Frank Middlemass was born in Eaglescliffe on 28 May 1919. For more than half a century he was one of Britain’s most popular character actors on radio, stage, television and film.
The youngest child of a Liverpool shipping company director, he began acting in 1949 after a short but distinguished army career, during which he was wounded at Dunkirk and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Eventually, he ran off to join a theatre company in Penzance, and during the 1950s honed his skills in weekly rep, with seasons at the Old Vic in London and Bristol following later. From 1960s to the 1990s he appeared in the West End in everything from Shakespeare, Ibsen and Wilde to John Osborne, Tom Stoppard and Neil Simon. In 1984 he became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in such productions as ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’, ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ and ‘Hamlet’.
Making his television debut in ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ in 1958, he went onto appear in many iconic series over the years, including ‘Z Cars’, ‘The Avengers’, ‘Jackanory’, ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’, ‘The Sweeney’, ‘The Two Ronnies’, ‘ Last of the Summer Wine’, ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ and ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’. He also appeared in a number of films, including Hammer horror ‘Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed’ (1969); alongside Bette Davis in ‘Madame Sin’ (1972); and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon’ (1975).
In 1982 he was cast as Dan Archer on the long- running radio soap opera ‘The Archers’, playing the role until 1986 when the character was killed off. He also had regular roles in the TV series ‘Heartbeat’ and the sitcom ‘As Time Goes By’ with Dame Judi Dench. This became his last role, dying a year later on 8 September 2006 in Northwood, Middlesex.