January 2, 2017


Derek Bond (1920-2006) b. Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

Derek Bond

Amiable actor Derek Bond was born in Glasgow in 1919 and educated at Haberdasher’s Aske’s, Hampstead. He left school at 16 to take up work as a journalist for the Golders Green Gazette. He began acting in London as a member of the Finchley Amateur Dramatic Society and discovered that the stage was more to his liking and was taken on as stage manager and juvenile lead at the Colchester Rep. Bond landed his first paid work in one of the earliest television plays. In February 1938 he appeared as a robot under the orders of a mad scientist in one of the first television programmes ever transmitted by the BBC.

A career that showed every sign of taking off was brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of WWII. Bond volunteered for the Brigade of Guards and was commissioned into the Grenadiers, earning a Military Cross for bravery. Following a serious leg injury in combat in North Africa, Bond returned to England to recuperate and was sent to Aldershot as a platoon instructor. In 1943 a chance meeting with Diana Morgan, a script writer at Ealing Studios, led to a film test and an offer of work.

Immediately after being demobbed, Bond turned down a contract offer from J. Arthur Rank to renew his connection with Ealing Studios. Ealing had the ideal role in mind for him, that of a PoW, and within weeks he was back in Germany behind a wire fence filming The Captive Heart (1946) with Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. Basil Dearden�s engrossing film was praised for the semi-documentary realism of life in a prison camp. His next film, Alberto Cavalcanti�s Nicholas Nickleby (1947), was thought to be too stagey an adaptation and Bond�s performance too drab. Away from Ealing, he was charming as the young man who falls in love with tormented heiress Jean Simmons in Uncle Silas (1947) and as a passenger in the Gainsborough Pictures disaster melodrama Broken Journey (1948).

Now an established actor, Bond was cast in the role of gallant Captain Oates for Ealing�s Scott of the Antarctic (1948), which had John Mills and his fellow South Pole explorers dying heroically to the strains of Vaughan Williams�s stirring music. Once into his late thirties, the lead parts eluded him and he was poorly cast in a succession of weak comedies including Poet’s Pub (1949) and Tony Draws a Horse (1950), and subsequently fell into low-budget films including High Terrace (1956), Stormy Crossing (1958) and The Hand (1960). There was the odd exception such as John Ford�s Gideon�s Day (1958) in which Bond played a corrupt police officer.

As the film roles dried up, Bond turned to television and appeared in episodes of popular series including The Vise, William Tell, Invisible Man, The Saint, No Hiding Place and had a creditable recurring role as Chief of Intelligence in Callan. From 1959 he directed several short films for Rank in their “Look at Life” series, and in 1961 he became the co-presenter of Picture Parade for more than two years before joining Tonight, the early-evening current-affairs programme.

From the early Seventies, Bond was a council member of the actors union, Equity, where he came up against the left-wing faction led by Vanessa and Corin Redgrave. Having fought off an attempt by the Redgraves to take control of the union, Bond was elected president in 1984. Bond published an amusing memoir, Steady Old Man! Don’t You Know There’s a War On? (1990). He continued to take roles until the mid-1990s, when his war wound made him unsteady on his legs.

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