Roy Castle: Wikis


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Roy Castle
Born 31 August 1932(1932-08-31)
Scholes, nr Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
Died 2 September 1994 (aged 62)
Occupation Television celebrity
Spouse(s) Fiona Dickson (m. 1963–1994) «start: (1963)–end+1: (1995)»"Marriage: Fiona Dickson to Roy Castle" Location: (linkback:

Roy Castle OBE (31 August 1932 in Scholes, near Holmfirth, Yorkshire[1] – 2 September 1994 in Buckinghamshire[2]) was an English dancer, singer, comedian, actor, television presenter and musician. He attended Honley High School, where there is now a building in his name. He was a talented jazz trumpet player.


Early career

The son of a railwayman, he was a tap dancer from an early age and after leaving Holme Valley Grammar School, he started his career as an entertainer in an amateur concert party. As a young performer in the 1950s, he lived in Cleveleys near Blackpool and appeared there at the local Queen's Theatre, turning professional in 1953 as a stooge for Jimmy Clitheroe and Jimmy James. By 1958 he was appearing at the Royal Variety Show.

Television career

In the mid-1960s he starred in the BBC television show The Roy Castle Show.[3] In 1965, he appeared in the film Dr. Who and the Daleks, playing the role of Doctor Who's first male assistant, Ian Chesterton, quite differently from the way it had been played in the original television series by William Russell. He also appeared in Dr. Terror's House of Horrors as a jazz musician suffering a curse after copying voodoo tunes. He also appeared in Carry On up the Khyber in 1968. In 1973 Castle teamed up with actor & comedian Ronnie Barker in the original one-off called Another Fine Mess (an episode from a series called Seven of One). Barker was one of Castle's best friends, and paid tribute to their work together shortly after Castle's death.

Between 1967 and 1968 Castle co-starred with Jimmy Edwards in the London West End run of the comedy farce show Big Bad Mouse when Eric Sykes had to withdraw due to illness. The show was resident at the Shaftesbury Theatre and, while being loosely scripted, it offered both Edwards and Castle the chance to freely ad-lib and generally break the 'fourth wall' with the audience, Castle breaking into trumpet performances while Edwards walked into a front stall seat to read a newspaper, tap dancing and firing ping-pong balls into the stalls. [4] He also once stood in for Bruce Forsyth hosting The Generation Game in 1975 while Forsyth was ill.

Record Breakers

In 1972 he first presented Record Breakers, a children's show and he remained host for nearly 20 years. He recorded the theme song for the show himself. While presenting the show he broke nine world records himself, including

  • Fastest tap-dancer
  • Longest wing walk
  • Playing the same tune on 43 different instruments in four minutes.

He was a host of the show up until a few months before his death in 1994, hosting alongside Norris and Ross McWhirter, Fiona Kennedy and Cheryl Baker. From then on, hosting was taken over by Baker and former athlete Kriss Akabusi. It continued until 2001, lasting 29 years. It remains one of Britain's longest running shows.

Singing career

Between 1958 and 1969, Castle recorded numerous singles and three LPs. Only one of these LPs has seen a CD release so far: Songs For A Rainy Day was recorded in 1966 for Columbia (now reissued in the UK on CD by EMI Gold, re-titled Isn't This A Lovely Day). The record features 12 songs with rain as the theme. It is notable that some of the top British Jazz players of the day such as Gordon Beck (piano), Jeff Clyne (bass), Leon Calvert (flugelhorn), Ike Isaacs (guitar), Ray Swinfield (flute) and Al Newman (sax) played on the record. The LP features Jazz arrangements by Victor Graham and covers a variety of styles such as big band rompers ("Pennies From Heaven", "Stormy Weather"), ballads ("February Brings The Rain", "Here's That Rainy Day", "Soon It's Gonna Rain"),and bossa novas ("Everytime It Rains", "The Gentle Rain").

Personal life

Throughout his adult life Roy Castle suffered from Agoraphobia. For the greater part of his career as an entertainer he was unhindered by the condition - but his role as the main presenter of Record Breakers proved challenging at times. Unfortunately for Roy, many of the multi-person record-breaking attempts were recorded in the vast BBC TC1 studio at Television Centre. At 995 square metres (10,250 ft²), TC1 is one of the largest television studios in Europe. The prospect of several hundred hula-hooping schoolgirls or bagpiping soldiers inside a large studio would cause Roy great anxiety. However, he prided himself on being a professional entertainer and he improvised many novel ways of managing his condition. For example, when filming in TC1 he would arrange with the producer to have a large wicker laundry basket placed out of camera shot, into which he would dive to take refuge from his panic attacks. His co-host Cheryl Baker would often sit on the basket, thus providing Roy with the comforting knowledge that the lid could not be accidentally removed.[5]

He was married to the dancer Fiona Dickson in 1963[6] after being introduced to each other by Eric Morecambe.[7] They had four children. Their youngest son, Ben Castle (born 1973), is a successful jazz saxophonist who has played with Jamie Cullum, Carleen Anderson and Beth Rowley, among many others. Both Roy and his wife were committed Christians and they regularly attended the Baptist church near their home.

Castle was also a keen football fan and supported Liverpool Football Club. Less than six months before his death, he attended the Liverpool-Everton derby match at Anfield on 14 March 1994 and stood on the famous Spion Kop terrace, as it was the last local derby that would be staged before the Kop was demolished to make way for a new all-seater stand. He had also been in the crowd at Liverpool's FA Cup final victory over Sunderland in May 1992, shortly after he was first diagnosed with cancer. At that time Ronnie Barker paid tribute to him, referring to their portrayal of characters that bore a strong resemblance to Laurel and Hardy in Another Fine Mess.

On 31 December 1992, Castle became an OBE. He was also a recipient of the Carl Alan Award, an honour voted for by members of the professional dance industry.

Illness and death

Castle was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 1992, and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy before going into remission in the autumn of that year. Castle, a non-smoker, blamed his illness on years of playing the trumpet in smoky jazz clubs. On 26 November 1993, Castle announced that his illness had returned, and once again underwent treatment in hope of overcoming it. Several months later, he carried out the high profile Tour of Hope to raise funds for the erection of the building that would become the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, which was - and still is - the only British charity entirely dedicated to defeating lung cancer.

His final contribution to Record Breakers was aired over the summer of 1994, although the programme continued until 2001.

He died on 2 September 1994, two days after his 62nd birthday.

His widow Fiona worked with the charity for many years after her husband's death, and was a key figure in campaigning for the British smoking ban which came into effect during 2007 and has seen smoking banned in virtually all enclosed public places.


  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: DEC 1932 9a 303 HUDDERSFIELD - Roy Castle, mmn = Swallow
  2. ^ GRO Register of Deaths: SEP 1994 B13A 237 CHILTERN & SOUTH BUCKS - Roy Castle, DoB = 31 Aug 1932 aged 62
  3. ^ BBC - Comedy - Shows A-Z Index
  4. ^ Big Bad Mouse programme cover
  5. ^ John Birt,The Harder Path (Time Warner Books, 2002), p.193.
  6. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: SEP 1963 6a 1063 ETON - Roy Castle = Joan F. Dickson
  7. ^ Love Southend Profiles

External links

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