Michael Bates (actor)

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Michael Bates
Bates in A Clockwork Orange
Michael Hammond Bates

(1920-12-04)4 December 1920
Died11 January 1978(1978-01-11) (aged 57)
Years active1953–1977
Spouse(s)Margaret M. J. Chisholm (1954–1978, his death)

Michael Hammond Bates[1] (4 December 1920 – 11 January 1978)[2] was an Anglo-Indian actor. He was best known for playing the chief prison guard who processes (and strip-searches) Alex (Malcolm McDowell) in A Clockwork Orange, Cyril Blamire in Last of the Summer Wine (1973–75), and Rangi Ram in It Ain't Half Hot Mum (1974–77).

Early life[edit]

Bates was born in Jhansi, United Provinces, India,[2] to Sarah (née Clarke, 1896–1982), daughter of William Hammond Walker of Congleton, Cheshire),[3] and Anglo-Indian civil servant Harry Stuart Bates[4] CSI (1893–1985, son of Albert Bates, of Congleton, Cheshire).[3][5] He was educated at Uppingham School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge.

Bates was commissioned in the Indian Army in March 1942.[6] He served in the Burma Campaign as a major with the Brigade of Gurkhas[4] and was mentioned in dispatches in 1944.[7]


In 1953, while an ensemble member with the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, Bates appeared in Richard III and All's Well That Ends Well.

Bates appeared in Hotel Paradiso (L'Hôtel du libre échange), which starred Alec Guinness, in 1956 at the Winter Garden Theatre in London. On the radio, he played a variety of characters in the BBC's long-running comedy series The Navy Lark, including Able Seaman Ginger, Lieutenant Bates, Rear Admiral Ironbridge, the Padre, and Captain Ignatius Aloysius Atchison.

Bates appeared in many British television series, including Last of the Summer Wine from 1973 to 1975 (as Cyril Blamire) and It Ain't Half Hot Mum from 1974 to 1977 (as Rangi Ram). His role as Rangi Ram later led to some controversy due to allegations that he had performed in blackface.[8][9] Interviewed by the journalist Neil Clark in 2013 for The Daily Telegraph, Jimmy Perry protested that Bates only "wore was a light tan. He wasn’t blacked up! Michael spoke fluent Urdu, and was a captain in the Gurkhas".[10] The show is not repeated in the UK by the BBC, who use the "blacked up" description of Bates’s performance on their website's article about the series.[10][11]

Bates's film roles include Bedazzled (1967) as the flirtatious police inspector, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967) as Mr. McGregor, Battle of Britain (1969) as Warrant Officer Warwick, Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) as a Lance-Corporal, Patton (1970) as Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery (to whom he bore a striking resemblance), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Frenzy (1972). On stage, he played Shakespearean roles at Stratford and at the Old Vic, and made a big impression as Inspector Truscott in the West End production of Loot by Joe Orton in 1966.

Personal life[edit]

In 1954, Bates married Margaret M. J. Chisholm. They had three children: Rupert (who also became an actor), Camilla, and Jolyon.[12]

Bates was a supporter of the Conservative Party. Peter Sallis claimed that Bates' right-wing opinions contrasted so sharply with the left-wing views of fellow Last of the Summer Wine star Bill Owen that the series was almost not made because of their arguments.[13]

Bates died of cancer on 11 January 1978 in Chelsea, London, aged 57.[2][14]

Selected television roles[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1971 Six Dates with Barker Gasman/Patient
1972 Public Eye George (Shopkeeper/Retired policeman)
1973–1975 Last of the Summer Wine Cyril Blamire 14 episodes
1974–1977 It Ain't Half Hot Mum Bearer Rangi Ram (final appearance)

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007 > Michael Hammond Bates". Findmypast. Archived from the original on 24 October 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Michael Bates". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1969, pg. 224
  4. ^ a b Clarke, Colin (1 April 2014). "Why classic 'Hot' series may never be screened again…". Island Life. Isle of Wight. Archived from the original on 29 August 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  5. ^ Who Was Who: A Companion to Who's Who, 2002, pg. 50
  6. ^ "No. 35494". The London Gazette. 20 March 1942. p. 1276.
  7. ^ "No. 36753". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 October 1944. p. 4794.
  8. ^ See comments by actor Renu Setna in the documentary on Comedy Connections "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum" (#5.3), original air date: 26 January 2007
  9. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (3 February 2003). "Some like it hot". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b Clark, Neil (20 September 2013). "Jimmy Perry turns 90: a tribute to the genius behind Dad's Army". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  11. ^ "It Ain't Half Hot Mum". BBC Comedy. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  12. ^ Who's Who in the Theatre, 1977, pg. 391
  13. ^ "Argument 'threatened Summer Wine'". BBC News. 17 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  14. ^ Midgley, Dominic (6 November 2015). "It Ain't Half Hot Mum: Why are BBC bosses so nervous about making show available again". Daily Express. UK. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2016. Bates, who died of cancer aged 57 in 1978... Additional on 23 April 2017.

External links[edit]