Born: 15th January 1936 (as Richard Kimber Franklin)
Richard Franklin was born in Marylebone, London, but was evacuated during the Second World War and relocated numerous times. He became involved in amateur dramatics while at school, but his surgeon father discouraged his interest in acting in favour of a career in medicine. After his National Service with the Royal Green Jackets, Franklin decided to study law at Oxford University, but he ultimately completed a degree in modern history instead, and thereafter worked in advertising. However, when his older brother became seriously ill for a number of months in 1963, Franklin was inspired to apply to the Royal Academic of Dramatic Arts.
After graduation, Franklin worked in repertory theatre and made his television debut in 1966 with a small part on Dixon Of Dock Green. After a recurring role on Crossroads, he also appeared in programmes such as The Doctors and Little Women before being cast in Doctor Who as Captain Mike Yates of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). The character was designed as a permanent second-in-command to Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who had previously been supported by a revolving door of UNIT captains. It was also thought that Mike might serve as a love interest for Jo Grant, played by Katy Manning, who debuted alongside Yates in 1971's Terror Of The Autons; however, this notion was scarcely pursued.
During his time on Doctor Who, Franklin also appeared in an episode of The Pathfinders. He then became the artistic director of the East Riding Youth Theatre in Yorkshire, which limited his availability for Doctor Who. It was decided to wind down Yates' involvement with what was, for its time, an unusually character-focussed, carefully-paced exit. After misguidedly betraying UNIT in earlier stories, Yates finally found some peace in his final serial, 1974's Planet Of The Spiders, which was also the last adventure for Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor.
Franklin subsequently focussed his career on acting, writing and directing for the stage, although he occasionally took roles in programmes like Blake's 7. He returned to Doctor Who in 1983 for a cameo appearance as Mike in the twentieth-anniversary celebration The Five Doctors. The following year, Franklin donned his UNIT fatigues again when he staged the farcical Recall UNIT: The Great T-Bag Mystery at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His last major television role was a year on Emmerdale Farm in 1988 and 1989. During the Nineties, a handful of credits included an episode of Heartbeat, as well as another brief Mike Yates appearance in the charity special Dimensions In Time, timed to coincide with Doctor Who's thirtieth anniversary.
In 2002, Franklin wrote a Mike Yates audiobook called The Killing Stone, issued by BBV; it was novelised as Operation HATE and released by Fantom Publishing in 2013. In 2006, he made his debut in the Doctor Who audio dramas from Big Finish Productions, playing Colonel Nasgard in Innocence, the first release in the I, Davros series. From 2009 he began reprising Yates, both for Big Finish Productions in audios starting with The Magician's Oath, an installment of The Companion Chronicles, and in a series of Fourth Doctor adventures written by Paul Magrs and released by AudioGo, the first of which was called The Stuff Of Nightmares. The twenty-first century also saw Franklin tackle a number of film roles, including the horror movie Chemical Wedding and, most notably, as an engineer aboard the Death Star in the 2016 Star Wars prequel Rogue One.
Franklin was active in politics for many years, running unsuccessfully for a variety of parties in several constituencies. His best result came in 1992, when he stood for the Liberal Democrats in the 1992 General Election, contesting the riding of Sheffield Brightside. Franklin also founded his own short-lived party, the Silent Majority Party, whom he represented in the 2005 General Election.
|Updated 31st July 2020|
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