David Lloyd Meredith
( b. Oct 30, 1933 London, ENGLAND - d. Oct 22, 2008 ) Male
David Lloyd Meredith, who has died aged 74, was a stalwart actor in the physical sense, as well as in his years of service to the classical theatre. He reached his widest audience as Sergeant Evans in the BBC's popular police drama Softly, Softly: Task Force.
A spin-off from Z Cars, the series had begun in 1966 as Softly, Softly, the later, augmented title reflecting how, as part of the production team's wish to keep up with real-life developments, Stratford Johns, Frank Windsor and Norman Bowler were now part of "a new kind of organisation within the police". The retained writers included Robert Barr, Elwyn Jones and Alan Plater.
The revamped series began in November 1969, the week BBC1 went into colour. One 1970 episode showed Evans being carpeted by the chief constable (Walter Gotell, usually cast as a villain), and the following year, he and Watt (Windsor) clashed when both had "projects" on a "heavy night".
By 1972, he had become a detective-sergeant, in one 1973 episode posing as a bricklayer to trail an arson suspect, played by Vivien Merchant, then married to Harold Pinter. Other guest stars ranged from Thora Hird and Desmond Llewellyn, alias "Q", to the emergent Michael Gambon and Stephen Rea. Like the other principals, Lloyd Meredith did not appear in every episode - his last was in October 1976, two months before the series finale.
Following experience in provincial repertory theatre, his first work in London was at the Old Vic, where fellow players included Tom Courtenay, Alec McCowen and the future playwright Tom Kempinski. In 1960, the company performed Franco Zeffirelli's staging of Romeo and Juliet, with Judi Dench as Juliet, and She Stoops to Conquer, with Tommy Steele guesting. Possessed of a fine singing voice, Lloyd Meredith then went into the unruly musical Lock Up Your Daughters! in 1962, a notable success for Bernard Miles's Mermaid Theatre.
Bearded in later years, he was a loyal and enthusiastic regular at the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon and the Barbican, particularly for Trevor Nunn. For Nunn and John Caird, he was Sir Hugh Evans in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Stratford in 1979, which transferred to the Aldwych the following year, with Ben Kingsley and Timothy Spall.
Then came Nunn and Caird's production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, adapted by David Edgar, which enjoyed three London runs in 1980 and 1981 before transferring to Broadway's Plymouth Theatre until 1982. During rehearsals, Lloyd Meredith's role as an idle MP, Sir Matthew Pupker, was merged with another character from the book (Mr Gregsbury), and given some topical lines. His and Hubert Rees's casting as the Cheeryble brothers gave Nunn the idea of making the characters Welsh - "two halves of one warm, colossal soul". A tape recording of the production, which made a virtue of the theatrical trappings, was a highlight of Channel 4's first year on air in 1982.
That same year, again for Nunn, he was Silence to the Falstaff of Joss Ackland (an Old Vic colleague) in Henry IV, with Patrick Stewart. He was back on Broadway the following year, as Rynaldo in the transfer of Nunn's rendering of All's Well That Ends Well, at the Martin Beck Theatre.
For Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company, formed in 1987, he undertook a European tour that included performing Hamlet in Elsinore, plus As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing. He also played the Governor of Harfleur in Branagh's 1989 film of Henry V.
Understandably, he had a particular affection for Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, claiming to have played more of its roles than any other actor. In addition to stage revivals, he took part in an all-star recording produced by George Martin in 1988.
In 1976 he had appeared in the inaugural season of Theatr Clwyd, in Mold, north Wales, one of his favourite venues. For the last 20 years of his life, he lived in Chester.