Born Alan James Clarke in Oldham, Lancashire, he left school aged 15 and began work at the Manchester Evening News as a copy boy. He later moved onto amateur dramatics and performed at Huddersfield Rep before working as an actor full time.
Clarke's first television appearance was in the long running Granada soap opera Coronation Street, initially as Kenny Pickup in 1966 and then as Gary Bailey in 1968. His first major film appearance was in Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange (1971) where he played a 'droog' named 'Dim' opposite Malcolm McDowell. He appeared with McDowell again in the film O Lucky Man! (1973) and the TV film Gulag (1985).
Clarke appeared in a wide range of roles in television and film productions including The Breaking of Bumbo (1970), Charlton Heston's Antony and Cleopatra (1972), S.O.S. Titanic (1979), Hawk the Slayer (1980), Masada (1981), Enigma (1983), Lassiter (1984), Top Secret! (1984), Ishtar, (1987) and I.D. (1995). He played a Russian dissident Pavel Upenskoy in Clint Eastwood's Firefox (1982).
Between 2000 and 2003 Clarke played Brian Addis, a father who moved his family from the bustle of London to a Devon farm, in the BBC TV series Down to Earth. Clarke appeared as Mr Boythorn in the BBC One dramatisation of Bleak House (2005) and starred alongside Anthony Head in the BBC Drama The Invisibles (2008) and in the Channel 4 trilogy Red Riding (2009). Around the same time, Clarke appeared as Commander Peters in the ITV production of Agatha Christie's Marple Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (2009) and the BBC series Inspector George Gently ("Peace and Love", 2010) and played Mr Bott in Just William (also 2010). He guested as innkeeper Samuel Quested in Midsomer Murders ("The Night of the Stag", 2011) and as John Lacey in Call the Midwife (also 2011). In 2014, he began filming Poldark as Charles Poldark.
More recently, Clarke had appeared on our TV screens as Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel in the TV series Dalziel and Pascoe. Clarke died peacefully in his sleep earlier today after a short illness. RIP