Charles 'Bud' Tingwell: One of Australia's best-loved actors whose career spanned 70 years

Acting seemed to come as naturally as breathing to Bud Tingwell, who died in hospital at the age of 86 with a script by his bedside. One of Australia's best-loved actors, he was a consummate professional who always arrived on set word-perfect. Despite his fame, he was also a man of great modesty.

Tingwell, born Charles but always called "Bud", was a star of screen, stage, radio and television. He made more than 100 films during a career spanning 70 years, and became a household name in Britain thanks to the TV medical drama Emergency Ward 10 and in Australia through a long-running TV crime series, Homicide.

At the age of 30 he starred in his first Hollywood movie, The Desert Rats, but Tingwell's main love was the Australian film and television industry. He rarely turned down a part, often agreeing to work with unknown directors on low-budget films. "I have no compunction about playing a small part," he once remarked. "Sometimes you have to lower your sights and raise your standards."

Born in the Sydney beachside suburb of Coogee in 1923, Tingwell began acting on the radio, in a Billy Bunter serial, while he was a teenager. After finishing school, he went to work for a local radio station, CH, and became Australia's youngest radio announcer. But war clouds were gathering, and in 1941 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force, flying 75 combat missions as a photographic reconnaissance pilot.

By coincidence, or perhaps not, his first film role was in Smithy, a 1946 movie about the life of the Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. Tingwell, who played a control-tower officer, was able to provide his own uniform – which helped him to get the part, he later admitted.

In 1952, having married his teenage sweetheart, Audrey Wilson, he went to the US to make The Desert Rats, acting alongside Richard Burton. He and Audrey then moved to London, where he landed the role of a heart-throb surgeon in Emergency Ward 10, a hugely popular series that ran for 10 years until 1967. Tingwell also appeared in a number of films, playing Inspector Craddock in four of the Miss Marple movies, and in West End shows including There's a Girl in My Soup.

After 17 years in England, he returned home in 1972 and became a stalwart of the Australian entertainment industry. Most of his compatriots knew him best as Inspector Reg Lawson in the 1970s TV cop drama Homicide. Tingwell loved the series, which coincided with the introduction of colour television. He later recalled: "It was like doing fabulous small movies... excellent, classy movies all the time."

Tingwell, who had a son, Christopher, and daughter, Virginia, also appeared on the small screen in Prisoner: Cell Block H, The Flying Doctors, A Country Practice and Neighbours. But television was only one of his outlets. He acted in a string of Australian films, including Breaker Morant, Puberty Blues and Evil Angels. He did stage work, and occasionally turned his hand to writing and directing.

When his beloved wife died in 1996, Tingwell was grief-stricken. He was 73, and might never have acted again, he said later. But then he was offered a part in The Castle, one of the most successful Australian films of all time, and the ensuing years were among his busiest. He performed a one-man stage show, appeared in films such as Ned Kelly and The Dish, and recently played Winston Churchill in a dramatised TV documentary. At 80, he began writing a blog and taking Pilates classes.

An actor friend, Malcolm Robertson, told The Australian newspaper: "His great and lasting contribution to our profession has been the fact that he never lost his innocence or wonderment for acting." Another actor, Jack Thompson, said of Tingwell's death from prostate cancer: "It's like a great tree has been felled in the landscape of our culture and in particular the landscape of our film world."

Kathy Marks

Charles "Bud" Tingwell, actor, writer and director: born Sydney 3 January 1923; married 1951 Audrey Wilson (died 1996; one son, one daughter); died Sydney 15 May 2009.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; Moorgate up to £23k

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; ...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Sales Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fragrance store are looking for enthusias...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role ...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible