Most television audiences think of British actor
Barry Morse as either one of two characters: Lieutenant Philip Gerard, the man obsessed with capturing Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) in the classic TV drama The Fugitive (ABC, 1963-1967), or as Professor Victor Bergman in Space: 1999 (ITC, 1975-1977), a show that remains hugely popular among sci-fi viewers throughout the world. And while those two particular roles remain important to Morse, they also represent just a small fraction of the hundreds of other different characters he’s brought to life on stage, screen and television in the course of his 70-year career. Morse’s vast body of work in the theatre covers everything from Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw, to Gore Vidal and A.R. Gurney, to his own critically acclaimed one-man show, Merely Players. He’s also appeared in a host of television shows in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, including such classics as The Twilight Zone and The Untouchables and groundbreaking miniseries like The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, and Sadat. I first came to know Barry Morse in the early ’90s, when I interviewed him several times for my book The Fugitive Recaptured. He’s a marvelous storyteller with uncanny powers of recollection, great warmth and compassion, and a cheeky sense of humor (no surprise there, folks… he is, after all, veddy, veddy British). He’s also as refreshingly down to earth as any actor I’ve come to know. Talk to him just once, and he’ll make you feel as though you’ve known him your entire life. That’s part of the fun of Remember with Advantages, Morse’s memoir of his long career in stage, film and television, which he co-authored along with Portland-based author/playwright Anthony Wynn and Canadian writer/artist Robert Wood. In many ways, it really is like catching up with an old friend… an old friend whose life and career, as Oscar and Emmy winner Martin Landau writes in the book’s Foreword, “is a virtual history of the twentieth century, through the peaceful periods and the wars, the very beginnings of television, his vast experiences in film, and his beginnings and enduring love affair with the theatre in England, Canada and the U.S., [and which] deserves to be read by everyone on the planet, theatre folk and civilian alike.”
Barry Morse and his book will be the subject of our next two editions of Talking Television with Dave White, the program I co-host along with Dave White on global radio station KSAV.org. This Tuesday, May 1, beginning at 11:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm PT, we’ll talk live with Wynn and Wood about their work with Barry, which in addition to Remember with Advantages includes writing and staging many theatre productions featuring Morse over the past decade, including Bernard and Bosie, a two-act play (written by Wynn) based on the correspondence of George Bernard Shaw and poet Sir Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. Throughout the program we’ll also play excerpts from an hour-long interview Dave and I recorded with Barry earlier this spring from his home in London, England.
Then next Tuesday, May 8, also beginning at 11:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm PT, we’ll play the interview with Barry Morse in its entirety. As you might imagine, because the name of the program is Talking Television, much of our conversation with Barry focuses on his work for the small screen, which dates back to the very first television broadcasts originating from the BBC in the mid-1930s. But we also touch on topics ranging from his work as a stage director to his predilection for all things George Bernard Shaw, from his fluency in many languages to his penchant for American accents. (Long before Hugh Laurie on House, Morse was the first British actor to play an American character on an American network television series, which he did for four years as Gerard on The Fugitive.)
Talking Television is a weekly 90-minute call-in program that discusses all aspects of television. We stream live every Tuesday night, but if you should miss our live broadcast, all of our shows are available 24/7 on the archives page at KSAV.org. I hope you’ll join us for both our programs on the career of Barry Morse. They promise to be a fitting tribute to a distinguished actor who has entertained so many of us for so many years.