Michael Elphick

Michael Elphick
Michael Elphick.jpg
Elphick as Ken Boon in Boon
Michael John Elphick

(1946-09-19)19 September 1946
Died7 September 2002(2002-09-07) (aged 55)
Willesden Green, London, England
Years active1969–2002
TelevisionThree Up, Two Down
Partner(s)Julia Alexander (1963–1996)

Michael John Elphick (19 September 1946 – 7 September 2002) was an English actor known in the UK for his trademark croaky voice and his work on British television, particularly his roles as the eponymous private investigator in the ITV series Boon and later Harry Slater in BBC's EastEnders.[1] He was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Gorky Park.

In his prime, Elphick always looked older than he was, and with his gruff Cockney accent and lip-curling sneer he often played menacing hard men.[2]

Elphick struggled with a highly publicised addiction to alcohol; at the height of his problem he admitted to consuming two litres of spirits a day,[3] which contributed towards his death from a heart attack in 2002.

Early life

Elphick grew up in Chichester, Sussex, where his family had a butcher's shop. He was educated at Lancastrian Secondary Modern Boys School in Chichester, where he took part in several school productions including Noah and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He initially considered joining the Merchant Navy and helped out in his local boatyard during school holidays.[1]

It has been reported that he stumbled upon acting by chance when, at the age of 15, he took a job as an apprentice electrician at the Chichester Festival Theatre while it was being built.[1] He gained an interest in acting whilst watching stars such as Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave and Sybil Thorndyke. Olivier advised Elphick to go to drama school and gave him two speeches to use at auditions. Elphick was offered a number of places but decided to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama in Swiss Cottage (aged 18), because Olivier had attended there.[4]

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