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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
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

HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbridge Wells - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Generalist (standalone) - Tunbrid...

Year 3 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Primary Teacher...

Junior Software Developer - Newcastle, Tyne & Wear - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...

Systems Administrator (SharePoint) - Central London - £36,500

£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering