Berkeley as Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers
6 August 1904
|Died||16 January 1988 (aged 83)|
Ballard Blascheck (6 August 1904 – 16 January 1988), known professionally as Ballard Berkeley,[a] was an English actor of stage and screen. He played Major Gowen in the British television sitcom Fawlty Towers.
Life and career
The son of Joseph and Beatrice Blascheck, he was born in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He served as a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police during the Second World War, witnessing the Blitz at first hand, including the bombing of the Café de Paris nightclub. For his service he received the Defence Medal and the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal.
Berkeley played the role of the bumbling Major Gowen in the BBC TV comedy Fawlty Towers. He had played a similar role in 1969 in the legal drama The Main Chance. He portrayed another retired military man (Colonel Freddie Danby) in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, taking over the role from Norman Shelley.
He played a starring role in Fresh Fields as main character Hester's father Guy, was Hartley in To the Manor Born and played Colonel Culpepper in Terry and June. He had small roles in an episode of Citizen Smith (1977) and an adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) and appeared once in Bless This House as an RAF Group Captain in the episode "Strangers in the Night" and in The New Avengers as Colonel Foster in the episode "Dirtier by the Dozen". He also had small roles in the BBC sitcoms Hi-de-Hi! ("Empty Saddles," 1983) and Are You Being Served? ("Memories Are Made of This," 1983).
Berkeley was married in 1929 to Dorothy Long.
During the 1930s he performed regularly in the so-called "quota quickies". One of his earliest roles was as the heroic lead in the 1937 film The Last Adventurers. He appeared in the film In Which We Serve (1942) and also in the Hitchcock film Stage Fright (1950). He featured as Detective Inspector Berkeley in two episodes of Edgar Lustgarten's drama series, Scotland Yard ("Person Unknown", 1956 and "Bullet from the Past", 1957). He made a brief appearance in the 1985 American film National Lampoon's European Vacation which starred Chevy Chase. In this film, Berkeley played a British man who is involved in a minor road accident with the Griswalds.
Berkeley later performed the role of Winston—a similar character to "The Major"—in the radio comedy Wrinkles by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant. He played Badedas the Blue, a wizard in the radio comedy series Hordes of the Things. His last role was as the Head of the Army in the animated film version of Roald Dahl's The BFG. He died in 1988 and the film was released the following year.
|1930||The Chinese Bungalow||Richard Marquess|
|1930||London Melody||Jan Moor|
|1936||East Meets West||Nazim|
|1937||The Last Adventurers||Fred Devlin|
|1937||Jennifer Hale||Richard Severn|
|1939||Dead Men are Dangerous||Franklin's publisher's partner||Uncredited|
|1939||The Gang's All Here||Detective in Nightclub||Uncredited|
|1939||The Saint in London||Sir Richard Blake|
|1940||The Flying Squad||Smuggler in Aeroplane||Uncredited|
|1942||In Which We Serve||Engineer Commander|
|1946||Quiet Weekend||Jim Brent|
|1947||They Made Me a Fugitive||Rockliffe|
|1949||Third Time Lucky||Bertram|
|1950||Stage Fright||Sergeant Mellish|
|1951||The Long Dark Hall||Police Supt. Maxey|
|1951||Mister Drake's Duck||Maj. Deans|
|1952||The Frightened Man||Inspector Bligh|
|1952||The Lost Hours||Doctor|
|1952||The Night Won't Talk||Inspector West|
|1952||Circumstantial Evidence||Det. Insp. Hall|
|1953||Three Steps to the Gallows||Insp. Haley|
|1953||The Blue Parrot||Supt. Chester|
|1953||Operation Diplomat||Inspector Austin|
|1954||The Weak and the Wicked||Police Detective||Uncredited|
|1954||Dangerous Cargo||Security Officer Findley|
|1954||Delayed Action||Insp. Crane|
|1954||Child's Play||Dr. Nightingale|
|1954||The Men of Sherwood Forest||Walter|
|1955||See How They Run||Col. Warrington|
|1955||The Stolen Airliner||Mr. Head|
|1955||Passport to Treason||Inspector Thredgold|
|1956||My Teenage Daughter||Magistrate|
|1957||Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst||Lt. Col. Dewar-Durie|
|1957||After the Ball||Andrews|
|1957||Just My Luck||Starter at Goodwood||Uncredited|
|1957||Night of the Demon||1st Reporter||Uncredited|
|1958||The Man Who Wouldn't Talk||Court Clerk||Uncredited|
|1958||Chain of Events|
|1958||Further Up the Creek||Whacker Payne|
|1960||Life Is a Circus|
|1960||Cone of Silence||Commissioner|
|1963||A Matter of Choice||Charles Grant|
|1965||The Murder Game||Sir Colin Chalmers|
|1965||Night Caller from Outer Space||Cmdr. Savage|
|1968||Hostile Witness||Clerk of Court|
|1970||The Weekend Murders||Peter, the butler|
|1972||Bless This House||RAF officer on train|
|1976||Confessions of a Driving Instructor||Lord Snodley|
|1979||Confessions from the David Galaxy Affair||Judge|
|1979||Queen of the Blues||Uncle Fred|
|1980||The Wildcats of St Trinian's||Humphry Wills|
|1980||Little Lord Fauntleroy||Sir Harry|
|1985||National Lampoon's European Vacation||Second English Motorist|
|1989||The BFG||Head of the Army||Voice|
|1967 - 1968||The Newcomers||Colonel Renshaw|
|1972||The Shadow of the Tower||Sir Thomas Tyrrel||episode 7|
|1972 - 1980||The Dick Emery Show||Various characters||6 episodes|
|1975||Fawlty Towers||Major Gowen|
|1979||Fawlty Towers||Major Gowen|
|1981||To The Manor Born||Hartley||1 episode|
|1982||Terry and June||Colonel Culpepper||1 episode|
|1984 - 1986||Fresh Fields||Guy Penrose|
|1987||Terry and June||Sir Arthur Forster-Carter||1 episode|
- "Ballard Berkeley". The Times. London. 18 January 1988. p. 10.
- Profile, timeout.com/london; accessed 30 August 2014.
- Mortimer, Gavin (2011). The Longest Night: Voices from the London Blitz. Hachette. p. 53.
- Slide, Anthony (1996). Some Joe you don't know: an American biographical guide to 100 British television personalities. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-313-29550-8.
- Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials: 1974–1984. VNR AG. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-918432-61-2.
- Profile, radiotimes.com; accessed 30 August 2014.
- Berkeley is pronounced "bark-lee".