We are very sad to announce the death of Richard Franklin on Christmas Eve 2023. Richard was an actor, director, writer and political activist, possibly best known for his roles as Captain Yates in Doctor Who and Denis Rigg in Emmerdale. He lived at the Charterhouse for 14 years and will be very much missed but long remembered. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Born in London, Richard was educated at Westminster School followed by a period of national service. He studied History at Christ Church College Oxford, working in advertising after graduation. It was the serious illness of his younger brother Peter that led to a change in direction. Richard successfully applied to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he achieved the Jenny Laird Prize for distinction in a minor role. This was followed by five years working in repertory theatre in Birmingham, Bristol, Ipswich and Manchester.
Richard achieved success in leading roles in the West End including As You Like It at the Vaudeville Theatre with Brian Cox, The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre, and Same Time Next Year at the Prince of Wales Theatre taking over from Michael Crawford. He was also a seasoned performer in pantomime, appearing in 18 productions. He held Artistic and Associate Directorships in theatres including the East Riding Youth Theatre in Yorkshire (where he was subsequently the first Drama Adviser to Humberside), Impact Community Theatre in Tyne and Wear, Triple-E Stockholm and the Renaissance Theatre Cumbria.
He was a successful television actor, appearing as Emmerdale’s Denis Rigg who met a grisly end when he crushed by a bull, Joe Townsend in Crossroads and appearances in Dixon of Dock Green, The Saint, Heartbeat and Blake’s 7. Richard’s role as Captain Mike Yates in Doctor Who with Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, had a particularly profound impact and of course gained his entry to the Whoniverse. He maintained contact with the show with numerous appearances in Dr Who audio dramas including Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss, and Richard wrote a novel ‘Killing Stone’ which had Yates as the main character.
Richard also appeared in films including as a Cambridge University Dean in Chemical Wedding (2008) starring Simon Callow, and as the ghost of Richard Wagner in Twilight of the Gods (2013) both directed by Julian Doyle. In 2009, he starred in the music video for Noah and the Whale’s Last Days of Spring, and entered another galaxy playing Sirro Argonne in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), the first of the Star Wars anthology series and prequel to Star Wars (1977).
Outside his roles in theatre and on-screen, Richard’s life was equally rich and varied. He was a committed political campaigner speaking at conferences, twice standing as a political candidate and writing a book reflecting his views published in 2003. He Richard was a significant part of life at the Charterhouse and could often be found making his way to the museum or walking through the gardens. Richard also had a deep Christian faith regularly attending Chapel here and always keen to discuss theological matters. He unfortunately experienced ill health during his last years with us, but remained very much part of the community participating where he could in life here. Richard was dearly loved by his family and in later years loved nothing more than spending time with his family in the Cornish countryside, where he found solace.