January 2, 2017


Naunton Wayne (1901-1970) b. Llanwonno, Glamorganshire, Wales.

Naunton Wayne

Wayne was born in Wales, a compere, comedian, and concert-party entertainer for the first eight years of his career from his 1920 debut in the Pavilion at South Wales’s Barry Island. He came to London in 1928 and was general jokester in several West End shows, also appearing in cabaret at some of the town’s swishest night-spots, including the Ritz, the Dorchester and the Cafe de Paris. He didn’t take a straight acting role until 1937, and the following year Alfred Hitchcock teamed him with Basil Radford in The Lady Vanishes (1938).

They played Charters and Caldicott, names dreamed up by screenwriters Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, later to become famous producer-directors. The characters cropped up again in the Gilliat/Launder-scripted Night Train to Munich (1940): more trains, more Nazis. As Charters and Caldicott they took the lead in two comedy-mystery films; Crook’s Tour (1941) and It’s Not Cricket (1949).

When Radford and Wayne returned to radio, Launder and Gilliat claimed copyright on their film characters. So it was as Woolcott and Spencer that Radford and Wayne appeared in their first post-war series, Double Bedlam. These most popular wearers of the old school tie were half-way through their 1952 radio adventure, Rogues’ Gallery, when Radford collapsed and died from a heart attack. Wayne gallantly carried on to the end of the story alone. It was a gesture in keeping with two characters that always ‘played up and played the game’. Wayne made his final film appearance in Nothing Barred (1961).

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