Gary Olsen

Gary Olsen (born Gary Kenneth Grant; 3 November 1957 – 12 September 2000) was an English actor. He is best remembered for the role of Ben in the BBC television sitcom 2point4 Children.

Gary Olsen
Gary Kenneth Grant

(1957-11-03)3 November 1957
London, England
Died12 September 2000(2000-09-12) (aged 42)
Melbourne, Australia
Years active1979–2000
(m. 1985; div. 1990)

Jane Anthony
(m. 1991)


Olsen was born in London and lived with an aunt and uncle after losing both his parents, Patricia and Kenny, at an early age. He attended the Archbishop Tenison's Church of England School in Kennington. After school he joined various junior stage groups and toured with fringe theatrical companies, such as Incubus and Lumiere and Son until late 1976. At this point he immersed himself in the punk rock scene as lead vocalist with the band Swank (alongside future members of the Lurkers, Chelsea, and Cuddly Toys)[1] until returning to theatre in 1978. Later he helped develop the musical production Up on the Roof, in which he starred in 1987 at London's Donmar and Apollo theatres.

He made his screen debut in 1979 as Rory Storm in Birth of The Beatles, and appeared in numerous British films and television programmes, such as cult classic Quadrophenia after being suggested to the director by his long time friend Gary Holton. He played PC Dave Litten in the first series of The Bill, but achieved fame only with the role of Ben in the sitcom 2point4 Children (1991–1999). He played a starring film role as Arthur Hoyle alongside Samantha Janus and Neil Morrissey in the rugby league comedy, Up 'n' Under. He appeared in many TV adverts, notably the 1996 National Westminster Bank advertising campaign.

In addition to his screen appearances he made numerous stage appearances including The Rocky Horror Show and What the Butler Saw. He also played 'Pope Liberty III' in the Australian production of the controversial musical Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom.

Olsen appeared as Steve in The Comic Strip Presents... send up of The Fly, called The Yob. He also starred with Brian Bovell in the 1986 TV series Prospects about two lads in the Docklands trying to get ahead but usually failing.

Television rolesEdit

Olsen played a small but pivotal role in the 1981 BBC TV series The Day of the Triffids as "Red-Haired Man", a street gang leader, in episode 4 and again as an armed paramilitary officer named "Torrence" in the finale.

He played PC Dave Litten in 12 episodes of The Bill between 1984 and 1986 (as well as the 1983 pilot episode, Woodentop). Olsen also starred in the 1986 TV series Prospects alongside Brian Bovell who played Jez Littlewood in Gimme Gimme Gimme, about two friends living in the Docklands area trying their hand at anything to make a "few bob". In 1988, he appeared in the EastEnders spin-off CivvyStreet as Albert, the patriarch of the Beale family. His most prominent role was as Ben Porter in 2point4 Children (1991–1999). He also had leading roles in another two short-lived BBC sitcoms Health and Efficiency (1993–1995) and Pilgrim's Rest opposite Gwen Taylor for one series in 1997. From 1999–2000 he played Johno in the Daz Dogs adverts and sponsors.

Olsen also appeared as 'Tony' in the 1993 BBC special 'Paul Calf's Video Diary'.

Stage rolesEdit

Olsen was critically acclaimed for a number of his roles in musicals like The Rocky Horror Show, Cut and Thrust, Gorky Brigade, Welcome Home, The Pope's Wedding, Saved Dialogues, Metamorphosis, Serious Money, What the Butler Saw, Way of the World, and Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom. He received particular praise for his portrayal of Moey in On the Ledge at the National Theatre in 1993. Two years later he appeared in April in Paris at the same theatre. His last stage role was as Evan in Yasmina Reza's Art, in 2000.

Personal lifeEdit

He married Candy Davis (later known as the crime writer Mo Hayder) in 1985; they later divorced.[2] He married Australian second wife Jane Anthony in 1991; the couple had two children.[3] After a ten-month illness with cancer, Olsen died in Victoria, Australia, where he had emigrated following his diagnosis. He was 42 years old.[4]


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Birth of the Beatles Rory Storm
1980 Bloody Kids Ken's Gang 4
1980 Breaking Glass Guy at Bar
1981 Outland Worker 1
1982 Pink Floyd—The Wall Roadie
1982 The Sender Patient #9
1983 Party Party Terry, the drunk copper
1983 Winter Flight Dave
1984 Turtle Diary Lorry Driver at Rest Park
1985 Underworld Red Dog
1985 Loose Connections Kevin
1989 Rapid Fire Miles
1989 The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover Spangler
1997 Up 'n' Under Arthur Hoyle
1998 Alice Through the Looking Glass Tweedle-Dum
2000 24 Hours in London Christian (final film role)


  1. ^ Public, Joe (2007). "Swank". Bored Teenagers.
  2. ^ "Mo Hayder, author of inventive but 'jaw-droppingly grisly' thrillers – obituary". The Telegraph. 9 August 2021. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Gary Olsen". The Daily Telegraph. 15 September 2000. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Sitcom star Olsen dies". BBC News. 13 September 2000. Retrieved 6 November 2010.

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