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Brian Rix
Born 27 January 1924 (1924-01-27) (age 85)
Cottingham, Yorkshire, England
Occupation Actor
Known for Charity work for Mencap
Spouse(s) Elspet Gray
Children Shelley Rix (deceased)
Louisa Rix
Jamie Rix
Jonathan Rix

Brian Norman Roger Rix, Baron Rix, CBE (born 27 January 1924) is an English actor and charity worker. He is the younger brother of British actress Sheila Mercier (Emmerdale).


Early years

Born in Cottingham, East Riding of Yorkshire, the son of a Hull shipowner, Brian Rix was educated at Bootham School, York. He became a professional actor, briefly, when he was 17, playing with Donald Wolfit in Cardiff. His wartime National Service began in the Royal Air Force, but he soon after volunteered to become a Bevin Boy, working instead as a coal miner. He holds amateur radio licence G2DQU


After the war, Rix returned to the stage and in 1947 formed his own theatre company. He ran rep companies at Ilkely, Bridlington and Margate, and at only 26 years old, was a highly successful actor and manager. Rix was associated with the Whitehall Theatre from 1944 until 1969, although as an actor-manager he became increasingly well known on TV as well as stage.

He became famous for his staging of Reluctant Heroes, both on tour and at the Whitehall Theatre for 4 years. The theatre specialised in farces, such as Simple Spymen and Dry Rot, some of which were regularly televised. After the Whitehall Theatre, Rix moved onto the Garrick and more successes. Rix appeared in 11 films and 70 farces for BBC TV and was regularly seen on screen without his trousers on. He also made a handful of films that were well suited to his talents as a farceur such as The Night We Dropped a Clanger (1959), The Night We Got the Bird (1961), Don't Just Lie There, Say Something! (1973).

He also hosted the TV series Let's Go, the first British programme to be created specifically for people who had learning disabilities. In 1980, he retired from acting, and became Secretary-General of the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults (Mencap) (it became “The Royal Society” the following year) and in 1987 became its Chairman. Since 2002 the Society has been officially called the “Royal Mencap Society”, with Rix serving as its President.


He was created a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1977, and was knighted in 1986 for his services to charity. On 27 January 1992, his tireless work was further recognised when he was created a life peer becoming Baron Rix of Whitehall in the City of Westminster and of Hornsea in Yorkshire. After nine years as a Vice Lord Lieutenant of London, Lord Rix was installed as the first Chancellor of the University of East London on 16 July 1997.

Personal life

In 1949 he married the actress Elspet Gray. They had four children, including the producer and children's author Jamie Rix and actress Louisa Rix. Their daughter Shelley Elspet Rix was born with Down's syndrome, and he has always used his name to promote public awareness and understanding of learning disabilities. Shelley Elspet Rix died in July 2005 in Hounslow, Greater London.[1]


Rix has been associated with many initiatives, including presenting Let's Go for the BBC, which was one of the first programmes made specifically for people with learning disabilities. He is the author of two biographies, My Farce From My Elbow (1974) and Farce About Face (1989), and two theatre histories, Tour de Farce and Life in the Farce Lane. He also edited, compiled and contributed to Gullible's Travails, an anthology, and travel stories by famous people for the Mencap Blue Sky Appeal. His 80th birthday in 2004 marked the start of a year of fundraising and publicity for Mencap.

Recent work

He appeared on Desert Island Discs on 1 March 2009.[2]

Selected filmography


External links



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