Guest Actor Biography
Page 36 of 127


Clifford Evans

Henry Boardman, Dial a Deadly Number
Sir Andrew Boyd, Death's Door
Pelley, Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40?

by Pete Stampede

Despite a long film and television career, Clifford Evans' primary devotion was always to the theatre, especially in his native Wales. The diaries of the great comedy star Kenneth Williams provide a fascinating insight on Evans' period as an actor-manager there in the early 50's, with Richard Burton and Rachel Roberts as leading lights. Evans had earlier starred in Love on the Dole (1941), director John Baxter's impassioned drama about unemployment in the North of England, and one of the few socially progressive films made in Britain at the time. He was then in The Foreman Went to France (1942), for Ealing, with Gordon Jackson, but despite a later starring role for Hammer in Kiss of the Vampire (1961), as a Van Helsing-type, he increasingly seemed to prefer the theatre and television.

In the 50's, television saw him in the title role of a routine detective series, Stryker of the Yard, some episodes of which were also shown in cinemas as supporting shorts (or featurettes as they were then called in Britain.) He then had a co-starring role in The Power Game, a popular ATV series of the mid-60's about boardroom shenanigans—it was a personal favourite of Lew Grade's who believed it to be the forerunner of Dallas, but when Channel 4 repeated it in the 80's, in the same archive slot previously occupied by The Avengers and the color episodes of Callan, time had clearly not been kind to it. I think that in "Death's Door," by casting Evans in a similar role to his Power Game one, then killing him off so early, Brian Clemens & Co. were cleverly playing on the contemporary British viewer's expectations, rather as Hitchcock did with Janet Leigh in Psycho.

Evans was also frequently seen in Grade's filmed action series for ITC (just for the record, ATV was the name of the actual network that Grade ran, and ITC was its film-making subsidiary). Notably, he had the title role in The Saint, "The Man Who Gambled With Life" (1968), an episode with several tenuous Avengers connections as several visitor comments have pointed out (and an above average adventure anyway), and was Number Two in The Prisoner, "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling" (1968), the episode constructed to get round Patrick McGoohan's absence while making Ice Station Zebra in Hollywood, although a lot of Evans' scenes were cut after McGoohan had the episode re-edited on his return. But Evans became less visible as the 70's went on, and in his diaries for 1985, Kenneth Williams was "saddened" to find a newspaper report of Evans' death "tucked away in a small paragraph."

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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