Guest Actor Biography
Page 50 of 127


Richard Hurndall

Farrer, Legacy of Death

by Pete Stampede and Alan Hayes

All Doctor Who fans are aware of Richard Hurndall as a footnote in the programme's history, as in the 1983 reunion special The Five Doctors, Hurndall took over the late William Hartnell's role of the First Doctor. Curiously, Hurndall himself died on 13th April 1984, a matter of months after the program's transmission. 

Born 3rd November 1910 in Darlington, England, Hurndall generally played in roles older than his years. He entered the profession in 1930, making his stage debut after training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). During the Thirties, Richard played in repertory theater and by 1940 was performing in Shakespeare productions at Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1946, he featured in a stage production of Noel Coward's Private Lives. Between 1943 and 1952, Richard was in the BBC radio drama repertory company, and subsequently, in 1959, he played Sherlock Holmes in a BBC radio adaptation of The Sign of Four.

Hurndall made his first television appearance in 1946 and, at the time of Legacy of Death, was appearing as a gangland boss in Spindoe (1968), a Cockney villain series with Ray McAnally in the title role. Other guest appearances included the thoroughly politically incorrect but hilarious Steptoe and Son episode "Any Old Iron?" (1970), as a deeply camp antique dealer with an eye for Harold Steptoe. "Arold! Come back on the straight and narrow!" wails the horrible old dad. 

Aside from his Avengers appearance, Hurndall also figures in several other genre shows, including Callan, The Persuaders! and Jason King. His 1981 appearance in the Blake's 7 episode, "Assassin" is reputed to have lead directly to his casting in Doctor Who.

His films included Dick Lester's Royal Flash (1975), Follow That Camel (1967) which was later assimilated into the Carry On canon, and the Amicus Horror, I, Monster (1971), a hastily retitled version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Strange But True: Hurndall's middle name was apparently 'Gibbon'. Incredible that he never made an appearance in the gibbon-obsessed comedy series, The Goodies!

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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