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Don Henderson obituary

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1997-06-28 Times.jpg


Don Henderson, actor, died of cancer on June 22 aged 65. He was born on November 10, 1931.

FOR nearly ten years Don Henderson was a regular figure on the nation's TV screens, playing a character who was to endure through three different series. With his increasingly rasping, gravelly voice - and the face of an ex-boxer - George Bulman was the somewhat eccentric detective who featured in The XYY Man, Strangers and Bulman.

Based on the novels of Kenneth Royce, The XYY Man (1976) followed the pursuit of a cat burglar by a somewhat hapless police force. Cast in the rather minor role of Detective-Sergeant Bulman, Henderson's performance as a quirky but charming policeman caught the eye of the Granada authorities, and a spin-off programme was specially created for him.

With Henderson now the head of a crack crime squad, Strangers (1978) was such a success that the series ran for four years.

The third metamorphosis, into the eponymously titled Bulman (1985) saw the veteran policeman enjoying a retire-ment of sorts. Maintaining contact with the police and the secret service, Bulman engaged in a little private detective work while running a small shop selling antique clocks, with his assistant Lucy McGinty, played by Siobhan Redmond.

He later went on to star opposite Leslie Grantham in The Paradise Club . This BBC series offered the improbable combination of a defrocked priest (Henderson) and his gangster brother (Grantham). It too proved a great success.

Donald Francis Henderson turned to acting relatively late in life. The son of a carpenter, he worked first as a dental technician before spending time with the Essex police force as a detective with the CID. It was not, however, a job he relished and he eventually left to become a salesman for a pharmaceuticals company.

In 1966, reputedly as a dare, he turned up for an audition with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His sole previous acting experience had been in various forms of amateur dramatics, but the RSC took him on, and thus, at the age of 33 and with a large drop in salary, he embarked upon his acting career.

His stage roles with the RSC included Shylock in The Merchant of Venice , Parolles in All's Well That Ends Well and many "spear carrying" parts. He also enjoyed a brief period in Hollywood, playing the evil General Taggi in Star Wars . It was a part he enjoyed immensely and he later confessed that he would have liked to play bad guys in more science fiction adventures.

But it was in television drama that Henderson was cast most often. With appearances in Dr Who, The Onedin Line, Last of the Summer Wine, Casualty and Minder, his curriculum vitae read like a television guide to Britain's most popular serials.

Henderson was devoted to acting. He insisted on continuing to work after his first wife, Hilary, died suddenly in the late 1970s, and despite having throat cancer diagnosed soon afterwards, he went on doing so. He underwent surgery, after which he took to wearing his trademark scarves to conceal the resulting scars.

An actor who loved his trade, he always had time for younger actors and tried to give support or advice wherever he could.

He is survived by his second wife, Shirley, and by a son and daughter from his first marriage and a stepdaughter.

Caption: Henderson with Siobhan Redmond in Bulman in 1985

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  • APA 6th ed.: (1997-06-28). Don Henderson obituary. The Times p. 25.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Don Henderson obituary." The Times [add city] 1997-06-28, 25. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Don Henderson obituary." The Times, edition, sec., 1997-06-28
  • Turabian: "Don Henderson obituary." The Times, 1997-06-28, section, 25 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Don Henderson obituary | url= | work=The Times | pages=25 | date=1997-06-28 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 March 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Don Henderson obituary | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=3 March 2024}}</ref>