Guest Actor Biography
by Stephen La Riviere
Although born in England, David Graham trained as an actor in New York. Since returning to England the actor has appeared in numerous guest parts in famous television shows, though it was his role in an episode of Martin Kane, Private Investigator which would be a turning point in his life. There he met Gerry Anderson, a man who was not only to become one of the most famous British producers ever, but also a man whose puppet shows would become internationally famous.
However, when Graham met Anderson in 1957, Anderson and his newly formed company, A.P. Films, were just starting to make a rather primitive puppet show entitled Twizzle. A couple of years later, Anderson and his team were about embark on a series which would be a landmark for them as it would be the first series to feature their new, more advanced puppets. The show was to become the puppet Western, Four Feathered Falls. When it came to casting, Anderson needed a range of actors who could provide numerous voices. He remembered Graham and cast him as Grandpa Twink. The series marked the beginning of a working relationship that would last for many years.
When Four Feathered Falls came to an end after one series, A.P. Films created a new programme entitled Supercar. Graham was retained and provided the voices of Doctor Beaker and arch villain Zarin. Gerry and his wife Sylvia continued to produce new more advanced series such as Fireball XL5 and the first British series to be filmed entirely in colour, Stingray.
1965 saw both Graham and the Andersons hit the big time. The latest series filmed in Supermarionation was Thunderbirds in which Graham provided the voice for one half of one of the most famous double-acts in television: Graham played the voice of Aloysius Parker alongside Sylvia Anderson who voiced Lady Penelope. His catchphrase, "Yus m'lady," became known all over the world.
"I think Gerry had me down for the part already" Graham said in an interview. "Gerry often went to a pub for lunch called 'The King's Arms' in Cookham. One day he came to me and he said that there was a waiter at the pub, and that he'd like me to come for lunch as he thought that this waiter, who's name was Arthur, had the perfect voice for Parker. So I came for lunch when a lovely grey-haired old gentleman came over and said, 'Would you like to see the wine list sir?' I looked at Gerry and Gerry looked at me. We both kept Arthur talking and it turned out that he had 'worked for 'is majesty at Windsor Castle.' It interested me the way he kept dropping his aitches and putting them somewhere else. When Gerry and I returned to the studio we now had the voice for Parker."
Graham not only voiced Parker, but also Brains, Gordon Tracy and Kyrano, as well as other numerous guest characters. "Often with very intelligent people, they think so quickly that they can't get the words out in time, so they tend to stutter. I used this when it came to creating a voice for Brains' Graham recalled recently."
Thunderbirds marked the last time that Graham worked with the Andersons on a full-time basis, although he did return to provide voices for the two Thunderbird films, Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbird Six, as well as voicing guest characters in an episode of the final Supermarionation series The Secret Service.
Graham did not work exclusively for the Andersons; in 1963 he appeared in The Avengers in the Venus Smith episode "Man in the Mirror" alongside his Stingray co-star Ray Barett. Other notable work included appearances in Doctor Who where he became, along with Peter Hawkins, the first person to voice the Daleks. In 1966 he returned to Who, appearing in "The Gunfighters" as barman Charlie alongside Thunderbirds co-star Shane Rimmer. He did make one final appearance in Who in 1979 as Professor Theodore Karensky in "City of Death."
With the recent revival of Thunderbirds, Graham has found plenty of engagements including guest appearances at conventions, as well as reprising his role as Brains in a new documentary entitled The Brains Behind Thunderbirds.
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