Kenneth MacDonald (English actor)

This article is about the British actor. For the American actor, see Kenneth MacDonald (American actor).
Kenneth MacDonald
Born (1950-11-20)20 November 1950
Manchester, England
Died 6 August 2001(2001-08-06) (aged 50)
Hawaii, United States
Cause of death Heart Attack
Occupation Actor
Years active 1972–2001
Spouse(s) Sheila MacDonald (?-2001) (his death)
Children 2
Parent(s) Bill MacDonald

Kenneth MacDonald (20 November 1950 – 6 August 2001) was an English actor who was best known for the parts of Gunner Nobby Clark in It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Mike Fisher in Only Fools and Horses.[1]

Personal life

He was born in Manchester, England, the son of Scottish heavyweight wrestling champion Bill MacDonald, who died of kidney failure at the age of 43, when Kenneth was 13.

He attended St Anthony's preparatory school in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, and went on to St Bernardine's Franciscan College in Buckingham, where he took part in school productions, notably The Business of Good Government, in which he played Herod, and Arsenic and Old Lace. Ken left school at eighteen to help support his mother Emily. He took a job at a Kellogg's cornflakes factory. During night shifts he would perform Hamlet and other Shakespeare plays that he had learned at school, earning the nickname "Hamlet". MacDonald met his wife Sheila while he was appearing in panto in Crewe in 1976. She was the costume designer at the time. They had two children: William (b. 1986) and Charlotte (b. 1989).

Kenneth MacDonald died shortly after midnight on 6 August 2001 at the age of just 50, after suffering a massive heart attack, while on holiday with his family in Hawaii.[1] Seven days after his death, MacDonald's guest appearance on BBC TV drama Merseybeat was aired, with the episode dedicated to his memory. He was buried ten days later on 16 August 2001 at Teddington Cemetery in Teddington in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.[2]


In 1975 he appeared in Last of the Summer Wine, and then a year later he moved to London and joined the National Youth Theatre. His first television role was Benny in Softly, Softly in 1972.

Macdonald featured regularly in the BBC sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum, running from 3 January 1974 to 3 September 1981. It was set in the jungles of Burma and India during World War II and MacDonald played the character Gunner "Nobby" Clark, a member of a Royal Artillery Concert Party.

When he landed the part of pub landlord Mike in the Only Fools and Horses episode "Who's a Pretty Boy?" in 1983, it was initially assumed to be a one-episode role. However, the character made regular appearances until Christmas 1996, when the show seemingly ended.

MacDonald had also appeared in the Granada Television Rentals television adverts of the late 1970s and made a cameo appearance in one episode of Goodnight Sweetheart, starring his Only Fools and Horses co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, with MacDonald playing Mr Jones. He also appeared in an episode of The Thin Blue Line as a club owner. In 1996 he played DI McCluskey in Crocodile Shoes II alongside Jimmy Nail. In 1992, MacDonald had a brief appearance on the Channel 4 soap Brookside as the racist owner of the petrol station, George Webb.

His last role was as Stephen Pearce in The Last Detective, which was aired just after his death, later in 2001.

His character Mike was not killed off in Only Fools and Horses, which was revived for three episodes in 2001, in which he is said to be serving five years in prison for embezzling the brewery (to which Mike pleaded guilty to all charges).[3]


External links

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