Obituary: Robin Nedwell

AS DUNCAN Waring, one of the boozing and womanising medical students in the television situation comedy Doctor in the House, Robin Nedwell was catapulted to fame. He went on to play the doctor at war with the establishment in four sequels, as well as a stage play. For 20 years, he was also seen regularly as the star of other television comedies and he is remembered by his friends for his laugh and a natural talent for comedy.

Born in Birmingham in 1946, Nedwell moved with his family at an early age to Cardiff and, at school, was encouraged to become an actor. He joined the Welsh Theatre Company, before training at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and gaining repertory theatre experience in Birmingham, Liverpool, Cheltenham, Bristol, Cardiff and Sheffield.

Nedwell's became a well-known face almost overnight when he was cast in Doctor in the House (1969), alongside other medical students played by Barry Evans, George Layton, Martin Shaw, Simon Cuff and Geoffrey Davies, all trying the patience of Professor Loftus (Ernest Clark). The ITV sitcom was launched after LWT's then head of comedy, Frank Muir, acquired the rights to adapt Richard Gordon's "Doctor" books, which had already been brought to the screen in feature films from the mid-Fifties onwards.

The television series, with new staff and students, set at St Swithin's teaching hospital, featured scripts by writers such as John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Barry Cryer. Although Nedwell did not appear in the sequel, Doctor at Large, he returned as Waring - now a senior houseman - in 42 episodes of Doctor in Charge (1972), with Sammie Winmill playing his girlfriend, Nurse Sandra Crumpton, and Victor Platt and Mollie Sugden as his parents.

Nedwell and Geoffrey Davies were next seen in Doctor at Sea (1974), aboard a cruise liner, the Begonia, with Ernest Clark now playing Professor Loftus's brother, Captain Loftus. The team of writers for both of these series included Phil Redmond, who was later to create Grange Hill and Brookside. Nedwell and Davies were again the stars when Australian television revived the series as Doctor Down Under in 1980. The BBC sought a further revival with Doctor at the Top (1991), featuring Nedwell as an NHS consultant paediatrician at St Swithin's, now married with five children, as well as George Layton and Geoffrey Davies, but this ran for only seven episodes.

Never has one situation comedy appeared in so many guises. But typecasting proved not to be a problem and Nedwell found himself in demand for starring roles in other comedies. After his first appearance in Doctor in the House, he acted Roland, best friend of Geoffrey (Richard Beckinsale), in the writer Jack Rosenthal's warmly remembered series The Lovers (1970-71). He played Mike Upchat in The Upchat Connection (1978), Keith Waterhouse's sequel to The Upchat Line, which had starred John Alderton as an author known more for his chat-up lines than for his literary success. In the new series, Alderton's Upchat had raffled the key of his left-luggage locker at Marylebone station, London, and bequeathed his name and his address book to the winner, Nedwell.

Another series written by Waterhouse, West End Tales (1981), starred Nedwell as Fiddler, who immersed himself in Soho life with his friends the Bishop (Garfield Morgan) and Checkie (Larry Martyn), gathered at Ma's Cafe, with Toni Palmer playing Ma. Hot on its heels, Nedwell played a pop musician, Peter Higgins, giving new life to a village brass band, in Shillingbury Tales (1981), a series that evolved out of Francis Essex's play The Shillingbury Blowers (1980). When the six-part series began, Peter Higgins was married to Sally (Diane Keen), daughter of Major Langton (Lionel Jeffries). Nedwell's next starring role on television was as Harry Lumsdon, a bakery worker with a newly discovered IQ of 166, in The Climber (1983), a series written by Alex Shearer.

Although he also played Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and Reverend Green in Cluedo on the small screen, most of Nedwell's subsequent career was spent in the theatre. As well as touring Australia in Doctor in the House (1974) and Doctor in Love (1977), he appeared on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company in The Devil is an Ass, The Taming of the Shrew and Richard III (all 1995-96), and in the West End in Brigadoon (Victoria Palace, 1989).

He played Max Detweiler in a British tour of The Sound of Music, a production that was also staged at Sadler's Wells (1992). Nedwell proved his versatility on screen by acting in Roman Polanski's film of Macbeth (1971), working mostly on the sword-fight sequences in this particularly violent and bloodthirsty version of the Shakespearean tragedy. Fencing was a hobby of his and he taught it at drama schools.

Nedwell was also seen in the film Stand Up Virgin Soldiers (1977), a sequel to the original big-screen version of Leslie Thomas's best-selling novel about British army recruits in Singapore, and the spoof television film The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood (1983), starring George Segal. At the time of his death, Nedwell had been due to appear in a forthcoming BBC children's comedy-drama, as yet untitled. He was a dedicated follower of Llanelli rugby club and collected Japanese swords and prints.

Robin Nedwell, actor: born Birmingham 27 September 1946; married 1982 Heather Inglis (one daughter); died Hedge End, Hampshire 1 February 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links