I was sorry to learn of the death yesterday of Warren Clarke, who will be remembered fondly by many readers of this blog as the actor who played Andy Dalziel in the BBC TV series based on Reginald Hill's wonderful books. He was 67, and quite apart from having the distinction of being a lifelong Manchester City supporter, he was a fine (and surprisingly versatile) actor. I say 'surprisingly' versatile, because his formidable physical presence and craggy looks meant that he was a natural for 'tough' roles. But his approach was nuanced (perhaps all that suffering inflicted by City over the years had an effect), and his list of credits was impressive.
He appeared in Coronation Street and that wonderful show The Avengers early in his career, and worked alongside Clint Eastwood, as well as featuring in A Clockwork Orange. His crime series credits include another show that was a favourite of mine as a teenager, Softly, Softly, and (like most other leading British actors) he turned up in Midsomer on one occasion.
I first took real notice of him when he starred in Nice Work, based on a book by David Lodge, as a crusty businessman confronted by a feminist academic, played by Haydn Gwynne. This wasn't a crime show, but it was memorable, because not enough books and TV shows, in my opinion, explore working life in the business world adequately, and Nice Work was superbly done.
It's nearly 20 years ago that Reg Hill invited me to the preview of the first episode of Dalziel and Pascoe, A Clubbable Woman. After the disappointment of the Hale and Pace version of his work, he was much more hopeful that a script by Alan Plater and a cast including Warren Clarke would be true to his stories. I trooped along to the RSA in London, and was really impressed. It was clear right from the outset that the series would be a success. That was the only time I encountered Warren Clarke in person, and he seemed excited by the potential of the character. From 1996 to 2007 he played Andy with gusto, making his name and Reg's. I remember that occasion vividly, and I'll remember Warren Clarke as an actor who was talented, and lucky, enough to find the perfect role and make the very best of it.