Michael Medwin – Actor, film and theatre producer
Born July 18, 1923; died February 26, 2020
Michael Medwin, who has died aged 96, was an acclaimed stage and screen actor probably most familiar as local radio boss Don Satchley in Bristol-based 1970s private detective series, Shoestring (1979-1980). He also appeared alongside Sean Connery in the James Bond film, Never Say Never Again (1983), and as Scrooge’s nephew opposite Albert Finney in Scrooge (1970), Ronald Neame’s big-screen version of Leslie Bricusse’s musical take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This was despite Medwin being twelve years older than Finney.
Medwin had already forged an off-screen double act with Finney as one half of Memorial Enterprises, the company behind off-kilter vehicles for Finney, Charlie Bubbles (1968), which Finney also directed, and Gumshoe (1971, in which Finney played a down-at-heel Liverpool bingo caller turned private eye.
Memorial also produced both the stage and film versions of Bill Naughton’s play, Spring and Port Wine (1970). This followed If…(1968), Lindsay Anderson’s public school revolution fantasia, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Medwin played several parts in Anderson’s Memorial-backed follow-up, Brechtian –styled state-of-the-nation epic, O Lucky Man! (1973. He also appeared in the third part of Anderson’s trilogy, Britannia Hospital (1982).
For stage, the company produced Peter Nichols’ play, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, which had premiered at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre before Finney appeared in the lead role on the West End and Broadway, where it won four Tony Awards.
Michael Hugh Medwin was born in London, and educated at Canford School, Dorset before attending the Institute Fischer in Montreux, Switzerland. Medway knew from an early age he wanted to be an actor, with Charles Laughton and Edward G Robinson his biggest influences.
Medwin’s first film appearance, albeit uncredited, was in Piccadilly Incident (1946), Herbert Wilcox’s World War Two romance starring Anna Neagle, His first credited role came a year later in another Wilcox/Neagle film, The Courtneys of Curzon Street. For the next decade
Medway appeared in a stream of cut-glass British thrillers, and played the lead of good boy gone bad Ginger Edwards in The Intruder (1953). He wrote the screenplay for My Sister and I (1948), in which he also appeared, and penned the English dialogue for Italian director Luigi Zampa’s film, Children of Chance (1949).
Medwin went on to appear in TV sit-com The Army Game Carry on Nurse (1959) and The Longest Day (1962), with later credits marking a sea-change in British film, which became poppier and less buttoned up. This was the case in It’s All Happening (1963) with Tommy Steele, Rattle of a Simple Man (1964) with Harry H. Corbett, I’ve Gotta Horse (1965) with Billy Fury, and The Sandwich Man (1966) with former Goon Michael Bentine.
Onstage, he appeared in numerous West End productions, and at the National Theatre featured in a season that included the premiere of Howard Brenton’s play, Weapons of Happiness (1976). In 1988, with David Pugh he formed West End and Broadway producers, David Pugh Limited, remaining chair of the company until the end of his life. In 2005, Medwin was awarded an OBE for services to drama, honouring a life that helped chart the course of British film and theatre.
The Herald, March 17th 2020