Richard Beckinsale Bio

Richard Arthur Beckinsale (6 July 1947 - 19 March 1979) was an English actor, he was best known for his roles as Lennie Godber in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge and Alan Moore in the British sitcom Rising Damp.

Richard Beckinsale acquired his first starring role in 1970 as Geoffrey in the sitcom The Lovers, opposite fellow newcomer Paula Wilcox. The show was a success without being a runaway triumph, and did enough to put both lead performers in the public eye. It also, like many sitcoms of the time, spawned a movie version.

There followed a purple patch when he was appearing in two of British TV's most successful sitcoms at the same time. On ITV, he was playing naive medical student Alan Moore in Rising Damp (voted ITV's best-ever sitcom in the Britain's Best Sitcom survey of 2004) while also starring in Porridge. Shortly after his 30th birthday, Richard was surprised by Eamonn Andrews with the famed 'big red book' for an appearance on This Is Your Life.

Richard Beckinsale quit Rising Damp in 1977, the same year that Porridge was brought to a natural end after his character of Godber was released from his prison sentence in the final episode. He subsequently starred alongside Barker in Going Straight, a spin-off of Porridge in which the two criminal characters are seen on the outside rebuilding their lives. At the beginning of 1979, Richard filmed a movie version of Porridge.

Richard met and married Margaret Bradley in 1966 and had one daughter, Samantha. They divorced in 1972. Both Margaret and Richard remarried and had more children at a later date. Margaret had 3 sons and Richard had a second daughter, Kate, with actress Judy Loe. Richard was survived by his two sisters, Judy and Wendy, and his parents Margaret and Arthur Beckinsale.

An untimely death

On 19 March 1979, Richard died suddenly in his sleep, at his home in Berkshire age 31. He was alone in the house at the time.

Porridge co-star Ronnie Barker commented on Beckinsale's premature death saying: "He was so loved. He hadn't done much but he was so loved that there was a universal sort of grief that went on."

The Early Days

Richard Beckinsale was born in Carlton, Nottinghamshire in 1947, to a quarter-Burmese father, Arthur John Beckinsale, (Beckinsale's grandfather was Burmese) and an English mother, Margaret Barlow.

He left Alderman White Secondary Modern school at 15 with ambitions to become an actor, so while working in numerous manual jobs he gained some experience by enrolling at a Nottingham adult drama class.

As a consequence, he won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, turning professional in 1968. He then moved to Crewe to begin in repertory theatre, like most newly-graduated actors at the time, and then made his television debut in 1969 as a police officer in Coronation Street, in which he had to arrest veteran character Ena Sharples.