Gorden Kaye's breakthrough role came after stints with Corrie and Emmerdale

Gorden Kaye's breakthrough role came after stints with Corrie and Emmerdale

Gorden Kaye had his first taste of the entertainment industry when he interviewed the Beatles while working in hospital radio in 1965.

The former grammar school student and rugby player had worked in a variety of jobs – including in radio, positions at a tractor factory and textile mills – when he signed up for a radio play directed by playwright and director Sir Alan Ayckbourn.

Apparently impressed with his ability, Sir Alan suggested Kaye try out for a theatre company, and his acting career was launched.

Gorden Kaye
Gorden Kaye (PA Archive/PA Images)

Early screen roles included The Flaxton Boys and parts in soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale, known then as Emmerdale Farm.

But it was being cast as cafe owner Rene Artois in ‘Allo ‘Allo! in 1982 that really put Kaye on the showbiz map.

He appeared in all 84 episodes of the series, which ran until 1992, and reprised the role in a 2007 special.

He also appeared in the stage version of the series.

The actor, born in Huddersfield on April 7 1941, was seriously injured when a piece of wood smashed through the windscreen of his car during the Burns’ Day storm of January 25 1990.

While he was recovering from the brain injury, Kaye was photographed in hospital by two Sunday Sport journalists, who had dressed as medical staff to gain access to the comedy star.

The incident sparked a major debate and a court case centred on the right to privacy.

Kaye was left with a scar on his forehead and no memory of the details of the accident, but he recovered and was able to resume his career.

Gorden Kaye
Gorden Kaye (Tony Harris PA Archive/PA Images)

He appeared on several television shows after ‘Allo ‘Allo! came to an end, including Mansfield Park and Last Of The Summer Wine.

In 1989 he penned an autobiography in which he described growing up as a shy, homosexual youth.

The unusual spelling of his first name is said to have been down to a typing error at the hospital when he was born.

“It’s the sign of a mis-spelt youth,” Kaye was known to joke.

His last screen role, other than the ‘Allo ‘Allo! special, was in BBC sketch show Revolver in 2004.

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