Introducing Ian Souter of… The Protectors
Andrew stretched himself into an easy chair in his Mayfair flat and stroked his generous brown beard.
“It was touch and go with the beard at one stage. There was the feeling that it didn’t fit into the picture of a ‘goodie’ in London’s underworld,” he said.
“Now Ian Souter, of the firm of Souter and Shoesmith Ltd., Specialists in Security, is firmly bearded.”
The Souter outfit operates from a mahogany-respectable office in Marylebone. It is a high-powered unit geared to fight crooks and prevent crime in the twilight borderland between the underworld and the policeman’s beat.
Heather Keys (Ann Morrish) is receptionist-secretary-confidante. She’s worked for a firm of art auctioneers and has a quick eye for art fakes and forgeries.
Souter contributes all-round know-how, gleaned from seven years experience investigating for a firm of Loss Adjusters, and a strong sense of moral justice.
“I shall enjoy playing the part,” said Andrew. “There’s plenty of fighting. I don’t think there’s any danger of getting ‘typed’ — I’m not typically anything.”
Andrew grew his beard four years ago to take the part of a general in the film “Antony and Cleopatra.” Since then he has appeared in The Verdict is Yours, and played in Armchair Theatre’s The Higher they Fly and Realm of Error.
He made his name originally with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon Avon, where he played for three seasons, the last one in 1956.
Andrew mixes his acting with a political career. He is the adopted Labour candidate for Stratford-upon-Avon. Between acting engagements he lives in a Regency house at Stratford with his red haired wife Bunty and their 17-year-old daughter Susanne. She is a student at the Central School of Dramatic Art.
“She’s probably imbibing political ideas all the time. I was politically conscious long before I took up acting,” said Andrew.
“As a child of 13, I went to live, while my parents were abroad, with the Rev. Doctor Hector MacPherson, a wonderful old man, in Edinburgh.
“He was musician, clergyman. astronomer, philosopher, historian. Each morning at breakfast I would listen to him talk. He expounded politics with passionate interests—and exploded violently about the antics of an obscure little man in Germany called Hitler. That was in 1935.
“No one could have remained uninspired. At the age of 14, I even attempted a biography of Gladstone.”
Talking about his political ambitions Andrew said: “I know people seem to regard it as fantastic that an actor should entertain the notion of being a politician. In the past, I think, the public has been suspicious of actors. They regarded them as layabouts. I suppose. But an actor is as likely to be politically minded as anyone else.”
Andrew is 41 this month. His parents were Scottish missionaries, and he was born in Tanganyika.
“Those African children made a tremendous impression on me,” he said. “They were running around naked, diseased and blighted. I was plump, well clothed and healthy — except when I was bitten by a snake at the age of four.
“An African medicine man, believe it or not, cured me by chewing up a root and spitting the pulp on my head.”
Andrew’s interest in acting began at a Stirling High School performance of “HMS Pinafore,” in which he played Dick Deadeye. There followed parts in undergraduate productions at Glasgow University. Then in 1946, Shakespeare at Stratford.
Since then, filming has taken him to Kenya, Libya, Singapore, Canary Islands, Spain, Italy, Paris and Hollywood.
“I see no reason why I shouldn’t successfully combine the roles of actor and politician,” he said. “I believe, as Renaissance man did, that people do not tackle enough jobs. We can all do more than we think we can.”
Though his weekends are taken up with political work. Andrew still has time for hobbies. He collects English medieval and Tudor pottery, political mugs and busts of English politicians.
“I’ve got about 30 mugs now — including a couple of Joseph Chamberlain, one Disraeli and a Stanley Baldwin,” he said. “The busts I look for are the ones that give a popular image of the politician – nothing particularly artistic.”
Ian Souter, private investigator, has all the energy of the actor-politician. He comes from somewhere north of Stirlingshire, went to school at Gordonstoun and in the latter part of World War II, was commissioned into the Black Watch.