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Dennis Waterman made Stratford RSC debut aged 12 in 1960 alongside star names including Peggy Ashcroft and Peter O'Toole



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Think of actor Dennis Waterman, who died aged 74, and his iconic roles in Minder and The Sweeney, the hardman with a good heart come to mind.

But as a boy actor he donned period costume and tights to tread the boards at the RSC.

Brought up in south-west London, he was the youngest of nine children, and followed in his elder sisters’ footsteps in becoming involved in amateur dramatics.

The Winter's Tale, 1960, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre: From left, Mamillius (Dennis Waterman) and attendants: 2nd Old Gentleman (Ian Richardson), 1st Old Gentleman (Roy Dotrice), 2nd Lady-in-Waiting (Maroussia Frank), 3rd Lady-in-Waiting (Diana Rigg) and Emilia (Mavis Edwards). . Directed by Peter Wood, designed by Jacques Noel. Photo: Angus McBean
The Winter's Tale, 1960, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre: From left, Mamillius (Dennis Waterman) and attendants: 2nd Old Gentleman (Ian Richardson), 1st Old Gentleman (Roy Dotrice), 2nd Lady-in-Waiting (Maroussia Frank), 3rd Lady-in-Waiting (Diana Rigg) and Emilia (Mavis Edwards). . Directed by Peter Wood, designed by Jacques Noel. Photo: Angus McBean

One of his first roles was as Moth in Love’s Labour’s Lost in Brixton town hall, and aged 12 he made his first film: Night Train for Inverness (1960), playing the kidnapped diabetic son of a newly released prisoner.

That same year he came to Stratford for Peter Hall’s first RSC season, he was a boy player in The Taming of the Shrew, starring Peggy Ashcroft and Peter O’Toole, and young Mamillius, son of Eric Porter’s ragingly jealous Leontes, in The Winter’s Tale.

Eighteen years later, now a professional actor, he appeared as Robert Sackett in comic drama Saratoga, or Pistols for Seven in the RSC’s 1978 production at Aldwych Theatre, London.



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