Richard Wilson: I thought I was too young to play Victor Meldrew


Actor Richard Wilson has revealed he originally turned down his famous role as Victor Meldrew.

The Scottish actor made his name playing the cantankerous protagonist in One Foot In The Grave but said he had to be talked into it because he thought he was too young for the part.

At one point, television bosses were even thinking about casting Les Dawson as the curmudgeon.

Richard told Radio Times: "I was in my early 50s and Victor was 60.

"I turned it down.

"I think Les Dawson was being considered. A very funny man but I don't know if he could have played Victor."

Les Dawson
Les Dawson (PA)

Producer/director Susan Belbin continued to pursue Richard and, after reading more scripts, he was convinced.

He went on to play the pensioner at war with middle-class suburbia for five series from 1990 to 1995, before returning for a final run in 2000.

Richard, 80, is now resurrecting Victor for a performance at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, despite the fact he was killed off in the final episode of the BBC series.

He will re-create writer David Renwick's script for a 1993 episode called The Trial, which sees Victor waiting in the house, on a rainy day, on call for jury duty.

Half an hour with Victor will be followed by half an hour with the actor himself, answering questions from the audience.

Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew
Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew (Neil Munns/PA)

The actor promised fans that the OAP - known for the catchphrase "I don't believe it!" - has not mellowed with age.

He said: "I think Victor is around 80 now. But I am playing him roughly 74.

"He has not changed one bit. In fact, it's quite hard to get back to my normal, affable, loveable self after being him, even for half an hour."

This week's Radio Times is on sale on Tuesday July 26.