Jack Bligh

Last updated 09 January 2020

Jack Bligh (1889-1967)
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Jack Hodges Bligh

Born: Friday 29th November 1889
Died: Monday 25th September 1967 (age: 77)


Born in Ramsgate in Kent, Jack Bligh was an actor for much of his life, mainly in theatre until quite late in his life when he took to "moving pictures". He is notable as being the earliest-born actor to have filmed footage for Doctor Who.

Before the First World War, having apparently turned down an offer to play for Arsenal football club, Bligh worked at the British and Colonial Kinematograph Company as a stunt man, then worked at Vitagraph in the United States as war broke out, before seeing service in France as the war progressed. During the 1920s he toured South Africa with Dennis Neilson-Terry and Mary Glynne, performed in a number of Edgar Wallace plays in London and is also believed to have made an appearance in the "new" medium of television in 1929!

He met his second wife Mary Holder, an actress with the Frank Benson’s Shakespeare Company and they married in 1929. They appeared together with the Royal Shakespeare Company before travelling to South Africa in 1932, where they settled down and founded a theatre company in Johannesburg. He also produced a number of plays at the Little Theatre in Cape Town, and in 1938 played Simon van der Stel in the film Die Bou van ‘n Nasie (They Built a Nation). During the 1940s he was a radio producer with the SABC in Johannesburg, though he continued to tour with the Gwen ffrangçon-Davies / Marda Vanne Company.

After the Second World War he spent some time in the United Kingdom taking in theatrical developments and also working at the BBC. However, he returned to South Africa in 1948 to become head of dramatic production for SABC in Cape Town. However, by the 1960s he'd returned to the UK and appeared in a number of films and television programmes, which as well as his role as Gaptooth in The Smugglers also included Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars, Danger Man, Man in a Suitcase, Adam Adamant Lives! and Till Death Us Do Part. He also had a recurring role as Old Jonty in the 1964 series Taxi!

Despite being in his seventies, he continued to act right up to his death at home in St John's Wood, London, a year after his appearance in Doctor Who.


Biography adapted from the entry at ESAT.