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RIP Frank Finlay

One of the UK’s finest actors, Frank Finlay, has died at the age of 89.

He was distinguished on both stage and TV, and once played Jesus Christ, perhaps appropriately for a devout Roman Catholic, although he specialised in sexy villain roles.

Finlay aroused the wrath of Mrs Mary Whitehouse, who in the 1970s led a campaign against ‘permissive’ main stream TV, for his starring role in the 1971 BBC series Casanova. At the time Casanova was regarded as shocking for its nudity, although today it seems rather tame. He said of Casanova: “The BBC couldn’t get actresses who were prepared to take their blouses off. So in the end they got girls off the streets.”

He left school aged 14 and initially worked as a butcher’s apprentice and a grocer’s assistant.

He took up amateur dramatics and then became an assistant stage manager of a theatre in Scotland before gaining a scholarship to Rada.