Tuesday 25 August 2015

Whatever Happened To ... Peter Gilmore?

Another repost today - the late actor Peter Gilmore would have celebrated his 84th birthday on this very day. Peter was a very prolific and important supporting actor in the Carry Ons.

I have been running an occasional series of blogs looking at some of the semi-regular actors who appeared in the Carry On films. The Carry Ons always boasted superb casts of experienced comedy actors however some of these faces, while immediately recognisable to us, never quite received the attention they deserved.

So far I have blogged about Esma Cannon, Marianne Stone, Carol Hawkins and June Jago. Today I'm going to focus on another familiar face in the series, Peter Gilmore. Peter starred in eleven Carry On films and yet was rarely seen in anything more than a cameo role. Despite never gaining star status in the series, he still managed to appear in more of the films than Barbara Windsor and clocked up the same number of appearances as regular actor Jim Dale.

Peter Gilmore first appeared in the series in Carry On Cabby in 1963. He played one of the gangsters who hijacked Hattie Jacques and Liz Fraser on their journey to cash in the Glam Cabs takings. Fortunately Sid, Kenneth Connor and Charles Hawtrey were on hand to rescue the girls and take on the crooks! Peter returned to Pinewood later that year to play a pirate opposite Bernard Cribbins and Juliet Mills in Carry On Jack.

We next saw Peter in Carry On Cleo, in a brief role as the galley master in charge of Jim Dale and the other slaves. In Carry On Cowboy the following year he played one of the Rumpo Kid's gang. in Don't Lose Your Head in 1966 Peter had one of his most substantial roles in the series as Citizen Robespierre, sharing several terrific scenes with Kenneth Williams. In Follow That Camel he played Captain Bagshaw in the opening few scenes, while later in 1967 Peter returned to play Henry, one of the ambulance drivers in Doctor. It is this film that provides Peter with one of his most memorable scenes, when Barbara Windsor walks up to him while he is eating a pear...

In Carry On Up The Khyber, Peter Gilmore plays Private Ginger Hale (!) opposite Charles Hawtrey. The following year Gilmore filmed a cameo role opposite Jim Dale and Peter Butterworth in Carry On Again Doctor. Peter made his final appearance in the original run of Carry Ons in Carry On Henry in 1970. He played Francis, King of France and enjoyed several funny scenes with the likes of Sid James, Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor. That was it for Peter and the Carry Ons until Carry On Columbus sailed into view in 1992. Sadly Peter's involvement in the film is a blink and you'll miss it cameo but it was a film that needed all the old faces it could muster.

So apart from Peter's significant contribution to the glorious Carry Ons, what else did he get up to in his career? Having trained at RADA and worked with the George Mitchell Singers, Peter Gilmore is now probably best remembered for his starring role in the BBC costume drama, The Onedin Line. He starred in the series from 1971 until 1980 and focused on the rise of a shipping line company. Although Gilmore often felt typecast in the role of James Onedin, it did bring him notable fame and success.

Away from this television role, Peter appeared in many other British films of the era. These include I've Gotta Horse opposite Billy Fury and Amanda Barrie, Doctor in Clover, The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery, The Jokers and Oh! What A Lovely War. On television he popped up in everything from Doctor Who and Casualty to The Persuaders and Ivanhoe. Sadly ill health reduced his ability to take up acting commitments later in life.

Peter Gilmore was born in Germany in 1931 and grew up in Yorkshire. Leaving school at the age of 14, he knew from an early age that he wanted to act. He was married three times, first to the actress Una Stubbs between 1958-1969, then to actress Jan Waters from 1970 until 1976. He then began a relationship with Onedin Line co-star Anne Stallybrass who he eventually married in 1987. They were married until Peter's sad death at the age of 81 in February 2013.

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