William Mervyn

William Mervyn
Born William Mervyn Pickwoad
(1912-01-03)3 January 1912
Nairobi, British East Africa
Died 6 August 1976(1976-08-06) (aged 64)
London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Spouse(s) Anne Margaret Payne Cooke
Children 3

William Mervyn (3 January 1912 – 6 August 1976) was an English actor best known for his portrayal of the bishop in the clerical comedy All Gas and Gaiters, the old gentleman in The Railway Children[1]and Inspector Charles Rose in The Odd Man and its sequels.

Life and career

Mervyn was born in Nairobi, British East Africa, but educated in Britain before embarking on a stage career, spending five years in provincial theatre. He made his West End debut in The Guinea Pig at the Criterion Theatre in 1946,[2] before parts in plays such as Lend Me Robin at the Embassy Theatre,[3] the comedy Ring Round the Moon, The Mortimer Touch, A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde at the Savoy Theatre in 1953[4] and Charley's Aunt.[5]

Mervyn's later stage roles included those of O'Trigger in The Rivals, Lord Greenham in the comedy Aren't We All? and Sir Patrick Cullen in The Doctor's Dilemma. Although he was admired in the theatre, it was with television that he became really well known. One of his first major small screen roles was Sir Hector in the 1962 series Saki. Four years later, he played the Bishop of St. Ogg's in the comedy series All Gas and Gaiters. It was, at that time, breaking with tradition, allowing a laugh at the expense of the established church.

He also played the police chief inspector Charles Rose in the Granada TV series The Odd Man and its spin-offs It's Dark Outside and Mr Rose. He played the Hon. Mr. Justice Campbell in the Granada TV series Crown Court.

Having taken the part of a Chief Inspector in the 1949 Ealing Studios film The Blue Lamp, in which PC George Dixon first appears (only to be shot dead by a young Dirk Bogarde), he then reappeared in a 1960 Dixon of Dock Green episode "The Hot Seat". He was in the 1966 Doctor Who story The War Machines and several Carry On films in the late 1960s, and also appeared as Mr. Whitty in the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode "A Disturbing Case" in 1969.

Usually cast as a wealthy upper class gentleman, he also appeared in The Railway Children (1970), as the children's train passenger friend, and The Ruling Class (1972). Around the same time, he appeared as Sir Hector Drummond, Bt., in the British TV series The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, in an episode entitled "The Superfluous Finger" (1973).

Personal life

Mervyn was married to Anne Margaret Payne Cooke, a theatre designer and architect who survived him with their three sons - Michael Pickwoad, who in 2010 became the production designer on Doctor Who, Richard, television director and aerial cameraman and Nicholas (Pickwoad), expert on bookbinding.[6] Mervyn's granddaughter Amy Pickwoad became an art director and standby art director for Doctor Who.[7]



Year Title Role Notes
1947 The Loves of Joanna Godden Huxtable
The Mark of Cain Mr Bonnington Uncredited
1949 That Dangerous Age Nicky
Stop Press Girl Cinema Manager Uncredited
1950 The Blue Lamp Chief Inspector Hammond Uncredited
Four Men in Prison Unknown short
1954 Conflict of Wings Mr Wentworth
1956 Tons of Trouble Roberts (M15)
The Long Arm Manager of Festival Hall
1957 The Admirable Crichton Guest at Ball Uncredited
Barnacle Bill Captain
The Long Arm Manager of Festival Hall Released as The Third Key in the USA
1958 Carve Her Name with Pride Colonel Buckmaster
1959 The 39 Steps Angry Train Passenger Uncredited
Upstairs and Downstairs Kingsley
1960 A Touch of Larceny Capt. Balfour Uncredited
The Battle of the Sexes Detective's friend
Circus of Horrors Doctor Morley
1961 No Love for Johnnie Postmaster-General Uncredited
Watch it, Sailor! Ship's Captain Uncredited
Invasion Quartet Naval Officer
1963 Tamahine Lord Birchester
1964 Hot Enough for June Passenger on plane Uncredited and released as Agent 8¾ in the USA
Murder Ahoy! Commander Breeze-Connington
1965 Operation Crossbow Dutch Technical Examiner
Up Jumped a Swagman Mr Hawkes Fenhoulet
1967 Deadlier Than the Male Chairman of the Phoenician Board
The Jokers Uncle Edwards
Follow That Camel Sir Cyril Ponsonby
1968 Hammerhead Walter Perrin
Salt and Pepper Prime Minister
Star! General Uncredited
Hot Millions Sir Charles Wilson Uncredited
1969 The Best House in London Uncredited
Carry On Again Doctor Lord Paragon
1970 Incense for the Damned Marc Honeydew
Atlantic Wall L'évêque Anglais
The Railway Children Old Gentleman credited as Mr William Mervyn
1971 Carry On Henry Physician
1972 The Ruling Class Sir Charles Gurney
Up the Front Lord Twithampton
1973 Charley One-Eye Honeydew Uncredited
1976 The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones Squire Alworthy


Year Title Role Notes
1960 ITV Television Playhouse Mr Challen
The Long Way Home French police sergeant
The Four Just Men Under Secretary
Yorky Mr Playford
On Trial Sergeant Ballatine/President of the Court
Dixon of Dock Green Bruce Treadgold
Persuasion Admiral Croft
1961 No Hiding Place Ivor Naunton/Colonel Frew
1962 Oliver Twist Mr Grimwig
Bulldog Breed Company director
Maigret Doctor
It Happened Like This Sir George Wilby
1963 The Odd Man Chief Inspector Rose
The Sentimental Agent Colonel Wilde
1964 Silas Marner Squire Cass
Diary of a Young Man Bott
The Massingham Affair Mr Jessopp
1965 The Flying Swan Alexander Curtis
Heiress of Garth Squire Griffin (TV mini-series)
Court Martial Chief Inspector Haigh
1966 The Liars Sir Gerald
Doctor Who: The War Machines Sir Charles Summer
BBC Play of the Month Sir Hector Rose
1966-71 All Gas and Gaiters Bishop Cuthbert Hever
1967 Gideon's Way Mr Pater
1968-70 Thirty-Minute Theatre Sir Eric Brown/Father
1969 My Partner the Ghost (Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)) Whitty
1970 The Mating Machine Major Whitestone
1973 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Sir Hector Drummond
1976 The Ghosts of Motley Hall Mr Bayling


Year Title Theatre Notes
1946 The Guinea Pig Criterion Theatre
1947-48 The Blind Goddess Apollo Theatre, London
1948 Lend Me Robin Embassy Theatre
1952 The Mortimer Touch Duke of York's Theatre
1952-53 Pagan in the Parlour Theatre Royal, Bath
1953 A Woman of No Importance Savoy Theatre
1954 Charley's Aunt New Theatre and Strand Theatre
1954-55 Witness for the Prosecution Bristol Hippodrome
1955 Mrs Willie Globe Theatre, London
1956 The Rivals Saville Theatre
1972 The Doctor's Dilemma


  1. Tim Hughes (20 December 2012). "Michael Pickwoad: from Withal to the Doctor (From Herald Series)". heraldseries.co.uk. Herald Series. Retrieved 4 September 2015. best remembered for his roles...in The Railway Children
  2. Wearing, 2014, The London Stage 1940-1949, p. 222
  3. "Lend Me Robin". Cadbury Research Library Special Collections. University of Birmingham. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  4. Wearing, 2014, The London Stage 1950-1959, p.214
  5. "THEATRE 19 Feb 1954". archive.spectator.co.uk. The Spectator Archive. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  6. Tim Hughes. "Michael Pickwoad: from Withal to the Doctor". heraldseries.co.uk. Herald Series. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  7. Tim Hughes (20 December 2012). "Michael Pickwoad: from Withal to the Doctor". heraldseries.co.uk. Retrieved 4 September 2015. Amy...who has worked with him on Doctor Who, a show which is becoming a family trade


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