Richard Wilson (Scottish actor)

Richard Wilson OBE (born Iain Carmichael Wilson;[1] 9 July 1936) is a British actor, theatre director and broadcaster. He is most famous for playing Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. Another notable role was as Gaius, the court physician of Camelot, in the BBC drama Merlin.[2]

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson.jpg
Wilson in 2007.
Iain Carmichael Wilson

(1936-07-09) 9 July 1936 (age 84)
Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
OccupationActor, theatre director, broadcaster
Years active1964–present
Notable work
See below
TelevisionOnly When I Laugh
One Foot in the Grave
Born and Bred
Britain's Best Drives
Doctor Who

Early lifeEdit

Wilson was born in Greenock, Scotland. He went to the Lady Alice Primary school in Greenock. He studied science subjects at Greenock Academy,[3] then did his National Service with the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Singapore.[4]


He worked in a laboratory at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow as a research assistant[5] before switching to acting at age 27. He trained at RADA and then appeared in repertory theatres in Edinburgh (Traverse Theatre), Glasgow and Manchester (Stables Theatre).

He initially turned down the role of Victor Meldrew and it was almost offered to Les Dawson before Wilson changed his mind.[6]

Wilson was awarded the OBE in the 1994 Birthday Honours[7] for services to Drama. In April 1996, he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow for a term of three years.[5]

The narration of "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", from Strawbs' eponymous first album, was performed by Wilson.[8]

Wilson's biography, One Foot on the Stage: The Biography of Richard Wilson, was written by James Roose-Evans.[9]

In March 2011, Wilson presented an edition of the Channel 4 current affairs programme Dispatches entitled Train Journeys From Hell, with transport journalist Christian Wolmar highlighting the failings of the British railway network.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

Wilson is a supporter of his local football club, Greenock Morton, but he has come to lend greater support to English club Manchester United.[4] He is a patron of the Manchester United Supporters Trust.[11] Wilson is a good friend of his One Foot in the Grave co-star Angus Deayton, and is godfather to Deayton's son.[12]

Wilson has been a campaigner for gay rights for many years.[13] He appeared at charity events organised by gay rights campaign group Stonewall, but had not discussed his own sexuality in interviews with the media.[14] He was named in a list of influential gay people in 2013 by Time Out magazine, which he considered to have outed him.[15][16]

He is one of the patrons of Scottish Youth Theatre.[17] Wilson is also a long-time supporter of the charity Sense and in 2007 hosted their annual award ceremony.[18] He is also one of the honorary patrons of the London children's charity, Scene & Heard.[19] He has been Honorary President of the Scottish Community Drama Association (SCDA) since 1998.[20]

He is a supporter of the Labour Party and recorded the party's manifesto on audio for the 2010 general election.[21][22]

It was reported on 12 August 2016 that Wilson had suffered a heart attack. He had been due to reprise the role of Victor Meldrew in a one-man show at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[23]

Wilson has one older sister, Moira.[24]




Stage actingEdit

Theatre directionEdit

Wilson won the TMA Best Director Award in 2000 for Mr Kolpert.[5]


  • The Corrupted (BBC Radio 4 2017) as Melford Stevenson
  • Believe It! (BBC Radio 4). As himself in a spoof comic autobiography written by Jon Canter[31]
  • Radio Diaries (BBC Radio 4 2021) as Archie, a former tango dance partner/teacher on cruise liners, now in a care home, looking back over his life relationship with the tango. Written by Ron Hutchinson.

Exercise videosEdit

  • Let's Dance (1996)


  1. ^ Walker, Lynne (12 June 1999). "he's all the rage". The Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  2. ^ "BBC - Press Office - Merlin press pack: Richard Wilson". BBC. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Richard Wilson's Beacon Theatre hopes". Greenock Telegraph. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b Dugan, Emily (21 November 2010). "Richard Wilson: Retire? He doesn't believe in it". The Independent. UK: Independent Print. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Richard Wilson – Drama Faces". BBC. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
  6. ^ Plunkett, Richard (26 July 2016). "I don't believe it! Victor Meldrew role almost went to Les Dawson". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  7. ^ United Kingdom list: "No. 53696". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1994. pp. 1–30.
  8. ^ "Strawbs website". 22 November 1968. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  9. ^ "One Foot on the Stage on Vialibri". Retrieved 7 August 2011.[dead link]
  10. ^ "Train Journeys From Hell". Dispatches. Channel 4. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  11. ^ "Richard Wilson". Manchester United Supporters Trust. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  12. ^ McLean, Craig (12 July 2016). "Interview: Richard Wilson and Angus Deayton on how they won't be painting Edinburgh red together this Fringe". The List. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  13. ^ Rees, Jasper (26 June 2014). "Richard Wilson, interview: 'A lot of Scots hate me'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  14. ^ Ahad, Nick (4 July 2011). "The big interview: Richard Wilson". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  15. ^ Maddocks, Fiona (15 November 2015). "Interview. Richard Wilson: 'For a long time I thought Tony Blair was the greatest thing since cream cheese'". The Observer. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  16. ^ Earp, Catherine (2 March 2013). "'Merlin's Richard Wilson: 'I don't mind people knowing I'm gay'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Scottish Youth Theatre website". 26 March 2008. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  18. ^ "Celebrity supporters of Sense". 24 June 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  19. ^ "Scene & Heard – Who We Are". 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  20. ^ "Honorary Presidents and Members – SCDA". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  21. ^ "Delay in Labour braille and audio manifesto criticised". BBC News. BBC. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  22. ^ Young, Kevin (20 April 2010). "Election 2010: Political celebrities – then and now". BBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  23. ^ "Victor Meldrew actor Richard Wilson suffers heart attack". BBC News. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  24. ^ Jones, Marcus (2016). "Richard Wilson's sister 'praying' as Victor Meldrew star suffers heart attack". Premier Christianity. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  25. ^ How to Get Ahead in Advertising, retrieved 8 May 2020
  26. ^ Sherlock Gnomes (2018) - IMDb, retrieved 8 May 2020
  27. ^ Richard Wilson archive
  28. ^ The Red Headed League, retrieved 8 May 2020
  29. ^ Selling Hitler, retrieved 8 May 2020
  30. ^ Richard Wilson On The Road Episode 2 | presscentre
  31. ^ BBC Radio 4 programme details: Believe It!

Further readingEdit

  • J. Roose-Evans, One Foot on the Stage: The Biography of Richard Wilson

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Johnny Ball
Rector of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Ross Kemp