Richard Wilson OBE (born Ian Carmichael Wilson; 9 July 1936) is a Scottish-born English actor, theatre director and broadcaster, best known for playing Victor Meldrew in the popular BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. He appears in the BBC drama Merlin as Gaius, the court physician of Camelot.
Life and career
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).
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 has worked for the gay rights campaign group Stonewall and the Labour Party. He is one of the Patrons for Scottish Youth Theatre, Scotland's National Theatre "for and by" young people. Wilson is also a long-time supporter of the Sense charity and in 2007 hosted the Annual Sense Awards, honouring excellence in both deafblind people and those who work with them. 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. Owing to the popularity of One Foot In The Grave, Wilson is still hounded by members of the public to say the classic 'I don't believe it' catchphrase of the character Victor Meldrew.
At the height of his One Foot in the Grave fame, he appeared in an advertisement for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! in character, as Victor Meldrew. In it, he's confronted by a supermarket taste-test. In a break from tradition, he simply chose to believe that the product was indeed butter. His famous catchphrase, "I don't believe it!", was a response to one of the staff conducting the test, played by James Corden, eating all the crumpets on offer.
Wilson's biography, One Foot on the Stage: The Biography of Richard Wilson (ISBN 0752811150), was written by James Roose-Evans.
In 2010, Wilson recorded the Labour Party's manifesto for the 2010 General Election.
In March 2011 Wilson presented an edition of the Channel 4 current affairs programme Dispatches entitled Train Journeys From Hell, 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 won the TMA Best Director Award in 2000 for Mr Kolpert.
- J. Roose-Evans, One Foot on the Stage: The Biography of Richard Wilson
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