Odd Man Edwin counts his blessings

Meet Edwin Richfield, star of Granada drama serial The Odd Man

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 20 May 1962

EDWIN RICHFIELD erupted from the posse of children in his back garden, gracefully sidestepped a rocking-horse, dropped a disdainful-looking doll at my feet and thrust a blonde, blue-eyed charmer into my arms.

“Meet my daughter Belinda,” he said, disentangling himself from the remains of a child’s bow and arrow and leading me towards the house.

Maybe not the most conventional opening gambit, but it broke the ice. In the Friday thriller serial, The Odd Man presented by Granada, 40 year-old Edwin plays Steven Gardiner, theatrical agent with an uncanny knack of getting involved in tricky situations. “But Steve never faced three trickier domestic problems than mine,” said Edwin, relieving me of my blonde burden.

Edwin, married to actress Jan Holden, lives in a big, blue, pebbledashed house in Hampstead, London.

The domestic problems he referred to were their two-year-old twin daughters, Arabella and Belinda, and five-year-old son, Simon.

Jan and Edwin have an Austrian nanny to look after the children.

But the children have a disconcerting habit of dragging their parents into their activities…

When Edwin isn’t working on a part for another play or film, he is usually tapping a typewriter — for he is blessed with twin talents as well as twin daughters.

He writes regular television scripts. In fact, his acting and writing careers have run simultaneously since he was a 12-year-old schoolboy at Andover, Hampshire.

“I read ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W. W. Jacqbs, and was so impressed I decided to dramatise it,” he said.

“You can imagine how diabolical it was. But my teachers were very tolerant, and eventually we staged it for the benefit of the school.

“Everything ran fairly smoothly until the climax of the play, when some clot forgot to bring down the curtain.

“The audience were delighted to hear me hissing abuse at the poor chap from the wings. It made the show.

“From that moment. I knew the theatre was for me.”

Two adults with three children and a storybook
Edwin Richfield and his wife Jan Holden with Belinda (left), Simon and Arabella

After leaving school, Edwin worked with various concert parties as an impersonator.

“My family eventually dragged me out of that, but it was wonderful experience,” he explained.

His ability as a mimic still comes in useful, for he is asked to play an incredible variety character parts.

“Two months ago I was an Egyptian courier,” said Edwin. “Before that, an Arab security officer, and going back further, a Dorsetshire farmer. In a previous television series, I played a Spanish pirate chief.” Yet Edwin might never have taken up acting as a career but for the war. After dropping his concert party act, he seemed destined for the civil service.

But the war came and, in 1940, he found himself in the Royal Air Force. For most of his time he served as a wireless operator.

During the war, Edwin had time to think about his future. And when he was demobilised in 1946, he went into repertory.

“I stayed nine months, doing the northern towns, and then sailed down to London, confident that I knew it all,” he said.

“What a rude awakening. I was down to my last 3s. 6d. before I got an understudy role in the West End. Years of bit parts followed.”

At this stage, Edwin’s writing came in useful again. “I managed to keep the wolf from the door by turning out songs and comedy dialogue for revues,” he said. His luck finally changed nine years ago, after he married Jan Holden. Since then, he has made more than 150 television and film appearances.

Today, Edwin still divides his time between acting and writing.

They are useful talents — particularly with three children to coax to sleep.

“They won’t close an eye until I’ve told them a story,” he explained, “and they all sleep in different rooms.

“It’s very wearing, rushing from room to room — telling three different stories.”

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