ANTONY (TONY) LINFORD 1933-2012
Tony began life in Nottingham, where his first career as a telephone engineer was quickly cut short, a scholarship to RADA plunging him abruptly into a different world. While still a student and working as a dresser in the West End, an actor's indisposition catapulted him onto the professional stage for the first time.
Soon - in 1960 - he was Tom Sawyer in the musical of that name at Stratford East, then a member of the permanent company at the Old Vic. He appeared in the world premier of Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound at the Criterion, meanwhile clocking up a succession of cameo TV roles in such landmark series as Crossroads and Emergency Ward Ten - as well as playing Romeo for BBC Schools.
National tours were sprinkled into the mix between 1965 and 1985, roles ranging from Feste in Twelfth Night to Paddington Bear...
In the regions he led the permanent company at Eastbourne's Devonshire Park Theatre from 1969 - 1974, playing Hamlet and Widow Twankey, as well as everything in between, from Osvald in Ghosts to Felix in The Odd Couple. On the stage of Northampton's Royal Theatre, he was a major presence between 1964 and 1985, and Associate Director from 1981 to 1983. One-man shows included George Rylance's Ages of Man and Patrick Garland's Brief Lives.
His full-time acting career ended with the world premier of Jimmie Chinn's one man play, A Different Way Home, which was written specially for him in 1987. After that a new change of direction led him to Paris, where, as later, in London, he taught English alongside his partner Anthony.
Health problems dogged his last years, first heart, then cancer, against which he battled in a spirit of cheerful fortitude. He died, peacefully asleep, in Hastings, on 23 January.