Actor John Forgeham, known for his roles in Footballers Wives, The Italian Job and Crossroads, has died at the age of 75.
John Forgeham as Jim Baines in Crossroads, ATV, 1977
“So very sad to hear today the loss of my good friend, actor John Forgeham. A larger-than-life character and such a powerful actor. RIP John x.” – scriptwriter Simon Golding, on Twitter
Forgeham, who is best known to more recent television audiences as ruthless football club businessman Frank Laslett in ITV’s sensational drama Footballers Wives died, reports state, yesterday, following an accident.
The Sun notes John passed away on Friday afternoon after suffering internal bleeding following a fall on Wednesday. The tabloid goes on to say John fell from his bed and broke his collarbone. He was later rushed to hospital however died from the internal injuries.
In Crossroads, ATV, 1978, with Sam Kydd (left) and Edward Clayton (right)
John was born in Kidderminster, West Midlands, on the 14th of May 1941. Deciding on a career in performing arts he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he embarked on a two year RADA scholarship from 1962 to 1964. He graduated with a Silver medal for Best Performance student. Other notable achievements including his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, founding the Globe Shakespeare Theatre in Sydney Australia, following a tour of the country with the RSC.
Film roles included parts in 1969’s The Italian Job, Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall of 1973, 1977’s Star Wars and 1993’s The Young Americans. Television roles saw John in many guest parts or small roles; these included programmes such as ABC TV’s The Avengers, BBC’s Z Cars, Thames Television’s The Sweeney and ATV’s Father Brown.
“Although basically a good-hearted man, Jim’s aggressive character has got him into trouble more than once.” – ATV Network publicity, 1977
His first major long running role was in teatime soap opera Crossroads which aired four nights a week during the 1970s. John joined as motor mechanic Jim Baines in 1974, at first down on his luck before finding work and a home in the fictional village of Kings Oak. Playing an unsympathetic Brummie, storylines included initally being homeless as he, and his family, squatted in David Hunter’s (Ronald Allen) cottage, the struggles of his wife Muriel (Anne Rutter) who, unknown to Jim, suffered from Agoraphobia. While his boss was sympathetic to her plight; this only lead to him believing they were having an affair. This in turn lead him into the arms of garage secretary Sharon Metcalfe (Carolyn Jones). A softer side of the character however was seen during scenes featuring his on-screen children.
Other storylines saw him suspected of attacking Vera Downend (Zeph Gladstone), the motel’s hairdresser, and stealing the salon takings. Barman Bill Warren (David Valla) picked Jim out of a police identification parade, and for a time almost everyone at the Crossroads Motel believed that he was guilty. Fortunately, for Jim, the police picked up a burglar and found Vera’s cashbox in his digs. Jim however never entirely forgave his motel co-workers and his so-called friends for deserting him.
One of his final storylines saw the character win the jackpot on the pools and it seemed his life was on the up, however the money brought its own problems. After all the publicity surrounding the presentation, Jim’s home was vandalised and he was inundated with begging letters. Girlfriend Sharon seemed to be growing cooler, and there was more trouble for Jim after a very public clash with waitress Diane Parker (Susan Hanson) who sued him for slander after the row in the motel foyer.
John Forgeham (front) as DCI John Shefford in the first series of ITV’s Prime Suspect
After departing the Crossroads Motel in 1978 other roles included parts in Granada Television’s Crown Court, BBC TV’s Juliet Bravo and Central Television’s Boon. There were more substantial roles in shows such as the BBC’s Final Run and Nice Work, Granada’s Prime Suspect and the beeb’s Making Out. It was however in ITV drama Footballers Wives he would get his most memorable television role.
Appearing in the Shed Production from 2002 to 2004 as businessman Frank Laslett, the character was part of many of the shows big, and over the top, plots. The flamboyant chairman of the fictional Earls Park Football Club was part of that rich wheeler dealer self made set. While he glittered in his gold jewellery his mouth gave away his less than lucrative past and upbringing.
“Dad was a very talented actor and a charismatic and wonderful man. We had a close relationship and I was the person who looked after him. He would want to be remembered as this wonderful actor. He lived and breathed acting.” – daughter Jonesta Forgeham speaking to The Daily Mirror