Graham Crowden (1922-2010)
Clement Graham Crowden
(30 November 1922 – 19 October 2010)
Born Edinburgh, his career took him from TV’s Porridge to Dr Who, from Bond films to Waiting for God, from Lindsay Anderson’s scabrous satires to Shakespeare.
He is perhaps most widely known for his BBC roles as Dr Jock McCannon in A Very Peculiar Practice and Tom Ballard in Waiting for God. He also had a distinguished theatrical career, most notably at Sir Laurence Olivier's National Theatre where he performed as The Player King in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
A versatile actor, Crowden relished playing ‘mad scientists’ in Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! (1973) and Britannia Hospital (1982), and also the sinister Doctor Smiles in the screen version of Michael Moorcock's The Final Programme (1973). He also played the eccentric History master in Anderson's if.... (1968).
He was offered the role of Doctor Who when Jon Pertwee left the role in 1974, but turned it down, informing producer Barry Letts he couldn't commit to the three year stint. Crowden recommended Tom Baker. In the clip above he demonstrates his extraordinary versatility - whether a Dr Who or Shakespearian villian, he was devoted to his art.
I'm fortunate to count Graham's son Harry as a mate. We met through our love of the 1980 post-punk scene, collecting vinyl from bands like Killing Joke, Scars and Punishment of Luxury. My own personal memories of Harry's dad include him playing 'Happy Birthday' on the piano for me (my 19th in July 1981) over generous gin and tonics in their Polwarth home. My sister Anne and I also interviewed Graham for a film appreciation website we ran in the early Noughties. He was charming and brimming with thoroughly entertaining anecdotes about the many, many big screen names he encountered over the years.
His daughter, actress Sarah Crowden, said: "His legacy lives on. He did so much work that there's something of his on almost all the time somewhere in the world."
Graham will be sorely missed.