Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Late Great Freddie Jones

Actor Freddie Jones died on July 9 2019 at the age of 91. He appeared in such films as Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and Dune (1984), and he was a regular on the soap opera Emmerdale. He also made a notable guest appearance on The Avengers, becoming the second of six men to play John Steed (more on that later).

Freddie Jones was born in Dresden, a suburb of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, on September 12 1927. He attended grammar school in Longston. He had his first taste of acting while very young, appearing when he was a Boy Scout in at a show at the old Theatre Royal in Hanley. After leaving school, he worked for a brief time at the home appliance store Creda in Blythe Bridge. Afterwards he worked for ten years as a lab assistant in a chemical factory in Tamworth. He began acting as an amateur at the old Shelton rep and other companies in the Stoke region.

Freddie Jones was in his thirties when he won a scholarship to the Rose Bruford Training College of Speech and Drama. He spent some time with the Lincoln repertory before he made his London debut with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Afore Night Come at the Arts Theatre in 1962. On stage he also appeared in a revival of The Birthday Party in 1963, Lower Depths at the Aldwych Theatre in 1964, and The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade in 1964. In 1965 he made his only appearance on Broadway, reprising his role in The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. In 1980 he played Sir in The Dresser.

Freddie Jones had an extensive career in television. He made his television debut in the two-part TV movie Androcles and the Lion in 1960. He played Count Muffat in the mini-series Nana and Claudius in the mini-series The Caesars. Mr. Jones also appeared in the mini-series The Victorians and Germinal. He played Ben Gunn in the series Treasure Island. Freddie Jones made several guest appearances on TV in the Sixties, the most notable being in The Avengers episode "Who's Who???" In the episode he played a criminal named Basil whose mind is switched with John Steed, so that for most of the episode it was actually Freddie Jones who was playing John Steed and Patrick Macnee who was playing Basil. This made Freddie Jones the second man to play Steed (the others besides Patrick Macnee being Simon Oates in the 1971 stage play The Avengers, Donald Monat in the 1971 South African radio drama The Avengers, Ralph Fiennes in the 1998 movie The Avengers, and Julian Wadham in the recent Big Finish audio series The Avengers – The Lost Episodes). In the Sixties Freddie Jones also guest starred on such shows as It Happened Like This, Z Cars, Maupassant, Festival, ITV Play of the Week, The Wednesday Play, Our Man at St. Mark's, The Liars, Theatre 625, The Baron, Half Hour Story, Contrasts, BBC Show of the Week, Cold Comfort Farm, The Saint, ITV Playhouse, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Omnibus, Menace, and The Main Chance.

In the Seventies Freddie Jones was the Storyteller on the TV series Jackanory. He had the role of Mr. Chaffery on Love and Mr. Lewisham, the Mayor on The Government Inspector, Sir George Uproar in The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Bertrand de Born on The Devil's Own, Selwyn Raven in The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris, and Socrates in The Greeks: A Journey in Space and Time. He appeared in the mini-series Fall of Eagles, Children of the Stones, Nicholas Nickleby, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Fall of Eagles, Pennies from Heaven, and Bull Week. He guest starred on the shows The Goodies, His and Hers, The Protectors, The Adventurer, Ooh La La!, Armchair 30, Bowler, Armchair Theatre, Childhood, Late Night Drama, ITV Sunday Night Drama, This Week, Centre Play, Thriller, Shades of Greene, Space: 1999, Brensham People, Just William, The Galton & Simpson Playhouse, Three Piece Suite, The Duchess of Duke Street, Van der Valk, Target, Hazell, BBC Play of the Month, and Strangers.

In the Eighties Freddie Jones was a regular on the TV programmes The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, The District Nurse, Vanity Fair, How to Be Cool, and Sob Sisters. He guest starred on the shows Theatre Box, Travelling Man, Bulman, Summer Season, Theatre Night, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Boon, TECX, Hale and Pace, and Screenplay. He appeared in the miniseries The Paper Man.

In the Nineties Mr. Jones appeared in the mini-series Hotel Room, Mr. Wroe's Virgins, No Bananas, Neverwhere, Drover's Gold, and The Life and Crimes of William Palmer. He guest starred on the shows Inspector Morse, Screen One, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Lovejoy, Mother's Ruin, Just William, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, The Bill, Dalziel and Pascoe, Duck Patrol, Sunburn, The Passion, and The League of Gentleman.

It was in the Naughts that Freddie Jones began playing the long running role of Sandy Thomas on Emmerdale. He would remain on the show for 13 years and Sandy Thomas would be the final role he would play. He appeared in the mini-series Casanova. He guest starred on the shows Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), The Royal, Midsomer Murders, Casualty, and Heartbeat. In the Teens he continued to appear on Emmerdale.

Freddie Jones also had a fairly successful movie career. He made his movie debut in Accident in 1967. That same year he reprised his role as Cucurucu in the film version of Marat/Sade. In the Sixties he also appeared in the films Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), The Bliss of Miss Blossom (1968), Otley (1969), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Doctor in Trouble (1970), The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), and Goodbye Gemini (1970).

In the Seventies Mr. Jones appeared in the movies Assault (1971), Mr. Horatio Knibbles (1971), Kidnapped (1971), Anthony and Cleopatra (1972), Sitting Target (1972), Son of Dracula (1973), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), Juggernaut (1974), Vampira (1974), Never Too Young to Rock (1976), Zulu Dawn (1979), and The Elephant Man (1980).

In the Eighties Freddie Jones appeared in the movies Firefox (1982), Captain Stirrick (1982), Krull (1983), E la nave va (1983), Firestarter (1984), Dune (1984), Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Comrades (1986), Maschenka (1987), Consuming Passions (1988), Erik the Viking (1989), and Wild at Heart (1990). He was the voice of Dalben in the animated film The Black Cauldron (1985).

In the Nineties he appeared in the films Poslední motýl (1991), Spies Inc. (1992), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993), Prince of Jutland (1994), Die unendliche Geschichte III: Rettung aus Phantasien (1994), What Rats Won't Do (1998), My Life So Far (1999), House! (2000), and Married 2 Malcolm (2000).

In the Naughts  Freddie Jones appeared in the films The Count of Monte Cristo (200), Puckoon (2002), Ladies in Lavendar (2004), The Libertine (2004), Caught in the Act (2008), and Come On Eileen (2010). He was the narrator for the film By Our Selves (2015).

Freddie Jones was a phenomenally talented actor. A perfect example of his talent is The Avengers episode "Who's Who???." As mentioned earlier, in the episode he played Basil, a criminal whose mind is switched with John Steed early in the plot. Mr. Jones not only played Basil perfectly, but he was also extremely convincing as Steed. In fact, if not for the fact that Freddie Jones didn't exactly look like Steed, he could have easily played him on a regular basis. Of course, Mr. Jones did much more than guest star in an Avengers episode. He played the ill-fated asylum director Professor Richter in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. He played Thufir Hawat, Mentat and Master of Assassins, in Dune. He was the entirely clueless Harald the Missionary in Erik the Viking. Over the years Mr. Jones appeared in everything from Hammer Horrors to comedies to dramas to science fiction. He did all of it very well.

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