Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Clarke, Warren (1947-)


Main image of Clarke, Warren (1947-)

Although his baggy features, heavy build and Lancashire accent seem tailor-made for roles as heavies, industrialists and dour cops such as Andy Dalziel in Dalziel and Pascoe (BBC, 1996-2007), Warren Clarke has also demonstrated a flair for comedy throughout his long and varied career.

Upon leaving school he started work at the Manchester Evening News, but an interest in amateur dramatics eventually led to appearances at Huddersfield Rep and the Liverpool Playhouse. After assorted television and film work in the late 60s he gained his first standout role as Dim, the resentful Droog who rebels against Malcolm McDowell's Alex in A Clockwork Orange (d. Stanley Kubrick, 1971).

Over the next decade his lived-in face became an increasingly familiar one on British television, as he portrayed Winston Churchill in Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill (ITV, 1974) and murderous schoolteacher Bradley Headstone in Our Mutual Friend (BBC, 1976). He also provided a memorable turn as an effete civil servant in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC, 1979), and further displayed his comic abilities via guest roles in Shelley (ITV, 1982), Blackadder the Third (BBC, tx. 15/10/1987) and Lovejoy (BBC, tx. 20/1/1991).

In Sleepers (BBC, 1991) he gave a sensitive performance as one of a pair of Russian secret agents who have lived their cover lives in England for so long that they are reluctant to answer the call to arms when it finally comes. By now Clarke was one of the hardest-working actors in television, but star status eluded him until began playing Andy Dalziel. Hard-drinking and chauvinistic, Dalziel was the antithesis of Clarke's own personality, but he managed to avoid being typecast. Appearances in the 2000s included Boythorn in Bleak House (BBC, 2005), retired burglar Syd Woolsey in The Invisibles (BBC, 2008) and corrupt police superintendent Bill Molloy in Red Riding (Channel 4, 2009).

Richard Hewett

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Clockwork Orange, A (1971)Clockwork Orange, A (1971)

Stanley Kubrick's dazzling and disturbing vision of near-future Britain

Thumbnail image of Hammer House of Horror (1980)Hammer House of Horror (1980)

Horror series about supernatural goings-on in the present day

Thumbnail image of Jewel in the Crown, The (1984)Jewel in the Crown, The (1984)

Acclaimed drama series set in the 1940s Indian Raj

Thumbnail image of Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983)Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983)

Highly-rated Great War espionage drama

Thumbnail image of Tempest, The (1980)Tempest, The (1980)

BBC Television Shakespeare adaptation

Thumbnail image of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979)Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979)

Classic adaptation of John Le Carré's cold war novel

Thumbnail image of Wolcott (1981)Wolcott (1981)

Drama series about a black detective based in East London

Related collections

Related people and organisations