Peter Gilmore
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The Onedin Line
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Peter Gilmore was born 25 August 1931 in Leipzig Germany. At the age of 6 he went to relatives in Nunthorpe England and was brought up in the Yorkshire area.

  After about 9 years he went south to London and worked in a factory.
Peter had one great desire from his early age; become an actor. He studied at RADA (Royal Acadamy of Dramatic Art); there are different stories about this period told by Peter himself. One says he finished his study at RADA and the other one says he was expelled from school because of his age. In the meantime, Madame Guinard, encourages Peter to take up singing.

  In 1950 Peter joined the National Service.
After being demobilised (about 1952) he tried to make a start for hid career, doing various jobs in acting, singing, dancing etc. Some people he worked with in this period are; Bob Hope, Danny Kaye and Harry Secombe. Those days he also joined the George Mitchell Singers, did some chorus work, worked in the “park’ circuit” and took dancing lessons, including tap dancing.
In 1954 he was on stage with the Mastersingers, a quartet, in Blackpool during the summer season. A year later he had a part in his first film “A Time to Kill”.
In 1956 Peter had his first radio performance in “Midday Music Hall”
His first recording was made a year later as Mr. Rat in Toad Of Toad Hall, a children’s story.
Throughout the 50s Peter made his appearance in several movies, plays, musicals, commercials and radio plays.
In 1957 Peter was seen on television together with Una Stubbs in the pop-programme “Cool for Cats”.
In 1958 Peter married for the first time: Una Stubbs became his wife with whom he adopted his son Jason in the mid 60s.

  Peter worked hard and this resulted in the first breakthrough in his career in 1960 by playing a double-part in the musical ‘Follow that girl’. An LP was recorded and Peter made a solo pop-single from it.

  During the 60s Peter did all kinds of work e.g. commercials, several Carry On Films, many stage appearances but the great break-through didn’t come. His marriage with Una ended in 1969 and in those days he met Jan Waters, who would become his wife in 1970. They acted in the playing and filming of “The Beggar’s Opera”.

  At the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s Peter also tried his luck abroad. He was asked in Germany to do a series and he started learning German. At that time he also did an audition for a role as Captain James Onedin for the pilot of a new series.
He was chosen to play the character and this also meant his greatest breakthrough of his entire career. The pilot was a success and the BBC gave green light to start “The Onedin Line”.
As a result of this he was asked abroad to launch ships, give interviewes, be a competitor in television games etc. etc.  This sudden success took him by surprise; he received loads of fan mail and advices from old sailors.

  After the third series in 1973 the recordings for The Onedin Line were stopped and Peter appeared on stage again. In 1974 he also recorded “Songs Of The Sea”, a solo-LP on which he sings sailor songs. In 1976 the BBC started a new series of The Onedin Line, that very year his wife Jan left him.
Peter carried on and in 1977 he recorded his second solo-album named “Peter Gilmore Sings Gently”.  About the same time Peter started to live together with Anne Stallybrass whom he married in 1987. His success as being James Onedin didn’t seem to end and in this appearance he was asked all over the world.

  During the 70s and 80s Peter more or less suffered from being typecast as James Onedin. He got less lead roles and he was bored with being recognised by the people in the street.
In the 80s his performances gradually became less. Peter started to write a stage play; he sold the storyline to Malcolm Mcdonald who transformed the play into a historical novel called “The Silver Highways”.

  In 1987 Peter had his last stage performance as Lloyd Dallas in “Noises Off”.
In 1996 he played his last film part as Murdoch in “On Dangerous Ground”. And till 2006 he appeared in several interviewees on radio and television in Britain and abroad.

  At the moment Anne and Peter live in Barnes, west London. They also used to have a house in Dartmouth, Devon, where the first 3 series of The Onedin Line were filmed. In October 2006 they sold this house because of Peter’s health.

  Peter will probably forever be associated with James Onedin.

Marianne van Hilten
June  2007

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