Guest Actor Biography
Page 30 of 127

   

Roger Delgado

Vasco, Crescent Moon
Kreer, Stay Tuned

by Stephen La Riviere and Alan Hayes

Actor Roger Delgado was born Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto on 1 March 1918 in Whitechapel, London. Born within earshot of Bow Bells, Delgado regarded himself a true Cockney, even though his mother was Belgian and his father Spanish. After school he was first employed in a bank but resigned after eighteen months and joined the Nelson Repertory Company in Leicester in 1938. With war approaching, Delgado had attempts to enlist with both the Army and the Royal Air Force rejected due to his parents' nationalities. He was eventually able to join the Royal Leicester Regiment and saw active service in Europe and the Far East during World War II, being promoted to Major in the Royal Signals in India.

After the war, Delgado joined the York repertory company and in 1950 he started work with the BBC Drama Repertory. For the next 20 years he worked extensively in television, radio and also enjoyed considerable success in the theatre in productions such as Man About the House, Guinea Pig and The Diplomatic Baggage. On the silver screen, Delgado appeared in The Captain's Glory, The Power and the Glory, Powell and Pressburger's epic The Battle of the River Plate (with Patrick Macnee), First Man into Space and, for Hammer Films, a famed British independent studio, he participated in Terror of the Tongs and The Mummy's Shroud.

Among his many radio credits is The Slide, a 1966 BBC serial in which he co-starred with veteran actor, Maurice Denham, playing a seismologist, Gomez. The role was atypical for Delgado, a man whose saturnine looks lead him to be cast most regularly as villains. As with many of television's darkest villains—and there can be no doubt that Delgado was indeed one of the medium's most effective bad guys—off screen, as has been commented upon on many occasions, Roger Delgado was one of the most gentle, kind and likeable actors in the business.

Early roles on the small screen included a star part in the BBC's adaptation of Dumas' The Three Musketeers (1954), a role as doomed journalist, Conrad, in Nigel Kneale's landmark serial, Quatermass II (1955) and a part in The Portrait of Peter Perowne, produced by the legendary Rudolph Cartier. Guest roles, usually as villains, followed by the truckload, and included Danger Man, The Saint, The Power Game, Crossfire, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). A regular role as Spanish envoy, Mendoza, in the ATV/ABC film series Sir Francis Drake (1961/2) catapulted Delgado into the public eye, and the remainder of the decade saw him much sought after. 1971 saw his debut in Doctor Who as The Master, which he played with great relish and effect until his tragic death in a car crash on 18 June 1973. At the time, he was in Turkey filming the television movie, Bell of Tibet.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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