Richard Wilson

Wilson in 2007.
Iain Carmichael Wilson

(1936-07-09) 9 July 1936 (age 87)
OccupationActor • theatre director • broadcaster
Years active1964–present
Notable workSee below
TelevisionOnly When I Laugh
One Foot in the Grave
Born and Bred
Britain's Best Drives

Richard Wilson OBE (born Iain Carmichael Wilson;[1] 9 July 1936) is a Scottish actor, theatre director and broadcaster. He is most famous for playing Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. Another notable role was as Gaius, the court physician of Camelot, in the BBC drama Merlin.[2]

Early life

Wilson was born in Greenock, Scotland.

He went to the Lady Alice Primary school in Greenock. He studied science subjects at Greenock Academy,[3] then completed his National Service with the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Singapore.[4]


Wilson worked in a laboratory at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow as a research assistant[5] before switching to acting at age 27. He trained at RADA and then appeared in repertory theatres in Edinburgh (Traverse Theatre), Glasgow and Manchester (Stables Theatre).

Wilson initially turned down the role of Victor Meldrew and it was almost offered to Les Dawson before Wilson changed his mind.[6]

Wilson was awarded the OBE in the 1994 Birthday Honours[7] for services to Drama. In April 1996, he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow for a term of three years.[5]

The narration of "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", from Strawbs' eponymous first album, was performed by Wilson.[8]

Wilson's biography, One Foot on the Stage: The Biography of Richard Wilson, was written by James Roose-Evans.[9]

In March 2011, Wilson presented an edition of the Channel 4 current affairs programme Dispatches entitled Train Journeys From Hell, with transport journalist Christian Wolmar highlighting the failings of the British railway network.[10]

Personal life

Wilson has lived in London since 1959.[11]

Wilson has been a campaigner for gay rights for many years.[12] He appeared at charity events organised by gay rights campaign group Stonewall, but had not discussed his own sexuality in interviews with the media.[13] He was named in a list of influential gay people in 2013 by Time Out magazine, which he considered to have outed him.[14][15]

Wilson is a supporter of his local football club, Greenock Morton, but he has come to lend greater support to English club Manchester United.[4] He is a patron of the Manchester United Supporters Trust.[16] Wilson is a good friend of his One Foot in the Grave co-star Angus Deayton, and is godfather to Deayton's son.[17]

Wilson is one of the patrons of Scottish Youth Theatre.[18] Wilson is also a long-time supporter of the charity Sense and in 2007 hosted their annual award ceremony.[19] He is also one of the honorary patrons of the London children's charity, Scene & Heard.[20] He has been Honorary President of the Scottish Community Drama Association (SCDA) since 1998.[21]

Wilson is a supporter of the Labour Party and recorded the party's manifesto on audio for the 2010 general election.[22][23]

It was reported on 12 August 2016 that Wilson had suffered a heart attack. He had been due to reprise the role of Victor Meldrew in a one-man show at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[24]

In June 2021 Wilson was the guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. His choices included "Hammond Song" by The Roches, Symphony No. 6 in D minor by Sibelius and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack. His book choice was the poetry of Robert Burns and his luxury item was a subscription to The Guardian.[25]

Wilson had one older sister, Moira, who died in 2021 aged 91.[25][26]




Stage acting

Theatre direction

Wilson won the TMA Best Director Award in 2000 for Mr Kolpert.[5]


Exercise videos


  1. ^ Walker, Lynne (12 June 1999). "he's all the rage". The Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  2. ^ "BBC - Press Office - Merlin press pack: Richard Wilson". BBC. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Richard Wilson's Beacon Theatre hopes". Greenock Telegraph. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b Dugan, Emily (21 November 2010). "Richard Wilson: Retire? He doesn't believe in it". The Independent. UK: Independent Print. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Richard Wilson – Drama Faces". BBC. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
  6. ^ Plunkett, Richard (26 July 2016). "I don't believe it! Victor Meldrew role almost went to Les Dawson". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  7. ^ United Kingdom list: "No. 53696". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1994. pp. 1–30.
  8. ^ "Strawbs website". 22 November 1968. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  9. ^ "One Foot on the Stage on Vialibri". Retrieved 7 August 2011.[dead link]
  10. ^ "Train Journeys From Hell". Dispatches. Channel 4. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Rees, Jasper (26 June 2014). "Richard Wilson, interview: 'A lot of Scots hate me'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  13. ^ Ahad, Nick (4 July 2011). "The big interview: Richard Wilson". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  14. ^ Maddocks, Fiona (15 November 2015). "Interview. Richard Wilson: 'For a long time I thought Tony Blair was the greatest thing since cream cheese'". The Observer. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  15. ^ Earp, Catherine (2 March 2013). "'Merlin's Richard Wilson: 'I don't mind people knowing I'm gay'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Richard Wilson". Manchester United Supporters Trust. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  17. ^ McLean, Craig (12 July 2016). "Interview: Richard Wilson and Angus Deayton on how they won't be painting Edinburgh red together this Fringe". The List. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  18. ^ "Scottish Youth Theatre website". 26 March 2008. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  19. ^ "Celebrity supporters of Sense". 24 June 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  20. ^ "Scene & Heard – Who We Are". 2010. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  21. ^ "Honorary Presidents and Members – SCDA". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Delay in Labour braille and audio manifesto criticised". BBC News. BBC. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  23. ^ Young, Kevin (20 April 2010). "Election 2010: Political celebrities – then and now". BBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  24. ^ "Victor Meldrew actor Richard Wilson suffers heart attack". BBC News. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  25. ^ a b "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Richard Wilson, actor and director". BBC. 20 June 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  26. ^ Jones, Marcus (2016). "Richard Wilson's sister 'praying' as Victor Meldrew star suffers heart attack". Premier Christianity. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  27. ^ How to Get Ahead in Advertising, retrieved 8 May 2020
  28. ^ Sherlock Gnomes (2018) - IMDb, retrieved 8 May 2020
  29. ^ "Richard Wilson Archive".
  30. ^ The Red Headed League, retrieved 8 May 2020
  31. ^ Selling Hitler, retrieved 8 May 2020
  32. ^ "Richard Wilson On The Road Episode 2 | presscentre".
  33. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Believe It!". BBC.

Further reading

Academic offices Preceded byJohnny Ball Rector of the University of Glasgow 1996–1999 Succeeded byRoss Kemp