Birth Date: April 14, 1931 / Age: 85
Birth Place: Liverpool, England
Biography: Kenneth Cope has spent over 50 years in the acting profession. He began acting at age 19 while studying at England's prestigious Old Vic Theatre School. His initial roles were guest roles in TV series such as Ivanhoe and minor roles in films such as Dunkirk.
His first major role came playing Jed Stone on Coronation Street, one of Britain's longest-running and best-loved soap operas. While working on "Corrie" he also worked on the ground-breaking satire That Was the Week That Was. This was a prolific time for Cope, as he also recorded a novelty hit ("Hands Off, Stop Mucking About") and began appearing in more films (including the controversial 1963 movie The Damned with American actor Macdonald Carey).
Cope was well-established as an actor in both comedic and dramatic roles at the time he was approached by producer Monty Berman at the request of script writer Cyril Frankel for the role that would become his best-known part internationally. Berman and Dennis Spooner were preparing to start production on a new series about two private investigators, and Cope was asked to play one of the detectives. The twist was that his character -- Marty Hopkirk -- was to be killed off less than 15 minutes into the first episode, spending the rest of the series as a ghost.
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Productions and premiered in 1969 in England. It did not air without controversy, with some charging the show made light of death. In spite of minor criticism, the show was successful in England and in other countries when syndicated. The should could have easily been renewed; however, the entire 26-episode series had been filmed before the first episode aired. Therefore, by the time the popularity of the series became evident, the cast had dispersed and the white suits Cope wore as the ghost were gone.
Cope continued performing in both films (A Touch of the Other and two of the Carry On series of movies, Carry On At Your Convenience and Carry On Matron) and television (including a guest appearance in the cult classic Doctor Who). He also turned his attention to writing, creating a children's series (Striker, about a young soccer player) and writing for other shows (including a series titled Thingamybob, which may be most noteworthy for the fact that the show's theme song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).
Cope briefly left acting to run a restaurant, "Martha's Kitchen," which he named after his daughter. He returned to acting, staying busy into the new century with a three-year stint on the soap opera Brookside.
Cope has been married for over 40 years to actress Renny Lister, who played opposite him in Coronation Street. They have three children who are all performers: sons Nick and Mark are musicians who fronted a band in the mid-1990s called the Candyskins; and daughter Martha is also an actress.
- Birth name: Kenneth Charles Cope
- Kenneth Cope's actual birthday is somewhat of a mystery. Various sources list his year of birth as 1931, 1932, and 1934. While most sources cite his date of birth as July 14, his birth certificate (obtained from Liverpool's public records by a fan) shows his birthdate as April 14, 1931. Because this is the date shown on his birth certificate, that is the date used here.