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Booth, Anthony (1931-)


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Anthony Booth's life and career can be summed up by the phrase "troublesome father-in-law". Initially, this role was played by Warren Mitchell's monstrous Cockney bigot Alf Garnett in the sitcom Till Death Us Do Part (BBC, 1966-75), who detested Booth's character Mike Rawlins for marrying his daughter, possessing left-wing views and being a "scouse git". More recently, Booth became the real-life father-in-law of Prime Minister Tony Blair, with whom he had an equally turbulent relationship, and for strikingly similar reasons.

Booth was born in Liverpool on 9 October 1931. After the acting bug bit during National Service he spent five years on the standard actor's apprenticeship in touring repertory companies. His big break came in 1965, when he was cast in Till Death Us Do Part (BBC1, tx. 22/7/1965), originally a one-off Comedy Playhouse. The sitcom spin-off ran for a decade, and made Booth a household name. Booth's other high-profile regular role was on the big screen, when he played Sidney Noggett, the more worldly partner of Robin Askwith's gauche Timmy Lea in the inexplicably popular series of bawdy sex comedies that began with Confessions of a Window Cleaner (d. Val Guest, 1974).

In 1979, Booth was badly burned after a drunken accident. Both he and his career belatedly recovered, but by the 1990s he was spending increasing amounts of time working for the actors' union Equity, becoming president in 1998. Although he continued to act (amongst many other roles, he appeared in the soaps Albion Market, Emmerdale, Family Affairs and EastEnders), he became more famous for his political views, launching a particularly outspoken attack in 1999 on the Blair government's disabled benefit reforms.

Much married (his second wife of four was actress Pat Phoenix), he had eight daughters, including Cherie Blair (b. 1954) and journalist Lauren Booth (b. 1967).

Michael Brooke

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Thumbnail image of Till Death Us Do Part (1966-75)Till Death Us Do Part (1966-75)

Controversial comedy with Warren Mitchell as the bigoted Alf Garnett

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Thumbnail image of Made in LiverpoolLiverpool: Made in Liverpool

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