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Obituary: Roy Castle (1932-1994)

By Paul Scoones

Roy Castle played Ian Chesterton in the 1965 movie Dr Who and the Daleks, but he is perhaps most famous as the particularly gifted tap dancer, musician, and singer who hosted the BBC1 television series Record Breakers for 22 years.

Castle was born 31 August 1932. In 1946 at the age of 14 he got his first starring theatre role. An accomplished tap dancer, he also developed a mastery of many musical instruments. In 1958 at the Royal Variety Performance he stole the show and became an overnight success as an entertainer.

His first film role was in the 1964 Dr Terror's House of Horrors, which also starred Peter Cushing. Castle, playing a jazz trumpeter, left such an impression on producers Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg that they cast him without an audition for the role of Ian Chesterton, with second place billing, in their next film, Dr Who and the Daleks. Castle later appeared in the films Carry On up the Khyber (1968) and The Legend of the Werewolf (1974), in which he was briefly reunited with Peter Cushing.

The first series of Record Breakers in 1972 was a great success, and led to a 22 year run with Castle as host and occasionally a record breaker himself, notably for non-stop tap dancing. He was awarded an OBE for his services to the entertainment industry.

In 1992, Castle learned that he had developed lung cancer, despite never having smoked in his life, and bravely decided to use his high profile to alert the public to the dangers of passive smoking. He devoted the last couple of years of his life to fundraising for cancer research.

He recorded his last series of Record Breakers in 1993, during which he was briefly reunited with Dr Who and the Daleks co-stars Roberta Tovey and Jennie Linden who were in the studio next door recording an interview for Kevin Davies' 30 Years in the TARDIS documentary.

Through chemotherapy, Castle made a temporary recovery but in November last year the cancer returned and eventually claimed his life on 2 September 1994. He was 62.

This item appeared in TSV 41 (October 1994).