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Michael Latimer

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Michael Latimer was a multifaceted man of the theatre, winning hearts and applause on two continents as actor, revue artist, director, producer and writer.

Born in Calcutta on September 6, 1941, he was educated at The Leys school in Cambridge. On leaving, he went to RADA, where, at the end of a two-year course, agents vied to sign him up. While there, his cabaret career started, and continued very happily with Ian Hamilton and Julian Holloway being his revue companions. They were a huge success. He then replaced Peter Cook in Beyond the Fringe when the original four went to New York. Seasons in repertory followed – Birmingham Rep being a particularly happy time.

His dark good looks and incandescent charm stood him in good stead as an aid to a successful acting career. The theatre was always his first love, but he was immensely popular on TV and in the movies.

Throughout the sixties and seventies he played lead parts in practically all the big series of the time – notably The Avengers, The Professionals, The Sweeney, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Van der Valk. After many episodes of Van der Valk, for a calculated change, he became stage director of the first Johnny Nash and Bob Marley tour of the UK – a remarkable experience.

He married Australian painter Sheena Bancks and in 1980 they moved to Sydney. He continued his successful acting career but then changed lanes and became a theatre and TV director and later a producer with his Bedrock Production Company. One of his favourite projects was writing and producing, with immense success, The Ginger Meggs film.

He wrote for Australian soap operas and directed commercials there. Back in the UK, he was proud of directing Paddywack, which brought James Nesbitt into prominence. He was a prolific playwright and fostered young talent in drama schools both in the UK and Australia.

Throughout his youth, Michael was a brilliant sportsman, being the one-mile champion in the Public Schools athletic competition, and played rugby for the English Schoolboys Team. He remained a huge sports enthusiast, was a devoted member of the MCC and organised his own cricket team, the Bystanders, which had a more than colourful history.

Michael, whose wife predeceased him after 42 years together, died on June 25. He is survived by his children Rupert and Miranda, his sister Patricia, brother Geoffrey as well as Amanda Weldon, the companion of his latter years.

Roger Hammond

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