The Perfect Gentleman

The Arts

I first met George Baker because I was doing a TV commercial about Santa Claus. I had this silly idea that a top people’s Santa would have handmade red suits and would not come down a dirty old chimney but arrive in a Rolls Royce, so I had a very expensive suit handmade for him by Tommy Nutter. Baker had elegance and grace, and had shown it repeatedly in films like The Dam Busters, The Ship That Died of Shame (both 1955), A Hill In Korea (1956), The Moonraker, Tread Softly Stranger (both 1958), Goodbye Mr Chips and On Her Majesty’s Service (both 1969).

My mum had a soft spot for him, so I let her come along for the shoot. George and I were both broad-shouldered and tall, and as I was the same size he gave me the suit to keep. He was a great cook, and as we became friends he taught me about the history of cooking. I wrote a TV pilot for him in which he showed us around Chiswick House and recreated 19th century recipes. George introduced me to my first agent, and helped me start my career.

After being a leading man he became a character actor, furnishing whatever was needed – arrogance or timidity, charm or urbanity, fear or manliness, polish or menace. In later years he became best known as the TV detective Inspector Wexford. He died this week aged 80.

2 comments on “The Perfect Gentleman”

  1. Kevin says:

    One of a vanishing breed of actor, a familiar face who always brought class to whatever he was in, no matter how small the part.


  2. Stephen Groves says:

    Hi Chris,

    I have lost count how many films and tv shows I have watched with Mr George Baker in since I was a teenager.I remember no matter whether he was in the staring role or in a supporting part he was always believable and made you care or react to the character he was playing and not the actor.He will be sadly missed.

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