Michael Angelis had a long and varied acting career on both stage and screen, moving easily between comedy and gut-wrenching drama. Many Liverpudlians will consider his greatest achievement was the bringing to life Alan Bleasdale’s character Chrissie Todd in the iconic Boys From The Blackstuff . The tragic destruction of a decent man by a heartless economic system conveyed more about the demolition of community and family in Thatcherite Britain than thousand tracts or speeches. I still watch it fairly regularly, always moved to tears of anger when you hear his despairing summary of life “Angie, this is our life – and I wish I was dead… I had a job, Angie. It wasn’t a bad job and I was good at it. I laid the roads – motorways, lay-bys, country lanes. But I lost that job.”
Most of the obituaries of Michael Angelis refer to his reticence about his early life and I have only been able assemble bits and pieces of his Liverpool days. He was born in London on 29th April 1944, the son of a Greek father Evangelos Angelis [1894-1959], described in some records as a seaman. Christened Nicolas Michael, his mother was Margaret McCulla. His mother and father were married in London in 1943, presumably after the birth of his elder brother Paul in Liverpool in January of that year. What took the family between the two cities is unclear but by the end of the war they had settled at 13 Woodruff Street L8. His mother died “when he was small” [Guardian Obit.] probably before the move to a flat at 111 Upper Parliament Street L8, [1955 Kelly’s Directory.] Both of these houses have since been demolished. His father died in 1959 when Michael Angelis was about 15 and in by 1962 he was living with brother Paul in Maryhill Glasgow.
Both brothers attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and after finishing his course Michael returned to Liverpool and worked with the Everyman company. Realising it would be his only way to securing roles he soon moved to London where he remained the rest of his life. His first high profile TV part came in 1974 playing Carol Boswell’s brother, Lucien, in The Liver Birds and he would go on to appear in 34 episodes. He had already made a handful of TV appearances including two episodes of Z Cars, and one episode of Coronation Street as the character Franny Slater. The years leading up to Boys From the Blackstuff saw him pop up in many of the most popular shows of the day, such as Robin’s Nest, Minder and Hazell. After his portrayal of Chrissie, Michael Angelis worked with Alan Bleasdale in a number of other productions, notably the film No Surrender  and the TV dramas GBH  and Melissa .
His other long-running TV role, one in which he performed for over two decades, was as narrator of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories in Thomas and Friends. His predecessor had been one-time fellow Dingle resident, Ringo Starr.
Making an objective assessment of Michael Angelis’ acting career is difficult for a Liverpudlian, especially one whose sympathies lie left of centre, such is the dominance of Boys from the Blackstuff. The overwhelming majority of his roles, comic and dramatic, were delivered with the same lugubrious ‘soft-Scouse’ accent. He was in no way a Gary Oldman or Michael Sheen, largely moulding the words to his own personality. Indeed, Carla Lane saw his strength in comedy stemming from that he “didn’t have to do funny things to make people laugh, he just had to sit there and sing the words to his own tune”.
Having been briefly married in the seventies in 1991 he married Coronation Street actress Helen Worth, although by then they had been a couple for over a decade. They were divorced in 2001 following his highly-publicised affair with model Jennifer Khalastchi, whom he married in 2003. They remained together until his death from a heart attack, on 30th May 2022 at his Berkshire home.
Michael Angelis as Chrissie Todd with Bernard Hill, Peter Kerrigan, Alan Igbon
© Liverpool Footprints