Thames-born actor Bruce Purchase, a founding member of Sir Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre, has died in Putney, aged 69. Purchase decided to become an actor at the age of five and upon leaving Auckland Grammar School won a scholarship to London’s Rada. The son of a grocer, he worked as an apprentice baker, co-editor of the New Zealand Timber Journal and as an abattoir hand before going on to star in regular performances at the National Theatre in London. Purchase is perhaps best known for his memorable performance as the villainous captain in 1978’s Doctor Who four-part story, The Pirate Planet. Though Purchase appeared in a number of films – including All Quiet on the Western Front and Richard III – and television shows, his first loyalty, however, remained to the theatre. Purchase’s autobiography Changing Skies was published shortly before he died, and delighted readers with anecdotes about a parade of celebrities, ranging from Roman Polanski and Franco Zeffirelli to Princess Alexandra, Noel Coward, and Sir Ian McKellen. A man of many talents, Purchase also wrote books on film-making and musical theatre. His paintings were exhibited in London, Oxford, Tokyo, New York, Denver and Los Angeles.
Bruce Purchase: 2 October 1938 – 5 June 2008