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Magistrates, Peterloo, 2018


Robert’s two books,
spanning 75 years
of show-biz


Dudley Rush, Keep it in The Family, 1980s


Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Old Vic, 1953


The King’s Head pub theatre


Delighted you found a moment to drop by. TV shows, stories, texts, films are yours with a single click – or two. If you stay a while, there’s history and reminiscence. And this site will keep changing… Fascinating as each item might be, you might wonder what brought them together. One thing only – they all, in some way, strayed into the life of a journeyman actor, director, writer – Robert Gillespie. As your clicking finger roams, I hope you’ll find fun and facts and even fantasy.

History shmistory!

The King’s Head pub theatre Islington has given its last performance and people who weren’t there are telling us how it started and… EVERYTHING about it. But that’s the rub – they weren’t there and don’t know what really happened, Read on…

Getting mauled by The Professionals

I very nearly made an entire career playing small-time criminals… after starting life in the heavy stuff, Shakespeare at the Old Vic (two years of it) and thinking this might point to the road ahead for ever. Read on…

Ooh-La-La! French Farce on UK TV

The difference between French farce and English farce is that in English farce the naughty behaviour is implied – and milked for all it’s worth… but then turns out to be a misunderstanding: Read on…

Playing a gasman

This scene looks effortless. I doubt if anyone could guess that it took Len Rossiter several rehearsals, and then patient persuasion in the studio, to get his props sorted and the shots to make sense for the comedy to work. See the clip…

Keep it in The Family

Sitcom is, of course, what I’m best known for. There came a day when top writer Brian Cooke asked me if I fancied a show of my own. This was the outcome, and here you’ll find clips and stills of the five series we recorded.  

About Robert Gillespie

I’m an actor, theatre director and writer. I was born in France and came to England in 1940. I began acting at Sale Grammar School, and trained at RADA for two years. My professional career began in 1953 with two seasons at the Old Vic Theatre in a company headed by Richard Burton and Claire Bloom. Read on…

Tales from the Green Room

This is the place where you will often find an original piece of writing, something new. It may be a long story, told in several episodes, posted at – roughly – weekly intervals. There will be short stories,too. Take me there…

Horn of plenty

I have kept an astonishing number of things – such as an old-style make-up box with a full complement of grease paint sticks. Props and beards, gels, dozens of posters and hundreds of programmes still live along with me. Rummage around here, and you’ll find items which evoke decades of a life in theatre.

Jane Nightwork Productions

I first heard this name at the Old Vic (my first professional job). Rather young, I thought this was a magical name for a lady who offered personal services to budding lawyers – it’s Shakespeare’s invention for a ‘bona roba’ (part-time tart) mentioned by Justice Shallow in Henry IV Part Two. Read on…

Robert Gillespie’s new book
Are You Going to do That Little Jump? The Adventure Continues

A life in Sitcom, TV, Film and Theatre

I’ve spent 70 years as an actor, writer and director, and the book is stuffed full of backstage stories: about the sitcoms I was in – Keep It in the Family, Porridge, Rising Damp, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Reggie Perrin, and dozens more; about my forays into live theatre – from irksome rep, to risky Fringe, to the spine-tingling RSC and treacherous, seductive  Broadway. And it’s right up to date with recent movies – Lost in London and Peterloo.
“Absolutely love your second book! The wealth of illustrations and photographs is fabulous and the ‘what I did, when’ section… is there anything you’ve not been in? Amazing and the book is signed to… thank you Robert.”
chriseastmids via twitter
“This is a must-read for anyone with a love of acting, theatre and situation comedy. It combines a quick wit with keen observation – effervescent tales on the golden age of sitcom from one of its key players.” ***** (read the full review)
Entertainment Focus
“If you fancy a sly peep behind those red velvet curtains, then this is the book for you.” (read the full review)
Mark Aspen Reviews


Welcome to Aladdin’s cave. This is a site for nosy people, for explorers. We will continue to make the site richer and richer, with new TV and film clips, behind-the-scenes insights into stage shows, and never-before-seen recorded and filmed comedy and drama. Keep coming back for the new stuff. We hope you’ll find it both entertaining and interesting.