Obituary: Glyn Dearman

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The Independent Online
Glyn John Dearman, actor and producer: born London 30 December 1939; married 1961 Susan MacDonald (marriage dissolved 1967); died London 30 November 1997.

Glyn Dearman was a child actor who managed to survive the adulation of his early professional career, became a useful actor in his late teens and twenties, and then was a highly successful and much-admired radio director at the BBC from the mid-Sixties until his early retirement in 1995.

From a very young age he appeared in a number of British films, most notable among which were Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951), in which he meltingly played Little Arthur, and Scrooge (also 1951), in which he was a tutting Tiny Tim to Alastair Sim's Scrooge.

In his teens he did a lot of radio work and starred in several series as the eponymous boy hero of Children's Hour's Jennings at School. He became a member of the BBC Drama Repertory Company and had a regular role in Mrs Dale's Diary as the Canadian cous- in Carlton, employing an atrocious transatlantic accent.

After his character had been written out and the popular daily serial had both changed its nature and its name to The Dales and Jessie Matthews had taken over as Mrs Dale, he became a producer on the programme and, ultimately, its editor. It fell to his lot to "kill off" the still popular programme and he directed the final episode in 1969, giving to Mrs Dale the apt last line, "No matter what happens I will always worry about you, Jim." (The nation knew that Mrs Dale was always worried about Jim, her doctor husband).

For the next three years he ran the replacement daily serial Waggoner's Walk, which grew to have a larger audience than The Archers. Five years spent in running daily serials on radio is a highly pressurised job and demands a great deal of careful organisation as well as stamina, elan, diplomacy and enthusiasm. All these qualities Dearman had in abundance. He brought these qualities to bear on the main body of radio drama output when he left the daily serial in 1972, and added to them a flair for publicity and a gift for casting.

His speciality was farce and light comedy, but, apart from the Feydeaus and the Cowards, he specialised in Grand Guignol (Dracula, Svengali and Frankenstein) and was responsible for many classic serials including Robert Graves's I Claudius and Claudius the God. He encouraged and nurtured numerous original writers including Angela Carter, all of whose brilliant radio plays he directed, one of which, Company of Wolves, was subsequently made into a feature film in 1984.

It was joked that Dearman cast from Who's Who in the Theatre rather than from Spotlight, the actors' casting handbook, but he knew that stars twinkled and had not become stars by accident, nor was he afraid to handle them. He also recognised that they added lustre to a production for the audience and attracted publicity. His propensity for star-casting never led him to forget those of his many friends in the profession who were fine actors and to whom he owed so much.

He won a Premio Ondas, the Spanish comedy-drama prize, in 1979 for his production of The Revenge, written by the actor Andrew Sachs, and a Sony Best Production Award in 1985 for a dramatisation of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast and Titus Groan starring the musician Sting.

His 1980 production of Jeffrey Archer's first novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less as a highly successful serial was acknowledged by its author as an invaluable step in helping to make his writing fortune. More recently Dearman worked with Kenneth Branagh and his Renaissance Theatre Company on radio productions of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear, which starred Sir John Gielgud in his 90th year.

Dearman's casting stretched into the realms of royalty when, in 1994, he persuaded Prince Charles to be directed as Prince Hal to Sir Robert Stephens's Falstaff in a commercial recording of excerpts from Shakespeare entitled The Prince's Choice. As ever, he got a fine performance from his actor.

A grandson of Kate ("Ma") Meyrick, the 1920s night-club hostess, three of whose six daughters married into the aristocracy, Dearman was himself married, briefly, to the grand-daughter of Ramsay MacDonald, and his private life covered a wide social spectrum.

But he was not as self- confident privately as he was publicly. He suffered a number of phobias and fears and sought a constant companionship which eluded him. He too often found solace with that most seductive and deceiving of friends, alcohol, which only added to his inner suffering and caused great concern to his many true friends. Frequently infuriated by his waste of himself, all who knew him forgave him and loved him. Greater than this was his love for others. This love fired his talent and inspired his work.

He died at his elegant small flat in Cork Street, London W1, in which street it is believed he was the last remaining private resident.