Michael Bates (actor)

Michael Bates

Bates as Cyril Blamire in Last of the Summer Wine
Born Michael Hammond Bates
(1920-12-04)4 December 1920
Jhansi, United Provinces,
British India
Died 11 January 1978(1978-01-11) (aged 57)
Chelsea, London, England
Cause of death Cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1953–1977
Children 3

Michael Hammond Bates[1] (4 December 1920 – 11 January 1978) was an English actor.


Bates was born in Jhansi, United Provinces, British India (now India) to English parents Sarah (née Clarke) (1896-1982, daughter of William Hammond Walker of Congleton, Cheshire) and Harry Stuart Bates, CSI (1893–1985, son of Albert Bates, of Congleton, Cheshire),[2][3] a civil servant. He was educated at Uppingham School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. Bates served in Burma as a Major with the Brigade of Gurkhas before his discharge at the end of World War II.[4]

In 1953, while an ensemble member with the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, Bates appeared in Richard III and All's Well That Ends Well. In 1954, he married Margaret M. J. Chisholm. They had three children: Rupert (who went on to also be an actor), Camilla; and Jolyon.[5]

In 1956 Bates appeared in Hotel Paradiso, which starred Alec Guinness, at the Winter Garden Theatre in London. On radio, he played a variety of characters in the BBC's long-running comedy series The Navy Lark, including Able Seaman Ginger, Lt. Bates, Rear Admiral Ironbridge, the Padre, and Captain Ignatius Aloysius Atchison.

Bates appeared in many UK television series including Last of the Summer Wine from 1973 to 1975 as Cyril Blamire and It Ain't Half Hot Mum from 1974 to 1977 as Rangi Ram. Despite being born in India and fluent in Urdu, his role as Rangi Ram caused some controversy, that Bates was performing in blackface. "All Michael Bates [...] wore was a light tan", protested Jimmy Perry in a 2013 interview with the journalist Neil Clark.[6]

Bates's film roles include Bedazzled (1967) as the flirtatious police inspector, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967) as Mr. McGregor, Battle of Britain (1969) as Warrant Officer Warwick, Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) as a Lance-corporal, Patton (1970) as Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery (to whom he bore a striking resemblance), Frenzy (1972) by Alfred Hitchcock, and the Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange (1971). On stage, he played Shakespearean roles at Stratford and at the Old Vic and made a big impression as Inspector Truscott in the West End production of Loot by Joe Orton in 1966.

Bates died of cancer in Chelsea, London on 11 January 1978 aged 57.[7]

Selected television roles

Year Title Role
1973–1975 Last of the Summer Wine Cyril Blamire
1974–1977 It Ain't Half Hot Mum Bearer Rangi Ram

Selected filmography


  1. "findmypast.co.uk". Search.findmypast.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  2. Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1969, pg. 224
  3. Who Was Who: A Companion to Who's Who, 2002, pg. 50
  4. Colin Clarke. "Why classic 'Hot' series may never be screened again… – Melvyn Hayes | ilife". Visitilife.com. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  5. Who's Who in the Theatre, 1977, pg. 391
  6. Neil Clark "Jimmy Perry turns 90: a tribute to the genius behind Dad's Army", telegraph.co.uk, 20 September 2013
  7. Midgley, Dominic. "It Ain't Half Hot Mum: Why are BBC bosses so nervous about making show available again | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
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