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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 24 September 1939Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, UK
Date of Death 4 August 1989Brittany, France  (heart attack)
Birth NameRoger Middleton

Mini Bio (1)

Tall, lean, dark and well-spoken, Maurice Colbourne had a strong line in tough guys and villains before achieving his greatest fame as the sympathetic Tom Howard in the BBC's expensive and hugely popular soap opera Howards' Way (1985).

Born Roger Middleton in Sheffield, he trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama and spent time in repertory theatre performing the requisite wide range of parts from Shakespeare to Brecht. His first major television role was in Gangsters (1976), a controversial series spawned from Play for Today (1970) and produced during what is now widely regarded as a golden age of BBC drama. Colbourne played an ex-SAS officer and convict who is hired by a secretive police organisation to go undercover in the Birmingham underworld. He also appeared in the popular The Onedin Line (1971) at the end of the 1970s.

Notable roles continued into the 1980s when he was cast in a strong supporting role as Jack Coker in producer David Maloney's popular adaptation of John Wyndham's science-fiction classic The Day of the Triffids (1981). In 1984, he made a further foray into science-fiction when he appeared as Lytton, the ruthless mercenary helping the Daleks in Eric Saward's dark and action-packed Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks: Part One (1984). His character was judged successful enough to warrant a reprise the following year in Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen: Part One (1985), again created by the same team of writer Eric Saward and director Matthew Robinson. Also in 1985, Colbourne appeared as an SS Officer in Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985).

1985 proved to be the year Colbourne would become a household name. Gerard Glaister cast him in the BBC's new Sunday evening soap opera Howards' Way (1985) in the lead role of Tom Howard, the redundant aircraft designer and sailing enthusiast. This role proved a change of pace for Colbourne and a departure from his tough guy image towards a far more sympathetic and gentle character. Howards' Way (1985) was a huge ratings hit and was seen as the BBC's answer to Dallas (1978) and Dynasty (1981). Colbourne starred in five series but suddenly and prematurely died in 1989 while the series was still in production.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (1)

Chan Lian Si (? - 4 August 1989) (his death) (1 child)

Trivia (5)

Adopted his acting name after seeing the obituary of Maurice Colbourne, with whom he also shared the same birthday (September 24).
Daughter, Clara (b. 1980), with wife Chan Lian Si.
He spent three years at the Central School of Speech and Drama before beginning the nomadic life of a repertory actor in Leicester and Birmingham repertory theatres.
Before becoming an actor, he worked as a fairground roustabout and ghost train operator in Manchester. In London, he made ends meet waiting on tables, until a chance encounter with star Tom Courtenay encouraged him to audition for a spot at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Considered for Caine, Bukovsky, Roger Derebridge, Lamson and Kelly in Lifeforce(1985).

Personal Quotes (2)

There was a great repertoire in those days. We were doing Shakespeare (William Shakespeare) one week and Brecht (Bertolt Brecht) the next, but we wanted to do more experimental stuff too. (On his time in repertory theatre)
Usually I get cast as a villain, which I have to say I quite enjoy playing.

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