For more than 30 years, Edward Kelsey’s voice was one of the most familiar and best-loved on radio. As The Archers’ workshy Joe Grundy, he developed the cantankerous character into a figure of grouchy, comic, cartoon-like immediacy, finding unexpected depth and pathos along the way.
The radio serial came to dominate a career that began in 1954 when he graduated from the Royal Academy of Music’s speech and drama course with the Carleton Hobbs award to secure a six-month placement with BBC Radio’s Drama Repertory company.
He spent several years with Guildford Rep, appearing in Joseph O’Connor’s first play, the Irish Civil War drama The Iron Harp (1955), as Polonius (Hamlet, 1960) and in Ray Rigby’s The Boy With the Meat Axe in 1958. He made his television debut the same year and went on to appear in popular shows of the day over more than four decades including Z-Cars, The Avengers, three series of Doctor Who and The Vicar of Dibley. More recently, he provided the voices for Colonel K and Baron Silas Greenback in the animated children’s series Danger Mouse and The Thing in Terry Pratchett’s Truckers.
His later theatre work was the exception to the rule, although he was a memorable Israel Hands to Donald Wolfit’s Long John Silver at the Mermaid Theatre in 1966 and wrote the touring stage show The Archers Pageant in 1991 to mark the radio institution’s 40th anniversary.
Edward Harry Kelsey was born on June 4, 1930, and died on April 23, aged 88.