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Ballard Berkeley

Ballard Blascheck (born 6 August 1904 – Died 16 January 1988), known professionally as Ballard Berkeley, was an English actor of stage and screen.

He voiced The Head of the Army in the animated version of The BFG and played Major Gowen in the British television sitcom, Fawlty Towers.

Life and career[]

Ballard Berkeley was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He was the son of Joseph and Beatrice Blascheck.

He served as a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police during the Second World War, witnessing the Blitz at first hand including the bombing of the Café de Paris nightclub in London. For his service he received the Defence Medal and the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal.

Berkeley played the role of the bumbling Major Gowen in the BBC TV comedy Fawlty Towers. He had played a similar role in 1969 in the legal drama The Main Chance. He portrayed another retired military man (Colonel Freddie Danby) in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, taking over the role from Norman Shelley.

Berkeley later performed the role of Winston – a similar character to "The Major" – in the radio comedy Wrinkles by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant. He played Badedas the Blue, a wizard in the radio comedy series Hordes of the Things. His last role was as the Head of the Army in the animated film version of Roald Dahl's The BFG.

He died in London in 1988 and the film was released the following year.


  • Profile,; accessed 30 August 2014.