Four years spent as a Biggles-type airline adventurer in the BBC’s Garry Halliday (1959-62) marked the high point in the career of Terence Longdon. But there was much more to his suave theatrical ability. To be able to number Ben Hur and four Carry On films in his movie credentials speaks volumes.
In the Second World War, Longdon joined the Fleet Air Arm and, after he was posted to a naval air station near Blackpool, he took part in a camp concert. It was at that point that he decided to make acting his career.
After training at RADA, he made his stage debut at the Lyceum, Sheffield, at the age of 26. West End work followed with two John Gielgud productions, Euripides’ Medea and a comedy, Treasure Hunt, together with Terence Rattigan’s play about Alexander the Great, Adventure Story. Shakespearean plays filled the next few years – three seasons with the Shakespeare Memorial Company, during which he played his favourite role, Prince Hal, in Henry IV Part I. He took part in a tour of Australia and New Zealand with the company and then, in 1954, joined an American tour with the Old Vic company.
Back in Britain, he received excellent notices for his portrayal of the lover of his crippled brother’s wife in Somerset Maugham’s The Sacred Flame (1967). The Savoy Theatre became his home for the next few years. Firstly, he appeared with Felicity Kendal in Minor Murder and then he enjoyed a three-year run playing the eligible lover in William Douglas-Home’s The Secretary Bird. Although his stage work continued, television began to occupy him more and more. Besides the 50 episodes of Garry Halliday, he was cast as Mike Baldwin’s business associate in Coronation Street. His final roles included appearances in the BBC’s Arthur Lowe sitcom, Potter.
Terence Longdon, who was born on May 14, 1922, died on April 23, aged 88.
Richard Anthony Baker
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