Actor Warren Clarke has died at the age of 67. Clarke became an increasingly familiar face on British TV in the 1980s, and was probably best known in America as the lumbering, working-class police detective Andy Dalziel, a role he played from 1996 to 2007 in the popular crime series Dalziel And Pascoe. But moviegoers first noticed him when he played a character who started out on the other side of the law: Dim the droog, Malcolm McDowell’s heavyset, slow-witted sidekick in A Clockwork Orange (1971).
McDowell’s Alex calls Dim a “mindless, grinning bulldog,” and Clarke’s jowly visage served him well in other roles such as Winston Churchill, whom he played in the 1974 miniseries Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill. 27 years later, he played the older Churchill in Ben Brown’s play, Three Days In May.
Clarke had been acting on the stage and on TV, in television plays and the venerable British soap opera Coronation Street, for five years before Stanley Kubrick cast him in A Clockwork Orange. His performance as Dim led to offers from Hollywood, but Clarke turned them down, feeling that he had meatier opportunities closer to home. After a filmed version of Antony And Cleopatra, starring and directed by Charlton Heston, his next movie was O Lucky Man! (1973), which also starred Malcolm McDowell; it was directed by Lindsay Anderson, with whom Clarke had worked on the 1971 Royal Court Theatre production of David Storey’s play The Changing Room.
Clarke’s many other credits include the 1978 miniseries version of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend; a 1976 TV film of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, as Quasimodo; the 1981 miniseries Masada; Reilly: Ace Of Spies (1983); the blockbuster miniseries The Jewel In The Crown (1984); the spy-spoof movie Top Secret! (1984); Caleb Deschanel’s Crusoe (1988); the 1991 TV series Sleepers; and the 2006 Dickens miniseries Bleak House.
In all, Clarke acted in 48 episodes of Dalziel And Pascoe and directed three of them. He said he liked playing “this bloke from the North who’s farting, scratching, and behaving badly in front of women” and who “doesn’t bow” to politically correct sensibilities. But he also agreed to embody the dark side of the “Northern bloke” stereotype as the corrupt cop Bill Molloy, a thug with a badge whose battle cry is “This is the North, where we do what we want!” in the scabrous “Red Riding trilogy” of TV movies.
More recently, Clarke made a memorable guest appearance as a misbehaving diabetic patient on an episode of Call The Midwife and completed his work on a forthcoming remake of the miniseries Poldark.