As a recent graduate of LAMDA, Douglas Fielding expected to play fresh-faced young bobby on the beat PC Quilley for just three months when he joined the BBC’s prime-time police drama Z-Cars in 1969. He remained for the best part of a decade until the show’s end in 1978, appearing in more than 340 episodes.
He returned to uniform in 1985 for a two-year spell as Detective Sergeant Quick in EastEnders – the fledgling soap’s first regular policeman – and later proved to be “the perfect enigmatic detective” on tour in Francis Durbridge’s The Small Hours in 1991.
His Z-Cars fame was belatedly recalled in the unlikely setting of a ChuckleVision episode in 1999.
Fielding had made his professional stage debut while still a LAMDA student in the musical hall homage The Palace of Varieties at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, and his first radio appearance in JB Priestley’s Eden End in 1967.
Two Alan Plater pieces followed: Hop, Step and Jump at Library Theatre, Scarborough in 1967 and the musical Charlie Came to Our Town, co-written with Alex Glasgow, at Harrogate Opera House in 1968.
Maintaining a stage presence throughout his television career, Fielding’s regular tours included Frederick Knott’s Dial M for Murder (1973), an acclaimed villain in Durbridge’s first play, Suddenly at Home (1978), and an admired Macbeth for Vanessa Ford in 1983.
He worked frequently with Ford over the next decade, appearing as the titular Henry IV (1983), Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet and Henry VIII in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons in 1984 – both of which he also directed.
In between, he was seen at the National Theatre in minor roles in Peter Wood’s 1983 revival of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals and Ronald Eyre’s 1984 staging of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan with Frances de la Tour.
In 1992 he provided a vivid Scrooge for Ford in A Christmas Carol and was a suitably self-satisfied Toad in The Wind in the Willows (1994) before spending a year in The Mousetrap at St Martin’s Theatre.
Later theatre included supporting US television star David Soul on tour in Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert’s comedy-thriller Catch Me if You Can (1995) and Jeffrey Archer’s short-lived courtroom drama The Accused at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2000.
Among other television appearances were guest roles in popular shows over four decades including Softly, Softly, Callan, Blake’s 7, The Bill and a brief second visit to Walford in EastEnders in 2000. His small-screen swansong came in a two-part Silent Witness story in 2018.
Douglas Fielding was born in London on June 6, 1946 and died on June 26, aged 73. He is survived by five children and a sister.