Leslie Phillips, the very image of a quintessential Englishman, was born in London in 1924. He studied at the famous Italia Conti School, where he made his acting debut at the age of 5 in Peter Pan. He went on to make frequent stage and screen appearances as a child.
Following four years' service during the war with the Durham Light Infantry, Phillips returned to showbusiness. Forever cast as the lovable rogue, he didn't begin to win starring roles until his mid 30s. During the 1950s, he began making significant progress in the film industry, starring in such films as Brothers in Law and The Smallest Show on Earth. He also became well known through his work on radio, mainly via the hit show The Navy Lark, in which he appeared alongside Jon Pertwee.
As well as appearing in a number of the early Carry Ons, Phillips also went on to replace Dirk Bogarde in the long-running Doctor series. Within the space of 5 years, Phillips made a total of 18 hit comedies (while continuing his radio work on The Navy Lark). During the 1970s, following a couple of disastrous roles (notably in Maroc 7), he found himself relegated to lesser TV roles and a number of terribly dated British comedies.
In more recent years, Phillips has reinvigorated his career with astounding success. Whereas his earlier roles centred around roguish womanisers, today he can be most often found playing the token Englishman in Hollywood productions. The sheer variety of roles Phillips has taken on in recent years, though, means that on stage, television and British cinema he has broken out of the typecast roles he remains best known for and delivered a stunning variety of characters. More importantly, he remains one of this country's best loved Englishmen.