The name Brian Oulton is probably not widely known but he would be instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with films and TV of the 1950s and 60’s. He was very much the classic British character actor who must have popped straight into the mind of any casting director looking for a slightly pompous, pretentious figure of minor authority.
Born on 11th February 1908 he came from a Liverpool family of some distinction, his parental
grandfather William being the city’s Lord Mayor 1898-99. His father, William
Harold Stowe Oulton, was a barrister who served as the city’s stipendiary
magistrate and Deputy Recorder. His mother, Kate Brunner, came from another prominent Liverpool family,
her father being the noted entrepreneur, social reformer and philanthropist Sir
John Tomlinson Brunner. Brunner was, as a piece of extraneous information, also
the great-grandfather of the Duchess of Kent.
The Oulton family had various homes around the Sefton Park area; 5 West Albert Road L17, 25 Grove Park L8, 53 Ullet Road L17 and from 1919 onwards 2 Aigburth Vale L17. (All but the last of these are still standing)
I have come across little about Brian Oulton’s early years but the first evidence of acting being his chosen path lies in his name appearing in the Liverpool Playhouse Repertory list for the 1928-1929 season. (per The Liverpool Repertory Theatre 1911-1934 by Grace Wyndham Goldie, Liverpool University Press 1935). By 1929 he was touring in a production of Journey’s End and in 1931 he made his screen debut in Sally In Our Alley starring Gracie Fields. His television work began very soon after the BBC commenced its service in 1936.
After military service during the war he returned to acting and appears to have been one of those performers who may never have had starring role but who was certainly never out of work. Although he had minor roles in such films as the Man Who Never Was  and Gandhi  the vast majority of his 50-plus screen appearances were comedies. He had a significant role in Carry On Nurse  and also further appearances in the series [Constable, Cleo, Camping]. His TV credits embraced a host of the top shows of his time, including Hancock’s Half Hour, Steptoe and Son, The Army Game, The Saint, Softly Softly, Emergency Ward 10, The Avengers and many more. He also made an appearance in the comedy The Young Ones as Neil’s father.
Oulton was married to the actress Peggy-Thorpe Bates for over fifty years. Her most well-known role was as the wife of Horace Rumpole (“she who must be obeyed”) in Rumpole of the Bailey. He died in London on 13th April 1992 aged 84.
His parental grandfather
His maternal grandfather
The Oulton's home in the early years of the 20th Century
The Oulton home from about 1911-14
The Oulton home c. 1914-1915
© Liverpool Footprints