Obituary : John Young

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The Independent Online
As Mr McPherson, the gentle minister in Take The High Road, the actor John Young was a favourite with viewers of the Scottish television serial throughout the Eighties. The role of the widowed clergyman came along at the end of a long stage, film and television career, when most people would be thinking of retiring.

Born in Edinburgh during the First World War, Young did various jobs on leaving school before joining the Jevan Brandon-Thomas Company at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. He had longed to become an actor since going to his first pantomime, at the age of four, recalling it as "sheer magic". He also acted in rep at the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow and the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, and subsequently performed in most of Scotland's theatres.

Following war service, he resumed his stage career, with two of his most notable performances coming in Roddy MacMillan's The Bevellers and Bill Bryden's Willie Rough.

Young was most prolific on television throughout the Seventies, most notably as Ramsay MacDonald in Jim Allen's acclaimed BBC series Days of Hope (1975), and as Alexander Carus in the Granada Television production of Adam Smith (1972-73). He later made appearances in Hess (1978), the Omega Factor (1979), The Houseman's Tale (1985-87), and The Justice Game (1989).

He had already acted in the Scottish Television series Garnock Way (1976- 78) when he landed the part of Ian McPherson in Take the High Road, which began in 1980 when ITV was looking for a new daytime soap opera. The calm of life in the fictional Scottish village of Glendarroch fitted the bill and Young brought to his per- formance a sensitivity that matched the role for which he had been cast. This was most tellingly seen when the minister, Mr McPherson, announced his retirement and the news that Glendarroch would be twined with the neighbouring parish of St Ninian's, Auchtaran. To pave the way, he and the minister of St Ninian's, the fire-and- brimstone Mr Parker (played by Young's own son, the actor Paul Young), took services in each other's parishes. The villagers rebelled, persuaded Mr McPherson to continue as minister, and the parish retained its independent status. Eventually, Mr McPherson did retire and handed over to his assistant, the Rev Michael Ross.

Young, who himself retired before the serial shortened its title to High Road, also acted in the films Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975), Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), Black Jack (as Dr Hunter, 1979), Chariots of Fire (as the Rev J. D. Liddell, father of the heroic athlete Eric, 1981), and Time Bandits (1981).

Anthony Hayward

John Young, actor: born Edinburgh 18 June 1916; married (one son); died Glasgow 30 October 1996.

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