Former Stretford Grammar School pupil Ian McShane was in good company when he learned his craft at RADA – the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Award-winning actor John Hurt was his flat-mate and international stage and screen star Anthony Hopkins was a fellow student.
McShane didn’t do so badly himself, starring in the classic TV series Lovejoy and appearing in a host of films including the Battle of Britain, Sexy Beast and Villain with Richard Burton.
His work in TV dramas and mini-series has been outstanding. He won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Al Swearengen in Deadwood in 2005 and was also nominated for an Emmy.
McShane also played Judas Iscariot in the TV series Jesus of Nazareth in 1977 and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in the 1978 ITV drama Disraeli.
More recently, he has appeared as hotel-owner and arch criminal Winston in the John Wick film franchise, Bishop Waleran Bigod in the Pillars of the Earth and Mr Wednesday in American Gods.
He remains one of the most familiar faces on TV, nearly six decades after landing his first film role at the age of 20 in the 1962 British romantic drama The Wild and the Willing.
McShane was still at RADA at the time – and his co-star was none other than his flat-mate John Hurt. The pair played rebellious students, one of which (McShane) was having a disastrous affair with his professor’s wife (Virginia Maskell).
The movie also featured Samantha Eggar, Paul Rogers and future Sherlock Holmes star Jeremy Brett.
Born in Blackburn in September 1942, McShane is the son of Scottish footballer Harry McShane and his wife Irene, nee Cowley.
He grew up in Davyhulme and attended Stretford Grammar School before joining the National Youth Theatre and then RADA.
After the movie the Wild and the Willing, McShane played Heathcliff in the 1967 BBC series Wuthering Heights alongside Angela Scoular as Catherine.
McShane’s stage work at the time saw him line up with entertainer Millicent Martin in the 1964 charity show A Night of 100 Stars at the London Palladium.
As our photo shows, it involved wearing a Victorian bathing suit along with Carry-On star Charles Hawtrey, writer Lionel Bart, and actors Gary Raymond, Keith Baxter and Gary Miller.
McShane appeared as Sergeant Pilot Andy Moore in the 1969 movie The Battle of Britain and played romantic lead Roibin Krisenki in Sky West and Crooked (1965). The movie was a Mills family affair.
Hayley Mills portrayed the heroine Brydie White, her father John Mills was the director and his wife, Mary Hayley Bell, wrote the script!
In 1969, McShane found himself in the company of Hollywood A-lister Ava Gardner shooting the Scottish horror movie Tam Lin with director Roddy McDowall.
The film was a curious affair, based on the ballad of Tam Lin which tells of a man abducted by fairies only to be saved by his true love. Alan Ladd Jnr was the producer and the movie was also known as The Devil’s Widow.
It was as antiques dealer Lovejoy that McShane truly established himself as a household name. The BBC TV series of the same name, first broadcast on January 10th 1986, ran for no less than 71 episodes over six seasons.
The roguish but lovable trader was assisted through his scrapes and rare antique discoveries by Dudley Sutton as the friendly tout Tinker Dill and Phyllis Logan as the aristocratic Lady Jane Felsham.
Caroline Langrishe starred as auctioneer Charlotte Cavendish for two series and Joanna Lumley appeared as the widow Victoria Cavero.
McShane’s many voice roles have included Captain Hook in Shrek the Third, Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda and king of the ice bears Ragnar Sturlusson in The Golden Compass.
He also played Blackbeard in the Disney fantasy movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides released in 2011.
Science fiction and fantasy roles have figured prominently in McShane’s career. He appeared as Ray in the TV series Game of Thrones and played King Brahmwell in Bryan Singer’s 2013 movie Jack the Giant Slayer.
McShane faced one of his most unusual screen challenges playing Robert Bryson in the 1998 TV movie Babylon 5: The River of Souls – a sci-fi special set on a space station in the year 2257.
He was forced to deliver serious lines to Martin Sheen who played the alien Soul Hunter with a third eye stuck firmly in the middle of his forehead!
*More stage and screen legends from the North West are recalled in Clive Hardy’s three Around Manchester books covering the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Each book is packed with around 300 past images of Manchester along with fascinating insights and commentary from the author.
Just go to our online shop to place your order or telephone the order hotline on 01928 503777.