What follows is an official biography for Mike released by the ITC Entertainment company, producers of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Danger Man, Gideon’s Way, and many other programmes that Mike played a role in.
Mike Pratt, who plays Jeff Randall – he’s the live one! – in “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” has been battered by the elements and can go on taking as much as nature cares to give.
It’s the sort of face which has often led to his being cast as a heavy; but the sort of face which, in normal circumstances, has an amiable warmth.
An interesting face which is very different from that of the conventional TV hero. And Jeff Randall is by no means a conventional hero any more than Mike Pratt is a conventional actor. His career has followed a very different pattern to most, and he steps from supporting and featured roles to stardom in the “Randall and Hopkirk” series.
He’s a big man – 6’1″ in height, weighing 186 pounds, with grey-green eyes and brown hair. He’s agile and he’s amusing. He’s ruggedly tough, but there is an underlying gentleness.
He is, you feel, the sort of man who takes everything in his stride. That’s why he has become an actory. And he is not only an actor. He has a second career as a jazz musician, composer and song-writer.
His acting career was never planned. Mike born in London, is the son of a journalist-turned-advertising man, and Mike followed his father into the advertising business, working for five years as a copywriter.
He still hadn’t thought of becoming an actor, though he was interested in the theatre, when he got a job as an assistant on a revue titled “Memories of Jolson,” which introduced Shirley Bassey to the public.
“I never did discover,” he admits, “what my primary task was supposed to be. I did all sorts of things back-stage, the most important of which seemed to be to retrieve the musical director’s false teeth, which he had a habit of taking out and leaving around without being able to remember just where. I became his unofficial private eye – an early Jeff Randall! – from the day I first found those missing molars for him.”
It was not the sort of experience which seemed to point to a brilliant future in the theatre, so he returned to advertising for a year, doing some part-time acting in small roles at the same time.
He then felt it was time for him to see a bit more of the world. So did three of his friends. They clubbed together and bought an old taxi-cab for £12, shipped it across to Scandinavia and went exploring.
It was through one of these friends that Mike met up with a young sailor named Tommy Hicks at a party on their return to London. Tommy had a guitar and could sing. Mike could play the piano and could thump out original tunes and lyrics. Their mutual interest in music cemented a firm friendship and when Tommy Hicks gave up his career at sea and became Tommy Steele, Mike Pratt collaborated with him on writing his songs. They were responsible for Tommy’s first recording hit, “Rock With the Cave Men.” Mike also wrote songs for the film “The Tommy Steele Story,” and other Tommy Steele pictures.
Mike already had his own folk group, The Cotton Pickers. He himself played the piano and washboard and they had a lot of club engagements and broadcasting dates. He also played several acting parts in films and TV shows, but was still not seriously intent on an acting career. A new urge had overcome him: to be a playwright. So he went to Spain to write a couple of plays (which have yet to be produced!). He also wrote sketches and scripts for revues and TV shows; the story and songs for Tommy Steele’s “The Duke Wore Jeans” and the songs for Tommy’s “Tommy The Toreador”; and such numbers as “Little White Bull.”
His acting gradually developed. From being one of that vast army of unknowns playing walk-on parts in numerous films, he found himself playing roles of increasing size in such films as “The Party’s Over,” “This Is My Street” and “Repulsion,” and from being a song-plugger, he became a screen-slugger. His build and his ability to look tough led him into the villiany stakes. He went into “The Saint” as a heavy and, meeting Roger Moore for the first time, had to try to strangle him. In other plays, he killed Patrick Wymark and shot Richard Johnson. He punched Patrick McGoohan all over the place in one “Danger Man” (“Secret Agent”) segment – and, as a reward, was given two further, more sympathetic roles in the series!
He was a car racketeer in “Gideon’s Way”, a half-Negro in “Question About Hell.” Other TV shows included “No Hiding Place,” “Redcap,” “The Protectors” and a lot of other programmes calling for tough characterisations. On the cinema screen, he made headway in such pictures as “A Dandy in Aspic” and “The Fixer.”
His big opportunity was in the offing. He had done a lot of work in TV films produced by Monty Berman. When “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” came along, the way was open for him to be given a long-running starring role at last – in a part which calls for husky strength, humour and sympathy.
Mike Pratt’s a hero at last!