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Derek Fowlds
Derek Fowlds 5 Allan Warren.jpg
Fowlds in 1974
Derek James Fowlds

(1937-09-02)2 September 1937
Wandsworth, London, England
Died 17 January 2020(2020-01-17) (aged 82)
Occupation Actor, presenter
Years active 1962–2020
Wendy Tory
(m. 1963; div. 1973)

(m. 1974; div. 1978)
Partner(s) Jo Lindsay (1976–2012; her death)
Children 2

Derek James Fowlds (2 September 1937 – 17 January 2020) was an English actor. He was best known for his appearances as "Mr Derek" in The Basil Brush Show (1969–1973), Bernard Woolley in the sitcom Yes Minister (1980–1984) and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister (1986–1988), and as Oscar Blaketon in Heartbeat (1992–2010).

Early life

Fowlds was born on 2 September 1937 in Wandsworth, London, the son of Ketha Muriel (née Treacher) and James Witney Fowlds, a salesman. In early life he and his mother and sister went to live in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, at the home of his maternal grandmother. There Fowlds attended Ashlyns School, a former Secondary Modern School. After leaving school aged 15, Fowlds worked at a printer's firm as an apprentice and also, as his National Service, spent two years in the RAF as a wireless operator.


After success in amateur acting, his teacher encouraged him to take it up as a career and Fowlds won a scholarship to RADA in 1958.

He made his debut on the West End stage in The Miracle Worker. He appeared in various film roles, including Tamahine (1963), East of Sudan (1964), Hotel Paradiso (1966), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), The Smashing Bird I Used to Know (1969), Tower of Evil (1972) and Mistress Pamela (1974), prior to becoming familiar to British television child viewers as "Mr. Derek" in the popular British children's series The Basil Brush Show for four series, replacing Rodney Bewes as presenter.

He played the role of Lord Randolph Churchill in the ATV series Edward the Seventh (1975). In Yes Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister he played the naïve and callow Bernard Woolley alongside Paul Eddington's Jim Hacker and Nigel Hawthorne's Sir Humphrey Appleby.

From 1983 to 1985, Fowlds played the lead role in the sitcom Affairs of the Heart. He featured in a more sinister role in the 1990 political thriller Die Kinder. Fowlds then played old and curmudgeonly Oscar Blaketon in the long-running Yorkshire Television police drama nostalgia series Heartbeat set in the sixties for its entire eighteen-year run beginning in 1992. The character first appeared as the local police sergeant, then retired from the force and ran the post office before becoming a publican.

Personal life and death

Fowlds married, and later divorced, Wendy Tory, and later wed and divorced (in 1978) the Blue Peter presenter and dancer Lesley Judd. His partner of 36 years, Jo Lindsay, died in 2012. He was the father of two sons, including the actor Jeremy Fowlds. His autobiography, A Part Worth Playing, was published in 2015.

He died at Royal United Hospital in Bath on 17 January 2020 at age 82 from complications of heart failure and sepsis, which had followed pneumonia. His funeral was held at St Katharine's Church in Holt, Wiltshire on 17 February 2020.


Year Title Role Notes
1962 The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner Borstal Inmate Uncredited
1962 We Joined the Navy The Midshipman / Carson
1963 Doctor in Distress Medical Student Gillibrand
1963 Tamahine Bash
1964 Hot Enough for June Sun Bathing Man
1964 East of Sudan Murchison
1965 Gideon's Way Tim Coles Episode 26: "The Nightlifers"
1966 Hotel Paradiso Maxime
1966 Take a Pair of Private Eyes Ambrose Frayne 6 episodes
1967 Frankenstein Created Woman Johann
1967 The Solarnauts Tempo Pilot: "Cloud of Death"
1969 The Smashing Bird I Used to Know Geoffrey
1969–1973 The Basil Brush Show Mr Derek 64 episodes
1972 Tower of Evil Dan
1973 Mistress Pamela Sir Percy
1974 Thriller Dicky Series 3, Episode 3: "Death to Sister Mary"
1975 Edward the Seventh Lord Randolph Churchill Episode: "Dearest Prince"
1976 The Copter Kids Captain Peters
1978 Robin's Nest Ricky Hart Series 2, Episode 2: "The Candidate"
1979 My Son, My Son Newbiggen 1 episode
1980–1984 Yes Minister Bernard Woolley 22 episodes
1982 Minder Meadhurst Episode: "Dead Men Do Tell Tales"
1983–1985 Affairs of the Heart Peter Bonamy 7 episodes
1986–1988 Yes, Prime Minister Bernard Woolley 16 episodes
1988 Inspector Morse Kurt Friedman / Michael Robson Episode: "The Settling of the Sun"
1990 Die Kinder Crombie 6 episodes
1992 Over the Hill Dutch
1992–1994 Firm Friends John Gutteridge 8 episodes
1992–2010 Heartbeat Sgt. Oscar Blaketon 342 episodes
2001 Lily Savage's Blankety Blank Himself 1 episode
2012 Run for Your Wife Man in hat
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