Ian Hendry’s Last Acting Role – As Davey Jones in Brookside [1984]

Picture: Ian Hendry as Davey Jones in Brookside [1984]

Ian Hendry’s last role was playing the part of Davey Jones in the TV soap-opera, Brookside. It was filmed in the Spring of 1984 and broadcast between 7th March and 21st March. Five episodes in total, no.s 142-146:

Ep. 142 – ‘Etiquette’ [broadcast on 7th March 1984]
Ep. 143 – ‘King Rat’
[broadcast on 13th March 1984]
Ep. 144 – ‘Tights’
[broadcast on 14th March 1984]
Ep. 145 – ‘Transport’
[broadcast on 20th March 1984]
Ep. 146 – ‘Off’
[broadcast on 21st March 1984]

In his biography, Rick Tomlinson captures the moment he first met Ian Hendry on set:

“Hendry had been one of the most handsome actors of his generation. He married an actress, Janet Munro, and they were always being photographed by society magazines and showbiz papers.

This is the man I expected to meet, but the man who arrived on set that day looked awful. Someone said he’d recovered from throat cancer and I know he suffered from problems with alcohol.

He was staying at the Adelphi Hotel and someone picked him up every morning and brought him to set to make sure he arrived on time. He must have ached inside when he saw how far he had fallen. From being a huge star he had become a bit-part actor in a soap opera.

I don’t put myself anywhere near the same class as Ian Hendry. He was a real actor. But if the roles dry up tomorrow, I know I can make a living playing the banjo and putting on little variety shows.

Ian Hendry didn’t have that luxury. Acting is all he knew.”

Ricky Tomlinson [2008]

As Gabriel Hershman points out in his biography on Ian, he didn’t have throat cancer but had had surgery on his throat shortly before his appearance in the soap. His distinctive voice, one of the trademarks of his craft, struggled at times to deliver the lines. It is certainly not an easy watch but it is significant in that it marks the end of a career spanning four decades, 600+ TV performances and 30+ films.

Gabriel’s biography also includes interviews with actor Michael Tierney and director Chris Clough. Their recollections are heartening as, despite Ian’s health issues, he appears to have enjoyed his spell working in Liverpool.

Michael Tierney recalled:

“He was underrated and unsung. He’d done so much stuff before Brookside. He’d been told to lay off the booze. he was on a lager a day. He was very open and very honest, and in an odd way, meeting him was very chastening. He was a little bowed, quite stricken but a life-affirming character. He’d had a colourful life.

Before I was introduced to him I’d heard stories about him – that he’d been difficult. He’d just had a throat operation and his voice sounded like a board vibrating. It was much drier. He was very wounded, in pain and suffering, but very warm. He took me up on something bitter I’d said. I was struck by his gentleness.

I think he’d settled accounts with his life. He looked on it as a real positive. It was a bit like talking to a favourite uncle. My memory of him was of a person of depth and charisma – with the charm of a feeling man who doesn’t show his feelings – at least not in an ostentatious way.”


Tragically, just 9 months later on 24th December 1984, Ian died at his home in North London.

Compilation Video – Ian Hendry as Davey Jones in Brookside

Thanks to Tim S. for locating the VHS recordings of Ian’s last role and for compiling this video from the five episodes of Brookside that he appeared in.

Still From Brookside

Picture: Ian Hendry as Davey Jones in Brookside [1984]

Brookside [1982 – 2003]

Brookside – Wikipedia

Brookside is a British soap opera set in Liverpool, England. The series began on the launch night of Channel 4 on 2 November 1982 and ran for 21 years until 4 November 2003. Originally intended to be called Meadowcroft, the series was produced by Lime Pictures (then Mersey Television), and it was conceived by Phil Redmond who also devised Grange Hill(1978–2008) and Hollyoaks (1995–present).

Brookside became very successful and was often Channel 4’s highest-rated programme for a number of years in the mid-1980s, with audiences regularly in excess of nine million viewers. It is notable for realistic and socially challenging storylines. From the mid-1990s, it began raising more controversial subjects under the guidance of new producers such as Mal Young and Paul Marquess. It is especially well known for broadcasting the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on British television in 1994, as well as a powerful domestic abuse storyline resulting in murder. In 1996, the series experienced an extreme backlash from viewers when it featured a hugely controversial storyline of an incestuous sexual relationship between two sibling characters.

Although the series had a long and successful run, by 2000 its viewing figures were in terminal decline, and low ratings eventually led to its cancellation in June 2003. The final episode was broadcast on 4 November 2003 and was watched by around two million viewers

Picture: The first family of Brookside’s opening episode in November 1982. Sue Johnston (Sheila Grant) Shelagh O’Hara (Karen Grant), Simon O’Brien (Damon Grant), Ricky Tomlinson (Robert Grant) and Paul Usher (Barry Grant).

Brookside Trivia

IMDb – Brookside

To get a realistic look for the series, creator and producer Phil Redmond opted to record the program in real buildings rather than studio sets. Six houses were bought from a development on Lord Sefton’s old estate in Liverpool. After meeting the builders and seeing the plans, Redmond decided that one road stood out. It had a brook running alongside it, hence the name ‘Brookside’. The builders were supplied with a list of the characters and their profiles so they could each be tailored to them.

Three other houses were bought for office space, three more for technical equipment and one was equipped as a canteen. They were bought for £25,000 each. After the initial outlay for the houses, in the long run, the program would be cheaper to record on the one site instead of building, storing and knocking down studio sets. The buildings were not heated for the first year, as it was thought that the filming lights would heat up the buildings, but as soon as recording commenced newer improved lights that were significantly cooler were introduced so the production team and actors suffered as a result. Three garages were added to the properties for additional equipment stores.

The shopping parade was opened in 1991 to coincide with the 1000th episode. The building was incorporated into the old college building that formed the administration offices of Mersey Television. The fluorescent lights in the shops were designed especially for use in television. The flowers in the florist were silk, not real flowers, so they did not have to be replaced.

In the final few episodes, a drug dealer named “Jack Michaelson” moved into Brookside Close. This is a play on the name Michael Jackson, the Channel 4 controller who had cancelled the soap.

The last resident to leave Brookside Close, Jimmy Corkhill, added the letter ‘d’ to the word ‘Close’, symbolically signalling the end of the soap.

Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson played popular couple Sheila and Bobby Grant from the show’s inception in 1982 until Tomlinson’s departure in 1988. They would in 1998 go on to play another married couple, Barbara and Jim Royle, in the hugely successful BBC comedy The Royle Family.


Final Thoughts…

There are no words that make the retelling of the end of Ian’s life any easier. It is always a mixture of tragedy and great sadness. A script can always be rewritten, a film or a play reworked but real life is a much less sympathetic and flexible medium.

In sharing Ian’s story, however, it is my hope that his life is given context and light. And that we also remember him for his creativity, warmth and the many joyful moments that he gave us too.

On Ian’s memorial stone at Golders Green Crematorium is carved the epitaph:

“He cared and we loved him for it”


Now that’s a beautiful way for anyone to be remembered.

Until next time,

Neil Hendry
Editor, Official Tribute To Ian Hendry

Further Reading

A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography:

Read: ‘Send in the Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ by Gabriel Hershman

Send In The Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry




More From Ian Hendry