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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
Sir Michael Gambon: The perfect stranger
Sir Michael Gambon
Sir Michael was made a knight in 1998
Sir Michael Gambon's four Baftas - three of them in successive years - are a clear sign of the esteem with which the actor is held.

Born in 1940 in Dublin, Ireland, Gambon was educated in London and served a seven-year engineering apprenticeship before being personally selected by Sir Laurence Olivier for Britain's National Theatre in 1963.

 Michael Gambon as Philip Marlow in The Singing Detective
Gambon memorably portrayed Philip Marlow in The Singing Detective
He quickly became well-known for his work in a number of Alan Ayckbourn plays and despite making his screen debut in a 1965 adaptation of Othello, concentrated on stage work.

Gambon went on to appear regularly at the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company in roles including King Lear, Othello, Mark Anthony and Volpone.

His lead role in John Dexter's production 1980 of Galileo led to much greater reognition of his talents, but it was to be a 1986 TV series which made him a household name.

Michael Gambon
Gambon's latest Bafta was for Perfect Strangers
Dennis Potter's menacing and imaginative TV series The Singing Detective cast Gambon as the lead role, a man crippled with psoriasis who has a fantasy life as a private eye.

The controversial and widely-seen series brought huge acclaim for Gambon's performance - as well as a Bafta for best actor, his first of four.

His film career started in earnest with Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), which cast him in a sadistic role.

He went on to do work in a wide variety of films, including A Man of No Importance (1994), The Browning Version (1994), Dancing at Lughnasa (1998), and Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow (1999).

Michael Gambon
Gambon has made a habit of winning Baftas
More recently he appeared in Robert Altman's highly-rated Gosford Park, which won an Oscar for best screenplay at this year's Academy Awards.

He received a Bafta in 2000 for the BBC One drama Wives & Daughters, and repeated the feat the following year for his work in Channel 4's Longitude.

This year's award for his acting in BBC Two's Perfect Strangers was, remarkably, his third win in as many years.

Gambon was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1990 and knighted in 1998.

See also:

21 Apr 02 | TV and Radio
Baftas 2002: The winners
31 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Sir Michael gets award after all
20 Jul 01 | Reviews
Glamour and gangsters
14 May 01 | TV and Radio
Bafta triumph for Channel 4
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