Bernard Kay

Last updated 09 January 2020

Bernard Kay (1928-2014)
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Bernard Kay

Born: Thursday 23rd February 1928
Died: Monday 29th December 2014 (age: 86)


Bernard Kay was an english actor born in  Bolton, England. He has an extensive theatre, television and film repertoire.

Kay began his working life as a reporter on Bolton Evening News, and a stringer for The Manchester Guardian. He was conscripted in 1946 and started acting in the army. Kay gained a scholarship to study at the Old Vic Theatre School and became a professional in 1950, as a member of the company which reopened the Old Vic after WW2.

He appeared in hundreds of TV productions including Emmerdale Farm, The Champions, The Cellar and The Almond Tree, Clayhanger, A Very British Coup, Casualty, Casualty 1909, DoctorsCoronation Street and Foyle's War. He also appeared in the very first episode of Z Cars.

He portrayed Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian in the BBC dramatisation Trial by Inquiry: Titanic in 1967; and he played the bandit leader Cordova in Zorro television episode Alejandro Rides Again in 1991 which was filmed in Madrid, Spain. Kay also gave a sympathetic performance as Korporal Hartwig in an early episode of Colditz.

His first film appearance was as an injured recruit in Carry on Sergeant, a role which saw him alongside first Doctor William Hartnell. They would work together again in Doctor Who, with Kay appearing in two stories, most notably as Saladin in the classic Doctor Who story The Crusade in 1965 (which also featured Julian Glover and Jean Marsh, and in the second Dalek adventure The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964); he later worked alongside Patrick Troughton in The Faceless Ones (1967) and Jon Pertwee in Colony In Space (1971). In 2006, he also guest-starred in the Doctor Who audio adventure Night Thoughts.

His most famous film appearance was his turn as a Bolshevik leader in Doctor Zhivago (1965). 

He also acted extensively on the stage. In 1952, for the Nottingham Rep, he learned, rehearsed, and played Macbeth in less than 24 hours. In 1984, he played Shylock in The Merchant of Venice during a British Council tour of Asia, ending in Baghdad, in the middle of the Iraq/Iran war. Other theatre includes An Inspector Calls (Garrick Theatre), Macbeth (Nottingham Playhouse), Titus Andronicus (European Tour), A Man for all Seasons (International Tour), The Merchant of Venice (International Tour), Galileo (Young Vic), Death of a Salesman (Lyric Theatre, Belfast) and Halpern and Johnson (New End Theatre). He has twice appeared at the Finborough Theatre, London - in 2006 in After Haggerty and in 2010 in Dream of the Dog.

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