May 19, 1937 - July 17, 2004
Biography | Autobiography Synopsis | Resume
Pat Roach was born and raised in Birmingham, England where his father was a scrap
merchant, while his mother's family worked on the canal. At the early age of 22
Pat won a black belt at judo, and also found that he could earn much-needed
shillings boxing and wrestling at fairgrounds. He was trained by Alf Kent
and his first professional match was against George Selko. Pat went on to take
the British & European Heavyweight Wrestling Championship. In his prime he was six foot four inches tall with a
51-inch chest, and weighed nearly 280 pounds. He continued this career until 2003, when he appeared as one of the Legends of Wrestling at the
Colston Hall, Bristol.
As a young man Roach went to India, where he fought the Bollywood muscleman Dara Singh in front of an audience of 100,000. Later he was an annual attraction of the wrestling tournament at Hanover, where he twice emerged as champion. He also held both the British and the European heavyweight titles. His "Brumagen Bump" proved especially popular with the fans.
Pat married Doreen Harris in 1957 and they had a son. He decided against professional advice, not to relocate to America. His love for the UK, the people and its four seasons kept him in England. Pat once said "I love my roots!". He even opened the Pat Roach Fitness Centre in his home town and recommended USANA nutritional supplements.
Though he played many roles requiring a big, strong man, his most famous role was in the BBC television comedy "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet". The series followed the fortunes of a gang of bricklayers, who were first encountered in 1983-84 on a building site in Dusseldorf. Roach played Brian "Bomber" Busbridge, rather older than the other brickies, and inclined to keep to himself, but always able, through a combination of common sense and sheer physical presence, to command respect. The second series, broadcast in 1986, moved the action to the Costa Del Sol. The program, made by Central Television attracted 15 million viewers. In 2002, after a gap of 16 years, "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" was resurrected by the BBC. This time the gang were involved in a scam to rebuild the Tees Transporter Bridge in Arizona, a wheeze which immediately attracted an audience of 12 million, twice that of the competition offered by ITV, a new version of The Forsyte Saga.
In 1970 he landed his first movie role, but few people even know about it. He played the red bearded bouncer in the Korova Milkbar in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. He was just called to big huge and menacing and did not speak any lines. He must've impressed Kubrick because he along with five other ACO actors, were called back for the director's next film - Barry Lyndon. Not only did he have lines, but he was part of a pivotal scene fighting against Ryan O'Neal's Barry.
In 1976 Roach was auditioned for the part of Darth Vader in Star Wars. The part went to fellow bodybuilder David Prowse who was also in A Clockwork Orange. Their careers paralleled as Pat would eventually work for George Lucas as many times as David.
In 1981 Pat got his first job working with Lucas in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He actually played two similar parts in the film, though he looked vastly different. The first was as a Giant Sherpa who beat up Indy in Marion's bar in Nepal. He is the one holding Indy down during the famous "Shoot them, shoot them both scene." Instead of getting shot he helps Indy shoot the man who was ordered to kill them. Later on he played the bald German mechanic who comes out to stop Indy from stealing the flying wing. He pummels Indy mercilessly on and off the craft and would've killed him if it wasn't for Marion starting up the plane and causing his death by chopping him up with a propeller. This is one of the most famous action scenes in all movies.
He returned for the sequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984. Once again he got to pummel Indy. This time he played the Chief Thuggee guard who fights Indy in the mine shaft, in a mine car and on a rock grinder. Once again he suffers another famous film death when he gets caught in the grinder. For his third outing with George Lucas he appears as the villain General Kael in Willow. He got to wear one of the coolest helmets ever - the one with the skull painted over his face as he leads his troops into battle and does Queen Bavmordia's bidding. When he appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989 he did with only a couple others have done - not only appearing in the entire Trilogy, but in four different Lucasfilm projects. Here his role was much smaller only receiving credit as "Gestapo". He once noted admiringly that Harrison Ford, "Never, ever, complained" about the beating he gave him.
He also got to pound Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again in 1983. And he worked twice with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja.
By 2001 Pat was diagnosed with cancer, but he bravely resumed his Auf Wiedersehen role. In 2004 he was seen in a fourth series, set in Cuba, though shot in the Dominican Republic owing to the disapproval of Castro's regime. He was unable to take part in the latest installment currently being filmed in Thailand. BBC producers had intended to work the filming around him, but Pat never got the chance.
In 2002 he published his autobiography "If - The Pat Roach Story", written with Shirley Thompson; Arnold Schwarzenegger provided a foreword. His second book "Pat Roach's Birmingham", again with Shirley Thompson, was published in early 2004.
"This is to confirm the news that Pat Roach passed away at 1:20 am today, Saturday July 17, 2004, after a long struggle with cancer. "It is the express wish of Pat's family that any funeral ceremony should remain private." a family statement said.
"Pat was a wonderful, wise and gentle man much loved by all the series' (Auf Wiedersehen, Pet) other actors and we're all devastated by his death. We can only hope that those concerned will have the sensitivity to realize that this is not a deliberate attempt to exclude the press but rather a desire to protect his family. Following the funeral a detailed account of the ceremony will be made available."
Laura Mackie, BBC Head of Drama Serials, said: "Pat made a fantastic contribution to Auf Wiedersehen, Pet over the years and he created a much loved character in the gentle giant, Bomber. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."
Franc Roddam, creator and executive producer of the show said the news would be a "huge blow" for everyone involved in the production. "Pat was a wonderful, wise and gentle man much loved by all the series' other actors and we're all devastated by his death. This really is Auf Wiedersehen, Pat."
From Thailand the cast and crew said: "We are completely heartbroken and our hearts and condolences go out to Pat's family."
The cast of the smash hit TV series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet joined more than 200 mourners to pay their last respects to co-star Pat Roach at his funeral.
Co-stars Timothy Spall, Jimmy Nail, Kevin Whately, Chris Fairbank and Tim Healy were among those who assembled at St John's Parish Church in Bromsgrove, Worcs, to remember the Birmingham-born former champion wrestler. Also at the service were his widow Doreen, son Mark and grandson Patrick.
Tributes were paid to the actor by his biographer Shirley Thompson and Bill "Wayne" Bridges, a lifelong friend who represented all of his fellow wrestlers, while Kevin Whately read out Roach's favorite poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling.
Mourners then walked to Bromsgrove Cemetery for the burial service where Jimmy Nail sang Danny Boy.
In a statement released by the Diocese of Worcester, his friend Shirley Thompson said today: "Pat Roach will be sadly missed, not only by his family, but also by countless friends and many sports and show business fans, the world over.
"This tragic death occurred after a long battle with cancer. This 'Gentle Giant' fought bravely and without complaint, over a period of several years, surviving the last few months through sheer determination and his indomitable spirit. May he rest in peace."
Wrestler-turned-film-and-television actor Pat Roach tells his life story to his co-writer Shirley Thompson. This book traces Pat's life from poverty-stricken childhood to famous celebrity. It reveals "the man behind the image", and covers his achievements in the field of sport, film and television. "If" also contains several close encounters with death - and Pat's charity work. The book is designed for an international readership, and a broad range of interests: the "Auf Wiedersehen" series in particular, biographies in general, travel, architecture, sports, television and film buffs, local history and canal enthusiasts; actors, film technicians, stuntmen, photographers and directors. Pat's travels to the "four corners of the earth" figure prominently: time spent in India wrestling opponents such as Dara Singh, the Asian film and television actor/director. The range of contributors and subjects is extremely diverse, and includes Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, Steven Spielberg, Martin Shaw, Sheila White, Vic Armstrong, Stanley Kubrick's family, and his former personal assistant, Anthony Frewin. Pat's family and friends feature prominently, alongside former residents of Ladywood, Balsall Heath and other Birmingham districts, where his roots lie.
|A Clockwork Orange||Korova Bouncer||1971||Uncredited role|
|Barry Lyndon||Toole||1975||6 ACO actors!|
|World of Sport||Wrestler||1975-85||TV Series|
|Hazell||Big Arti||3/20/78||Episode: "Hazell and the Maltese Vulture"|
|Unidentified Flying Oddball||Oak||1979|
|Juliet Bravo||Doulton||12/6/80||Episode: "The Anastasia Syndrome"|
|Raiders of the Lost Ark||Giant Sherpa/1st Mechanic||1981|
|Clash of the Titans||Hephaestus||1981|
|Never Say Never Again||Lippe||1983|
|Auf Wiedersehen, Pet||Brian 'Bomber' Busbridge||1983||TV Series|
|Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom||Chief Guard||1984||AKA Head Thuggee|
|Conan the Destroyer||Man Ape/Toth-Amon||1984|
|The Last Place on Earth||P.O. Edgar 'Taff' Evans||1985||TV Mini Series|
|Minder||Painter||9/18/85||Episode: "The Return of the Invincible Man"|
|Harry's Kingdom||Joe Robinson||1987||TV|
|Help!||Bill||5/14/88||Episode: "We Are Sailing"|
|Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade||Gestapo||1989||4th time with George Lucas|
|The Return of the Musketeers||French Executioner||1989|
|Casualty||Len||9/8/89||Chain Reaction 1|
|Wings of Fame||1990|
|The Big Man||Billy||1990|
|The Storyteller: Greek Myths||Atlas||1990||TV Mini Series|
|Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves||Celtic Chieftain||1991|
|Life with Billy||Reporter #1||1994||TV|
|Space Precinct||Ogree||1/16/95||Episode: "Illegal"|
|The Detectives||The Constable||2/13/95||Episode: "Twitchers"|
|Jack and Jeremy's Police 4||1995||TV|
|The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show||1995||Episode # 2.3|
|The Portrait of a Lady||Strongman||1996|
|Heartbeat||The Masked Marvel||11/17/96||Episode: "Thanks to Alfred"|
|Kull the Conqueror||Zulcki||1997|
|The New Adventures of Robin Hood||Jarnsaxa||10/4/98||Episode: "The Giant King"|
|The New Adventures of Robin Hood||Giant||1999||Episode: "Return of the Giant"|
|This Is Your Life||Himself||6/26/03||Episode: "Vic Armstrong"|
|The Bill||Reg Warren||4/13/95||Episode: "Swan Song"|
This page © 2004-10 Alex D Thrawn except for quotes for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net