michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
This piece about Michael Gothard was found at the BFI Library. It is thought to be from a press book for "Up the Junction."




Tall, husky, blonde newcomer Michael Gothard must be the only professional motion picture actor to have got into the business through amateur home movies!

It happened when Michael, on holiday from University studies in Paris, was persuaded by a friend to take part in a home movie he was producing with a cheap ciné camera. Michael was so good that he took over the lead in the mini-film and so impressed his friend that the latter asked him why he didn’t take acting up professionally. Michael decided to throw up his studies and do just that. He enrolled at the Actors’ Workshop in London – and has never looked back.…

Standing 6 feet 3 inches, with tough, almost Slavic good looks, Michael Gothard had more than a touch of Rudolph Nureyev about his appearance. “But,” he grins, “I don’t dance as well!” Now he has recently completed his second motion picture appearance (not counting that home movie!) in the BHE Production for Paramount UP THE JUNCTION.

Michael Gothard was born 25 years ago in London and educated at several local state schools there. During his schooldays he was something of a wonder athlete and won cups, plaques and medals for practically every athletic event you can think of. “I seemed to have a natural talent for running, jumping and so on,” says Michael, “and enjoyed it into the bargain. I imagine my long legs helped ….!”

After leaving school, Michael went to Paris and studied French culture at the Sorbonne. He gave up plans to complete his university studies when acting cropped up (via that amateur home movie) and went to the Actors’ Workshop in London.

He left the Workshop after a course in acting and stage-craft and began touring the agents’ offices looking for work. He happened to be with an agent one day when he heard that writer-director Don Levy was auditioning for parts in his up-coming film “Herostratus”. He went along and, after giving a three-hour audition, so impressed Levy that he was given the starring role in the film. He worked for nine months on the picture – an off-beat study of a young London man who is obsessed with the idea of committing suicide, and expected to open in London late in 1967 – and was then out-of-work for 18 months! “That’s show business….!” he shrugs.

He subsequently appeared in several TV plays, including a leading role opposite Yvonne Mitchell in the successful science-fiction production “The Machine Stops”, which won a major award at the 1967 Trieste Science Fiction Festival. He also starred – as villainous Captain Mordaunt – in the popular BBC TV long-running serial “The Further Adventures of the Musketeers”.

In UP THE JUNCTION, Michael is seen as Terry, a typical young motor-cycle-mad Battersea boy who takes a fancy to local girl Rube (Adrienne Posta) and makes her pregnant. After she has had an illegal abortion, he is rash enough to call at her house – only to be literally thrown down the stairs by furious Mum, Mrs. Macarthy (Liz Fraser). Ironically, Rube later becomes engaged to him – but Terry is subsequently killed during a ‘ton-up’ motor-cycle spree on the main road to London Airport.

Michael Gothard is unmarried and lives in Hampstead, London.

UP THE JUNCTION is produced by Anthony Havelock-Allan and John Brabourne and directed by Peter Collinson from Nell Dunn’s prize-winning book. Associate producer is Harry Fine. The Techniscope/Colour film, which is a BHE Production for Paramount release, stars Suzy Kendall, Dennis Waterman, Adrienne Posta, Maureen Lipman and Michael Gothard, with Liz Fraser, Hylda Baker and Alfie Bass.



This short piece about Michael Gothard was also found at the BFI Library. It is on a page numbered '16', and headed “Up the Junction.”

MICHAEL GOTHARD is a newcomer from television. He was born 25 years ago in London and was educated there at a local state school, subsequently studying French culture at the Sorbonne in Paris. He gave up his original plans to complete his university studies in order to become an actor. He has since appeared in many television plays. He also played a leading role in the recent television series “The Three Musketeers.” His first feature film was “Herostratus.”
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
A piece found in the BFI Library, thought to be from a press book for "Up the Junction", has this to say about Michael Gothard's athletic accomplishments:

"During his schooldays he was something of a wonder athlete and won cups, plaques and medals for practically every athletic event you can think of. 'I seemed to have a natural talent for running, jumping and so on,' says Michael, 'and enjoyed it into the bargain. I imagine my long legs helped …!'”

Sports day at Parliament Hill Fields race course 1954/5

This picture, courtesy of Michael's friend H., shows Michael and a senior girl (possibly the Head Girl) at sports day on Parliament Hill Fields, Hampstead Heath, probably 1954/55.

Sheila Dickens (née Hellyer) says: "I remember Michael Gothard. We both attended Haverstock School but he was a couple of years older than me, so would not know or remember me. He was a fantastic runner. We were both chosen to run in the All London Athletics at Hurlingham Stadium.1

Some friends and I were watching his race, and it was a false start; everything went quiet and all you could hear was my friend shouting 'Gothard!'"

Jean Orbell (née Miller), who also attended Haverstock School, say: "Michael was a great runner. I am not the girl in the picture, but I remember him well. I always wished I was in the same house as Michael, as he always won all of his races. He was in Kenilworth House (green colour). The rest were Camden (red), Primrose (yellow) and Maitland (purple). If you had a track suit at Haverstock it was your own, so you decided the colour."

Michael's schoolfriend H. says: "Michael was an excellent athlete: good in most sports but he excelled in the 100, 200 and 400 yards races."

Michael's schoolfriend Baz does not remember Michael representing the school, but says that "Michael ran the 220 yards and trained at the track at Parliament Hill fields."

1 This must have been at one of the earliest athletics meetings a Hurlingham, where according to Wikipedia, "the opening meeting of the track was on 11 September 1954 ... The running track was originally made of cinder ... It had a capacity of approximately 2,500 on bench type seating. The track was the base of London Athletic Club, and the straight was last thought to be used for a race in 1979. The meeting ... included a 220 yard straight race (200 metres)."
michael_gothard_archive: (Paris circa 1960)
I was lucky enough to be contacted by a friend of Michael’s from his teenage years, H. He very kindly provided me the valuable new information and photos below.

‘I came across your website yesterday after seeing a rerun of 'For Your Eyes Only' and was very touched that you planted a tree in his memory.

Michael and I went to the same school, Haverstock Comprehensive in Chalk Farm in North West London, and were in the same class probably from 1953/4 till 1957.

I usually called him Mike or Mick. Michael was a close friend of mine, and was a frequent visitor to our home. My parents always treated him as a member of our family.’


‘He lived with his mother in Gloucester Avenue just off Primrose Hill and I went to his place on a number of occasions.

Both Michael and his mother were very well spoken and she appeared to be well educated.

I always understood that Michael's father died at Dunkirk. Michael was born in June 1939, the Second World War started in September 1939 and the Battle of and Evacuation of Dunkirk took place in May/June 1940.’

When told that Michael’s mother was actually divorced, H. expressed the opinion that:

‘At that time, divorce tended to be frowned upon. It is possible this may have been a white lie told by his mother to explain that his father was not present.

As far as I am aware, I never met Jack Walker [Michael's 'Uncle Jack', who was on the electoral roll for the address, 1952 - 8] and I cannot remember either Michael or his mother ever mentioning him to me.’1


‘Michael always chose his words carefully but he did not appear to be at all shy and was very self assured.

He was always outgoing, and as far as I was concerned I never saw him in a depressed state of mind.’


‘I think Haverstock was one of the first Comprehensive Schools in the country, so we were quite lucky in the education we received. All the teachers appeared to be doing their best to give us a good education. I remember our Geography teacher who became our 6th form teacher had to upgrade his qualifications to continue to teach us. He eventually became the Headmaster of another school.

The teachers were very broad minded from a political point of view – so if and when we talked politics it covered the whole gamut.

From memory the uniforms were dark blue with grey trousers and the tie was yellow red stripes.

The school had a house system. I think our house name was Camden.

Michael was a good student and always did well in exams. His good looks always attracted the girls. As far as I was aware, he did not have any particular girlfriends but he was always very popular with the girls, very self assured and confident. He may have had girl friends, but never mentioned them.

He got on well with all his teachers, his peers and other pupils.

During the time I knew him, he did not have any problems with authority.

Michael did not smoke whilst at school. I can't remember ever seeing him smoking cigarettes or anything else. He was too keen on sports and his fitness and health. There were other students who smoked cigarettes round the back of the school toilets.

Michael was an excellent athlete: good in most sports but he excelled in the 100, 200 and 400 yards races.

Sports Day - Parliament Hill Fields

Michael and senior girl at sports day on Parliament Hill Fields at the bottom of Hampstead Heath probably 1954/55.

In our last two years at school in Sixth Form, we both studied Advanced History and Geography. Because the 6th form subject classes were so small each student was virtually given personal tuition.

We were both prefects; I believe the prefects were selected by a committee of teachers together with the Headmaster.


Michael and the prefects appointed in 1955/56.

Michael was the Head Boy in his final year at school.

During our 6th and 7th years, Michael and I, together with others, went on three geographical/geological trips together – to Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire, to the Yorkshire Dales to study the limestone areas and to Scotland on a trip from Inverness to the Isle of Skye.

Michael never mentioned his Welsh grandparents, which is strange because, as I mentioned above, we travelled by train to Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire and St David’s together. Maybe he was able to compartmentalise these things.

Dale Fort

Michael with other students at Dale Fort.

Near Aviemore Youth Hostel

Michael near Dale Fort.

Dale Fort 2

Michael and other students from the group who went to Dale Fort.

Near Aviemore Youth Hostel 2

Near the Aviemore Youth Hostel in Scotland, 1956: Michael and another student who was also in our class, and would have been 17 or 18 at the time.

I'm not certain whether Michael did his A-levels or not – probably we should assume he did take his A levels but left shortly thereafter. I do know that he did not stay to the end of the school year.

I'm not certain why he did not go on to do further education.’


‘I had always been interested in music and, in particular, Jazz and took up the drums in my early teens. Michael also started to play the clarinet. Soon we had a group rehearsing at our place just off Primrose Hill.

We often listened to jazz records, traditional, mainstream and modern. On my eighteenth birthday I remember Michael giving me an LP 'Tribute to Benny Goodman' with Jess Stacy and the Famous Sidemen – I still have the LP.

Benny Goodman

I remember one time, Michael, I and another friend went to see Ken Colyer (a leading traditional jazz trumpeter in the 1950s and 60s) and his band somewhere I believe in Camden Town. I believe the gig was either at a Trade Union Club or a Communist Club.’


‘Both my parents and Michael's mother were very keen on us learning ballroom dancing and I remember Michael, myself and another friend enrolling to learn to dance at a studio in Baker Street. We managed to learn how to get round a dance floor without any major problems, but I only ever saw him dancing either at school dances or at parties.

As far as I can remember, the only jazz club we went to together was the Ken Colyer gig and we certainly didn't dance there.’

Leaving home/school

‘I was not aware that Michael had left his home after leaving school. One reason for him travelling to Europe may have been that Conscription to the Army was still in place for all males aged 18 years and over and was so until 1960.’2

I asked: ‘Was Michael already forming leftist political opinions at this age?’

H. replied: ‘At the time we really did not get into politics. I suppose one should remember that we were in the middle of the Cold War and the Suez Crisis had just taken place in 1956 and so the population, and young people in particular, were worried about what was happening around them so travelling might not have been so bad an idea.

Prior to 1956 no American Jazz musicians were allowed to play in the U.K. In addition there were quite a few American jazz musicians living in France and other parts of Europe in order to get away from the racial intolerance in the USA and these reasons together with the urge to travel and see a bit of the world may have contributed to his going overseas.

The school actively encouraged students in linguistic studies, and this also may have influenced him in his decision to travel to France. A couple of years prior, [to leaving school] we went on a school trip to Europe.

After leaving school, I became an articled clerk to a firm of Chartered Accountants in the City and continued studying for the next five years. I lost touch with Michael and other members of our group during that time.

In some ways it didn't surprise me that Michael became an actor - when I found out I was really quite proud that I had once known and been a close friend of his.

I heard of Michael's untimely death a number of years ago which came as a huge shock.

Punting on the River Cam

Michael with two other students (also in our class) punting on the River Cam. I can't remember what we doing in Cambridge - obviously a class excursion.’

1 Baz, another schoolfriend of Michael's, who knew him from a few years earlier than H, remembers knowing that Michael's parents were separated, and that Jack Walker was a part of Michael's life.

2 Baz believes Michael failed the medical on the grounds of his poor eyesight.

The creators of this Archive are very grateful to H. for sharing these memories and photographs.
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
This is a photo of Haverstock School’s form 2K, 1951/2.

Haverstock 1952 2K
Photo courtesy of Patricia Ruff

Patricia Ruff (née Oakes) says: “Both my husband John Ruff and me are in this photo. Michael Gothard is the boy in the back row. He was form captain.”

Michael schoolfriend H. also identifies Michael as “standing 4th from right in the back row of the 1952 form 2K photo.” H. did not know Michael at that time, as he was in 2D, with Baz, who already knew Michael from when they were both at Princess Road Primary School.

However, Baz remembers Michael being in 2D with them, at least later on in 1952.

“The first time Michael shared a class at Haverstock with me was in 2D; I know for certain that he sat next to me for some months. I believe Michael may have started Haverstock life in a lower grade to that which he later aspired.1 He apppears in 2K’s photo and not 2D’s, because he was not elevated until later in the year.”


Both Baz and Patricia Ruff agree that Michael's form teacher in 2K was Mr Jones, whom Baz describes as “a card carrying communist ... He taught history as a specialty. He was never my form teacher but did take us for history. Very boring teacher who seemed to talk of nothing but the insidious Corn Laws, the Cato Street conspiracy and Castlereagh's term in leadership.”

Haverstock School 2D

This is the photo of form 2D, the class Michael joined later in 1952. Baz and H. remember that the form teacher was Miss Fraser.

Jean Orbell (née Miller) remembers: “The school tie was red & yellow and we wore navy jumpers or cardigans. Michael was in Kenilworth House (green colour). The rest were Camden (red), Primrose (yellow) and Maitland (purple)."

1 Classes were evidently banded or streamed.
michael_gothard_archive: (wild)
Lisa Collender kindly offered this information from her mother, who was in the same year as Michael at Haverstock School.

“My mum is in her late 70s. Her name was Janice Xanthou. She recalled he was very quiet, and lived in Primrose Hill with his mother. A very pleasant young man.

She said that when they were very young - about 13 years old, in their first class, about 1950/51 - she once went to the pictures with him, at a cinema near Primrose Hill. He had asked her out on a 'date' but dating then wasn't as it is now.

This is a photo of her school dance at Haverstock Hill School in 1953/54; Michael is in the very background. They were both captains of their class!"

Janice Xanthou's photo


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