Chief Inspector Wexford actor George Baker dies aged 80

Celebrated TV and film star dies of pneumonia after recent stroke

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Actor George Baker, best known for his role as Chief Inspector Wexford in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, has died.

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The 80-year-old from West Lavington, Wiltshire, died of pneumonia on Friday having recently suffered a stroke. 

Baker charmed the nation for 13 years as the kindly police chief in the ITV series, drawing huge viewing figures for The Ruth Rendell Mysteries on Sunday nights between 1987 and 2000.  But beyond Wexford, Baker had a diverse and celebrated acting career which spanned six decades.

Throughout his career, Baker toured with the Old Vic and appeared in over 30 films. He was even said to have been considered by Ian Fleming for the role of James Bond instead of Sean Connery.

Highlights of his screen career included Second World War drama The Dambusters and a critically acclaimed performance as Tiberius in the 1976 BBC TV dramatisation of Robert Graves’s I, Claudius. 

Baker was also a well respected writer for both radio and television. His award-winning play, The Fatal Spring, was screened on BBC2 in 1980.  He also published a culinary guide, A Cook for All Seasons, in 1989.

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Baker, who was awarded an MBE in 2007 for his fundraising activities for his local youth club in West Lavington, leaves five children and a number of grandchildren.