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Peter Gilmore

Actor most famous for his role in The Onedin Line;

Born: August 25, 1931; Died: February 3, 2013.

Peter Gilmore, who has died aged 81, was an actor who found fame in the 1970s television drama The Onedin Line but never quite escaped its success. He played many other roles, but they were always eclipsed by viewers' and casting agents' memories of his character in series and the show's stirring signature tune.

Gilmore, who was born in Germany but raised in Yorkshire, was cast as Onedin after a career in musicals. He was an immediate hit in the part of James Onedin and developed a diverse fanbase: women fell in love with the dashing captain with an impressive quiff and sideburns, and naval buffs were thrilled by the programme's use of genuine historical naval vessels.

The programme, which ran from 1971 until 1980, followed the travails of the Onedin shipping company in Liverpool at the end of the 19th century. Much of the plot was inspired by the social changes happening at the time, but at the centre was Onedin and his dramatic relationships with his family, colleagues and women. He was married three times in the programme, including to Anne played by Anne Stallybrass, whom Gilmore later married in real life. Gilmore had two other marriages, first to Una Stubbs and then to Jan Waters.

He ended up as an actor after working in factories as a teenager. He won a place at Rada and from there performed in touring singing groups and musicals such as My Fair Lady, Lock Up Your Daughters and The Beggar's Opera in the 1950s.

From there he graduated to television, where his first leading role was in Ivanhoe in 1958. He also appeared in movies, including 11 Carry On films, as well as Oh! What a Lovely War and the family adventure Warlords of Atlantis with Doug McLure in 1978. He was also in the British horror The Abominable Doctor Phibes with Vincent Price.

Gilmore was cast as James Onedin in the early 1970s and appeared in every one of the 91 episodes, which inevitably led to him being typecast.

He did go on to appear in many other television series, including the Ruth Rendell Mysteries and Heartbeat.

He also had a starring role in the Peter Davison Doctor Who story Frontios, playing the leader of a group of Earth colonists on an alien planet who were bombarded by meteors.

It is the part of James Onedin, standing on the deck of a ship, arms akimbo, that will endure.

He is survived by his wife Anne and Jason, his son from his first marriage.

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