Laurence Payne

Last updated 09 January 2020

Laurence Payne (1919-2009)
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Laurence Stanley Payne

Born: Thursday 5th June 1919
Died: Monday 23rd February 2009 (age: 89)

The Guardian (Obituary)

Laurence Payne was an English actor and novelist.

Laurence Payne was born in London. He attended Belmont school and Tottenham Grammar school, leaving at 16 to take a clerical job. After training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1939, he was exempted from war service as a conscientious objector on condition that he went on tour with the Old Vic during the war.

Payne made his professional debut at the Old Vic Theatre in 1939 and remained with the company for several years. He then performed at the Chanticleer and Arts theatres in London, also directing and broadcasting for the first times during this period. At Stratford-on-Avon he played, among other parts, Romeo in Peter Brook's 1947 production.

After more work at London theatres, he played leading roles at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic, and after that rejoined the London Old Vic company. At the Embassy Theatre in London he played Hamlet.

His film credits include: The Trollenberg Terror (aka. The Crawling Eye), Vampire Circus, The Tell-Tale Heart and Ben-Hur. His television credits include: Z-Cars, Moonstrike, The Sandbaggers, Airline, Telephone Soup, and Tales of the Unexpected.

He appears in three Doctor Who serials: The Gunfighters, The Leisure Hive and The Two Doctors, playing a different role in each. 

Perhaps his most famous role was as TV's Sexton Blake (1968-71) on ITV in Britain. It was while filming an episode of Sexton Blake, that he lost the sight in his left eye during rehearsal of a sword fighting scene with actor Basil Henson, following a hard sword blow against the side of his head. Peter Moffatt took him straight away to Moorfields Eye Hospital and Payne was told that if he could lay still for a week without moving his head, his retina would join up again so preserving his sight. Instead of doing this, Payne went back to work, got hit in a fist fight, and so lost his sight in that eye.[citation needed]

After retiring from acting, Payne continued to concentrate on writing crime/detective novels (his first novel having been published in 1961). By 1993, he had published 11 novels.

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