Ross Davidson

Good Samaritan on 'EastEnders'


William Russell Davidson (Ross Davidson), actor: born Uddingston, Lanarkshire 25 August 1949; married Elizabeth Ross (marriage dissolved), 2005 Barbara Black (one son); died Frinton-on-Sea, Essex 16 October 2006.

Ross Davidson played Andy O'Brien, the first regular EastEnders character to be killed off, and might well have reflected that acting a Good Samaritan made him out of place in a television soap opera that thrives on constant friction.

His screen alter ego was a caring nurse who lived with his bossy fiancée, Debbie Wilkins (played by Shirley Cheriton). Theirs was a tempestuous relationship and, during a brief split, Debs was proposed to by a policeman, Detective Sergeant Quick, while the Queen Vic pub landlady, Angie Watts, seduced Andy as a way of taking revenge on her philandering husband, Den.

Andy and his former lover were reunited, only for him to die in heroic fashion. After an argument about money, he stormed out of their house, late for work, with Debs telling him to "drop dead". On his way to the hospital, he was killed as he dived to push a small boy out of the path of an out-of-control lorry. Carrying a donor card, which allowed someone else's life to be saved with his kidneys, Andy was a hero to the end.

Ross Davidson was also in the spotlight in 1986, for being written out of EastEnders after 18 months. When the dashing star had fallen for Cheriton, who left her husband for him, Davidson came into conflict with the serial's domineering producer, Julia Smith. "Having been a schoolteacher myself, I found the treatment degrading," he said. "I didn't want to stay under that regime." The actor also said he was tired of playing the goody-goody Andy, explaining:

There's no way I can go on being this wimpy, wet character. I'm a big bloke and I'm a Scot, and I'm as fiery as Scots are supposed to be. I was brought up in a rough area. I had my share of fights, played water polo for Scotland, ran a rough club where doors got bashed in and I was a physical education teacher. That hardly makes me a wimp and I'm not.

Davidson and Cheriton had been in the original cast, in February 1985. They set up home together and planned to marry, but parted five years later.

The actor, born William Russell Davidson in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, in 1949, and brought up in Motherwell, had already experienced his own broken marriage, having split up with his first wife, a primary school teacher, after less than three years together. He had started his working life as a PE teacher in his native Scotland, but furthered his ambitions to act by attending night classes. "My wife didn't like the idea of me becoming famous and that's what killed our marriage off," he said.

Before deciding to realise his ambitions - and take his ex-wife's maiden name, Ross, as his stage name - Davidson played water polo at international level for Scotland and left teaching to run a pub and disco in Glasgow.

He made his screen acting début on television in A Degree of Uncertainty (1979), a BBC "Play for Today" set in a Scottish university, then appeared as a kilted dancer in Stanley Baxter on Television (1979). He also had small parts as a mime troupe member in The Comedy of Errors ("BBC Television Shakespeare", 1983) and a photographer in Widows II (1985), as well as appearing in the film The Pirates of Penzance (1983) and the Monty Python short The Crimson Permanent Assurance (screened in cinemas immediately before The Meaning of Life, 1983). In Spain, Holland and Germany, he was seen in commercials for products ranging from chewing gum to beer.

After EastEnders, in 1986 Davidson recorded a pop single, "Jigsaw Puzzle", that failed to chart but was soon busy acting in stage plays - he had previously appeared in Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre - and returned to the small screen as a presenter of the BBC lunchtime magazine show Daytime Live (1987-88) and the sports challenge series Run the Gauntlet (1989-90).

He played Superintendent Brand in a three-part story in the Scottish police series Taggart (1993), before joining High Road (1995), the Scottish Television soap opera, as Peter Odell, a bed-hopping interior designer who committed murder, then killed himself. "I'm used to being killed off in soaps," Davidson reflected. (He joined High Road after being cast as a corrupt policeman in The Wharf, a serial set in London that was itself killed off when a backer could not be found.)

Davidson resurfaced in the teen soap Hollyoaks (1999-2002) as Andy Morgan, a coffee-house owner and father of four who went through a divorce and disbelieved his son Luke's claim to have been raped by a rival footballer, until the attacker was jailed for eight years. He also appeared in Brookside: double take! (1999), a video featuring members of the Hollyoaks and Brookside casts.

In early 2005, Davidson underwent an operation to remove a brain tumour, but within weeks it had returned. In May last year, he brought forward his planned wedding to Barbara Black, with whom he had a seven-year-old son, Drew. The once athletic heart-throb was left bald and bloated as a result of his cancer treatment and his vision was affected by the tumour. With black humour, he said:

I have to be careful. Because of my bad peripheral vision, I keep bumping into old ladies. They see my skinhead look and assume I'm a drunken yob. This brain-cancer business takes some getting used to.

Anthony Hayward

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
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
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
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

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game