Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses actor’s life from working in a Kellogg’s Cornflakes factory to tragic early death while on holiday

Mike was a friendly but slightly dim character, and was often on the receiving end of Del Boy trying to flog dodgy goods

The Only Fools and Horses cast are legendary folk who have lived all kinds of quirky lives. Take the actor who played Mike Fisher, the publican of the famous Nag’s Head.

Mike was a friendly but dim character, and was often on the receiving end of Del Boy trying to flog dodgy goods. Some of the bits he’s bought from Del Boy over the series’ include a hairdryer that was actually a paint stripper (leaving him with burns on his head).

He also bought a broken deep fryer and a faulty fax machine. Due to working in the Nag’s Head, Mike became a regular on the show.

Kenneth MacDonald's character Mike in Only Fools and Horses
Kenneth MacDonald’s character Mike in Only Fools and Horses (Image: BBC)

He was played by the late Kenneth Macdonald (1950-2001) and was on-screen from 1983 to 1996. But you may also recognise him from other series. Kenneth portrayed Graham Francis in The Bill. He also played Inspector Jennings from CID in Heartbeat.

In Heartbeat he was tasked with catching Ronnie Savage as he escaped whilst being transported between prisons. His first TV role was Benny in Softly, Softly in 1972. In 1975, he made a guest appearance in series 2, episode 1, of Last of the Summer Wine. A year later he moved to London and joined the National Youth Theatre. In 1977 he was in an episode of Dad’s Army.

MacDonald featured regularly in the BBC sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, running from 3 January 1974 to 3 September 1981. However off-screen his life was far from glitz and glamour. His father, Bill, who was a champion Scottish wrestler, died aged 43 from kidney failure when Kenneth was only 13. As a result, he took a job at the Kellogg’s Cornflakes factory to help support his mum, Emily.

But sadly Kenneth’s life was also cut short when he died suddenly on August 6, 2001 aged 50 after having a massive heart attack while on a family holiday in Hawaii. Seven days after his death, his guest appearance on BBC television drama Merseybeat was aired, with the episode dedicated to his memory.

He was buried on August 16 that year at Teddington Cemetery in Teddington in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. His grave stone shows the dual mask symbol that’s synonymous with theatre and comedy.

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