Obituary: Christopher Malcolm, actor and producer

Born: 19 August, 1946, in Aberdeen. Died: 15 February, 2014 in London, aged 67

Christopher Malcolm was the original Brad Majors when The Rocky Horror Show hit the stage in 1974. With his rugged good looks he was the exact opposite to everyone else on stage, particularly Tim Curry, who was famously attired in fishnets, bright red lipstick and exotic heels. Brad was the very ordinary and delightfully dull fiancé who wore horn-rimmed glasses and a suit. The wacky and way-out show was a humorous tribute to science fiction and B movies. It was first produced at the Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court on London’s Sloane Square and rapidly became a cult classic; a production was seen in Dunfermline at the end of last year. Over the past 40 years the show and the film have become equally famous and both command ardent fans at midnight performances and screenings.

Christopher Malcolm was born in Aberdeen, the second of four children of a farmer William Malcolm, and his wife, Paddy English, who was an enthusiastic member of a local amateur theatre group. His parents emigrated to Canada when he was nine, working on a farm near Vancouver.

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Malcolm did start a degree at British Columbia University but dropped out as he wanted to help construct the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon, British Columbia. It was there that he started his acting career and such was his ambition he returned to Britain to live with his grandmother in Essex.

His grandmother was in a bridge four with the mother of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s associate director John Barton and an audition was arranged at Stratford.

Malcolm landed some small parts in many of the epic productions at Stratford and London such as Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 and Coriolanus, directed by Peter Hall and Trevor Nunn. He shared a flat with actor Malcolm Macdowell – who later made his name in Planet of the Apes – surviving on £6 a week.

In 1968 he moved to the Royal Court, where he appeared in many of the new plays, notably Peter Gill’s production of Michael Weller’s Cancer alongside Martin Shaw, and prestigious revivals such as Lulu and Design For Living, both of which transferred to the West End.

But it was as Brad in The Rocky Horror Show for which he will be forever associated. With his macho appearance, Malcolm provided a rare streak of normality in Rocky Horror. Straight-laced Brad and his very proper wife, Janet, were driving off on their honeymoon, but have a car accident. They take refuge in a sombre house with some bizarre goings-on which is owned by the sweet but decidedly strange transvestite Dr Frank-N-Furter. The show was a smash hit from the outset and the songs have become classics. Malcolm continued to deliver a rounded and sane performance which balanced the other characters’ zany madness.

Throughout his career Malcolm was cast in cameo roles in major movies. He played a starfighter pilot in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and appeared in We’ll Meet Again (1982) with Susannah York and Highlander (1986) with Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert).

Malcolm was in numerous sit-coms and dramas on television – notably Only Fools and Horses and Lovejoy – and in 1996 he was cast in Absolutely Fabulous as Justin, the gay man who had been married to Eddy (Jennifer Saunders) and was the father of Saffron.

Malcolm’s character was a major presence in the early programmes with his straight talking and droopy moustache. He had a good relationship with his daughter (which Eddy envied) and he and his boyfriend Oliver regularly verbally clashed, hilariously, with Patsy, played by Joanna Lumley.

In 1978 Malcolm became a producer and one of his first shows was a major hit. A revival of Pal Joey starring Siân Phillips and Denis Lawson started on the London fringe but transferred triumphantly to the West End. That was followed by Nell Dunn’s hilarious Steaming, starring Julie Walters. In the late 1980s he formed a fruitful partnership with the actor/playwright Steven Berkoff, with Malcolm producing Metamorphosis with Tim Roth, and Berkoff’s searing dramatic plays, Decadence and Greek. Then Malcolm brought to the Old Vic Berkoff’s outstanding Messiah, in which the playwright was on stage for half an hour delivering a blistering monologue as Satan.

His time as an actor seemed to be catching up with his business career when Malcolm co-produced a West End revival of Rocky Horror in 1990 – it was as popular as ever and went on a lengthy worldwide tour.

Malcolm has just been associated with the revival of Oh! What a Lovely War, which opened last week at Stratford East where it had first been seen 50 years ago,

Malcolm, who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, is survived by his wife, the actor Judy Lloyd, and their three children.