The actor passed away after a short illness aged 83, he was best known to ITV audiences for his long running role in sitcom Duty Free.
Keith Barron in Yorkshire Television’s hit sitcom, Duty Free
“I have just heard the news my old friend and colleague has died. It’s quite a blow. Keith was such a kind and lovely man and don’t think I’ve met anyone that would disagree. My thoughts and prayers go to his loving wife Mary and his son Jamie – whom meant so much to him.” – Duty Free co-star, Gwen Taylor
Actor and presenter Keith Barron, has died aged 83 after a short illness. Born on the 8th of August 1934 in Mexborough, in what is now South Yorkshire, Barron’s career started in 1961 at the Sheffield Repertory Theatre. It was the same decade that he became a regular face on ITV via Granada Television’s The Odd Man as Detective Sergeant Swift in its final 1963 series. He reprised the role in its later follow up run It’s Dark Outside appearing in its first 1964 episodes. He chose not to return for its second, and final, outing a year later.
In the same year the second, Barron-less, series of It’s Dark Outside continued to air over on ITV Keith had taken up an offer to appear in a Dennis Potter play for the BBC. The first of the two-part drama, Stand Up, Nigel Barton, follows the eponymous character’s journey from his childhood in a small mining community to earning a place at Oxford University. In the second outing, Vote, Vote, Vote for Nigel Barton, the storyline follows the character as he goes into politics.
During this time Barron made many one-off television appearances in television dramas also appeared in the beeb’s police drama Z-Cars, Granada’s military series Redcap as well as a host of ‘action series’ including ITC/ATV series’ Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and The Professionals, ATV’s Strange Report and The New Avengers all broadcast on ITV.
The cast of Duty Free, Neil Stacy, Joanna Van Gyseghem, Gwen Taylor and Keith Barron. Rear is secondary actor Carlos Douglas.
There were also appearances in serious dramas including Yorkshire Television’s A Touch of Frost, LWT’s Upstairs, Downstairs, Thames Television’s Minder and BBC One’s sci-fi hit Doctor Who. In more recent times Barron had made appearances in BBC dramas The Chase and Clocking Off as well as guest spots in ITV sitcom Benidorm, several appearances in serial Coronation Street and played three different characters in BBC One daytime soap opera Doctors as well as a regular part in BBC drama DCI Banks.
It is possibly however the forerunner to Benidorm, Duty Free, which Keith will be best remembered. Set in Spain the sunny sitcom ran for three series from 1984 until 1986 with Barron starring as one of the four lead characters, his being the saucy, possibly even sex-mad, David Pearce. Unlike Benidorm – bar one Christmas special – the entire run of Duty Free was recorded in the Leeds studios of YTV. The outdoor sunshine of Spain being nothing more than studio lights, all the more credit to the actors who made the show, despite its lack of budget, a massive ratings success for ITV.
The storyline revolved around Barron’s character and his wife, played by Gwen Taylor, going off on their annual holiday, where each year he would have an affair with the same married woman, played by Joanna Van Gyseghem. Barron recently reprised the role, in 2014, for a stage version of the series which also reunited him with Neil Stacey, the suspicious husband, and Gwen as his wife.
“He had a long and varied career which included The Nigel Barton Plays by Dennis Potter of which he was immensely proud, a Hollywood film The Land That Time Forgot, the television series Take Me Home, written by Tony Marchant and three series of Duty Free, the Yorkshire Television classic sitcom written by Eric Chappell in which he played David Pearce. He is survived by his wife Mary to whom he was married for 58 years and his son, Jamie, also an actor.” – Statement from Keith Barron’s agent