William Lucas obituary: Farewell to veteran TV star

Actor William Lucas in his workshop at home in Leverstock Green, circa 1970Actor William Lucas in his workshop at home in Leverstock Green, circa 1970
Actor William Lucas in his workshop at home in Leverstock Green, circa 1970
A household TV name who spent more than 10 years of his life living with his family in '¨Hemel Hempstead has died at the age of 91.

Actor William Lucas, born William Thomas Clucas on April 14, 1925, is perhaps best known for his role as Dr James Gordon in the TV adaptation of Anna Sewell’s novel Black Beauty.

Mr Lucas moved to Leverstock Green with his wife Doreen and two sons Daniel and Thomas in the early 1960s, becoming a well-known face in the local community by opening village fetes and joining the Dacorum Arts Council.

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His oldest son Daniel, 60, who lives in Tring, said: “He was like any other dad. He used to take Thomas and I fishing, and he came along to our school sports days.

“We moved about a lot but Hemel was where we stayed the longest, so we have always felt it was home.”

Mr Lucas, who was grandfather to former Ashlyns students Harry, 24, and Kitty, 22, had a fruitful acting career which began long before his Black Beauty days and carried on long after.

After training to be an actor with the Northern Theatre School, his career began in 1948 as an assistant stage manager at Chesterfield civic centre.

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It was here he met future wife Doreen, an actress, and they married in 1954.

From there, Mr Lucas moved into theatre work and was advised to change his name from Clucas to Lucas because it was easier to spell and pronounce.

His big TV break came in 1955 as car dealer Reg Dorking in crime thriller Portrait of Alison.

He enjoyed starring roles in a string of television dramas, such as The Infamous John Friend (1959), The Days of Vengeance (1960) and Flower of Evil (1961).

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Perhaps a highlight of Mr Lucas’ television performances was in The Spoils of War (1980-81) as George Hayward.

He also appeared as Bill Finlay in football series United!, Dennis Maxwell in Coronation Street (1971) and Stanley Webb in short-lived British-expats serial Eldorado (1992-93).

The early 2000s saw him in episodes of Last of the Summer Wine, Doctors and The Bill.

Mr Lucas also appeared on the silver screen, with film roles in Sons and Lovers (1960), Touch of Death (1961), The Marked One (1963) and The Shadow of the Cat (1961).

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Before his death the father-of-two lived in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, with his second wife Camilla, whom he married in 1993.

Mr Lucas died on July 8 and he was cremated in a service at Amersham Crematorium on Wednesday, July 20.