Kenneth Cope was born in Liverpool in 1934, the son of an engineer. He was always keen on performing and took part in several 'Gang Shows' when he was a boy scout. He also appeared
Cope studied drama at the Bristol Old Vic Drama School, after which he landed several roles in both TV (Ivanhoe and The Adventures of Robin Hood) and film (Dunkirk).
It was the role of Jed Stone in Coronation Street (1961-1966), along with his appearances in the satirical That Was The Week that Was (1962-1963), that proved to beaspring
Cope briefly left acting in the to run a restaurant, "Martha's Kitchen," which he named after his daughter.
I first met Kenneth Cope at the NEC in Birmingham in November 2004, when he signed my Carry On book. I met him again at the NEC in November 2010 where I got this nice photo taken with him.
Kenneth Cope has been married for more than 40 years to actress Renny Lister (who also appeared with him in Coronation Street, as Jed Stone's girlfriend Jean Stark) and they have three children. Their daughter, Martha Cope, is also an actress, with many TV appearances to her name.
Regular TV work followed, with appearances in many well-established programmes like Dixon Of Dock Green, George and Mildred (1980), Doctor Who (1981), Juliet Bravo (1983), Rumpole of the Bailey (1987), Casualty (1988), Bergerac (1989) and Lovejoy (1994), followed more recently with Brookside (1999-2002) and The Bill (2006).
In Carry On Matron (1972), Cope plays Cyril Carter, one of a group of criminals led by Cyril's father Sid (played by Sid James) out to steal contraceptive pills from a maternity hospital. They assume various disguises in order to carry this out, with Cope's character 'casing the joint' dressed as a female nurse!
Kenneth Cope has starred in 2 'Carry On' films. In Carry On At Your Convenience (1971) he played trade union shop steward, Vic Spanner, who is constantly calling the workforce out on strike at every opportunity at W.C.Boggs' Lavatory factory. This is a very popular Carry On film (although it was a box-office failure), with the regular cast revelling in schoolboy 'toilet humour' throughout.
Cope achieved later fame as Marty Hopkirk in Randall & Hopkirk (deceased) (1969). Randall and Hopkirk are private detectives. Hopkirk is murdered by a hit-and-run driver, but returns to help solve his own murder, with the aid of his partner Jeff Randall. This highly popular cult series ran to 26 episodes, and has now been brought out on DVD.
Lance Percival in That Was The Week That Was
Kenneth Cope as Vic Spanner in
as Vic Spanner
as Marty Hopkirk
Two faces of Kenneth Cope
Kenneth Cope with Sid James, Bill Maynard & Bernard Bresslaw
in Carry On Matron
Kenneth Cope, Roy Kinnear, Willie Rushton &
Carry On posters
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be a springboard for Cope's later success. Jed Stone was a borstal boy who lodged with Minnie Caldwell at No.5. He was always 'wheeling & dealing', and finally the law caught up withhim
with him and he was sent to prison, never to be seen on 'The Street' again!
Randall & Hopkirk Deceased
Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope in a scene from
Ciaran Brown with Kenneth Cope at the Birmingham NEC in 2006
appeared in a youth production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice with his friend, actor Norman Rossington.
Carry On At Your Convenience