On this day in history : 2nd April 1934 – The birth of actor, teacher and writer Brian Glover, who made his acting debut in the film ‘Kes’ – but started out as an all-in-wrestler….
Wrestling was in his blood…. His father, Charles, was an all-in-wrestler going by the name of ‘The Red Devil’…. By day Brian’s parents ran a grocer’s shop – they didn’t actually get around to marrying until Brian was 20-years-old….
Brian was born in Sheffield but raised in Barnsley…. He won a scholarship for the Barnsley Grammar School and then went on to study English and French at the University of Sheffield…. To top up his student grant he started professional all-in-wrestling, with the name ‘Leon Arras the man from Paris’…. He took his name from a real life Frenchman who failed to show up at a wrestling competition – and Brian stepped in, it was his first public match…. He developed a style of his own, incorporating comic antics with catchphrases such as “ows about that then?” and “ask ‘im ref”….
In 1954 he began to teach at his old grammar school in Barnsley, drumming the delights of English and French into his students…. Also in 1954 he married his first wife, Elaine, with whom he had a daughter – they were later to divorce…. Brian continued to wrestle in matches across Europe…. He remarried in 1976, to Tara Prem, a TV producer and they had a son….
It was whilst working at Longcar Central School in Barnsley that Brian was to meet PE teacher Barry Hines, author of ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ – which was published in 1968…. The story of Billy Cooper, a troubled young boy from a mining village, who cares for a kestrel he names ‘Kes’…. It is a book many of us will have read during our school years…. Barry went on to help adapt his book and co-write with Ken Loach for the 1969 film ‘Kes’…. He recommended Brian Glover for the part of the comical but domineering sports master, Mr Sugden….
Brian had no acting experience but was a natural as a character actor…. In 1970 he gave up teaching and his wrestling career soon after to become a full time actor…. With his broad Yorkshire accent, bald head and stocky frame he found himself cast many a time as a criminal or tough guy…. His TV work included parts in favourites such as ‘The Sweeney’, ‘Minder’, ‘The Bill’, ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads’, ‘Dixon of Dock Green’, ‘Dr. Who’, ‘Bottom’ and as prisoner Cyril Heslop in the sitcom ‘Porridge’…. He also appeared several times in the BBC’s ‘Play For Today’ series…. His dulcet tones could be heard in TV ad breaks for adverts such as Tetley’s “Tetley make teabags make tea” and Allison’s bread – “nowt taken out”…. He was even a narrator for the children’s series ‘Little Red Tractor’….
His theatre work was to include ‘The Changing Room’ at the Royal Court Theatre, London, a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company and performances of ‘The Mysteries’, ‘Saint Joan’ and ‘Don Quixote’ at the Royal National Theatre…. His film work was also extensive, with parts in ‘Alien 3’, ‘Jabberwocky’, ‘The First Great Train Robbery’, ‘An American Werewolf in London’, ‘Leon the Pig Farmer’ ‘Company of Wolves’ and the Bollywood movie ‘1942; A Love Story’….amongst others…. He also wrote over 20 plays and short films – as well as writing a regular column for a Yorkshire newspaper….
Brian died of a brain tumour in a London hospital on the 24th of July 1997…. He is buried in the Brompton Cemetery….