Actor Rudolph Walker has been a much-loved face on British TV since the 1970s, helping to pave the way for a new generation of black talent

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Rudolph Walker is one of the best-known black actors on British television. He was the first such actor to star in a major TV series in the 1970s, and since then has enjoyed a long and successful career, becoming an enduring character in popular BBC soap EastEnders.
Born in San Juan, Trinidad, Rudolph left home in 1960 aged 20 to pursue acting in the UK after a stint at Derek Walcott’s influential Trinidad Theatre Workshop.

He appeared in the first episode of the comedy On the Buses in 1969 but his big break was in the ITV sitcom Love Thy Neighbour (1972-1976), where he and his on-screen wife, played by Nina Baden-Semper, found themselves constantly at loggerheads with the white couple next door. While the show was hugely popular it was later criticised for the trite way in which it handled racism.

Rudolph has appeared in other major television series, including Empire Road (1978-1979) with Norman Beaton and Joseph Marcell; as the barrister Larry Scott in Black Silk (BBC, 1985), written by Rudy Narayan; and as PC Gladstone in The Thin Blue Line with Rowan Atkinson (BBC 1995-’96).

He was cast in Caryl Phillips’ The Record as the tyrannical father of a young woman who dreams of becoming a pop singer (Channel 4, 1984). In Michael Abbensetts’s, Big George is Dead (Channel 4, 1987), he played Tony, the once long-lost friend of Norman Beaton’s resentful Boogie who returns to England from Trinidad after an absence of 14 years.

In 1989 he appeared as Harry Cartwright in the Cold War drama Rules of Engagement (ITV, 1989) and in the drama series A Perfect State (ITV, 1997). While his work has been mainly on TV, Rudolph has also starred in a number of feature films, including 10 Rillington Place (1971), Let Him Have It (1991), Bhaji on the Beach (1993), and Ali G in da House (2002).

In 2001, he joined the cast of EastEnders to play the ongoing role of Patrick Truman.
He was awarded an OBE in 2006 for his services to drama and on his 70th birthday in 2009 he launched The Rudolph Walker Foundation, which aims to provide opportunities and incentives for disadvantaged youths starting out on a career in the performing arts.

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