Black Britain: TV Legend Norman Beaton (1934 -1994)


Norman Beaton was born in Guyana (previously British Guiana) in 1934. Before becoming an actor, he was a calypso singer and scored a number-one hit in Trinidad & Tobago with the single, “Come Back Melvina” in 1954.

After moving to Britain, he became a teacher in Liverpool. Beaton was the first black teacher to be employed by the Liverpool Education Authority.

Beaton later became increasingly disillusioned with teaching and began writing plays. It was playing the lead in a play he had written (Sit Down, Banna) that officially signalled the beginning of his acting career. He went on to star in plays in London’s West End and played the role of Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

In 1975, Beaton helped to launch the Black Theatre of Brixton.

In 1976, he starred in the comedy series ‘The Fosters’, which also starred Lenny Henry and Carmen Munroe. 

In 1977, he starred in the independent film ‘Black Joy’ and was later named Film Actor of the Year in 1978 by the Variety Club of Great Britain. In that same year, he also appeared in the ground breaking BBC TV series Empire Road.

In 1991, Beaton appeared as a guest on the hit US sitcom ‘The Cosby Show’.

From 1989 to 1994 Beaton starred in the hit Channel 4 sitcom ‘Desmond’s’.

On December 13, 1994, Beaton sadly passed away after suffering a heart attack. He died in his home city of Georgetown, Guyana and was 60 years old. Rest in Peace Norman Beaton. 🙏🏾


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