Name:  Richard Wilson
Born:  9 July 1936.  Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland, UK


BBC Publicity image of Richard Wilson

One Foot in the Grave.  Richard Wilson.

Richard is a keen Supporter of the Labour Party.

He was appointed an OBE in 1994.

He was the rector of the University of Glasgow, 1996-1999.

He became an Associate Member of RADA.

He graduated from RADA at the age of 29.

He appeared with actors James Fox and Edward Fox in both 'A Passage to India' and 'Gulliver's Travels': the only productions the two brothers appeared in together.


Richard Wilson was born in Greenock and worked as a research scientist, before becoming an actor.

Mini Bio - Life before RADA.

Richard Wilson's first look at the world was from within the bedroom walls of the upstairs flat at 141 Dunlop Street, Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland.  The year was 1936, the ninth of July, precisely ten forty at night.  His sister Moira waited outside the door in her nightdress wondering if she had a little sister or brother to play with.

Moira eventually did adopt her brother into the world of play where they both acted out the roles of shopkeepers in their makeshift shop come shed with its plank counter and pretend customers.  One of the games at the shop invented by Moira saw Richard playing the part of the last baby in the world.  Perhaps this was the pivotal moment that sent Richard on towards the path that makes the man today, planting the acting seed in his youthful mind.  Maybe this too is the reason behind the reoccurring dream that Richard has about that moment in time.

Richard and Moira attended Sunday school at Mount pleasant, which had a youth club and drama group that tempted Richard back into the world of amateur dramatics as a child.  Richard's debut performance was at the age of 11 at the Lady Alice School, playing the King in 'The Princess and the Pea', wearing a pair of girls black gym knickers stuffed with paper, perfect as faux pantaloons.

Unfortunately religion was not for Richard.  As a boy, he was a very skinny adenoidal boy.  He used to pray to god to make him fatter but they were never answered.  This lack of self belief made him feel physically disabled.  He longed to be like the other boys and knew what it was like to be teased.  A very private man today, Richard was also very private as a boy.  He spent much of his spare time hiding in the loft reading comics.  When Richard was nine he adopted a cat, eventually named toots, which he hid under the stairs and fed on dried eggs and milk.  Toots played a big part in Richard's early life and lived to the ripe old age of eighteen. 

When Richard was thirteen he plucked up the courage to do something about becoming an actor.  He visited Mabel Irving who taught English and Drama at the Greenock High School.  He remembers her saying "Don't be stupid boy.  You can't speak!".  Crushed, Richard added his voice to his list of reasons why he'd never become a success as an actor.  Instead he decided it would be nice to work in a hospital and do a bit of good for others.  It was at the age of seventeen, the year 1953, that Richard left school armed with his Scottish Leaving Certificate to train as a lab technician at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow.  After two years he moved to the Gateside Hospital in Greenock, which gave him more spare time to get into amateur dramatics.   It was this career choice that led him to join the Royal Army Medical Corps when he was called up for national service.  This was the first time in his life that he had to leave the bosom of Scotland and was a shock to the system.  After post basic training he was sent to Catterick in North Yorkshire.  The education officer suggested he join the Carey Garrison Theatre group.  It took two visits before Richard plucked up the courage and it would probably have taken several more if someone hadn't spotted him and asked him if he needed help.

Richard Wilson in Life as we know it. 

Source www.animaldramatics.co.ukRichard Wilson.

In 1958 Richard returned home after being posted in Singapore and went straight back to work at the Gateshead Hospital.  Greenock was the same as ever, Richard however, wasn't.  He set off for London not long after, sadly leaving toots behind.  London was a huge and frightening place for the innocent young Richard and it wasn't long before homesickness struck.  He made the Belsize residential club his home and managed to secure a job at the Paddington General Hospital in the Haematology and Blood Transfusion Unit.  He enrolled in acting classes at the City Literature institute.  His old friend from Greenock, Charlie Murray also followed his footsteps to London so life became a little more exciting.  

Things took a turn for the worse in 1960 when his mother collapsed with a brain tumour and later died leaving Richard struck with grief.  It was around this time that Richard met an actress who told him he could qualify for a grant from the London County Council to train as an actor.  At the age of 27 he applied to RADA and was accepted to his utter disbelief.


His recent directorial work in theatre includes (Click for more information on any particular play):

Directing for television includes:

  • The Egg,
  • Changing Step (written by Antony Sher),
  • A Wholly Healthy Glasgow,
  • Under The Hammer,
  • Remainder Man,
  • Commitments.

As an actor his recent theatre work includes:

  • Waiting for Godot (Royal Exchange Manchester);
  • What The Butler Saw (National).

Publicity image of Richard Wilson

 Richard Wilson.

On television, he is probably best known for One Foot in the Grave (for which he won two Light Entertainment BAFTA Awards and the British Comedy Awards’ Top Television Comedy Actor).  The series concluded when Wilson's character was killed by a neighbour played by another Scot, Hannah Gordon (b.1941)

Richard was Rector of Glasgow University from 1996 to 1999 and is now visiting professor for Drama. He is an Associate Director of the Royal Court. In 1994 he was awarded the OBE for services to drama as a director and actor.






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