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OBITUARY : Roger Hume

As man-of-the-earth Bert Fry in The Archers, radio's longest- running serial, Roger Hume was known to millions as Phil and Jill Archer's farmhand, often finding himself in conflict with other residents of Ambridge.

Born in London in 1940, the son of George Hume, a general manager of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, the actor began his career as an assistant stage manager at Wimbledon Theatre, and had the same role in the original West End production of the hit musical Oliver! (1960), starring Ron Moody, at the New Theatre.

He also worked behind the scenes on the films Carry On Regardless (1961) and The Road to Hong Kong (1961, starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra), as well as being a flying-wire operator with the legendary Crazy Gang comedy team.

After three years in a teacher training college, Hume returned to the stage as an actor. He played leading roles with repertory companies across the country, small parts with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, and acted in the original London production of Teeth 'n' Smiles, and Edward Bond's The Fool, both at the Royal Court Theatre. He also appeared in a revival of Blithe Spirit, at the Vaudeville Theatre, and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, at the Queen's Theatre.

In 1979, Hume created the role of Herbert Pinnegar in his one-man play of Alfred Shaughnessy's Old Herbaceous, at Salisbury Playhouse, before repeating it at the Mayfair Theatre, in the West End. Such was the play's success that he later recorded it for television and radio, toured it in Britain, Australia, Zimbabwe and at the Charleston Festival in South Carolina, and performed it in front of the Queen at Windsor Castle. He also wrote and starred in the one-man shows Winston, a portrait of Sir Winston Churchill in old age, and Please Sir, a teacher's humorous viewpoint of school life.

On television, Hume acted in programmes such as Special Branch, Play for Today, Coronation Street, Edward and Mrs Simpson (as Humphrey Butler), Rumpole of the Bailey, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Fawlty Towers, The Bill and EastEnders. He was also in the films Something Like the Truth (1972, later retitled The Offence), Car Trouble (1985, starring Julie Walters and Ian Charleson) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988).

But it was as Bert Fry in The Archers since 1988 that he was best known. He had previously played two other roles in the serial - joining it in 1979 as John Tregorran, then taking the part of Sir Sidney Goodman, who was at one of Jack Woolley's shooting parties. He was last heard as Bert Fry on 14 August, when he and arch-rival Tom Forrest were locked in battle over the removal of bats from Ambridge's church.

Roger Hume, himself a Church of England lay preacher, acted in more than 200 other radio productions, including many plays, as well as providing voice-overs for documentaries and reading stories.

Roger Hume, actor: born London 19 November 1941; married (two sons); died Banbury, Oxfordshire 24 August 1996.