Rodney Bewes

Last updated 09 January 2020

Rodney Bewes (1937-2017)
(this image appears for illustrative purposes only and no attempt is made to supersede any copyright attributed to it)

Rodney Bewes

Born: Saturday 27th November 1937
Died: Tuesday 21st November 2017 (age: 79)


Rodney Bewes is an English television actor and writer who is best known for playing Bob Ferris in the BBC television sitcom The Likely Lads (1964-66) and its colour sequel Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? (1973-74), and in the various radio series based on them (1967-68 and 1975), and in the big screen film The Likely Lads (1976).

Bewes was born in Bingley near Bradford in the West Riding of Yorkshire. His early life was a typical northern working class childhood, until his family moved to Luton in Bedfordshire, where he attended Stopsley Boys' School . However, because of his early ill-health (he suffered from asthma) his mother tended to keep him off school. From the age of 12 he was appearing in television plays for the BBC, and at 14 he moved to London to attend RADA's preparatory school.

After two years of national service in the RAF, Bewes went to RADA. At nights he was working in hotels, doing the washing up, to finance his studies at RADA during the day, and hence was frequently to be found asleep in class. He was expelled during his final year. In the early 1960s he was appearing in productions at the Borough Polytechnic Institute (now London South Bank University) alongside Richard Briers and Brian Murphy. He then began appearing in repertory theatre and obtained parts in the television shows Dixon of Dock Green (1962) and Z-Cars (1963). He also appeared in the classic film version of Billy Liar (1963) alongside his close friend Tom Courtenay. The following year his northern working class background, and natural northern accent, stood him in good stead, landing him the role of northern working class hero Bob Ferris in The Likely Lads.

In between his two spells as a 'Likely Lad' in the 1960s and 1970s, Bewes also appeared in Man in a Suitcase (1967), Father, Dear Father (1968), and as "Mr Rodney" on The Basil Brush Show (1968-69). Bewes starred in his own ITV sitcom Dear Mother...Love Albert (1969-72), which he also created and co-wrote. He also appeared in the film Spring and Port Wine (1970) which starred James Mason, and played the Knave of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972).

Some of Bewes's later film and television roles include Jabberwocky (1977), The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979), The Wildcats of St. Trinian's (1980), and the 1984 Doctor Who serial Resurrection of the Daleks. His television career largely ended in the mid-1980s.

Although he is better known for his comedy and light entertainment roles, viewers were given an opportunity to see Bewes's serious acting ability in a made-for-TV film adaptation of John Ford's 17th century play, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore(1980).

During 1982, he served as spokesman for the now defunct trade organisation the British Onion Marketing Board, appearing in a number of print advertisements during the year.

On stage Bewes has enjoyed considerable success in the 1990s and since with one-man versions of Three Men in a Boat and Diary of a Nobody, both of which shows he has toured extensively in the UK. At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1997 he won the Stella Artois Prize for his one-man production of Three Men in a Boat.

The autobiography of Rodney Bewes, A Likely Story, was published in September 2005. Bewes revealed in it, and also on Michael Parkinson's BBC Radio 2 show in 2005, that his Likely Lads co-star James Bolam has not spoken to him for the last 30 years, after they fell out over a misunderstanding regarding a press interview Bewes had given. In 2010 Bewes also complained about his former co-star's refusal to allow repeats of The Likely Lads, preventing his earning anything from them; "he must be very wealthy; me, I've just got an overdraft and a mortgage."

Although born in the North of England, he now regards himself as a Londoner, albeit one with a slight northern accent in his speech. He is a member of the London Rowing Club, the Chelsea Arts Club, and the Garrick Club. He is also a Freeman of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames. Having lived in Cornwall for some years, he and his wife Daphne now live in Henley-on-Thames. They have four children.

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

Additional Details