Graham Crowden

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Graham Crowden
BornClement Graham Crowden
(1922-11-30)30 November 1922
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died19 October 2010(2010-10-19) (aged 87)
Edinburgh, Scotland
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Graham Crowden
BornClement Graham Crowden
(1922-11-30)30 November 1922
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died19 October 2010(2010-10-19) (aged 87)
Edinburgh, Scotland

Clement Graham Crowden (30 November 1922 – 19 October 2010)[1][2] was a Scottish actor. He was best known for his many appearances in television comedy dramas and films, often playing eccentric "offbeat" scientist, teacher and doctor characters.

Early life

Crowden was born in Edinburgh, the son of Anne Margaret (née Paterson) and Harry Graham Crowden.[3] He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy before serving briefly in the Royal Scots Youth Battalion of the army until he was injured in a bizarre accident. During arms drill, he was shot by his Sergeant-Major when his rifle discharged. The sergeant said "what is it now, Crowden?" Crowden replied, "I think you've shot me sergeant." He later found work in a tannery.

Acting career

Crowden is known for his roles in BBC comedy-dramas, including Dr. Jock McCannon in A Very Peculiar Practice and Tom Ballard in Waiting for God. He also had a long and distinguished theatrical career, most notably at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre where he performed as The Player King in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the play by Tom Stoppard.

He occasionally played mad scientists in film, taking the role of Doctor Millar in the Mick Travis films of director Lindsay Anderson, O Lucky Man! (1973) and Britannia Hospital (1982), and also playing the sinister Doctor Smiles in the film of Michael Moorcock's first Jerry Cornelius novel, The Final Programme (1973). He also played the eccentric History master in Anderson's if.... (1968).

In 1975, he made an appearance in "No Way Out" – an episode of the popular British sitcom Porridge alongside Ronnie Barker, Brian Wilde, Richard Beckinsale and Fulton Mackay, as the prison doctor when Fletcher was complaining of an injured leg.

He was offered the role of the Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who in 1974, when Jon Pertwee left the role, but turned it down, informing producer Barry Letts that he was not prepared to commit himself to the series for three years. The role ultimately went to Tom Baker. He did, however, appear in The Horns of Nimon (1979) as a villain opposite Baker. This was the reason why Ian Marter was originally hired as the producers and directors considered Crowden to be too old to be seen running about and taking on a larger physical role and so brought in Marter.

In 1990, he appeared as a lecherous peer in the BBC comedy Don't Wait Up and in 1991, he played a modest role in the Rumpole of the Bailey episode "Rumpole and the Quacks", portraying Sir Hector MacAuliffe, the head of a medical inquest into the potential sexual misconduct on the part of Dr. Ghulam Rahmat (portrayed by Saeed Jaffrey).

For many however, it was the role he landed in 1990 as the leading character of Tom Ballard in the sitcom Waiting for God opposite Stephanie Cole's character Diana Trent, as the two rebellious retirement home residents, that made him a household name. The show ran for five years and was a major success.[citation needed]

In 1994, Crowden played the part of Professor Pollux in the BBC TV adaptation of the John Hadfield novel Love on a Branch Line.

Crowden then voiced the role of Mustrum Ridcully in the 1997 animated Cosgrove Hall production of Terry Pratchett's Soul Music.

In 2001, he guest-starred in the Midsomer Murders episode "Ring Out Your Dead" and also played The Marquis of Auld Reekie in The Way We Live Now. Between 2001-2002, he played a role in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series The Leopard in Autumn. In 2003, he made a cameo appearance as a sadistic naval school teacher in The Lost Prince. In 2005–2008, he starred in the BBC Radio 4 sci-fi comedy Nebulous as Sir Ronald Rolands. In 2008, he appeared as a guest star in Foyle's War.

For many years towards the end of his life, he lived in Mill Hill, London NW7.


Crowden died on 19 October 2010 in Edinburgh after a short illness. Crowden is survived by his wife, Phyllida Hewat, whom he married in 1952, a son and three daughters, one of whom, Sarah, followed him into acting.


Television roles

1964HMS ParadiseCommander Shaw
1964Redcap: The PatrolMajor Fraser
1973The Adventures of Black Beauty: Goodbye BeautyMr. Crevace
1975Porridge: Christmas Special – "No Way Out"Prison Physician
19771990: DecoyDr. Sondeberg
1979–1980Doctor Who: The Horns of NimonSoldeed
1986–1988A Very Peculiar PracticeDr. Jock McCannon
1986All Passion SpentHerbert
1990–1994Waiting for GodTom Ballard
2000The 10th KingdomOld Retainer



Michael Palin, Halfway to Hollywood, p. 162

External links