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Valentine Dyall
Black Guardian.jpg
Dyall as the Black Guardian in Doctor Who
Born(1908-05-07)7 May 1908
London, England
Died24 June 1985(1985-06-24) (aged 77)
Years active1942–1985
Notable work
Marjorie Stonor
(m. 1935; div. 1940)

Babette Jones
(m. 1941; ? 19??)
Kathleen E. Woodman
(m. 1970)

Valentine Dyall (7 May 1908 – 24 June 1985) was an English character actor. He worked regularly as a voice actor, and was known for many years as "The Man in Black", the narrator of the BBC Radio horror series Appointment with Fear.

He was the son of the actor Franklin Dyall and the actress and author Mary Phyllis Joan Logan, who acted and wrote as Concordia Merrel.

1930s to 1950s

In 1934, Dyall appeared with his father, actor Franklin Dyall, at the Manchester Hippodrome in Sir Oswald Stoll's presentation of Shakespeare's Henry V, playing the roles of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Captain Gower, and a cardinal of France. He also appeared in one movie with his father, the 1943 spy thriller Yellow Canary; Dyall's part was that of a German U-boat commander attempting to kidnap a British agent from a ship in the Atlantic, while his father played the ship's captain.

In the same year he had a small role as a German officer in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and, the following year, played the Duke of Burgundy in Laurence Olivier's film version of Henry V.

In 1946, he appeared, uncredited, as the character Stephen Lynn in the romantic film drama Brief Encounter; Lynn is protagonist Alec Harvey's friend whose unexpected arrival spoils Alec's opportunity of consummating his romance.

During the 1950s, Dyall made several guest appearances in episodes of the BBC Home Service radio comedy series The Goon Show, parodying his familiar radio persona.

In 1960, he played the witch Jethrow Keane in The City of the Dead (known as Horror Hotel in the United States).


Dyall appeared in Robert Wise's 1963 film The Haunting as Mr. Dudley, the sinister caretaker of the haunted Hill House. Also that year, he played the central character Lord Fortnum in Spike Milligan and John Antrobus's stage play The Bedsitting Room, set in the aftermath of nuclear war. The play opened at the Mermaid Theatre on 31 January.[1][2] Dyall narrated the mondo documentary The Mystery and the Pleasure in 1966, and part-narrated the pseudo-documentary The Naked World of Harrison Marks in 1967. In the same year he voiced the character of evil mastermind Dr. Noah in the James Bond parody movie Casino Royale, and also provided the voice of the mummy narrator in Secrets of Sex (1969).

With Dusty Springfield, Dyall co-hosted the BBC music variety series Decidedly Dusty in 1969; no complete episode has survived.[3]

1970s and 1980s

In 1975, at London's Royal Court Theatre, Dyall played Dr. Rance in a major revival of Joe Orton's play What the Butler Saw. Between 1977 and 1979, he appeared as Dr. Pascal Keldermans in the BBC television series Secret Army. He was in the cast of the BBC's Doctor Who to portray the Black Guardian in several serials (The Armageddon Factor from 1979 and the Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment trilogy in 1983). At around the same time as The Armageddon Factor, he featured in the radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, playing Gargravarr. In the TV and LP versions, he voiced the computer Deep Thought. He also played the character Norl in the Blake's 7 episode "City at the Edge of the World" and Lord Angus in the 1983 Black Adder episode "Witchsmeller Pursuivant". Also in 1983, he joined many other Doctor Who cast and crew members at Longleat for the show's 20th anniversary celebrations.

In 1984, Dyall appeared in the BBC Miss Marple episode "The Body in the Library". His last role on television was as Marcade in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Love's Labour's Lost. His role as Captain Slarn in the Doctor Who radio serial Slipback was recorded on 10 June 1985, just 14 days before his death, and was broadcast posthumously.





  1. ^ Milligan, Spike & Antrobus, John, The Bedsitting Room, Tandem: London, 1973. First published in Great Britain by Margaret & Jack Hobbs, 1970. Published by Universal-Tandem, 1972.
  2. ^ McCann, Graham (2006). Spike & Co. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-340-89809-3. p. 158.
  3. ^ "Decidedly Dusty". TV Brain. Retrieved 7 May 2022.