Clive Francis’ television career has been long and varied ranging from the classics to sitcoms, dramas serials to any number of television films. It began in 1966, the year he left drama school, playing Tommy Traddles opposite Ian McKellen and Flora Robson in David Copperfield televised from the old Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd’s Bush. Two years later he was cast as Sloane in Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane, with Shelia Hancock and Edward Woodward. filmed barely a week after Orton was murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell.

Clive’s first film role came in 1965 while still attending RADA. This was a student film of Romeo and Juliet, for the London Film School in which he played Romeo; followed not long after by Inspector Clouseau, with Alan Arkin and The Man who had Power over Women, with Rod Taylor, both now pretty unmemorable. The most iconic among his few films was Kubrick’s, A Clockwork Orange in which he had one small, but important scene, as Joe the lodger – this was the first time CF ever auditioned on film, then quite a novelty. Nowadays actors have to audition on film for everything - even if it entails one line!

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1966 BBC
David Copperfield
Directed by Joan Kraft
Role: Tommy Traddles
Cast included: George Benson, Flora Robson, Ian McKellen, Tina Packer, Hannah Gordon
David Copperfield was my first time in front of a professional camera and I expect on reflection it probably looked it. For a young lad only momentarily out of drama school to find himself in the company of such celebrated actors as Flora Robson, Joss Ackland, Bill Fraser, Ian McKellen, Hannah Gordon etc. etc. was pretty ‘awesome!’ They were all so kind and helpful. We rehearsed each episode in a hall off Parson’s Green and then would record it in the old BBC Lime Grove studios. I say record but really it was like shooting live as there was never any margin for error, and a re-take was totally out of the question. But then having experienced my father having to go through the same nerve racking ordeal, week after week, it didn’t appear to be any different than stepping out on stage in front of an audience, except in our case it was over 12 million!

One remembrance I have during our rehearsals. There used to be a caretaker sitting in a cubbyhole at the entrance to the hall who would greet us every morning with a somewhat guarded smile. One day he doffed his cap to Dame Flora Robson and enquired after her husband, which caused a little flutter of embarrassment as Dame Flora had never been married or had any intention of being. If that wasn’t bad enough he then went on to tell her how much he enjoyed her husband’s rendition of Ol’ Man River. No one had the heart to tell him that Paul Robeson and Flora Robson were not an item.

1974 BBC
Walk with Destiny
Directed by Herbert Wise
Role: Randolph Churchill
Cast included: Richard Burton, Virginia McKenna, Robert Hardy, Patrick Stewart, Ian Bannen

(For some reason the title was changed in the States to The Gathering Storm)
To be working with such a formidable cast of actors could have been quite daunting if it wasn’t for the delightful Herbie Wise, our director, who had the ability to conduct the whole assignment with precision and calmness. How, I don’t know, as he had the unpredictable Richard Burton to contend with, whom I had idolized since first seeing him in The Robe in 1953. His very presence on screen, as it was in person, was electric. His charisma was extraordinary. He’d been off the bottle for weeks in preparation for the film, and as a consequence everyone was expecting a happy, uncomplicated production. Unfortunately, at a reception before we started, Hugh Weldon, the then Controller of the BBC, asked everyone to raise a glass and toast the forthcoming production; just the excuse Burton was waiting for and as a consequence remained on the bottle for the duration. The result was a sorrowful film which never rose above anything but mediocrity. Having said that Burton was a delight to work with whose company I enjoyed. After it was over he threw a party at the Dorchester. I remember so vividly seeing him and Ian Bannen sitting in a corner of the heaving ballroom trying to outdo each other with the amount of poetry they could remember. Nothing very remarkable except for the fact they were both high on whiskey; though their brains were as clear and as sharp as anything.
1976 ITV
Caesar and Cleopatra
Directed by James Cellan Jones
Role: Apollodorus
Cast included: Alec Guinness, Geneviève Bujold, Michael Bryant, Ian Cuthbertson, Margaret Courtenay
Here I found myself working alongside another of my favourite actors, the shy, diffident and very private, Alec Guinness. He played opposite the American movie star Geneviève Bujold, whom I had fallen in love with since first seeing her in Anne of a Thousand Days.

Guinness took a kind of shine to me (whether it was because I was at the time startling blond and very pretty, I don’t know) but on several occasions he would invite me out for lunch, usually to rather glamorous restaurants. Though I was flattered and wanted to use these occasions to ask him so much about so many things, knew it would be deeply inappropriate. As a consequence, the two of us would often sit in shy silence. I did though take the opportunity to do a number of sketches of the cast, which intrigued Guinness though he declined to look at the likeness I did of him, saying, ‘I’m sure it’s horribly near the knuckle!’ Funnily enough several years later he chose my drawing as the cover to his autobiography, Blessings in Disguise. Another funny occasion took place in 1987 when Guinness was honoured at the Lincoln Centre, New York. For a banner to hang outside the Centre they chose my caricature, and there it hung for over a month. I was then asked whether I would like it sent to me as a memento; it was well over six-foot long. I said I would, not realizing that I would have to then pay an exorbitant price for shipping. One morning I was telephoned by a customs official explaining that a charge of over £200 had to paid, he then went on to say that it was absolutely filthy and really wasn’t worth it. I took him at his word, and back to the States the banner went. I told this story to Guinness one day as we lunched at the Garrick Club. ‘What on earth would you have done with it,’ he asked. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. Probably used it as a bedcover. Then I could say to all my friends that I slip under Alec Guinness every night.’ The look on Alec’s face said enough, and I quickly changed the subject