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Richard Hurndall : biography

3 November 1910 - 13 April 1984

Richard Gibbon Hurndall (3 November 1910 – 13 April 1984) was an English actor.


Richard Hurndall died of a heart attack at the age of 73 in London, less than five months after the first broadcast of The Five Doctors. Many sources, including Elisabeth Sladen's autobiography, have suggested that he died before being paid for the role.

Brief biography

BBC radio

Hurndall was born in Darlington and he attended Claremont Preparatory School, Darlington and Scarborough College, before training as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. He then appeared in several plays at Stratford-upon-Avon. Hurndall acted with the BBC radio drama repertory company from 1949 to 1952.

Radio Luxembourg

In 1958 he became the third host of the Radio Luxembourg program called This I Believe. (This show had originally been hosted by Edward R. Murrow on the U.S. CBS Radio Network from 1951 to 1955 and it was then edited in London for rebroadcast on 208 with a British style of presentation at 9:30 PM on Sunday evenings.)

Television work

Hurndall appeared in numerous radio and stage plays, films and television series over the course of his lengthy career, including The Avengers, The Persuaders!, Blake's 7, Whodunnit! and Bergerac. He played the suave London gangster Mackelson in the 1968 drama series Spindoe, had a recurring role as a senior civil servant in the final series of The Power Game and did a camp turn as a gay antique dealer who takes a shine to Harold Steptoe in the comedy Steptoe and Son. He appeared twice in the series Public Eye, playing a distinguished entomologist who is unwilling to trace his missing son in "The Golden Boy" (10 January 1973) and a priest in "How About a Cup of Tea?" (13 January 1975).

Doctor Who

In 1983, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the long-running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, producer John Nathan-Turner planned a special event, The Five Doctors, a 90-minute episode to feature the four of the five actors who had at that point played the role of the Doctor. William Hartnell, the actor who originated the role, had died in 1975. The show's unofficial fan consultant, Ian Levine, had seen Hurndall in Blake's 7, another BBC science fiction series, and suggested him to the producers as a possible replacement. Hurndall eventually won the role of the First Doctor, playing him as acerbic and temperamental but in some ways wiser than his successors (even though, as the first incarnation, he was also the youngest Doctor chronologically). When Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor, decided not to appear in the programme, Hurndall's role was beefed up slightly to have the First Doctor take a greater part in the action.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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