Monday, 1 October 2012

Biography - Don Warrington

by Marjorie H Morgan © 2015

Don Warrington. MBE. Actor; Director. Born: 1952, Trinidad.

Don Warrington was born in Trinidad on 23rd May 1952. His father, Basil Kydd, was a Trinidadian politician who died in 1958 when Don Warrington was still a small child. After the death of his father, Warrington’s mother moved with the family - Don and his brother - to the UK because ‘she needed a change.’ Since that first major migration across continents Warrington has travelled extensively throughout the UK – and the rest of the world. He is now firmly based in London with his wife of over two decades: they have two sons.

Warrington remembers his early years in Newcastle-upon-Tyne as a time of ‘enormous adaptability’: he was a child in an alien place. He recalls how that single journey from Trinidad to England moved him – both literally thousands of miles and from being in a majority to being in a minority.[1]

Literature and theatre were some of the tools that Warrington used to find his own place of belonging in his new environment. When Warrington identified his desire to be an actor he set about making his dream a reality. The only other career aspiration that Warrington admits having is that of being a train driver – like most other small boys of his age. When he was 17, Warrington obtained a job as an Assistant Stage Manager in the local repertory theatre – the Flora Robson Playhouse, Newcastle. It was from this start that he gained a place at the Drama Centre, London. After three years of study he graduated and began his professional career as an actor. In the early part of his profession Warrington appeared in the stage productions of Hair and The Banana Box. It was in the latter production (by Eric Chappell) that Warrington worked alongside Leonard Rossiter with whom he subsequently appeared in the television sitcom Rising Damp. In this memorable series Warrington played Town and Country Planning student Philip Smith (this was a development from Eric Chappell’s stage play, Banana Box in which Warrington and Rossiter first played their characters). It is in this role, as Philip Smith, that Warrington is well remembered: for his precise and well enunciated upper-class accent – it was to become his trademark. The new speech patterns were another shift in identity from his Trinidadian roots and his newly acquired Newcastle accent.

Warrington is regularly seen and heard on TV, radio and stage. He is one of the UK’s leading contemporary and classic actors. His recognisable and affable persona led to him also being cast in a TV advertisement for Kenco Coffee.

Warrington’s acting roles have taken him to locations around the world. His first stage role in the controversial production of Hair resulted in a tour through Europe and a recent TV drama series that is set in the Caribbean: Death in Paradise, has taken him back to the geographical area of his birth. Although filmed in Guadaloupe, this crime drama is set in the mystical Caribbean island of Saint-Marie.
From October through December in 2012 Don Warrington will be touring the British theatre circuit with a stage performance of the Oscar winning film, Driving Miss Daisy. Warrington has been acting on screen and stage for many decades. Some of his television credits include C.A.T.S Eyes, Morse, New Street Law, The Crouches, Trial and Retribution, Manchild, Holby City, Casualty and Doctor Who. Warrington also has several film credits to his name including Hamlet, Black XXX-Mas, Land of the Blind, Babymother, Tube Tales, Eight and a Half Women, and It’s a Wonderful Afterlife.

Don Warrington has received high acclaim for his many stage roles including recognition for his outstanding performances in Elmina’s Kitchen and Statement of Regret at the National Theatre, London - both plays were written by Kwame Kwei-Armah. Other plays have included: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, Raisin in the Sun, The Merchant of Venice, Thee and Me, and Alterations. Throughout his career Warrington has often worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Talawa and other well established production companies. As well as acting on the stage Warrington has been a stage director in the theatre. In 2010 he made his directorial debut with the performance of Rum and Coco Cola at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

In an effort to encourage British creative talent Don Warrington is also an executive director of newly formed TV production company, Pampaset, which aims to cultivate and develop young writers who are expressing the current Black British experience.

Don Warrington was awarded a MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2008 for his services to drama.

[1] My Life in Books, BBC2, Series 2 Episode 5, 2nd March 2012 

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