† Jan 18 1936 – Jan 20 2023
Somewhat ogre-ish in appearance with his deep-set eyes, heavy brows and broken nose, Tim Barlow was, for a long time, one of the few profoundly deaf actors on our screens. His deafness, caused while testing a rifle in the army during the '50s, leant his speech a distinctive hollow timbre while his careful diction added a menacing, other-worldly element to his characters when required. He must have been a shoo-in for the part of 'The BFG' in the stage version produced at Wimbledon's Polka Dot Theatre, for example.
|'Destiny of the Daleks'|
That facility was put to use in some of his TV appearances, notably 'Doctor Who' (as Engineer Tyssan in the Tom Baker-era story 'Destiny of the Daleks') and in television dramas from 'The Nearly Man', 'Wire in the Blood' and 'Secret Army' to 'Gormengast', 'Cracker' and 'My Uncle Silas'. More lightweight fare includes 'Grange Hill', 'Crown Court' and 'Mike Bassett: Manager'. His comedy roles include 'Inside Victor Lewis Smith', 'In Loving Memory' and Ricky Gervais's slightly misjudged sitcom effort 'Derek'.
In the cinema, you might have seen him in 'The Tall Guy' (1989) where he played a blind man allergic to his guide-dog. Or more recently in 'Hot Fuzz' (2007) playing Mr Treacher, the innocent-seeming old chap strolling the streets of Sandford. He also appears in 'The Eagle Has Landed' (1976), the Liam Neeson version of 'Les Miserables' (1998) and a classic bit-part as 'samurai head slice zombie' in the comedy horror 'Cockneys vs Zombies' (2012).
|As the landlord in 'The Eagle has Landed' (1976) with Donald Sutherland|
I first saw him performing his one-man show 'My Army' while I was working at the Old Bull Arts Centre in Barnet, North London. He was slightly intimidating at first, but turned out to be thoroughly charming. As an aside, it's interesting to note that his hearing was partially restored by cochlear implant in 2008.
Here's his showreel.