Richard Wilson OBE (born Iain Carmichael Wilson; 9 July 1936) is a Scottish actor, theatre director and broadcaster. He played Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave (1990). A later role was as Gaius, the court physician of Camelot, in the BBC drama Merlin (2008).
Wilson was born in Greenock, Scotland. He studied science in Greenock, and did National Service with the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Singapore. He worked in a laboratory at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow as a research scientist before switching to acting at age 27. He trained at RADA and then appeared in repertory theatres in Edinburgh (Traverse Theatre), Glasgow and Manchester (Stables Theatre).
He initially turned down the role of Victor Meldrew and it was almost offered to Les Dawson before Wilson changed his mind.
Wilson was awarded the OBE for services to drama as a director and actor in 1994. In April 1996, he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow for a term of three years.
Wilson’s biography, One Foot on the Stage: The Biography of Richard Wilson, was written by James Roose-Evans.
Wilson has worked for the gay rights campaign group Stonewall and the Labour Party. He is one of the patrons of Scottish Youth Theatre. Wilson is also a long-time supporter of the charity Sense and in 2007 hosted their annual award ceremony. He is also one of the honorary patrons of the London children’s charity, Scene & Heard.
The narration of “The Man Who Called Himself Jesus”, from Strawbs’ eponymous first album, was performed by Wilson.
He is a major supporter of the Labour Party, and he recorded the party’s manifesto for the 2010 General Election.
In March 2011, Wilson presented an edition of the Channel 4 current affairs programme Dispatches (1987) entitled Dispatches: Train Journeys from Hell (2011), with transport journalist Christian Wolmar highlighting the failings of the British rail network.
Wilson was a supporter of his local football club, Greenock Morton, but he has come to lend greater support to English club Manchester United. He is a patron of the Manchester United Supporters Trust. Wilson has been a campaigner for gay rights for many years, and he came out as gay in a Daily Mail interview in March 2013. Wilson is good friends with his One Foot in the Grave (1990) co-star Angus Deayton, and is godfather to Deayton’s son.
It was reported on 12 August 2016 that Wilson had suffered a heart attack. He had been due to reprise the role of Victor Meldrew in a one-man show at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
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