Obituary for Mark Eden

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Good actor who rose to fame as villain Alan Bradley of Coronation Street

When he played Alan Bradley, who cheated on vocalist and later news agent Rita Fairclough and then terrorized her, actor Mark Eden, who died at the age of 92, triggered a lot of drama on Coronation Street. Eden joined the TV soap in 1986 when Alan went to visit his estranged daughter Jenny, who was in charge of Rita after the death of his ex-wife.

Alan dated Rita, played by Barbara Knox, but she and barmaid Gloria Todd cheated on her. Eventually, Gloria dumped him and set up Weatherfield Surveillance Devices, funded by stealing the deeds from Rita’s house and handing off a mortgage like her late husband Len, and attempted to rape Dawn Prescott, his receptionist. He threatened to choke her when Rita found out, was interrupted by Jenny, and then fled.

While he was sentenced to two years in jail, he was released on remand shortly after six months. Alan took a job at a building site across the street from Rita’s house and started to haunt her. Local people speculated that he had killed her when she vanished, but she suffered a breakdown and drove to Blackpool. He tracked her down, followed her through the Prom, and a streetcar fatally hit her. Twenty-seven million viewers tuned in for the story’s climax on December 8, 1989. The actor was born in London to Douglas Malin, the second of Mag (née Tompkins) and Charles Malin’s four children.

A painter and decorator, Charles was also unemployed. Douglas was evacuated to Northamptonshire, then Derbyshire, when World War II broke out. He finished his education in Highgate, London, at St. Aloysius’ Catholic School. At the age of 14, he left school to deliver telegrams to the post office, then had different jobs, from building staff to tailoring to packaging film reels for a film distributor. He contracted tuberculosis at 18 and spent a lot of time in the library of a sanitarium during his nearly two-year recovery. He remembers, “I started reading Shakespeare and plays and the great writers, and realized there was a whole world I didn’t know about,” He saw Donald Wolfit playing Svengali in Trilby at the Bedford Theatre in Camden, north London, in 1950, between half a dozen seasons of work as a showman and then a photographer in Margate for a mail-order company. She answered, “Who’s going to look at you?” when he told his mother that he wanted to be an actor. That became the title of his 2010 autobiography. In 1956, three years after marrying Joan Long, a dental assistant, he joined the Everyman amateur theater party in Ramsgate. Two years later, he became an assistant director at the Swansea Grand Theatre with the Rep Company and changed his name to Mark Eden. At the Grand Theatre in Llandudno, he made his professional acting debut. In 1959, when he played Sergeant Mitchum in Willis Hall’s The Long and the Short and the Tall (Richmond Theater, 1959), he came to the attention of the casting director of the Royal Court Theatre, and the following year he was signed to play the struggling Dave Simmonds in Arnold Wesker’s Chicken Soup With Barley. Two years later, in the Aldwych Theatre production of A Penny for a Song by the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was Edward Sterne – and said his love for fellow actress Judi Dench was unrequited. He turned down an offer to join the company from Peter Hall, seeing his future on the screen – while he appeared as T in the West End. In The Night of the Iguana (Savoy Theatre, 1965), Lawrence Shannon opposed Siân Phillips. Eden’s first TV role was as a journalist in the science fiction series Quatermass and the Pit of Nigel Kneale (1958). With character roles in several famous shows, he rapidly became a prolific screen actor. In four of the Lord Peter Wimsey dramas of Dorothy L. Sayers (1972-74) with Ian Carmichael in the title role, Jack Rufus in London Belongs to Me (1977) and Superintendent Wilf Penfield in The Detective, he was Inspector Parker (1985). He took the title role in the now lost fourth film, Marco Polo (1964), set in 1289, in the first season of Doctor Who, with William Hartnell. He later played BBC producer Donald Baverstock with David Bradley as Hartnell in Mark Gatiss’s Doctor Who biopic An Adventure in Space and Time (2013). As one of two migrant workers (with Anthony Booth) and Crime Buster (1968), he had leading roles in Catch Hand (1964), as Ray Saxon, a champion cyclist turned reporter who investigates murder and corruption in the

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