Sunday 25 November 2018

The actor George A Cooper has died

More sad news today for fans of the best of British film and television comedy. The veteran actor George A Cooper has very sadly passed away at the grand old age of 93. George was possibly best known for his regular role as caretaker Mr Griffiths in the long running BBC children's television series Grange Hill. However he enjoyed a career dating back until the 1940s and was still acting regularly until the mid 1990s. 

Although George was never in a Carry On, he did work for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas on another big screen comedy adventure. In 1972 George A Cooper took on a main supporting role in the classic film version of the Sid James sitcom Bless This House. As slavedriver cafe owner Mr Wilson, George shares several scenes with the likes of Robin Askwith, Wendy Richard and Carol Hawkins before engaging in some pure farce when a food fight breaks out between himself, Sid and Terry Scott! Wonderful stuff. 

Born in Leeds in March 1925, George appeared in countless films during his career including the role of a Farmer in the Frankie Howerd comedy Jumping For Joy in 1956 and a small role in the Peggy Mount classic Sailor Beware! the same year. He was in A Night To Remember, the Kenneth More Titanic drama, played Doug Savage in Hell is a City (1960) and appeared as Mr Fitzpatrick in Tom Jones in 1963, in a cast which also featured Rosalind Knight and Patsy Rowlands. Another brief but memorable comedy role came opposite Harry H Corbett in the 1964 film The Bargee. George played a canal official. Later films included Ferry Cross the Mersey as Mr Lumsden, the Landlord in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave and Blacket in The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (both 1970).

George A Cooper had played Geoffrey Fisher, the stern father of Billy Liar in the original West End stage version of the play in 1960 and also featured in a television version in the early 1970s. However it was the small screen which beckoned for most of George's career. As well as his regular role in Grange Hill, Cooper also enjoyed success in none other than Coronation Street. He played the character of Willie Piggott on and off between 1964 and 1971. Piggott owned a butcher's shop on Rosamund Street and was quite an unscrupulous character by all accounts. Over his 24 appearances, Piggott tried to bribe Ken Barlow, tussled with Len Fairclough and took a shine to Elsie Tanner! Cooper also played a role in the Corrie comedy spinoff Pardon The Expression in 1966, working with Betty Driver and Arthur Lowe.

Like many actors of his generation, George A Cooper appeared in pretty much all the classic television dramas and comedy shows of the era. There were one off parts in Danger Man, The Avengers, The Saint, Z Cars, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Dixon of Dock Green and Public Eye. Always with an eye for comedy, George also grabbed memorable supporting roles in a host of classic sitcoms. He worked with Sid James on Bless This House, Terry Scott and June Whitfield in Terry and June, Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques in Sykes as well as Rising Damp and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. 

George A Cooper pretty much retired from acting in 1995. He played Griffiths in Grange Hill for seven years until 1992 and made final appearances on television in Heartbeat in 1993 and Casualty two years later. He was married to Anne Shirley Jones from 1955 until her death in 2000. George passed away on 16 November, in Petersfield, Hampshire at the age of 93. He is survived by his son, Adam. 

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  1. Also took a fine role as one of Albert & Harold's greedy relatives in the episode centred round a funeral in Steptoe and Son.

  2. He was also Judy Geeson's dad in Man in Suitcase episode Sweet Sue.

  3. Thanks! Yes he had a very long and diverse career, worked with just about everyone