Actor, playwright and musician Raymond Sargent gained fame in recent years for scripting and a series of one-man shows which toured the UK. He dramatised The Signalman by Charles Dickens and The Three Strangers by Thomas Hardy, which he first performed in 1990. He eventually combined the two pieces to form Two Victorian Tales which he took to arts centres and theatres nationwide.
Born Leslie Raymond Thomas on October 2, 1952, in Poole, Dorset, he trained at Mountview Theatre School where he developed an interest in music. He learned to play the decant recorder as well as several other instruments. With his girlfriend – and future wife – Julia, he attended ceilidhs and eventually became a sought after country dance caller.
Sargent’s acting credits included The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Liverpool Everyman, 1968) and he also appeared at the Nuffield Southampton in Rhinoceros and The Beaux Strategem. He toured in Tomfoolery, A Bedfull of Foreigners, The Hollow Crown and in 1995 got the part of playing lead saxophone in a 15 month tour of The Buddy Holly Story in which he also played Buddy’s manager.
He was a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio’s Poetry Please and his TV credits included Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven, The Two Ronnies, as well as several commercials and training films.
His other one-man shows included Amateurs All (about Lawrence of Arabia) and The Warrior and the Poet. Sargent also started and hosted the Speakeasy Club in Wimborne Town Hall, where people could celebrate the spoken word.
He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August and died on March 9, aged 55. His funeral was attended by more than 250 people including actors, musicians and dancers as well as representatives of the Thomas Hardy Society. Raymond Sargent is survived by his widow Julia and daughter Laura.