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Russell Hunter

Last updated 12 October 2015


Russell Hunter (1925-2004)
(this image appears for illustrative purposes only and no attempt is made to supersede any copyright attributed to it)

Russell Ellis

Born: Wed 18th February 1925
Died: Thu 26th February 2004 (age: 79)

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Russell Hunter was a Scottish television, stage and film actor. He is perhaps best known as the character "Lonely" in the TV thriller seriesCallan, starring Edward Woodward and that of Shop-Steward Harry in the Yorkshire Television sitcom The Gaffer.

He played Kiy Uvanov in the 1977 Doctor Who story The Robots of Death.

Born in Glasgow, Hunter's childhood was spent with his maternal grandparents in Lanarkshire, until returning to his unemployed father and cleaner mother when he was 12. He went from school to an apprenticeship in a Clydebank shipyard. During this time, he did some amateur acting for the Young Communist League before turning professional in 1946.

Under the stage name Russell Hunter, he acted at Perth Rep and at the Glasgow Unity Theatre also performing in the very first Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1947 in The Plough and the Stars by Se�n O'Casey, was a comedian in summer variety shows and toured with a one-man show.

Hunter worked in repertory theatre and Scottish variety before making his film debut in Lilli Marlene (1950). He appeared with Archie Duncan in the film The Gorbals Story, in London the same year, which also featured his first wife, Marjorie Thomson, and he followed these by playing a pilot in the Battle of Britain drama Angels One Five in 1951.

A busy actor, he joined Peter Hall's Royal Shakespeare Company, working with Peggy Ashcroft and Dame Edith Evans.

Hunter as Lonely in a prison scene fromCallan

His most memorable role was the timid, smelly petty criminal, Lonely, unlikely accomplice to a clinical spy-cum-assassin, in the downbeat 1967 television spy series Callan. Reportedly, he said of his identification with Lonely that "I take more baths than I might have playing other parts. When Lonely was in the public eye I used only the very best toilet water and a hell of a lot of aftershave."

After playing Costard in a BBC television production of Love's Labour's Lost (1965), Hunter was cast as Lonely in ITV's "Armchair Theatre" production A Magnum for Schneider in 1967, which introduced the secret agent Callan to the screen. Four series followed (1967, 1969�72). Hunter and Edward Woodward reprised their roles in both a 1974 feature film of the same name and, seven years later, in the television film Wet Job, by which time Lonely had gone straight, got married and was running a plumbing company called Fresh and Fragrant. The title plays on "wet job" the euphemism for murder or assassination.

During his years with Callan, Hunter acted in the Hammer horror film Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and took the roles of Crumbles, Dr Fogg and Dr Makepeace in an ITV production ofSweeney Todd (1970), He also appeared in the British comedy film Up Pompeii (film) (1971) as the Jailor.

Hunter's other TV credits include The SweeneyFarrington of the F.O.The BillA Touch of FrostTaggart, sitcoms Rule Brittania (1975) as the Scotsman Jock McGregor and shop steward in The Gaffer (1981�83), and his last ever TV appearance, in the BBC drama Born and Bred. In his last years he reprised his Doctor Who role for a series of audio plays released on CD, Kaldor City. He also appeared in an episode of Mind Your Language.

He also appeared as different characters in the pilot and series of the BBC sitcom Rab C. Nesbitt.

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA