Clive’s acting career began after leaving RADA, as a Penguin Player in repertory in Worthing and Eastbourne. The credits below are divided between London's West End theatres which range from CF's debut at the Globe Theatre in 1966 and his credits in regional theatre and on tour across the country, beginning with Getting Married in 1965.

“My first appearance on stage was in Romeo and Juliet. I played a page to the Duke of Venice. I was 9 and had tights that were forever wrinkling. Some kind soul told me that the trick was to wrap a penny around the top to prevent this happening. The result was a lot of penny spillage at inopportune moments!”CF

Getting Married
by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Eric Jones
Role: Cecil Sykes
Cast included Eleanor Bron, Gabrielle Drake, Sylvia Coleridge
Eleanor Bron and Clive Francis make an engaging bridal couple.
The Stage, 1965
This was my first theatrical engagement on leaving RADA. It was for the Prospect Theatre Company an organization set up by Toby Robertson in 1961. Prospect pioneered a type of theatre production in which emphasis was placed on quality acting and strikingly designed costumes, while its minimal stage designs enabled the company to easily tour regional theatres.

Getting Married, not one of my favourite plays, far too wordy, turned out to be a long and happy tour and introduced me to different parts of the country and a number of exquisite theatres. I remember arriving in Norwich in thick snow and having to trudge on foot to the Theatre Royal where I found the main auditorium in use as a cinema, and where I had to tiptoe behind a gigantic screen looking up at the colossal outline of Peter O’Toole in Lord Jim searching for what had to be the coldest dressing room I’ve ever had to endure; even the water in the taps was frozen. The theatre auditorium was so cold that they placed industrial braziers, the kind they used on roads, to keep the sparse audience warm. Trouble was that the flames roared noisily throughout the play, which, apart from being a huge distraction, meant that the cast were forced to practically yell to be heard.

I played a character called Cecil Sykes who is engaged to Edith, played by Eleanor Bron. Both Edith and Cecil are reading conflicting pamphlets on the state and dangers of marriage! Edith has learned that if her husband becomes a criminal lunatic she cannot divorce him. He has learned that he may be liable for his wife's debts. Anyway they eventually discard the pamphlets and return happily married.

There was one moment in the play where my character had to sit on the stairs up-stage centre listening to lengthy arguments on the state of marriage. On this particular Monday evening due to the heat and then the fumes from the braziers Cecil Sykes was seen to fall fast asleep and had to be kicked awake in order to finish the play. To make matters worse my new agent had spent the best part of five hours driving to Norwich from London risking his life along treacherous icy roads to see his new client in his first play. You can imagine his dismay at finding him sound asleep!
There’s a Girl in My Soup
by Terence Frisby
Directed by Robert Chetwin
Role: Jimmy
Cast included: Donald Sinden, Barbara Ferris (Belinda Carroll), Jon Pertwee
Watch out for Clive Francis making his West End bow – he’ll go far.
Fergus Cashin, The Daily Sketch
This was my first west-end end play. In fact, we were only brought in because the Globe Theatre (now Gielgud) needed something to fill a six-week gap before a new show arrived from the States. There’s a Girl in My Soup ran for six years, becoming, at that time, the longest-running comedy in the history of the West End.

On opening night, we were systematically booed by the Gallery First Nighters, a group of obsessive theatre fans who always commandeered the Gods and cheered or jeered as they saw fit. Except that on this occasion they found themselves at odds with the stalls, who immediately leapt to our defence by rounding on the First Nighter’s, booing them as vociferously as they were booing us.

The other memorable occasion took place on July 10 of that year when England took on West Germany in the World Cup final. We played the matinée at breakneck speed, rushing whenever the opportunity arose to watch the game on a miniature six-inch television set. At the curtain call Donald Sinden stepped forward and informed the elderly audience that they may be interested to know that England had won the Cup, a piece of information that was greeted in absolute silence, apart from one old boy near the front who was heard to murmur, ‘I say, jolly good, what?’
Look After Lulu
by Noel Coward
Adapted from Feydeau's Occupe-toi d'Amelie'
Directed by Patrick Garland.
Role: Marcel
Cast included Geraldine McEwan, Nigel Stock, Peter Bowles, Fenella Fielding.
Clive Francis’ strictly balanced farcical wrongheadedness is perfect. He freezes into pose at the peak of a laugh and preserves it long after its textual due. He hunches over in anticipation of calamity or in prayer for rescue. Though McEwan admirably acts Coward’s adaptation of the Feydeau, Francis brilliantly performs the original.
Arthur Schmidt. Players and Players

Clive Francis is a neckless embodiment of crablike intrigue.
Irving Wardle, The Times

I discovered how to play Marcel Blanchard completely by accident. Originally Malcolm McDowell had been cast in this role and I would imagine him too being physically wrong. I spent the first three weeks of rehearsals agonizing over how to capture this character until I came across, quite by chance, some photos of the original Comédie-Française production. Here Marcel was presented as a small, pinched, almost tadpole like creature, not at all the good-looking gallant, as I had been rehearsing him. Now it all made sense. I discarded the costume, the earlier performance, and with barely a week to go, dived in and created something completely different. The result was brave but mad, as it could have been perceived as a caricatured disaster, but my guts told me that I was on the right tracks within the true concept of French farce. Luckily I was right.

Copyright © 2016 Clive Francis. All rights reserved. Main photograph of Clive Francis by Simon Annand