Frank Jarvis: Actor who helped Michael Caine rob a shipment of gold in 'The Italian Job'

A square-jawed character actor who took bit-parts on screen for almost 50 years, Frank Jarvis was never a household name but will be remembered by fans of the cult film The Italian Job and aficionados of Doctor Who.

In the 1969 film about the attempt by a released convict (played by Michael Caine) to steal a $4m shipment of gold as it arrives in Turin, he played Roger, one of the gang. While six of them career away from the scene of the crime in red, white and blue Mini Coopers, Roger and the others – disguised as England football supporters, in woolly hats and scarves – navigate the crowded streets in a campervan.

In the final, memorable scene, where the getaway coach jack-knifes over an Alpine precipice, with the gold precariously placed at the wrong end, Roger is seen tiptoeing carefully towards safety with the rest of the group, all of them puzzling over how to retrieve the valuable haul.

Jarvis took three roles in Doctor Who: a hysterical and incoherent corporal in "The War Machines" (1966), about a computer in present-day London that can think for itself and aims to eradicate humans; Ankh, an interrogator answerable to a space ship's computer, in "Underworld" (1978); and Skart, a green-skinned Swampie trying to awaken a giant god living beneath the swamps on the marsh moon of Delta Magna, in "The Power of Kroll" (1978-9).

The actor was born John Francis Train in Stockton-on-Tees in 1941. During the Second World War his mother moved to London to be closer to her family. When he was seven, following her divorce, she remarried and he was adopted, taking his carpet-salesman father's surname. Five years later, his mother contracted multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair, meaning that Jarvis was largely responsible for bringing up his younger half-sister, Sue.

As a child, he acted in plays at Orange Hill grammar school, Edgware. After studying at University College, London, he trained at Rada (1958-60), where his contemporaries included Tom Courtenay.

Jarvis made his film debut in the thriller Mix Me a Person (1962) alongside Anne Baxter, Donald Sinden and Adam Faith. Although he later played an aide to Lieutenant Colonel Frost (Anthony Hopkins) in the Second World War drama A Bridge Too Far (1977), directed by Richard Attenborough, most of the actor's screen appearances were on television.

An eternal bit-part player, he popped up in episodes of many popular series, including The Saint (1963), Dixon of Dock Green (11 roles, 1964-75), Z Cars (1967), Secret Army (three roles, 1978-9) and The Bill (five roles, 1990-2006). He was frequently seen as policemen, in programmes such as Callan (1972), A Pin to See the Peepshow (1973), Target (1977) and Madson (1996), as well as a prison officer in The Sweeney (1975) and heavies in The Famous Five (1978) and Dangerous Davies: The Last Detective (1981).

In 1974, he had a short run as Jim Barker in The Brothers, about a backstabbing family running a road haulage firm. Then came a regular role as Master-at-Arms Burnett (1976-77) in Warship, about the crew of the frigate HMS Hero. On stage he acted in several of Peter Hall's productions over the years, including Lady Windermere's Fan (Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 2003) and Mrs Warren's Profession (Strand Theatre, 2004).

He directed many plays for the British Shakespeare Company at open-air venues. From 1970 to 1997 he also directed for the Abbots Langley Gilbert & Sullivan Society, of which he was a vice-president. For a while, he also taught drama at Southgate College in north London.

John Francis Train (Frank Jarvis), actor and director: born Stockton-on-Tees 13 May 1941; married 1967 Christine Murphy (marriage dissolved 1988); died Harefield, Middlesex 15 September 2010.

News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Business Project Manager

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager job vaca...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor