Graham Stark
Graham Stark, c. early 1960s
Graham William Stark

(1922-01-20)20 January 1922
Wallasey, Cheshire, England
Died29 October 2013(2013-10-29) (aged 91)
London, England
  • Comedian
  • actor
  • writer
  • director
Years active1939–1999
Audrey Nicholson
(m. 1959)

Graham William Stark (20 January 1922 – 29 October 2013) was an English comedian, actor, writer and director.

Early life

The son of a purser on transatlantic liners,[2] Stark was born in New Brighton[3] (part of Wallasey) in Wirral, Cheshire, England. He attended Wallasey Grammar School and made his professional stage debut aged 13 in pantomime at the Lyceum Theatre in London.

During the Second World War he served in 334 company of the BEF in Salonika, Greece, where he was a turner in group workshops.[4] While there he first met Dick Emery, Tony Hancock and Peter Sellers, the latter two as fellow members of Ralph Reader's Gang Shows. Sellers would become a long-lasting close friend. With the Gang Shows, Stark toured the locations where military personnel were seeing active service.[4] After the war he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art,[5] and joined the regulars at Grafton's, a pub in Victoria run by Jimmy Grafton, a venue at which soon-to-be-prominent entertainers of the next few decades regularly gathered.[2]


Stark began to work on BBC Radio in the postwar years, helped by Tony Hancock's connections,[3] making his debut in Happy Go Lucky and going on to Ray's A Laugh, thanks to the intervention of Sellers,[2] For a time he was a regular in Educating Archie and substituted for Spike Milligan on The Goon Show[6][7] when the comedian was ill. Stark was a regular supporting player on TV with Peter Sellers in A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred, and with Benny Hill. His profile was sufficient for him to gain his own, albeit short-lived, sketch series, The Graham Stark Show (BBC 1964).[2] Now entirely lost,[8] it was scripted by Johnny Speight with each episode featured a different group of supporting actors, including Deryck Guyler, Arthur Mullard, Derek Nimmo, Patricia Hayes and Warren Mitchell.

He became a regular performer in the Pink Panther film series. His first role in the series was as Hercule Lajoy, Inspector Clouseau's stonefaced assistant, in A Shot in the Dark (1964). Along with Herbert Lom and Burt Kwouk, he appeared in more Pink Panther films than any other actor, playing a variety of characters, including reprising Lajoy in Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) and twice playing Dr Auguste Balls (in Revenge of the Pink Panther, 1978; and Son of the Pink Panther, 1993). He was cast as the hotel clerk in the "Does your dog bite" scene in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Stark, as well as Lom and Kwouk, each appeared in seven titles from the series.

In the film Alfie (1966), Stark was Humphrey, a timid bus conductor who takes on a woman (Julia Foster) and her child when the title character (played by Michael Caine) refuses commitment. He also played the role of Lord Fortnum's doctor, Captain Pontius Kak, in the original stage play of The Bed-Sitting Room, which opened at the Mermaid Theatre on 31 January 1963.[6][9][10] Following the death of James Beck in 1973, Stark took over the role of Private Joe Walker in the radio adaptation of Dad's Army.

In 1982, Stark appeared in a cameo role as a butler, alongside Dandy Nichols, in the music video for Adam Ant's UK No. 1 hit "Goody Two Shoes".[11] He played the character of Mr Nadget in the 1994 BBC adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit.

Personal life

In 1959 he married Audrey Nicholson, who survives him with their two sons and a daughter. Stark was also an accomplished stills photographer. He was the last known performer to have appeared on The Goon Show during its original run. In 2003 he published an autobiography, Stark Naked.[2] He died in London on 29 October 2013 at age 91, after suffering a stroke.[12][13]

Filmography as actor


  1. ^ Coveney, Michael (31 October 2013). "Graham Stark obituary" – via The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c d e Obituary: Graham Stark,, 31 October 2013
  3. ^ a b Robert Sellers "Graham Stark: Actor, author and director who graduated from music hall to the big screen", The Independent, 31 October 2013
  4. ^ a b Michael Coveney "Graham Stark obituary", The Guardian, 31 October 2013
  5. ^ Cheryl Mullin Graham Stark Obituary, Reading Post, 30 October 2013
  6. ^ a b Scudamore, Pauline (1985). Spike Milligan: A Biography. London: Granada. ISBN 0-246-12275-7. (a)pp.159-160, (c)pp.203-204
  7. ^ Lewis, Roger (1995). The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. London: Arrow Books. ISBN 0-09-974700-6.
  8. ^ "Missing or incomplete episodes for programme The Graham Stark Show",
  9. ^ Milligan, Spike, & Antrobus, John (1973) The Bedsitting Room. Tandem: London. First published in Great Britain by Margaret & Jack Hobbs, 1970. Published by Universal-Tandem, 1972.
  10. ^ McCann, Graham (2006). Spike & Co. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-89809-7. p.158. McCann cites the doctor's name as Captain Martin. This is possible. There appears to have been variation in names used, certainly between the play and the film, and possibly during the life of the play.
  11. ^ "Alfie actor Graham Stark dies aged 91". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Film actor Graham Stark dies at 91". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Graham Stark, Pink Panther actor, dies aged 91". BBC News. 30 October 2013..