Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Kenneth Colley

Actor Kenneth Colley in 'The Empire Strikes Back'

Kenneth Colley:

A rather serious, flinty-looking character actor, verging on the hangdog at times, Ken Colley has been a highly accomplished TV and film fixture for three decades, without ever quite becoming a celebrity. His roles in big films include 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980) and 'Return of the Jedi' (1983), Ken Russell's 'The Devils' (1971), 'Mahler' (1974) and 'Lisztomania' (1975). He was the contract killer in Ari Karausmaki's 'I Hired a Contract Killer' (1990), and he appears in the Slade movie 'Flame' 1975'. It's also him in the middle distance as the hardly-audible Jesus in 'The Life of Brian', surely one of the classic bit-part credits of all time.     

In the surprisingly gritty Slade rock saga, 'Flame' (1975) 
Getting his collar felt by Patrick Mower in 'Special Branch' in 1974
His impressive TV resumé includes some brilliant and varied work. In the '60s he went from
'The Avengers' - to playing Hitler in an 'Omnibus' special - to fronting children's programme 'Look and Read' as the quietly likeable Mr Moon. By the '70s he was to be spotted in 'The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes', 'The Sweeney', 'The Protectors',  'Ripping Yarns' and 'Arthur of the Britons', as well as paying the mortgage with the odd 'Crown Court', 'Z-Cars', 'Hazell' and 'Target'. And that's him as the haunted derelict accordion man in Dennis Potter's 'Pennies from Heaven'. 

Bringing information to the cunning and unscrupulous private detective,
Dorrington (Peter Vaughan) in 'The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes'
In more recent years, there are fewer highlights, perhaps, beyond the mini-series 'I Remember Nelson', ironically now little-remembered, in which he played the great hero of Trafalgar. For the most part it's a lot of 'Holby City', 'Midsomer Murders', 'Peak Practice', etc, and a stint on 'EastEnders'.

Here's an interesting oddity though, Ray Davies of the Kinks puts his nostalgic daydreamer's view of London on to celluloid as the director of this hour-long movie: 'Return to Waterloo' (1984). Clichéd to the point of self-parody, but Ken Colley is good.

Kenneth Colley-imdb


  1. Bounty hunters. We don't need that scum...

  2. Here's an admission of a cultural black hole in my education. The only Star Wars film I've actually seen is 'Star Wars' (1977) or whatever it's now called in retrospect. Which I saw at the cinema in 1977, with supporting skateboard cash-in feature 'Skater Dater' (1965). Although I've probably seen almost all of Empire and Jedi in clips, pastiches and Lego.

  3. Blimey! I can't believe it, I'd assumed this was 101 material for you.
    Empire is relentlessly bleak and pessimistic, so of course I love it.
    I remember (not quite fondly) queuing outside a proper Odeon, with my brother... It was all fields round here etc etc...

    (Plus it has wall to wall villainous brit fodder for your wonderful blog!)

  4. Was a standout guest player in Inspector Morse ("Second Time Around") and Between the Lines ("Manoeuvre 11") as two very different senior coppers. Great actor.