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Paul Darrow (born Paul Valentine Birkby; 2 May 1941 – 3 June 2019) was an English actor who came to national prominence playing the role of Kerr Avon in the 1970s BBC science fiction television series Blake's 7. He also guest starred twice in Doctor Who, playing Captain Hawkins in the serial Doctor Who and the Silurians which was transmitted in 1970 and Maylin Tekker in the serial Timelash which was transmitted in 1985. He was also the voice of "Jack", on independent radio stations JACKfm and Union JACK, whose lines included dry-witted comments pertaining to current events.

Paul Darrow
Paul Darrow.JPG
Darrow in 2007
Born
Paul Valentine Birkby

(1941-05-02)2 May 1941
Died3 June 2019(2019-06-03) (aged 78)
OccupationActor
Years active1963–2019
Spouse(s)Janet Lees Price
Websitewww.avon-paul-darrow.co.uk

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Darrow was born Paul Valentine Birkby in Chessington in the county of Surrey on 2 May 1941. He received his formal education at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, before studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[1] While at RADA, he shared a flat with fellow actors John Hurt and Ian McShane.[2]

CareerEdit

Darrow worked extensively in theatre and television.

His television appearances include: Emergency – Ward 10, The Saint, Z-Cars, Dixon of Dock Green, Within These Walls, as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1975 BBC series The Legend of Robin Hood, as Mr. Tallboy in the 1973 adaptation of Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, as Thomas Doughty in the television film Drake's Venture, Dombey and Son, Maelstrom, Making News, Pie in the Sky, Hollyoaks, Toast of London and Little Britain. He provided the voiceover for Biblical quotations in Richard Dawkins's The Root of All Evil?. He had a one-off appearance in the 1990 series of Cluedo but did not play the murder victim. He was also the presenter of the BBC3 reality series Hercules (2004).[3]

Darrow appeared in all but the first episode of Blake's 7, for which he was best known, as Avon. Proud of his work on Blake's 7, Darrow acted as the show's most prolific spokesman, both in the UK and the US, during the late 80s. In the mid to late 90s, he purchased the rights to Blake's 7 and attempted to produce a big-budget follow-up mini-series, Blake's 7: A Rebellion Reborn. According to Darrow, it would have begun 25 years after the ending of the original series and might have included an ageing Avon passing the torch to a new generation.[citation needed]

His film credits are few, but include roles as doctors in The Raging Moon (1971) and the Bond movie Die Another Day (2002), which he filmed but was deleted before the film went on release to cinemas.

 
Portrait of Paul Darrow in 2012

Darrow recorded voice-overs and straplines for UK JACKfm station in Oxfordshire. He also provided the voice of the character Grand Moff Tarkin in the computer game Star Wars: Empire at War.[4] He also voiced the character of Zarok in the PlayStation game MediEvil. Darrow appeared in Emmerdale from 13 July 2009, playing Eddy Fox, Alan Turner's friend; he knows Turner as "Tank".[citation needed] He also played the character of Kaston Iago in the Kaldor City audio releases.

Darrow also provided the voice of a main character in the PC game Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising. The actress Glynis Barber, who played Soolin on Blake's 7, provided the voice for the main female character. The game was narrated by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame.

Darrow played the role of Sam Vimes in the 1998/99 touring production of the play based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Guards! Guards!.[5]

In 2004, Darrow was the subject of the fourth volume of MJTV's "The Actor Speaks" audio CDs, featuring frank interviews and dramatic pieces, alongside guest Peter Miles, with a piece specifically written by Tanith Lee.

Darrow narrated the 2008 audio book of Terry Nation's classic children's story Rebecca's World: Journey to the Forbidden Planet (2008)

In December 2011, Darrow voiced the character of Overseer Tremel in the Bioware MMORPG release Star Wars: The Old Republic.

In 2012, Darrow returned to the role of Kerr Avon in Big Finish Productions' Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles, a series of dramatic readings which take place during Series One before the death of Olag Gan. Darrow starred in The Turing Test and The Magnificent Four.

In 2015, Darrow starred as Paul Rand, the enigmatic business man in charge of the business institute Atlas in the interactive video game Contradiction: Spot the Liar!. A sequel was planned in 2016, but never came to fruition.

Darrow was Patron of the University of York Astronomy Society (AstroSoc) from 1981-84.

An extinct crocodile from the Miocene of Australia, Baru darrowi, was named after Darrow.[6]

On 27 October 2018, Darrow appeared on a celebrity sci-fi edition of the quiz show Pointless, along with fellow Blake's 7 star Michael Keating.[7]

Illness and deathEdit

In his last years Darrow suffered a decline in health. In 2014 he had an aortic aneurysm, and due to complications during its treatment surgeons had to amputate both of his legs.[8][9] He died on the morning of 3 June 2019 at the age of 78.[2][10][11][12]

Personal lifeEdit

In the mid-1960s Darrow married the actress Janet Lees-Price. They were married almost fifty years, until her death in 2012.[2][12] In later life they resided at Billingshurst in the county of West Sussex.[13]

PublicationsEdit

  • Avon: A Terrible Aspect (ISBN 0-80651-112-5), a 1989 novel about Avon's father and Avon's own early life.
  • You're Him, Aren't You? (2006) (ISBN 1-84435-236-6), autobiography. (Re-released as an audio book narrated by Darrow in 2016).

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1970 Mr. Jerico Receptionist TV movie
1971 The Raging Moon Doctor
1973 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Doctor Hart
2002 Die Another Day Doctor scenes deleted

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Blake's 7 star Paul Darrow dies after short illness". Aberdeen Evening Express. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Blake's 7 actor Paul Darrow dies at 78". BBC. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  3. ^ Hercules (TV series) on IMDb
  4. ^ "Interview: A conversation with actor and writer Paul Darrow". Flickering Myth. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  5. ^ peter benedict (28 May 2009). "Terry Pratchett's GUARDS! GUARDS!" – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "Baru darrowi - Australian Museum". australianmuseum.net.au. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Pointless Celebrities series 11 - Sci Fi". BBC iPlayer. 27 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Some bad and good news about Paul Darrow". www.eagletransporter.com. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2018.[better source needed]
  9. ^ "Cult Actors 8 Paul Darrow". Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Blake's 7 star Paul Darrow dies after short illness". South Wales Argus. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  11. ^ @JACKfmOxford (3 June 2019). "Shocked and saddened to announce this news today. We've lost a true gent - the iconic voice of JACK. We're still taking it in. Thanks for everything, Paul Darrow" (Tweet). Retrieved 3 June 2019 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ a b Belam, Martin (3 June 2019). "Paul Darrow, cult favourite in Blake's 7, dies aged 78". Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  13. ^ Page, Sarah (4 June 2019). "Tributes to Billingshurst-based Blake's 7 actor Paul Darrow". West Sussex County Times. Billingshurst, West Sussex, UK. Retrieved 12 June 2019.

External linksEdit