Born: February 2, 1931

Died: May 23, 2018

Glynn Edwards, who has died aged 87, became an instantly recognizable face and voice after years of stalwart supporting roles, in the hugely successful Thames comedy-drama Minder (1979-94). Possessing gravelly tones and a broad chest, his greeting of “Allo Arfur”, as Dave, the barman at the Winchester Club, regularly provided some solace for Arthur Daley after yet another get-rich-quick scheme had failed.

The prolific Edwards constantly popped up on screen, as overbearing fathers and husbands, gruff military men and exasperated plain clothes detectives. But he had a part in stage history as one of Joan Littlewood’s trusted actors, whom she termed ‘nuts’ or ‘clowns’, in her Theatre Workshop in London’s East End, re-imagining old warhorses and giving outlets to new voices including composer Lionel Bart and nefarious playwright Brendan Behan.

Belying his frequent casting as a Cockney, he was born in Penang in Malaya, now Malaysia, where his father was a rubber planter. Spending his childhood between Southsea and Salisbury, he became interested in acting while working at a country club in Trinidad, entering London's Central School of Speech and Drama.

After repertory experience, he formed a production company in 1955, touring in a mildly sensationalist play, Call Of The Flesh. Its leading lady was future sitcom star Yootha Joyce, whom he married in 1956, the first of his three wives. Edwards’ first work for Littlewood was at the Duke of York’s in 1956, in The Good Soldier Schweik. Later that year, at Theatre Workshop’s base at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, he played Young Mortimer in Edward II, then an inmate called Hard Case in Behan’s The Quare Fellow, which transferred to the Comedy.

In 1957, revivals of The Playboy Of The Western World, as Old Mahon, and The Duchess Of Malfi, as the servant Antonio, followed before the company took Macbeth, in 20th century dress with Edwards in the title role, to Zurich and Moscow. 1958 brought Behan’s The Hostage, with Edwards as an IRA chief revealed to be Harrow-educated and an early example of a Plastic Paddy. The following year, this re-opened at Wyndham’s, and in 1960 transferred to Broadway, with the cast accompanied by the playwright himself.

Bart wrote the music and lyrics for Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be. Edwards played a dodgy gambling club owner, with Barbara Windsor among the good-time-girls. Originally opening in 1959, it transferred the following year to the Garrick. Like most of Littlewood’s regulars, Edwards appeared in her only film, Sparrows Can’t Sing (1962).

Edwards appeared with Michael Caine in Zulu (1964), The Ipcress File (1965), and among the corrupt Newcastle locals in Get Carter (1971); he would later return to Tyneside, in the very different circumstances of a children’s television series, The Paper Lads (1977-79). He was the latter half of Burke and Hare (1971), an unwise mix of period horror and smutty comedy.

Madame Bovary (1964), with Edwards as Nyree Dawn Porter’s boorish husband, was the first classic serial on BBC2, recorded at BBC Scotland’s Studio A in Glasgow. The actor did two of Ken Loach’s earliest works, Diary Of A Young Man (1964) and 3 Clear Sundays (1965). He was a pig-obsessed farmer in The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin (1977-78), and put up with Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em (1978).

After Minder’s last run in 1994, Edwards retired from acting, dividing his time between homes in Spain and Scotland. The latter was where he died, surrounded by his family, including his third wife Valerie.