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Albert Finney


Born in Salford, the son of a Lancashire bookmaker in 1936,
Albert Finney became a leader amongst a new generation of anti-heroic
leading men in British films in the 1960s. These so-called ‘kitchen
sink dramas’ were rather gloomy and depressing, but marked a
move towards greater realism in character portrayal in films,
after the Technicolor superficialities of the 1950s Hollywood
film. Finney won a scholarship to RADA (the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Arts) in 1956, where he met fellow students Alan Bates
and Peter O’Toole.
this Finney appeared in the Birmingham Repertory Company before
going on to act as understudy for Sir Lawrence Olivier at the
Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. He also achieved
a stage hit in “Billy Liar” before his first major role
in a film role in “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” .
The brooding Lancashire Lad from common working roots which
he played in this film typecast him for several other roles
afterwards. He continued to work in the live theatre, working
under the direction of Tony Richardson, and working with writers
like John Osbourne. In
1963 he played his most famous title role in “Tom Jones”
with Suzannah York and David Warner. In 1965 he formed his own
film company, Memorial Enterprises, where he acted in and directed
the film “Charlie Bubbles” . During this period he was
also appointed as Artistic Director to the Royal Court Theatre
in London. He has continued to be a well paid and influential
actor on the world stage, and has subsequently appeared in many
stage and film productions including the musicals “Annie”
and “Shoot the Moon” .
a time he was married to the French actress Anouk Aim�e. Other
films to his credit include “Scrooge” in 1970 and Agatha
Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” in 1974,
“The Dresser” in 1983, and “Under the
Volcano” in 1984. He was nominated for Academy Award
for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Erin
Brockovich” in 2000. In 2002 his critically acclaimed
portrayal of Winston Churchill in “The Gathering Storm”
won him BAFTA and Emmy awards as Best Actor.
He also played the leading role in the television series ” My
Uncle Silas”, a series that ran from 2000 to 2003.
A lifelong supporter of Manchester United, Finney narrated the
documentary “Munich” , about the aircrash that
killed most of the Busby Babes in 1958, which was shown on United’s
TV channel MUTV in February 2008.


Robert Powell


A Salford actor born on 1st June 1944, and educated at the famous
Manchester Grammar School. Robert Powell came to the public
attention in the 1970s when he played leading roles in several
blockbuster major films and television movies, where his natural
good looks and archetypal British air made him a box office
favourite with a large female following. After having spent
a few years playing brief and minor roles in local repertory
theatre, his screen debut was in 1967, when his career was boosted
by his leading role in “Doomwatch” . Then, in 1974 he
featured in the title role of Ken Russell’s TV movie “Mahler” ,
and later in 1978 he played the role of Christ in Franco Zeffirelli’s
“Jesus of Nazareth” , which shot him to the forefront
of desirable leading men.
lean face, penetrating ice-blue eyes and curly boyish hair,
combined with highly emotional roles made him a sex symbol in
films over two decades. Also in 1978 he played Richard Hannay
in the third film version of the well known John Buchan book
“The Thirty-Nine Steps” . He
was named Best Actor at the 1982 Venice Festival. In more recent
years he has formed a comedy partnership with the comedian Jasper
Carrott, and appeared in various Carrott Television Shows as
one of the bungling policemen-duo in the series “The Detectives”,
demonstrating his ability to handle comedy roles as well as
the more serious glamour leads in films. Other films have included
“Robbery” (1967), “The Italian Job” (1967), and
“The Jigsaw Man” in 1984.
voice is regularly heard as narrator in several Discovery Channel
series. For several years he also had a regular leading role
in the televison series “Holby City” for BBC1.

Ben Kingsley CBE

Ben Kingsley, actor


Another Salford actor, actually born Krishna Banji, in Scarborough
in Yorkshire on 31 December 1943 of Asian parents. He grew up
in the Pendlebury district of Salford were his father was a
doctor and the family had moved to live at 117 Station Road
when Ben was a young lad. He attended the celebrated Manchester
Grammar School. At 19 years of age he saw Ian Holm in Richard
III at the Royal Shakespeare Company (the RSC), and was immediately
determined to pursue a career in acting. He adopted the name
Ben Kingsley after his father told him that he would only make
it in cinema if he had an English name. He
started work as a laboratory technician, but loved performing
in amateur dramatics in his spare time, and later turned down
the chance of pop stardom when Beatles manager Brian Epstein
offered him a recording contract after seeing him in a musical.
joined the cast of “Coronation Street” in 1966,
where he played the role of Ron Jenkins. His film debut came
in 1972 thriller “Fear Is The Key”. Ben
joined the RSC in 1967. Several major films and television presentations
to his credit, including the title role in Sir Richard Attenborough’s
Oscar-winning epic film biography “Gandhi” for which
he was awarded an Oscar, and the four hour mini series “Murderer’s
Angels” in 1989. Later
he starred in the 1987 Merchant-Ivory picture “Maurice” ,
and then in the comedy film “Without A Clue” alongside
Michael Caine. More recently he has performed in the film “Species”
as well as in a supporting role to Liam Neeson in the Stephen
Spielberg film “Schindler’s List” . The
UK gangster film “Sexy Beast” shot him back
into the cinema limelight in 2001, almost 20 years after the
release of Gandhi, the movie which won him an Oscar. He is also
known for his performances in the1993 film “Schindler’s
List” and “House of Sand and Fog”
in 2003.
In 2007 he appeared as a Mafia mobster in “You Kill
Me” , and in 2010 as a hitman in “War, Inc” .
More recently he has also starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio
in Martin Scorsese’s film “Shutter Island” .
He also has appeared several other films, including Scorses’s
“Hugo” , and later in “Broken Dream”
and ” Whispers Like Thunder” .
Ben Kingsley was made a Commander of the Order of the British
Empire (CBE) in 2000 and was made a knight bachelor in the 2002
New Year’s Honours List.


David Warner


Born in Manchester on 24th July 1941, David Warner became a
key British actor in the 1960s, and has been at the fore of
international film-making in the decades which have followed.
trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), and made
many early appearances in plays at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
at Stratford-upon-Avon, having had the distinction of being
the youngest ever lead role in “Hamlet” at Stratford.
Here he also played many other leads, including “Richard
II” in 1963.
first major break into film was in “Morgan – a Suitable Case
for Treatment” in the 1960s, in which he played the character
of an eccentric mad Marxist hero. This was followed by his portrayal
of Blifil, the rather repulsive suitor of Susannah York in the
film “Tom Jones” which had featured fellow Mancunian
Albert Finney in the title Role.
early 1970s were a rather bleak time for his career, although
by the end of that decade he had once again become a much sought
after character actor, prized most for his broody and introverted
style, and he has largely specialised in playing menacing British
villains ever since.
films in which he has appeared include “Time Bandits”, “Tron”,
“The Ballad of Cable Hogue”, “The Bofors Gun”, “Straw
Dogs” and “The Omen” . Other works have included “I
Claudius” at the Queen’s Theatre, “A Feast
of Snails” at the Lyric Theatre, “Where There’s
a Will” at the Theatre Royal, Bath, “King Lear”
at the Chichester Festival Theatre and “Major Barbara”
on Broadway. In 2006, he starred in Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather”
on Sky1 and in August 2007 he returned to Stratford for the
first time in over 40 years to play Sir John Falstaff in the
Courtyard Theatre revival of “Henry IV, Part 1” and
“Henry IV, Part 2” and is the only British
actor to have played Hamlet, Lear and Falstaff in major theatrical
productions. In 2008, he appeared in a new 13-part audio adaptation
of Robert Rankin’s “The Brightonomicon” and
in October of that same year played Lord Mountbatten of Burma
in the BBC Four television film “In Love with Barbara”
as well as appearing in BBC One’s “Wallander” .

Robert Shaw

Robert Shaw, actor

Actor, novelist and playwright, Robert Shaw was born in Westhoughton
in the Borough of Bolton on 9th August 1927, the son of a local
physician. After his father’s premature death by suicide in
1939 when Robert was 12 years old, he was taken to live with
relatives in Scotland, and later in Cornwall.
He trained at RADA and made his stage debut in 1949 at the Shakespeare
Memorial Theatre (now the Royal Shakespeare Theatre) in Stratford-upon-Avon.
During the 1950s he successfully made the transition to the
movies and played supporting roles in many films of that period.
In 1966 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal
of King Henry VIII in Robert Boult’s film “A Man for All Seasons
” playing opposite Paul Schofield in the leading role.
However, it was during the 1970s that his film career really
took off, when at the age of 50 he became a much sought after
and highly paid actor in such films as the war film “The Battle
of the Bulge” , the second James Bond movie “From Russia With
Love”, “The Sting” with Robert Redford (1973), Steven Spielberg’s
“Jaws” with Roy Scheider (1975), “Swashbuckler” (1976), and
“The Deep” with Jacqueline Bisset in 1977. In later life he
moved to live in County Mayo in Ireland with his third wife
and ten children. He wrote several plays and novels, including
the drama “Off the Mainland”, and the novels “The Hiding Place”
(1959), “The Sun Doctor” (1961), “The Flag” (1965), and “The
Man in the Glass Booth” in 1967. He was a keep-fit fanatic and
advocated a clean, healthy lifestyle. Ironically, he died of
a heart attack at the age of 51.

Kwouk OBE

Burt Kwouk


Born 18 July 1930 in Manchester, real name Herbert Kwouk, Burt
Kwouk grew up in Shanghai, went to the USA and then returned
to England in 1953. His first real break came with “The Charlie
Drake Show” in the late 1950s, followed by a role as an
archetypal Chinaman in the film “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”
starring Ingrid Bergman. He became well known as Peter Seller’s
karate-mad house servant in several ‘Pink Panther’ films, including
“A Shot in the Dark” , “The Return of the Pink Panther”,
“The Trail of the Pink Panther” , and “The Curse of the
Pink Panther” . As an Anglo-Oriental, Kwouk has proved to
be a valuable actor in roles calling for Chinese or Japanese
characters, and though never having appeared in a starring role,
he has always been in great demand. Other films include “Madame
Sin”, “Deep End”, “The Most Dangerous Man in the World” ,
as well as two James Bond films – “Goldfinger” and “You
Only Live Twice” . Numerous television roles including “Tenko”,
“Hart to Hart”, “The Lenny Henry Show”, “Supergran”, “Switch
on to English” , and “The Brief” .
More recently he has embarked on a comedy career, appearing
regularly in comedy roles on the “Harry Hill Show”
on television, and in 2008, a role in “Last of the
Summer Wine” and in the television series “Honest” .
In 2009 he appeared in “Red Dwarf: Back to Earth”,
and in 2011 he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British
Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours for services to drama .


Bill Oddie


Writer, comedian, performer, ornithologist – Bill Oddie was
born in Rochdale on the 7th July 1941. Studied at Cambridge
University where he was a member of the Cambridge Footlights
performing in revues and shows from 1960-63. He made early appearances
on British television programmes including “That Was The
Week That Was” (TW3 as it was known, with David Frost and
John Cleese), “Twice a Fortnight”, “Broaden Your Mind ”
and ” From the Top” , though it was his appearance with
Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor in the long running comedy
show “The Goodies” which really projected him into public attention.
The show became a top rated programme in the late 1960s and
early 1970s, with a near-cult following, and there were many
comedy record spin-offs made, all written by Oddie. Later, after
the Goodies finished, he turned to more serious topics and documentaries,
concentrating on his first love, ornithology.
in Paradise” was his major opportunity to talk seriously
about birds on television. In 1997 he followed with a series
called “Birding” . He has also written and published several
bird books, and is a keen amateur painter. More
Recently he has had natural world documentaries including “Going
Wild with Bill Oddie” and in 2004 “Who do you
Think You Are?” , a genealogical investigation into
the ancestry of several prominent people in broadcasting and
media. Until 2010 he regularly featured in the BBC television
“Springwatch” and “Autumnwatch” series,
and has many books on ornithology and birding to his portfolio.

Postlethwaite OBE

Pete Postlethwaite


Pete Postlethwaite was born on 7th February 1945 in Warrington,
Lancashire. In the late 1960s, for a short time, he was a drama
teacher at Loreto College girls’ convent school in Moss Side,
Manchester, before entering drama school in his mid-twenties.
He began to develop his career with performances in repertory
theatre at the Manchester Royal Exchange, the Bristol Old Vic,
and the Liverpool Everyman Theatre. He was also a member of
the Royal Shakespeare Company until 1987.
The move into TV and film came in 1988 with his role as the
abusive father in “Distant Voices, Still Lives” .
after this, he made his groundbreaking performance in 1992 in
“In the Name of the Father” , as supporting actor to Daniel
Day Lewis, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for
Best Supporting Actor. Subsequently
he has been involved in many big budget Hollywood films, including
Steven Spielberg’s, “Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Amistad” .
films have included “Brassed Off” and a recent television
series “The Sins” , both of which have received critical
acclaim. Reputedly,
Pete had a one-time long-standing relationship with actress
Julie Walters, but he now lives in Shropshire, near the Welsh
borders and is currently married to a former BBC drama assistant
with whom he has a son.
Director Steven Spielberg called Postlethwaite “the best
actor in the world” after working with him on “The
Lost World: Jurassic Park”. He received an Academy
Award nomination for his role in “In the Name of the
Father” in 1993, and was made an Officer of the Order
of the British Empire in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List. He
died of pancreatic cancer on 2 January 2011.


Paula Wilcox


Born in Manchester on the 13th December 1949, Paula Wilcox is
now a veteran actress of the British stage and television. She
attended the Hollies Grammar School in West Didsbury.
As a striking young woman with enormous eyes she was offered
her first television series, Jack Rosenthal’s “The Lovers” ,
by Granada Television after being spotted in the National Youth
Theatre as a student. The Lovers co-starring the late
Richard Beckinsale, ran from 1970-1971 and established her as
natural comedy talent – the role could have been written for
her. On the strength of this winning performance she went on
to star in another series, “Man About the House” alongside
Richard O’Sullivan (later to star in “Robin’s Nest” ),
Sally Thomsett, Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce (both of the latter
went on to star in their own right in “George & Mildred”
– a show which spawned as a result of the popularity of Man
About the House .
The largest portion of her acting since the 1970s has been in
the theatre. Recent theatrical work has included Bernard Slade’s
“Same Time Another Year” (September 1999), in which she
co-starred with Dennis Waterman, as well as playing Mrs Bates
in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” at the Brighton Theatre
also worked in London in Gerlind Reinshagen’s play “The Clowness” .
Other notable appearances have been in Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” ,
and in Shakespeare (she played Adriana in “A Comedy
of Errors” at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park).
Paula has appeared in many London West End shows, including
the leading role in “Shirley Valentine” , the Queen in
Sue Townsend’s “The Queen and I” and in plays by Alan
Ayckbourn and Harold Pinter, both in London and the USA. Her
television credits include “Peak Practice”, “The Stalker’s
Apprentice”, “Life After Birth”, “The Queen’s Nose”, “Blue Heaven”
and “Fiddler’s Three” . Paula has retained her connection
with the National Youth Theatre and is a member of the NYT council.
More recently, in 2007 she made an appearance in the ITV series
“Emmerdale” . In 2008 she appeared in the London
production of “La Cage Aux Folles” and in November
2009 she appeared in Stella Feehily’s play “Dreams of
Violence ” for Out of Joint and Soho Theatre.

Ian McKellen CBE

Sir Ian McKellen


Born in Burnley on the 25th of May 1939, the son of Margery
and Denis McKellen, a civil engineer. The family moved to live
in Wigan, opposite Mesnes Park, just before the outbreak of
the Second World War. Here he attended school at Dicconson Street
Wesleyan Primary School. At 11 he attended Wigan Grammar School
for Boys, but transferred after only a year to Bolton School
as his father had been made Borough Engineer and Surveyor of
Bolton. He became Head Boy of Bolton School in 1957. From the
outset, and encouraged by his parents, he was attracted to the
theatre and made visits to the Manchester Opera House.
He was a popular and regular performer in school plays, where
he was introduced to the works of Shakespeare, and every year
attended the school camp at Stratford-upon-Avon, where his fascination
with acting grew. Later, at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge,
he acted in many undergraduate Shakespearean productions which
began to draw the attention of the national newspapers. Graduating
in 1961, he had decided to become an actor and had several small
acting roles including, in Coventry, the Belgrade Theatre production
of Robert Boult’s “A Man for All Seasons” . Three years
later, and a now celebrated supporter of gay rights, he lived
in London.
successes followed, including the role of Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s
“Amadeus” on Broadway. Subsequently, he has served on
the Drama and Dance Panel advising the British Council, as well
as gaining a score of awards for acting, and was made a Commander
of the British Empire in 1979, followed by his Knighthood for
services to the performing arts in the New Year Honours of 1990.
has successfully combined a serious theatre career with that
of film actor, with many blockbuster movies to his credit, including
“Richard III” and more recently in the “X Men” and
“X Men II” alongside Patrick Stewart. In
1998 he was appointed to the board of the Royal National Company.
He currently lives in Limehouse, London, is a vegetarian and
an active supporter of the “New” Labour Party. Most
recently he played the part of Gandalf in the film trilogy of
J R R Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” and
in March 2005 made a long-awaited appearance in Granada Television’s
“Coronation Street” .
He was a founding member of Stonewall, one of the United Kingdom’s
most influential LGBT rights groups, and remains a prominent
spokesman. He was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing


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This page last updated 19 Dec 11.