Bruce Montague

A profile of the actor Bruce Montague

Sir Barry Jackson, founder of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (now known as the Old Rep), saw Bruce's performance in Love for Love and contracted Bruce to the theatre. In the middle of the 1960's Bruce went to the Colchester Repertory Theatre for Robert Digby, where he performed in about 50 plays in weekly repertory. After a year at Colchester, Bruce joined the Old Vic Company, playing characters including Duke Orsino in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night opposite Viviene Leigh. Bruce Montague's other plays for the Old Vic include, Lady of the Camellias and Duel of Angels.

Bruce returned to Colchester when his Old Vic contract had finished and appeared in plays including Hamlet. Bruce's performance in Hamlet was seen by Frederick Joachim, a top theatrical agent at the time and also by casting director for MGM Irene Howard (sister of Leslie Howard). Frederick Joachim put Bruce under contract to make films as a relacement for Dirk Bogarde whom Joachim had just 'lost'. However, a contract with Hammer Films to make three pictures was rejected by Joachim, as he was not happy with the money Hammer was offering.

Bruce was then offered the role of Inspector Larbi in the television series Crane (1963-1965), in which he appears for the first 13 episodes. The series also stars Patrick Allen and is set in the city of Casablanca, Morocco. Crane is about a city businessman, Richard Crane who has tired of the 'Rat-Race' in the UK. Crane buys a beach-side cafe/bar in Casablanca, but also does some smuggling to help with the finances. Bruce's character Inspector Larbi and his boss Colonel Mahmoud (Gerald Flood), are always one step behind and Crane invariably manages to out-wit the two men. Crane also stars Sam Kydd and Laya Raki. After 13 episodes of Crane, Bruce was pulled-out of the series in order to make two feature films.

Bruce Montague was secretly married to Barbara Latham in December 1962, the reason for this secrecy was that Bruce's contract with Frederick Joachim included a clause that Bruce promised not to marry for the duration of the contract. This clause was inserted into the contract to enable Bruce to be built-up as a 'Matinee-Idol' as a successor to Dirk Bogarde. Unfortunately, when Joachim was informed about the marriage, Bruce's contract was dropped. Bruce and Barbara had their first child Sam in 1963; Sam Montague is now a successful director of photography.

The crime/drama series The Link Men, made by TCN-9 in Sydney, Australia, stars Bruce Montague as Det. Sgt. Harry Sutton. The Link Men, which first aired in 1970, revolves around three detectives from the Sydney CIB (Criminal Invesigation Branch), who are not attached to any particular squad and whose brief is to investigate all types of crime. The Linkmen is based on the very popular UK television series No Hiding Place produced by Associated-Rediffusion. The police advisor on No Hiding Place, scriptwriter Glyn Davies (a former Scotland Yard detective), was commissioned by TCN-9 to devise The Linkmen. After adapting the scripts for the Australian show, Glyn Davies then shipped-out all the scripts from the series (No Hiding Place) and with locations and names now changed, these scripts form the basis for The Link Men stories.

Bruce Montague is probably best known for his role in Carla Lane's BBC TV comedy series Butterflies, whose original run was from 1978 until 1984. In the series he plays wealthy businessman, Leonard Dunn, the extra-marital romantic interest of Ria Parkinson (Wendy Craig). The series also stars Geoffrey Palmer as Ben Parkinson, Ria's husband.

Bruce has at least 300 television appearances to his name, including: Public Eye, Poirot, Special Branch, The Saint, The Baron, The Protectors, Fresh Fields and Dr Who. Bruce Montague is also a writer and has had his own original material broadcast by NZBC, ABC and by the BBC, in the Saturday Night Theatre, and Afternoon Theatre slots. He has also written for the stage, including A Bird in the Hand, a play which opened in Guernsey in the Channel Islands at the Beau Sejour Theatre and had a run of 4 months.

Bruce has also produced and directed, and was responsible for the Australasian productions of Lionel Bart's Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be and Lock Up Your Daughters. He and Anthony Richardson were co-founders of the Mercury Theatre in Auckland. In 1994-1995 Bruce played the Constable in Fiddler on the Roof at the London Palladium and in 1997-2000 he played Mr Brownlow in Oliver, again at the Palladium.

Bruce has also written three stage musicals in collaboration with the British music producer and arranger Kenny Clayton: Oedipus-Ring Your Mother, about a man who falls in love with his own father. Box, a boxing musical-fantasy, set in the Las Vegas of 1963, with music and lyrics written in the 'Rat-Pack' style. The third musical is The Mistress, about the menage-a-trois of Lord Horatio Nelson, Lady Emma Hamilton and her husband Sir William Hamilton.

In 2001-2002 Bruce played Monsieur Firmin in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, adapted from the novel Le Fantome De L'Opera, by French author Gaston Leroux, first published in 1910. The venue was Her Majesty's Theatre in Haymarket, London and Bruce made approximately 650 perfomances as Monsieur Firmin.

In 2003 Bruce Montague returned to Colchester to star in the Mercury Theatre production of the classic period romantic-mystery drama My Cousin Rachel. The play is based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, was adapted by Diana Morgan and directed by Ian Dickens. This production of My Cousin Rachel also starred Beatie Edney (Highlander, Frost, Dressing For Breakfast), and Andrew Lynford (Simon Raymond in Eastenders).