Garard Green Chameleon-like radio actor who could assume almost any accent FOR nearly half a century, Garard Green was one of the most distinctive voices of radio drama. He had more than 4,000 BBC broadcasts to his credit, as well as more than 1,000 film and TV commentaries, narrations and voice-overs.
Garard Green was born in 1924 in Madras where his father was superintendent of the government press. The youngest of six children, he started his schooling at the Nazareth Convent School at Ootacamund (now Udagamandalam) in Tamil Nadu, but when his father died in 1933, the family returned to Britain where his education continued, first at Havant and later at Watford Grammar School.
It was at Watford that he developed his passion for acting. In his final term he played the title role in the school’s production of Henry V and, for his own satisfaction, learnt the entire play by heart. This proved to be an asset in the Army — he said that if he recited it slowly, the play could be made to last through a four-hour guard duty.
After Watford he returned to India and joined the Military Academy (the equivalent of Sandhurst), from which he was commissioned into the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkhas (The Sirmoor Rifles). On demobilisation in 1947 he won a Sir Alexander Korda scholarship to RADA, after which he worked in the theatre in London and in rep, performing with such names as Mai Zetterling, Douglas Montgomery and Jessie Matthews. In 1953 he married the actress Margaret Tansley.
When severe arthritis restricted his mobility — and a promising stage career — Green focused on films, TV and radio. His 40-odd films included The Prince and the Showgirl and A Town Like Alice and such TV credits as Z Cars and Only Fools and Horses.
But it was radio that made his reputation and where his talent for accents, (particularly Indian accents), came into its own. The Scotsman called him “one of the few actors who can play Indians without seeming to parody them”.
Alongside his radio work Green recorded some 250 audio-books (two thirds of them for the RNIB). His biggest challenge was the unabridged War and Peace — more than 70 hours of tape, by the end of which, he said, “My fourteenth Frenchman was indistinguishable from my nineteenth Russian.”
In 1992 Green compered and narrated the TV spectacular, Forty Glorious Years to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s accession. After the show, he amused the Queen by saying “Tonight I was the opposite of a Victorian child — I was heard but not seen.”
On the 50th anniversary of VJ-Day he read the tribute to the Gurkhas, The Bravest of the Brave, in front of the Queen at Horse Guards parade. When, in 1971, his local pub in Buckinghamshire was refurbished, Green persuaded the brewery to change the name from the Red Lion to the Gurkha, and he organised for memorabilia from several Gurkha regiments to adorn the walls.
Green was a committed Christian and his deep faith informed his work and private life. A modest man — his only affectation was always to write in green ink — with impeccable manners, he is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
Garard Green, actor, was born on July 31, 1924, and died on December 26, 2004, aged 80.