Britain’s oldest TV extra, 91, vows to carry on acting… and now he even has to turn DOWN work

November 26, 2012 | by | 1 Comment

For many pensioners in their 90s, watching TV is a popular pastime – but Donald McMaster prefers something a little extra.

The great-grandfather, 91, is Britain’s oldest ‘extra’, with a host of TV titles to his credit.

Donald is so in demand he even has turn turn down offers of ‘lucrative’ acting work.

The sprightly pensioner has appeared in top show including Still Game, Chewin’ The Fat, Taggart and The High Road – and regularly appears in BBC drama River City in his native Scotland.

TV extra Donald McMaster in the RAF during World War II, when he entertained troops

TV extra Donald McMaster in the RAF during World War II, when he entertained troops

Donald today, now that he's Britain's oldest TV extra aged 91

Donald today, now that he’s Britain’s oldest TV extra aged 91

 

Donald, from Faifley, said he has “no intention” of retiring.

He said: “I’m only 91, for goodness sake.  I really enjoy it and it can be quite lucrative.

“Sometimes I get a full week’s work and I have been all over the country for different things.”

Donald (2nd from the left) plays Glasgow's Lord Provost in a drama about Queen Victoria in the 1980s

Donald (2nd from the left) plays Glasgow’s Lord Provost in a drama about Queen Victoria in the 1980s

Donald’s acting career began pre-WW2, when he entertained troops at army camps.

After the war he went on to work as a photographer and got his lucky break when he walked past a film set in the late 1960s.

He explained: “I was on my way home from a job one night and I saw people filming in a garage.

“I asked a guy there what was going on and he told me it was filming for a BBC show.

“I decided I should try to get into that and I contacted the Equity, the trade union for arts performers, and they said I could get a stint as an extra for the theatre.

Donald McMaster (right) with Robert Duvall on the set of A shot at Glory in 2001

Donald McMaster (right) with Robert Duvall on the set of A shot at Glory in 2001

Donald (left) with Rikki Fulton on the set of Scotch and Rye in the late 80s

Donald (left) with Rikki Fulton on the set of Scotch and Rye in the late 80s

“I ended up getting an agent and he was soon phoning me up with all sorts of TV work.”

Donald has become a memorable face in the background of many shows, starring as a lawyer, a soldier, a minister and a policeman.

He has even appeared in films like A Shot At Glory, which starred Robert Duvall, and Kidnapped alongside Michael Caine.

Despite taking a back seat in terms of speaking parts, Donald still makes money from old shows and has even been stopped in the street by people who recognise him from the TV.

He said: “I’m actually still getting royalties from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – it isn’t much but it gets shown all over the world.

“I was getting petrol one day and someone came up to me and said he had saw me in an episode of Taggart in Australia which is absolutely incredible. It gets around.”

Donald McMaster (right) as a vicar in Taggart in 2002. He was even recognised in Australia for the performance

Donald McMaster (right) as a vicar in Taggart in 2002. He was even recognised in Australia for the performance

Donald (left) on the set of the BBC production of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 1988, for which he says he is still receiving royalties for

Donald (left) on the set of the BBC production of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 1988, for which he says he is still receiving royalties for

Despite his advancing age, Donald has no intentions of completely giving up his starring roles but admits he has had to cut back on his appearances.

He still features regularly on BBC soap River City and gets a wide variety of other offers from all over the country.

Donald said: “I think I’m the oldest extra still working.  I know a couple of other older actors but they are only in the 80s.

“I’m going on 92, so I am getting on a bit now. I am not doing as much as I used to.

“The way I am now, I wouldn’t take on much work, even though I still get lots of offers.

“I was recently asked to do a stint for a Scottish Gas advert in Aberdeen but I couldn’t make it.”

“I still do the odd bits and bobs but River City is quite handy as it’s only 15 minutes from my house by car.”

Lottie Goodwin was previously Britain’s oldest extra and appeared in Emmerdale until retiring in April 2011 aged 99.

She sadly passed away at the age of 100 two weeks ago, just two months off her 101st birthday.

Category: News

Comments (1)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to see my uncle is still alive and kicking, Have not seen him or my cousins since my mothers funeral ( His Sister ) in 1991.
    I trust they are all well.

    yout Nephew,

    Ronald ( Ronnie ) Gibb

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