Remembering Gareth Hunt

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From Left: Joanna Lumley, Gareth Hunt and Patrick Macnee in “The New Avengers” (1976)

Do you remember Gareth Hunt? Gareth Hunt was the stage name for British actor Alan Leonard Hunt.

Born in Battersea, London, England on Sunday, 7 Feb. 1943, Hunt is best remembered for his playing Frederick and Mike Gambit in the BBC television series “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “The New Avengers,” respectively.

Having developed an interest in acting during his teens, Hunt sought training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Following graduation, Hunt joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” Len Deighton’s “Oh! What a Lovely War” and the Arthur Laurents / Leonard Bernstein co-created “West Side Story” were among the numerous staged productions Hunt worked on as a thespian.

In 1974, Hunt was initially introduced to the “Upstairs, Downstairs” audience as Trooper Norton in the Christopher Hodson directed episode “Missing Believed Killed.” Norton was batman to James Bellamy, played by Simon Williams.

For people not Familiar with the antiquated terminology, batman pertained to a soldier or airman which was assigned to a commissioned officer as his personal servant. By the mid-1910s, even though the term batman had been phased out in favour of soldier-servant, commissioned officers could still be heard using the traditional term.

While the character Hunt was cast as in his first appearance in “Upstairs, Downstairs” was a minor role, series producers John Hawkesworth and Alfred Shaughnessy recognised in the performance he gave great potential. A year later, when the producers were looking to cast the role of Frederick Norton for the Bill Bain directed episode “On with the Dance,” they immediately looked to Hunt to step into the characters shoes.

Despite Hunt initially thinking he had been asked back to the period drama to play Frederick in this one episode, he soon discovered the producers’ intentions were to have him on set as a regular for the entire fifth series.

It was the work Hunt did on “Upstairs, Downstairs” that influenced the producers on “The New Avengers” to cast him as Secret Agent Mike Gambit. Beginning om Friday, 22 Oct. 1976 with the Desmond Davis directed premiere “The Eagle’s Nest,” in addition to Patrick Macnee and Joanna Lumley, Hunt completed the series trio.

Lumley, Hunt and Macnee

The New Avengers” was a valiant effort to recreate ambiance of the original Sydney Newman created series “The Avengers.”

Even though the Newman’s series had proven popular with its television audience, the new series was not as fortunate.

It came to an end on Thursday, 24 Nov. 1977 with the Don Thompson directed series finale “Forward Base.”

Like a lot of British actors, in 2001, the British television audience saw Hunt join the cast of the popular BBC soap opera “EastEnders” as Richie Stringer. People familiar with Stringer might recall he was crime boss who was a suspect in the shooting of Steve McFadden’s character Phil Mitchell.

Even though Hunt appeared in such television productions as “Bless This House,” “Sunday Night Thriller,” “Minder,” “A Hazard of Hearts” and “The Lady and the Highwayman,” the Ray Cameron directed horror comedy “Bloodbath at the House of Death” will always be considered one of the actor’s best performances.

For the Cameron directed horror comedy, Hunt was joined by Kenny Everett, Pamela Stephenson, Vincent Price, Don Warrington and John Fortune. It was the 1980s. Relative to the British Isles during this period, Cameron had brought together an all-star-cast for his film.

The actor’s last performance came in 2007 when he played Roy McBride in the Brendan Foley written and directed drama “The Riddle.” The film, premiering in the British Isles on Sunday, 16 Sept. 2007, was released some six months after the actor’s death.

Hunt died of pancreatic cancer in Redhill, Surrey, England on Wednesday, 14 March 2007.

In addition to Hunt, other entertainment professionals born on this day include:

For a more comprehensive list of entertainment professionals born on this day, click the provided link.