On this day in history: 27th November 1920 – The birth of Buster Merryfield, the English actor best known as ‘Uncle Albert’ in the BBC comedy series Only Fools and Horses….

Buster Merryfield as Uncle Albert in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ – Fair use

Buster was born in Battersea, London to Lily and Harry Merryfield…. Weighing a whopping nine pounds he was immediately nicknamed ‘Buster’ by his grandfather…. It was the name he was to go by throughout his entire life – in fact he refused to divulge his real name…. It only became public knowledge after his death that he had really been named Harry, after his father….

His was a working-class background…. He enjoyed sport, liked football and was a life-long Millwall supporter; but he was particularly keen on boxing…. During the 1930s he became quite a boxing sensation himself, he was the 1936 British Schoolboy Champion and an Army Champion in 1945….

Buster began working for the Westminster Bank (now National Westminster) and in June 1942 he married Iris – they went on to have a daughter…. During the War years he served in the Army, as a jungle warfare instructor…. It was while in the Army he discovered his talent for acting and also directing, after joining the Entertainments Division…. He was to become Entertainments Officer, responsible for organising shows….

After being demobilised in March 1946 Buster returned to the bank and was to remain with them for nearly 40 years, reaching the position of Senior Bank Manager at Thames Dutton in Surrey…. He carried on with his acting by joining an amateur dramatics group and after taking early retirement from the bank in 1978 he joined a repertory theatre company….

One of his first professional parts was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in Eastbourne; he was also to have other small parts both on stage and television…. Then in January 1985 he joined the cast of Only Fools and Horses as the former sea-dog Albert Gladstone Trotter…. His character ‘Uncle Albert’, the long lost little brother of Grandad Trotter (who had been played by Lennard Pearce until his death in December 1984), was a pipe-smoking rum-swigger – who always predictably started his stories with….”during the War”….much to the annoyance of Del Boy….

Fair use

Buster could not have been more unlike Uncle Albert in real life…. He was keen on keeping himself fit and never drank or smoked during his lifetime…. He died of a brain tumour in Poole General Hospital on the 23rd of June 1999….

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