Born on 3rd of April 1926 Scottish born actor Andrew Keir began acting by chance. Born into a family of miners he too took up that same occupation, he only got into acting when a friend convinced him to take over a minor role in an amateur dramatics production. He soon became a regular in the group’s performances due to his enjoyment of the role.
His talent was eventually spotted during the Second World War meaning that he could not leave his occupation as a miner. When he was diagnosed with pneumoconiosis he was finally able to take up the opportunity to become a professional actor at the unity theatre before breaking into film and television.
As Quatermass in Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
His horror roles were mostly for Hammer bar one or two his first being the vampire hunting monk Father Sandor in Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966). Certainly one of the most memorable Vampire hunters aside from Van Helsing, Keir brought a grim determination to the role and the scene where he disposes of Barbara Shelly's Vampire is one of the most Haunting in the entire film.
His next role is easily his most well known and without a doubt my own personal favourite in one of my all time favourite horror films. It is of course his portrayal of Professor Bernard Quatermass in Quatermass and the Pit (1967). His portrayal of the professor is hailed by many to be the best of the lot and he is easily the best thing in the whole film. Keir's acting is extremely convincing especially during the final scenes and it’s a real treat to watch him play what he later admitted was one of his favourite roles.
A similar part came for him in 1971 when he took over from Peter Cushing on Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb. “Michael Carreras rang me one Friday night to say that they were in trouble. Peter Cushing’s wife had died. Could I help them out, Come in and do it? I told them to leave the script at the gate and I’d come down. I was living in Wales so I travelled overnight, learned the script and started on Monday...” Being dropped into a film at such short notice would not doubt some lesser skilled actors but Keir took it all in his stride, making an otherwise dull film worth a look.
Blood From The Mummy's Tomb (1971)
Apart from a bit part in The Night Visitor (1971) and a part in a Late Night Horror episode Keir made no other televised or film Journeys into the Genre. In 1996 however he reprised his most famous role on radio with The Quatermass Memoirs. The next year he passed away in hospital aged 71. As long as Hammer is remembered then so will Keir as he remains one of their greatest actors.