Gordon Jackson

Gordon Cameron Jackson, OBE (19 December 1923 – 15 January 1990) was a Scottish actor best remembered for his roles as the butler Angus Hudson in Upstairs, Downstairs and as George Cowley, the head of CI5, in The Professionals. He also portrayed Capt Jimmy Cairns in Tunes of Glory, and Flt. Lt. Andrew MacDonald, “Intelligence”, in The Great Escape.

Gordon Jackson was born in Glasgow in 1923, the youngest of five children. He attended Hillhead High School, and in his youth he took part in BBC radio shows including Children’s Hour. He left school aged 15 and became a draughtsman for Rolls-Royce.

His film career began in 1942, when producers from Ealing Studios were looking for a young Scot to act in The Foreman Went to France  and he was suggested for the part. After this, he returned to his job at Rolls-Royce, but he was soon asked to do more films, and he decided to make acting his career.[4] Jackson soon appeared in other films, including Millions Like UsSan Demetrio LondonThe Captive HeartEureka Stockade and Whisky Galore!. In the early years of his career, Jackson also worked in repertory theatre in GlasgowWorthing and Perth.

In 1949, he starred in the film Floodtide, along with actress Rona Anderson. He and Anderson married two years later on 2 June 1951. They had two sons, Graham and Roddy. The same year, he made his London stage debut, appearing in the play Seagulls Over Sorrento by Hugh Hastings.

In the 1950s and 1960s he appeared on television in programmes such as The Adventures of Robin HoodABC of BritainGideon’s Way and The Avengers. In 1955 he had a small part in The Quatermass Xperiment, the film version of the BBC TV serial. He later had supporting roles in the films The Great EscapeThe Bridal Path and The Ipcress File. In 1969, he and his wife had important roles in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  That year, he played Horatio in Tony Richardson’s production of Hamlet and he won a Clarence Derwent Award for Best Supporting Actor,[2] having also taken part in the film version.

Gordon Jackson became a household name playing the stern Scottish butler Angus Hudson in sixty episodes of the period drama Upstairs, Downstairs from 1971 to 1975. In 1976, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor for the episode “The Beastly Hun“. In 1974, he was named British Actor of the Year and in 1979 he was made an OBE. Jackson was cast opposite Bette Davis for the American television film Madame Sin (1972), which was released in overseas markets as a feature film.

His next big television role was in the hard-hitting police drama The Professionals from 1977.[1] He played George Cowley in all 57 episodes of the programme, which ended in 1983, although filming finished in 1981. He played Noel Strachan in the Australian Second World War drama A Town Like Alice (1981), winning a Logie Award for his performance.

After A Town Like Alice and The Professionals, Gordon Jackson continued his television work with appearances in Hart to HartCampion and Shaka Zulu and the films The Shooting Party and The Whistle Blower. He also appeared in the theatre, appearing in Cards on the Table, adapted from the novel by Agatha Christie at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1981 and in Mass Appeal by Bill C. Davis at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1982. From 1985 to 1986, Jackson narrated two afternoon cookery shows in New Zealand for TVNZ called Fresh and Fancy Fare and its successor Country Fare.  His last role before his death was in Effie’s Burning, and this was broadcast posthumously. He died at the age of 66 in 1990.

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