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Ballard Berkeley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ballard Berkeley
Ballard Berkeley.gif
Berkeley as Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers
Ballard Blascheck

6 August 1904
Died16 January 1988 (aged 83)
London, England
Years active1930–1988

Ballard Blascheck (6 August 1904 – 16 January 1988),[1] known professionally as Ballard Berkeley,[a] was an English actor of stage and screen. He played Major Gowen in the British television sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Life and career

The son of Joseph and Beatrice Blascheck, he was born in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent.[1] He served as a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police during the Second World War, witnessing the Blitz at first hand,[2] including the bombing of the Café de Paris nightclub.[3] For his service he received the Defence Medal and the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal.[citation needed]

Berkeley played the role of the bumbling Major Gowen in the BBC TV comedy Fawlty Towers.[4][5] He had played a similar role in 1969 in the legal drama The Main Chance. He portrayed another retired military man (Colonel Freddie Danby) in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, taking over the role from Norman Shelley.

He played a starring role in Fresh Fields as main character Hester's father Guy, was Hartley in To the Manor Born and played Colonel Culpepper in Terry and June. He had small roles in an episode of Citizen Smith (1977) and an adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) and appeared once in Bless This House as an RAF Group Captain in the episode "Strangers in the Night" and in The New Avengers as Colonel Foster in the episode "Dirtier by the Dozen". He also had small roles in the BBC sitcoms Hi-de-Hi! ("Empty Saddles," 1983) and Are You Being Served? ("Memories Are Made of This," 1983).

Berkeley was married in 1929 to Dorothy Long.[6]

During the 1930s he performed regularly in the so-called "quota quickies". One of his earliest roles was as the heroic lead in the 1937 film The Last Adventurers.[7] He appeared in the film In Which We Serve (1942) and also in the Hitchcock film Stage Fright (1950). He featured as Detective Inspector Berkeley in two episodes of Edgar Lustgarten's drama series, Scotland Yard ("Person Unknown", 1956 and "Bullet from the Past", 1957). He made a brief appearance in the 1985 American film National Lampoon's European Vacation which starred Chevy Chase. In this film, Berkeley played a British man who is involved in a minor road accident with the Griswalds.

Berkeley later performed the role of Winston—a similar character to "The Major"—in the radio comedy Wrinkles by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant. He played Badedas the Blue, a wizard in the radio comedy series Hordes of the Things. His last role was as the Head of the Army in the animated film version of Roald Dahl's The BFG. He died on January 16, 1988 in London and the film was released on December 25, 1989.

Selected filmography


Year Title Role Notes
1930 The Chinese Bungalow  Richard Marquess
1930 London Melody  Jan Moor
1933 Trouble  Uncredited
1934 White Ensign  Cortez
1936 East Meets West  Nazim
1937 The Last Adventurers  Fred Devlin
1937 Jennifer Hale  Richard Severn
1939 The Outsider  Uncredited
1939 Dead Men are Dangerous  Franklin's publisher's partner Uncredited
1939 The Gang's All Here  Detective in Nightclub Uncredited
1939 Black Eyes  Diner
1939 The Saint in London  Sir Richard Blake
1940 The Flying Squad  Smuggler in Aeroplane Uncredited
1942 In Which We Serve  Engineer Commander
1946 Quiet Weekend  Jim Brent
1947 They Made Me a Fugitive  Rockliffe
1949 Third Time Lucky  Bertram
1950 Stage Fright  Sergeant Mellish
1951 Blackmailed  Dr. McCormick
1951 The Long Dark Hall  Police Supt. Maxey
1951 Mister Drake's Duck  Maj. Deans
1952 The Frightened Man  Inspector Bligh
1952 The Lost Hours  Doctor
1952 The Night Won't Talk  Inspector West
1952 Circumstantial Evidence  Det. Insp. Hall
1953 Three Steps to the Gallows  Insp. Haley
1953 The Blue Parrot  Supt. Chester
1953 Operation Diplomat  Inspector Austin
1954 The Weak and the Wicked  Police Detective Uncredited
1954 Dangerous Cargo  Security Officer Findley
1954 Forbidden Cargo  Cooper Uncredited
1954 Delayed Action  Insp. Crane
1954 Child's Play  Dr. Nightingale
1954 The Men of Sherwood Forest  Walter
1955 See How They Run  Col. Warrington
1955 The Stolen Airliner  Mr. Head
1955 Passport to Treason  Inspector Thredgold
1956 My Teenage Daughter  Magistrate
1957 The Betrayal  Lawson
1957 Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst  Lt. Col. Dewar-Durie
1957 After the Ball  Andrews
1957 Just My Luck  Starter at Goodwood Uncredited
1957 Night of the Demon  1st Reporter Uncredited
1958 The Man Who Wouldn't Talk  Court Clerk Uncredited
1958 Chain of Events 
1958 Further Up the Creek  Whacker Payne
1960 Life Is a Circus 
1960 Cone of Silence  Commissioner
1963 Impact  Bill MacKenzie
1963 A Matter of Choice  Charles Grant
1965 The Murder Game  Sir Colin Chalmers
1965 Night Caller from Outer Space  Cmdr. Savage
1968 Hostile Witness  Clerk of Court
1970 The Weekend Murders  Peter, the butler
1972 Bless This House  RAF officer on train
1976 Confessions of a Driving Instructor  Lord Snodley
1978 The Playbirds  Trainer
1979 Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair  Judge
1979 Queen of the Blues  Uncle Fred
1980 The Wildcats of St Trinian's  Humphry Wills
1980 Little Lord Fauntleroy Sir Harry
1983 Bullshot Hotel Guest
1985 National Lampoon's European Vacation  Second English Motorist
1989 The BFG  Head of the Army Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1958 Leave It to Todhunter Det. Chief Insp. Moresby
1961 Deadline Midnight Desmond 7 episodes
1964 Swizzlewick Major Lamb
1966 United! Dr Newkes
1967–1968 The Newcomers Colonel Renshaw
1972 The Shadow of the Tower Sir Thomas Tyrrel episode: " A Fly in the Ointment"
1972–1980 The Dick Emery Show Various characters 6 episodes
1975–1979 Fawlty Towers Major Gowen 12 episodes
1981 To The Manor Born Hartley episode: "Connections in High Places"
1982–1987 Terry and June Sir Arthur Forster-Carter / Colonel Culpepper episodes: "Swingtime" / "They Also Serve"
1983 Are You Being Served? Angler episode: "Memories Are Made of This"
1984–1986 Fresh Fields Guy Penrose 10 episodes


  1. ^ a b "Ballard Berkeley". The Times. London. 18 January 1988. p. 10.
  2. ^ Profile,; accessed 30 August 2014.
  3. ^ Mortimer, Gavin (2011). The Longest Night: Voices from the London Blitz. Hachette. p. 53.
  4. ^ Slide, Anthony (1996). Some Joe you don't know: an American biographical guide to 100 British television personalities. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-313-29550-8.
  5. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials: 1974–1984. VNR AG. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-918432-61-2.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Profile,; accessed 30 August 2014.
  1. ^ Berkeley is pronounced "bark-lee".

External links

This page was last edited on 2 May 2021, at 17:47
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