Mostly Credited As: Kenneth Cope
Birth Name: Kenneth Charles Cope
Date Of Birth: June 14, 1931 (Age 84)
Country Of Birth: United Kingdom
Birth Place: Liverpool, England
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Kenneth Cope has been in show business for over 50 years. Born and raised in Liverpool, Cope studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He landed a number of small parts in movies (Dunkirk, X the Unknown) and television shows (including Ivanhoe, which starred Roger Moore) throughout the mid-1950s.
The 60s brought Cope's greatest success, beginning in 1961 when he landed the role of petty thief Jed Stone on Coronation Street. The following year he became part of the ensemble cast on the ground-breaking satire/spoof program That Was the Week That Was. He served as writer and performer on the show while continuing his job on Coronation Street. Cope also began to receive more movie roles, including The Damned (which featured American actor Macdonald Carey), Father Came Too!, and the crime drama Dateline Diamonds, which featured musical performances by the Small Faces. Cope also had a radio show during this time, and he recorded a novelty tune called "Hands Off, Stop Mucking About."
In 1968 Cope was cast in his best-known role, private detective Marty Hopkirk, in the ITC production Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). His role as the ghost of a murder victim lasted only one year; however, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) won fans the world over in syndication. The show still has a loyal worldwide fan base, and the series has been released on DVD.
The series only lasted on year, but Kenneth Cope became an in-demand actor. He appeared in two movies from the "Carry On" series, Carry On at Your Convenience and Carry On Matron. One film he starred in, A Touch of the Other, also gave Cope the opportunity to sing the movie's theme song.
During this time he also made guest appearances on shows (from The Avengers to one of the last episodes in the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who). He also branched out into writing, authoring two books, Striker and Striker - Leg 2, which became the basis for a children's television show. He also wrote for a television program called Thingumybob, which may be best known because of the fact that the theme song, performed by the Black Dyke Mills Band, was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In addition to his acting roles in the 1980s, Cope opened a restaurant in Oxfordshire and named it Martha's Kitchen after his daughter.
Although he has reached a point where most actors would retire, Cope still continues to act. He spent three years on the cutting edge soap opera Brookside playing a widower.
In 1961, while working on Coronation Street, Cope met Renny Lister, an actress cast to play the girlfriend of Cope's Jed Stone character. Her part on the show was brief, but Cope and Lister married. They have three children, all of whom are in show business. Daughter Martha is an actress. Sons Mark and Nick are musicians. They fronted a band in the 1990s called the Candyskins. Although the band did not obtain any success in the U.S., their song "Feed It" was featured in the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy.