Roy Kinnear

Not to be confused with Roy Muir Kinnear.
Roy Kinnear

Publicity photo of Kinnear possibly taken in the 1980s
Born Roy Mitchell Kinnear
(1934-01-08)8 January 1934
Wigan, Lancashire, England
Died 20 September 1988(1988-09-20) (aged 54)
Madrid, Spain
Cause of death Heart attack, brought on by injures sustained after falling from a horse
Occupation Actor
Years active 1955–1988
Spouse(s) Carmel Cryan (m. 1970; his death 1988)
Children 3; including Rory Kinnear

Roy Mitchell Kinnear (8 January 1934 20 September 1988) was a British actor. He is known for his roles in films directed by Richard Lester; including Algernon in Help! (1965); Clapper in How I Won the War (1967); and Planchet in The Three Musketeers (1973), reprising the latter role in the 1974 and 1989 sequels. He is also known for playing Henry Salt in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Kinnear made his stage debut in 1955, and came to prominence in the BBC satirical comedy series That Was the Week That Was in 1962. He went on to appear in numerous British television comedy programmes; including The Dick Emery Show (1979–81), and the sitcoms, Man About the House (1974–75), George and Mildred (1976–79), and Cowboys (1980–81).

Early life

Kinnear was born in Wigan, Lancashire, the son of Annie Smith (née Durie) and Roy Muir Kinnear.[1] His father was a dual international in rugby union and league, having played for Scotland and Great Britain national rugby league team international, making one Lions appearance and three for Other Nationalities, and scoring 81 tries in 184 games for Wigan; he collapsed and died while playing rugby union with the RAF in 1942, at age 38. Scotland Rugby League have named their Student Player of the Year Award after him.

Kinnear was educated at George Heriot's School, in Edinburgh. At the age of 17, he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; national service interrupted his studies.


In the 1950s Kinnear began a career in repertory theatre when he appeared in a show at Newquay. In 1959 he joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, performing in both the 1960 play and 1963 film of Sparrows Can't Sing. Prior to joining Littlewood's workshop, he was a member of the cast of Perth Repertory Theatre. The cast also included Valerie Lush, Jane Cain (the original voice of the Speaking Clock) and Russell Hunter. He continued to work on stage and radio before gaining national attention as a participant in the television show That Was The Week That Was.

Kinnear was Stanley Baker's original choice to play VC recipient Frederick Hitch in the film Zulu. Baker did not know Kinnear's name, and told the casting director to get "the actor from That Was the Week That Was whose surname begins with K." David Kernan, also a cast member of that program, was summoned and Baker chose to hire him rather than search for Kinnear.

Kinnear later appeared in many films and television shows, including Help!, Doctor at Large, Man About the House, George and Mildred, The Dick Emery Show (as Gaylord's long-suffering father), The Avengers (three episodes) and starred in Cowboys, a sitcom about builders. His best-known films are those he made with director and close friend Richard Lester: Help!, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, How I Won the War, The Bed-Sitting Room, and the Musketeer series of the 1970s and 1980s.

He appeared with Christopher Lee in the Hammer Horror film Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970). Also in 1970, he played Mr. Perkins, Melody's father in Waris Hussein's Melody, a puppy love story. He played the father of spoiled rich girl Veruca Salt in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), an adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

He guest starred in The Goodies' episode "Rome Antics" as the Roman Emperor, and in the BBC's Ripping Yarns episode "Escape From Stalag Luft 112B" (1977) as the fearsome German Sergeant Vogel.

He narrated and provided voices for the stop-motion children's television show Bertha. He appeared in two music videos for Mike + The Mechanics ("All I Need Is a Miracle" and "Taken In") as the band's manager; in the former he was reunited with his Help! co-star Victor Spinetti.

He narrated Towser and Bertha, voiced Pipkin in the 1978 film Watership Down and voiced Texas Pete's henchman Bulk in SuperTed (also with Victor Spinetti, who voiced the evil Texas Pete). Kinnear appeared regularly on the stage. In later life he appeared in productions such as The Travails of Sancho Panza (playing the title role), and in The Cherry Orchard, in 1985.

In 1987, Kinnear starred in the ITV sitcom Hardwicke House, but the show caused such a storm of protest it was cancelled after just two episodes.

His final completed roles were in A Man for All Seasons (1988) a made-for-television film directed by and starring Charlton Heston, John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave, as a patient in the BBC1 hospital drama Casualty, and a voice role as Mump in The Princess and the Goblin, which was released in 1991, three years after his sudden death in September 1988. Following his death, the Casualty episode was postponed. It finally aired in August 1989.[2]

Personal life

Kinnear was married to actress Carmel Cryan. They had three children, including TV and theatre actor Rory and casting director Kirsty. Their elder daughter, Karina, was born with cerebral palsy.[3]


On 19 September 1988, Kinnear fell from a horse during the making of The Return of the Musketeers in Toledo, Spain, and sustained a broken pelvis and internal bleeding. He was taken to hospital in Madrid but died the next day from a heart attack, brought on by his injuries. He was 54 years old.[4] He is buried in East Sheen Cemetery.

After his death, Kinnear's family sued the production company and the film's director. In 1991, they received a £650,000 settlement. They later went on to demand an official investigation into the level of medical care Kinnear had received in Spain. Director Richard Lester quit the film business as a direct result of Kinnear's death.[5]


In May 1994, the Roy Kinnear Trust, which was inspired by his daughter Karina, was founded to help improve the life of young adults with physical and mental disabilities.



Theatre (partial)


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