Duncan Carse, explorer and actor

Born: 28 July, 1913, in Dorset

Died: 2 May, 2004, in London, aged 90

DUNCAN Carse was perhaps best known for his resounding portrayal of Dick Barton - Special Agent on the radio in the 1940s, but his first love was mapping obscure areas of the world. He concentrated principally on the area round the Falkland Islands and when the conflict occurred in 1982 his maps proved invaluable. His knowledge of the South Georgia area was called upon often by the war cabinet and by military officials.

Verner Duncan Carse was educated at Sherborne and then joined the Merchant Navy. One of his first trips, in 1933, was to the South Atlantic on an oceanography investigation and it kindled in him a deep love of the area. He was to be a crew member of the research ship Discovery every year until 1938, spending the harsh winters in Port Stanley.

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Back in Britain, Carse found employment with the BBC as a presenter and announcer. He was often in the studio when the bombs were falling over London but in 1942 this most active man decided to join the Royal Navy as a seaman. He was commissioned the following year and served on trawler patrols on the Western Approaches.

After the war, he returned to the BBC and, after announcing for four years, he was asked to take over the role of Dick Barton from its creator Noel Johnson. The series was hugely popular: more than 1,000 actors had applied for the job. The series was vital family listening in those days. The music - a sort of gallop-come-car-chase - set the scene and then an announcer said in a dramatic voice: "Dick Barton Special Agent: can Dick get out of the burning office and save Jock and Snowy?" Cue more music. He always did save whoever was in the fire or accident or had been left balancing on a clifftop. It was all gripping stuff and more than 15 million listeners hung on every episode.

Carse suddenly found fame - he was on magazine covers and became a celebrity. It was not really to his liking: he preferred anonymity and privacy. He was keen to hand the role over and before the series was axed in 1951 (to give way to "a fictional story of country folk" called The Archers) he was off to South Georgia.

The conditions under which he mapped and explored the area were demanding. The weather was fearsome and in 1961 he lived throughout the appalling winter alone as a psychological experiment. He was rescued by a whale-catcher and his experiences were made into a TV documentary. A decade later, he was taken by the vessel Endurance to South Georgia with the intention of retracing Shackleton’s expedition of 1916. But the weather conditions defeated him on that occasion.

Carse returned to the BBC, where he presented many radio programmes and was often seen on the Horizon science series on television. When the Falklands conflict erupted, his 1958 survey map of South Georgia was fundamentally important to the Task Force as it prepared for the invasion of the island. His personal knowledge of the area proved vital in deciding landing points and the best terrain for major troop movements. In 1992, he was awarded a second clasp to his Polar medal and Mount Carse, in the south of the island, was named after him.

Carse is survived by his third wife, by two daughters from his first marriage and by a son from his second.