Obituary: Glynn Edwards – ‘familiar TV face for three decades’
Reviewing George Bernard Shaw’s Captain Brassbound’s Conversion at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1956, The Stage noted that Glynn Edwards performance in the title role was “an effective study of masculinity”.
It proved a prescient observation. The burly Edwards found fame as the solid and level-headed barman Dave across nearly 100 episodes of hit ITV comedy-drama Minder from 1979 to 1994, eternally caught between George Cole’s comic con man Arthur Daley and his titular bodyguard, Terry, played by Dennis Waterman. Edwards dispensed alcohol and advice to the scheming duo with all the sangfroid of an exhausted parent stoically indulging naughty offspring.
Born in Penang, Malaysia – his father working in the local rubber plantation – he was raised by his grandparents in Hampshire when his mother died in his infancy and later by his father and stepmother in Wiltshire. He began acting in amateur drama in his teenage years before moving to Trinidad to work on a sugar farm and subsequently as a compere on tourist-fodder calypso shows.
Returning to the UK, he abandoned his training at the Central School of Speech and Drama to take a job as stage manager at the King’s Theatre, Gainsborough.
Exasperated by the lack of acting offers, in 1955 he formed his own, short-lived repertory company, touring Call of the Flesh, a risque play about venereal disease. Fellow cast member Yootha Joyce became his first wife in 1958. The pair divorced 10 years later.
Edwards joined Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in 1956 and stayed for more than decade, appearing in many of its biggest successes. He made his West End debut with the company in The Good Soldier Schweik at the Duke of York’s Theatre the same year.
He appeared in two Brendan Behan premieres – The Quare Fellow (Comedy Theatre, 1956) and The Hostage (Wyndham’s Theatre, 1959) – and at Stratford East proved a ripely eccentric Old Mahon in JM Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World and a vivid Macbeth, both in 1957.
Among his final appearances for Littlewood was the Frank Norman and Lionel Bart musical Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, which transferred to the Garrick Theatre in 1960.
Later stage work included Brian Phelan’s The Signalman’s Apprentice (Nuffield, Southampton, 1986), a 1989 tour of Agatha Christie’s Towards Zero and as Long John Silver in the Tyne and Wear Theatre Company’s Treasure Island on tour in 1990.
Having made his television debut in 1957, he amassed more than 110 screen credits with early successes including the husband to Nyree Dawn Porter’s Madame Bovary (1964), and the rural family drama The Newcomers (1965-6).
Edwards was a familiar small-screen face for three decades, as likely to be seen in Z Cars, Dixon of Dock Green and The Avengers as in Steptoe and Son, Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
Notable film appearances included Zulu (1964), The Ipcress File (1965), Get Carter (1971) and as Hare to Derren Nesbitt’s Burke in 1972’s Burke and Hare.
Glynn Edwards was born on February 2, 1931 and died on May 23, aged 87. He is survived by his third wife and a son from his second marriage to the actor Christine Pilgrim.
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