Hugh Rouse (b. Brentford, Middlesex, 17/01/1920 – d. Alberton, Gauteng, 17/05/1998) was an actor and radio personality. Occasionally credited as Hugh Rowse.
Hugh Cecil Rouse was the oldest of three children of Claude Vernon Rouse and his wife, Beatrice Ada Wellacott. He matriculated from University College School in London and had hoped to study modern languages, history and psychology at Cambridge, but when World War II broke out he joined the Royal Navy as a signalman. He served in a number of campaigns and was attached to Mountbatten’s strike force in the English Channel aboard H.M.S. Basset, an armed trawler that functioned as a minesweeper. When, eventually, he was demobilized, he was a lieutenant-commander. He evidently was already interested in the theatre, as in 1946 he appeared in Rodney Ackland’s adaptation of Diary of a Scoundrel for the Questors in Ealing.
Later that year he arrived in Durban on board the Winchester Castle, a city he had first encountered during the war when his ship had passed through. Not soon afterwards he joined the SABC as an announcer-producer and became organiser for the English Service in Natal. During this time he gained experience in a variety of broadcasting assignments, from duty announcer to acting as quiz master and from drama production to sports commentator. This experience stood him in good stead when, in 1958, he switched to Springbok Radio, the SABC’s commercial service. Here he became one of radio’s most familiar voices, reading The World at 7 P.M. and other news bulletin. There was considerable consternation in 1962 when, as a freelancer, he was replaced by a member of the salaried staff.
Through the years he appeared on the stage, in films, on television and on radio and frequently acted as compere at charity events. He also played a major role in the South African Actors’ Equity Association, becoming its Chairman in 1961. In 1980, when there was a disagreement between the South African Film and Theatre Union and the South African Association of Theatre Managements (SAATM), he negotiated and reached a settlement on behalf of SAFTU. Amongst his theatrical accomplishments were his role as Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons (1962), as George Bernard Shaw in Dear Liar (1971), opposite Diane Wilson, as Prospero in The Tempest (1975) and as Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady (1977). His most popular radio appearances were probably in the title role of the long-running Inspector Carr Investigates and as the narrator in The Avengers. In addition he adapted radio plays, wrote commentaries for documentaries and basically tackled everything from Shakespeare to Noddy.
He married four times and is known to have had two daughters with his third wife, Norma Crawford. He died of cancer of the throat in 1998. (FO)
1958 – Don Juan in Hell (Reading for the National Theatre in Pretoria and at the Wits University Great Hall in Johannesburg), 1959 – The Dock Brief + What Shall We Tell Caroline? (Staged by Kushlick-Gluckman at the Intimate Theatre), 1962 – Dickens readings at the University of the Witwatersrand, 1962 – A Man for All Seasons (Directed by Margaret Webster for Kushlick-Gluckman at the Civic Theatre), 1963 – The Affair (Produced by Taubie Kushlick at the Civic Theatre), 1965 – Hay Fever (Directed by John Hayter for the Brian Brooke Company), 1968 – The Fighting Cock (Directed by Kerry Jordan for PACT at the Alexander Theatre), 1969 – King Lear (Directed by Robert Mohr for PACT at the Alexander Theatre), 1970 – Fallen Angels (Alexander Theatre), 1970 – Canterbury Tales (Directed by Daniel Thorndike for JODS at the Civic Theatre), 1971 – In the Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Directed by Leonard Schach for PACT at the Alexander Theatre, 1971 – Dear Liar (Produced by Peter Prowse at Blue Fox Theatre Restaurant), 1972 – What Does a Woman Want? (Blue Fox Theatre Restaurant), 1974 – The Happiness Cage (Directed by Ken Leach at the Alexander Theatre) 1975 – The Dot-Dash Show (Chelsea Hotel), 1975 – The Tempest (as Prospero) (His Majesty’s Theatre), 1975 – The Tempest (as Alonso) (Directed by Robert Mohr for PACT at the Breytenbach Theatre and at the Alexander Theatre), 1975 – The Shrew (For Des and Dawn Lindberg at the Arena Theatre), 1977 – Night of January 16th (Directed by Louis Burke at His Majesty’s Theatre), 1977 – My Fair Lady (Directed by Francois Swart at the Civic Theatre), 1978 – Dear Liar (Directed by Michael McCabe for PACT at the Arena Theatre), 1978 – Saint Joan (Arena Theatre), 1978 – Oliver! (Directed by Geoffrey Ferris for PACT at the Civic Theatre), 1979 – Ross (Directed by Francois Swart for PACT), 1981 – First Monday in October (Directed by John Burch for CAPAB at the Nico Malan Theatre), 1982 – Othello (Directed by Roy Sargeant for CAPAB at Maynardville).
1961 – Doodkry Is Min (Director: Jamie Uys), 1961 – The Hellions (Director: Ken Annakin), 1964 – Dingaka (Director: Jamie Uys), 1966 – All the Way to Paris (uncredited) (Director: Jamie Uys), 1968 – Majuba: Heuwel van Duiwe / Majuba: Hill of Doves (Director: David Millin), 1970 – Banana Beach (Director: David Millin), 1970 – Die 3 v.d. Merwes (uncredited) (Director: Dirk de Villiers), 1971 – Flying Squad]] / Vengeance Cops (Director: Ivan Hall), 1971 – Gold Squad (Director: Ivan Hall), 1973 – Met Moed, Durf en Bloed / The Brave! The Rough! The Raw! (Director: David Millin), 1974 – Pens en Pootjies (Directors: Dirk de Villiers & Joe Stewardson), 1974 – Fraud! (Director: Donald Monat), 1975 – Sell a Million (Director: Ian Hamilton), 1976 – One Away (Director: Sidney Hayers), 1977 – Tigers Don’t Cry / Target of an Assassin (Director: Peter Collinson), 1977 – Golden Rendezvous (Director: Ashley Lazarus), 1979 – King Solomon’s Treasure (Director: Alvin Rakoff), 1979 – I’m for the Hippopotamus (Director: Italo Zingarelli), 1980 – Safari 3000 (Director: Harry Hurwitz) 1981 – Birds of Paradise (Technical Director: Tim Spring; Associate Director: Rex Garner), 1983 – The Riverman (Director: Ivan Hall), 1985 – The Lion’s Share (uncredited – voice only) (Director: Norman Cohen), 1986 – Scavengers (Director: Duncan McLachlan), 1987 – An African Dream (Director: John Smallcombe), 1988 – Purgatory (Director: Ami Artzi), 1988 – Hold My Hand, I'm Dying / Blind Justice (Director: Terence Ryan), 1990 – Burndown (Director: James Allen).
1971 – Diamantendetektiv Dick Donald (German TV series) (Episode – Tödliche Steine) (Director: Erich Neureuther), 1974 – Dr. med. Mark Wedmann – Detektiv inbegriffen (German TV series) (Episode – In Quarantäne küsst man nicht) (Director: Alfredo Medori), 1976 - The Dingleys (TV series) (Director: William C. Faure), 1977 – Call Me Kelly (TV series) (Directors: Bernard Buys, Percival Rubens & David Shreeve), 1977 – Much Ado About Nothing (TV play) (Director: Douglas Bristow), 1977 – Duet (TV movie – Waiting & Redundant) (Director: Gray Hofmeyr), 1978 - Guests at the Villa Victoria (TV series) (Director: Alan Nathanson), 1979 – The Gioconda Smile (TV movie) (Director: Mike Leeston-Smith), 1979 – Salomé (TV play) (Director: William C. Faure), 1979 – Pour Tout l’Or du Transvaal (French TV series) (Director: Claude Boissol), 1980 – Fever Ward (TV movie) (Director: Alan Nathanson), 1981 – Westgate (TV series) (Director: Edgar Bold), 1982 – Westgate II (TV series) (Director: Edgar Bold), 1982 - Miss Candida (TV series) (Director: Hans Kühle), 1983 – The Riverman (TV series) (released 1986) (Director: Ivan Hall), 1984 – River Horse Lake (TV series) (Director: David Lister), 1984 – Shakes vs Shav (TV play) (Director: Douglas Bristow), 1986 – Die Mannheim-Sage (TV series) (Director: Koos Roets), 1986 – Shaka Zulu (TV series) (Director: William C. Faure), 1989 – Barney Barnato (TV series) (Director: David Lister), 1995 – Tales of Mystery and Imagination (TV series) (Episode: Mr. Valdemar) (Director: James Ryan).
Documentaries (Writer and/or Narrator)
195* - Your Labour is for Future Hours (Narration) (Director: Lewis Lewis), 1959 – Impressions of the South African Women’s Bowling Tournament, Johannesburg 1959 (Narration) (Director: Lewis Lewis), 1959 – Power for South Africa (Narration) (Director: Denis Scully), 1964 – Taste and Talent with Flowers (Scenario) (Director: Dick Reucassel), 1965 – Polo (Commentary Written) (Director: Ken Eddy), 1968 – Close to the Wind (Screenplay: Director: Dick Reucassel), 1970 – Drakensberg (Narration with Jan Snyman) (Director: Ashley Lazarus), 1976 – A Sea Way of Life (Narration) (Director: Cecil Jubber for SABC) (30/01/1976), 1982 – The Nile Crocodile (Research, Commentary & Narration) (Director: Dick Reucassel), 1984 – Another Place, Another World (TV series) (Narration) (Director: Don Briscoe for SABC), 1987 – Ways of the Wild (Research, Script & Narration) (Director: Dick Reucassel), 1992 - Sights & Sounds of African Wildlife (Research, Script & Narration) (Director: Dick Reucassel), 1994 – Steam Fever: A Tribute to the Golden Age of Railways (Narration) (Director: Ronald Nell).
His radio work is virtually impossible to track comprehensively, but these are some of the highlights: 1950 – The Cruel Sea (actor) (radio series) (Producer: Cedric Messina), 1954 – Remember Nelson (producer) (radio play), 1956 – Anna Christie (actor) (radio play) (Producer: Cedric Messina), 1958 – Moonraker (radio play) (adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel – according to the Rand Daily Mail “The story concerns a Secret Service agent named James Bond”), 1958 – The Gorgon’s Head (actor) (radio play) (Producer: Cedric Messina), 1958 – Tiger at the Gate (actor) (radio play) (Producer: Cedric Messina), 1958 – The Heat of the Day (actor) (radio play) (Producer: Cedric Messina), 1959-1985 – The Epic Casebook of Inspector Carr / Inspector Carr Investigates (actor) (radio series) (Producer: Michael Silver), 1967-1974 – The Sounds of Darkness (actor) (radio series) (Producer: Gerrie van Wyk), 1971-1973 – The Avengers (narrator) (radio series) (Directors: Tony Jay & Dennis Folbigge). In addition he was Springbok Radio’s popular newsreader, notably for The World at 7 P.M., the Durban quizmaster of the Inter-Town Quiz Contest (1948), handled the 20 questions panel game Nice Work (1960), played Big Ears in the serial adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Noddy (1963), answered questions on everyday scientific problems on The Logbook (1959), etc.
Rand Daily Mail (numerous issues)
Stage and Cinema, 27 January 1950
Sunday Independent, 12 July 1998
Return to ESAT Personalities R
Return to South African Theatre Personalities
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page