Friday, 27 June 2014

Godspeed Francis Matthews

Francis Matthews, who provided the voice of Captain Scarlet in Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, appeared in such Hammer productions as The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), and Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), and starred in the TV show Paul Temple, died 14 June 2014 at the age of 86.

Francis Matthews was born on 2 September 1927 in York. He  went to St George's RC Primary School in York and then  St Michael's Jesuit College in Leeds. As a young man he got a job working as an assistant stage manager at the Theatre Royal in Leeds and also made his acting debut there. He acted at the Leeds Rep before serving in the Royal Navy. After being demobilised from the Navy, he appeared in various stage productions and spent two years at the Oxford Playhouse. Mr. Matthews made his television debut as Ronald Gilchrist in the television series St. Ives in 1955. He made his film debut in Bhowani Junction in 1956.

In the late Fifties he appeared on the mini-series My Friend Charles. He also appeared on such TV programmes as ITV Television Playhouse, The New Adventures of Charlie Chan, O.S.S., The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Vise, Interpol Calling, Biggles, and The World of Tim Frazer. He appeared in such films as Small Hotel (1957), The Mark of the Hawk (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) , A Woman Possessed (1958), I Only Arsked! (1958), Corridors of Blood (1958), and Sentenced for Life (1960).

In the Sixties Mr. Matthews provided the voice of Captain Scarlet on Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. He was a regular on the TV programmes The Dark Island and A Little Big Business, and the lead on Paul Temple. He appeared on such TV shows as Richard the Lionheart, Harpers West One, Hancock, Dixon of Dock Green, The Human Jungle, Z Cars, The Saint, The Avengers, and Out of the Unknown. He appeared in such films as The Treasure of Monte Cristo (1961), The Pursuers (1961). The Battleaxe (1961), The Lamp in Assassin Mews (1962), Nine Hours to Rama (1963), Bitter Harvest (1963), A Stitch in Time (1963), Murder Ahoy (1964), The Intelligence Men (1965), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), That Riviera Touch (1966), and Taste of Excitement (1970).

In the Seventies Francis Matthews was a regular on such TV programmes as Trinity Tales, Middlemen, A Roof Over My Head, and Don't Forget to Write!. He appeared in the film 5 donne per l'assassino (1974). In the Eighties appeared on the show Tears Before Bedtime. In the Naughts he had a recurring role on Heartbeat, The Royal, and All About George. From the Eighties into the Naughts Mr. Matthews guest starred on the shows Crown Court, Bunch of Five, Taggart, The Detectives, Jonathan Creek, and Beautiful People. He appeared in the films Do Not Disturb (1999) and Run for Your Wife (2012).

Francis Matthews was a close friend to the comedy team of Morecambe and Wise, and appeared on their show multiple times. He had also appeared in their films The Intelligence Men (1965) and That Riviera Touch (1966).

There can be little doubt that Francis Matthews was blessed with an incredible voice. It was smooth, sophisticated, and urbane. Indeed, Mr. Matthews was capable imitating Cary Grant very convincingly, a talent he used both for the voice of Captain Scarlet and in the documentary Cary Grant Comes Home. The flexibility of Francis Matthews' voice and his talent as an actor allowed him to play a number of different roles, from scientists (The Revenge of Frankenstein and The Avengers episode "Mission... Highly Improbable") to knights (both medieval and otherwise, once in an episode and Richard the Lionheart and again in The Hellfire Club) to businessmen (most notably Stanley Binns in the TV series Middlemen). While Francis Matthews was best known for two heroic roles (Captain Scarlet and Paul Temple), he did play his share of villains, appearing as such on My Friend Charles and The Avengers episode Mission... Highly Improbable". Over all Francis Matthews was a very versatile actor. While well known for his appearances in Hammer Horrors he also starred in a series of situation comedies in the Seventies, and did well in both. While Francis Matthews might be best remembered as the voice of Captain Scarlet and as amateur detective Paul Temple, his career consisted of a number of diverse roles in which he performed well.

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