Terence Alexander: Actor who played the lovable rogue Charlie Hungerford in ‘Bergerac'

The role of Charlie Hungerford in Bergerac came to Terence Alexander after a screen career of playing villains and charmers. The shady, cigar-puffing tax exile who had made his fortune as a scrap dealer in the North of England was the ex-father-in-law of the Jersey Detective Sergeant Jim Bergerac (John Nettles), who had a gammy left leg and a drink problem.



The policeman’s marriage to Hungerford’s spoiled-rotten daughter Deborah had only recently ended when the programme began in 1981, but the two men’s paths continued to cross. Hungerford seemed to become entangled in every case that Bergerac tackled – which might have had its roots in Alexander’s contract, guaranteeing an appearance in every episode of the series (1981-91).

“Bergerac disapproves of everything Charlie does, but he also admires his native cunning and is very happy to use Charlie’s contacts and immense local knowledge,” explained the actor.

“Charlie is a bit of a fly boy, a loveable rogue – but he never does anything that is totally dishonest.”

Later, Alexander reprised the role of Hungerford, along with Nettles as Bergerac, in an episode of the sitcom The Detectives (1993), starring Jasper Carrott and Robert Powell as incompetent sleuths.

Born in London, in 1923, Alexander was brought up in Yorkshire, where his parents were the master and matron of Knaresborough Hospital. He was educated at Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire, and Norwood College, Harrogate.

At the age of 16, he sought to achieve his long-held acting ambitions by joining the White Rose Players, in Harrogate, as an assistant stage manager.

He made his stage début with the company as a young journalist in The Good Companions (Opera House, Harrogate, 1939).

During the Second World War, Alexander served as a captain in the 24th Lancers (1942-47). While in Italy, he was badly wounded when his armoured car was hit by artillery fire.

He suffered a damaged eardrum, left the Army with a 50 per cent disability pension and, three decades later, underwent surgery to remove a piece of shrapnel from his foot.

Alexander returned to the stage after the war, working in repertory theatre across England and eventually making his London début as Tom Williams in Party Manners (Prince’s Theatre, 1950).

His subsequent West End roles included Paul in Mrs Willie (Globe Theatre, 1955), Donald Gray in Ring for Catty (Lyric Theatre, 1956), Commander Rogers in Joie de Vivre (Queen’s Theatre, 1960), Brassac in Poor Bitos (New Art’s Theatre, 1963, Duke of York’s Theatre, 1964), Henry Lodge in Move Over Mrs Markham (Vaudeville Theatre, 1971), Jack in Two and Two Make Sex (Cambridge Theatre, 1973) and Bill Shorter in There Goes the Bride (Criterion Theatre, 1974, and Ambassadors’ Theatre, 1975).

When he played Jim Hudson, alongside Brian Rix, in the farce Fringe Benefits (Whitehall Theatre, 1976), Barry Took wrote in Punch: “Terence Alexander makes an excellent foil to Rix and, in fact, I can’t remember seeing a better. He collects his own laughs, unselfishly helps the others to get theirs, and behaves like an absolute brick throughout.”

Alexander’s first feature film was Comin’ Thro’ the Rye (1947), in which he played Robert Burns. He then acted the Duke of Dorset in The Elusive Pimpernel (1950) and, for two decades, was a regular on the big screen.

As well as taking military roles in many pictures during that post-war era, he again showed his talent as a foil by appearing three times with Norman Wisdom in The Square Peg (1958), The Bulldog Breed (1960) and On the Beat (1962), when the comedy actor was at the height of his screen success.

However, Alexander’s best-remembered film role was probably in the crime caper The League of Gentlemen (1960), as Rupert Rutland-Smith, one of a group of disillusioned Army officers carrying out a daring bank robbery.

Later, the actor appeared in Waterloo (1970) and The Day of the Jackal (1973).

The second half of Alexander’s career was spent mostly on television and stage. He made his small-screen début in Away from It All (1951) and took four different roles in Hancock’s Half-Hour (1957-60), as well as acting the silly-ass co-pilot Bill Dodds in the children’s series Garry Halliday (1959- 62), which followed the adventures of a commercial airline company.

He went on to play Montague Dartie in The Forsyte Saga (1967), Sir Mulberry Hawk in a BBC adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby (1968) and Lord George in The Pallisers (1974).

Switching deftly from drama to comedy, he was a regular as Mr Dalzell in Just Liz (1980), a friend of the title character (played by Sandra Payne), who had been left alone when her fiancée went to work in Bahrain to earn enough money for the couple to get married, and the corrupt Cabinet Minister Sir Greville McDonald in The New Statesman (1989-92), the anarchic sitcom starring Rik Mayall as the repulsive Conservative MP Alan B’Stard. On radio, Alexander starred as the title character, the Hon Richard Rollison, a Mayfair man-about-town who mixed with East End rough diamonds, in The Toff (1975), based on the John Creasey detective novels.

His last screen acting role was in Casualty 10 years ago, after which he retired, suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Both of Alexander’s wives were actresses, Juno Stevas – the sister of the former Conservative MP Norman St John-Stevas (now Lord St John of Fawsley), whom he met in repertory theatre – and Jane Downs, who appeared with him on stage in Two and Two Make Sex.

Anthony Hayward

Terence Joseph Alexander, actor: born London 11 March 1923; married 1949 Juno Stevas (marriage dissolved 1972; two sons), 1976 Jane Downs; died London 28 May 2009

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding business based in ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - Scotland

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - North East Region

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas