movie career as he went on to play Algernon in the Beatles’ 1965 film Help and then Clapper in How I Won the War in 1967. Both films were directed by Richard Lester.
Kinnear worked with Lester again to appear as Planchett in the Three Musketeers in 1973 and its two sequels. He also portrayed Private Monty Bartlett in the critically acclaimed 1965 prison drama The Hill directed by Sidney Lumet.
In 1971, Kinnear played Henry Salt, father of spoiled rich girl Verucca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole), in Mel Stuart’s musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl book Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
On stage, Kinnear joined Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop, appearing in the 1960 play and 1963 film of the kitchen-sink drama Sparrows Can’t Sing.
Kinnear’s TV programmes included The Avengers, the building sitcom Cowboys, Doctor at Large and Till Death Us Do Part.
He also played Gaylord’s father on the Dick Emery show and guest-starred in episodes of The Goodies and Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarns.
Kinnear appeared as the manager of Mike and the Mechanics in two of the band’s videos and played Weller in the Hammer movie Taste the Blood of Dracula starring Christopher Lee in 1970.
In 1988, Kinnear portrayed the Common Man or narrator in the TV version of Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons. The role was cut from the 1996 film.
Kinnear’s co-stars in Man for All Seasons were Charlton Heston as Sir Thomas More, Vanessa Redgrave as his wife Alice and Sir John Gielgud as Cardinal Wolsey.
It was to be Kinnear’s last major role as he died at the age of 54 in September 1988 from a heart attack following a fall from a horse. He was filming The Return of the Three Musketeers in Spain at the time.
The Roy Kinnear Trust was set up in 1994 to help young adults with physical and mental disabilities.
*Unmissable images of Manchester and the North West feature in Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book, The Home Front – Britain 1939-45. It’s on sale at £14.99 including UK postage and packing.
Just go to inostalgia.co.uk/shop to order your copy or call the order hotline on 01928 503777. And remember – buy three books and get 25 per cent off!