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George Murcell
Murcell in The Champions
Arthur George Murcell

30 October 1925
Died3 December 1998(1998-12-03) (aged 73)
Occupation(s)Film, stage and television actor
Theatre director
Years active1952–1996
OrganizationRoyal Shakespeare Company
Josephine Tweedy
(m. 1953⁠–⁠1960)
(m. 1960⁠–⁠1998)
(his death)

Arthur George Murcell (30 October 1925 – 3 December 1998) was a British character actor.

Life and career

Born in Italy,[1] he made his film debut in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Battle of the River Plate (1956), Murcell went on to develop a career playing snarling villains in both film and television. These could either be stupid, brutish henchmen, as in Hell Drivers and Campbell's Kingdom (both 1957), or sophisticated rogues, such as Needle in "You Have Just Been Murdered", an episode of The Avengers.[2]

He specialised in playing foreign characters, including Germans, Russians and South Americans. A number of these roles were in ITC adventure TV series of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Danger Man, The Baron, The Saint, The Champions (Reply Box No.666 episode, 1967) Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Persuaders! and Jason King.[3] His film roles included Sea of Sand (1958), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), The Heroes of Telemark (1965), Kaleidoscope (1966), The Fixer (1968), A Dandy in Aspic (1968), The Assassination Bureau (1969), A Walk with Love and Death (1969), Penny Gold (1973), Special Branch (1974), Inside the Third Reich (1982, as Hermann Göring), Year of the Gun (1991), and Cutthroat Island (1995).[4]

He enjoyed a long stage career, which involved working with Tyrone Guthrie and Peter Brook, and was active in the Royal Shakespeare Company.[5][6] In the 1970s, he acquired a Victorian church in North London, which he converted into an Elizabethan-style theatre in collaboration with director Adrian Brown.[7] In 1973, he opened it as "St George's Theatre", intending that it present little-seen classical plays.[8]

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to work at St George's Theatre as both an actor and a director, often with his wife, Elvi Hale.

Personal life

George Murcell memorial bench

Murcell married his first wife, Josephine Tweedy, in 1953. His second wife was the British actress Elvi Hale, to whom he was married from 1961 until his death in 1998. Away from acting, Murcell was also an accomplished musician and linguist. He died on 3 December 1998, aged 73.[2] A bench dedicated to him is placed near the bridge crossing the lake at Kew Gardens.



  1. ^ Birth record transcript, Registration event: Birth
    Name: MURCELL, Arthur G H
    Mother's name: Not available before 1966
    Consulate: Naples, Italy
    Year: 1921–1925
    Volume: 19, p. 637 : Record source: GRO Consular Birth Indices (1849 to 1965)
  2. ^ a b "George Murcell". British Film Institute. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  3. ^ "George Murcell".
  4. ^ "George Murcell | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  5. ^ "George Murcell | Theatricalia".
  6. ^ "Search | RSC Performances | Shakespeare Birthplace Trust".
  7. ^ Times, Joseph Collins Special to The New York (22 August 1977). "A New 'Globe'". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "The Avengers Forever: George Murcell". Retrieved 8 December 2022.