Robin Bailey (1919-1999) – It was an equitable life
An actor who became a familiar face on our screens had a brilliant career in the theatre but is best remembered for playing the role of the cheerless Uncle Mort in the 1970s sitcom I Didn’t Know You Cared. Well we do care and this is our tribute to you.
Cut Glass Accent: Robin’s father sold glass and china in Hucknall; a modest background for an actor with a deep mellifluous British voice who was destined to play mostly upper class roles. His first jobs were in the Post Office and then the War Office where he would observe customers and fellow workers, storing up their character traits for use on stage and film.
Curtain Up!: Robin’s first appearance was at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal in 1938. His West End debut came in 1941. An important early role would be Henry Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion in 1951. He played the role again in My Fair Lady for the Australian production beginning in 1959 which lasted several years; two plays on Broadway followed. Six decades in the theatre led to three Olivier Award nominations in the 1980s and 90s.
Class Act: In film and television he played a string of establishment figures, military officers and civil servants. In one memorable cameo he appeared as the Foreign Secretary at the beginning of the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Ironically it was for a working class role he became most well-known; the permanently cloth-capped dour Yorkshireman Uncle Mort in the BBC comedy I Didn’t Know You Cared from 1975 to 1979.
Deft as a Salesman: Robin’s versatility meant he was equally good in serious and comedic roles. But he confessed to preferring comedy. His upper class characters played straight were perfect for tongue-in-cheek TV adverts. From the 1970s to the 1990s he lent his talent to selling Cockburns port, St. Bruno tobacco and finally the ill-fated Equitable Life Assurance Company.