Ronald John Allen (16 December 1930 – 18 June 1991) was an English character actor who achieved the status of a soap opera star. Allen was born in Reading, Berkshire. He studied at Leighton Park School in Reading and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, worked in repertory theatre, had a season at the Old Vic, London and made several films, including the classic about the sinking of the Titanic A Night to Remember (1958). After roles in the BBC soaps Compact (1963–64) and United! (1966-67) came his best remembered famous role, in the long-running Crossroads (1969–85). Allen played David Hunter, who was a shareholder of the Crossroads Motel with Meg Mortimer, Tish Hope and Bernard Booth. He also twice appeared as a lead actor in the science fiction programme Doctor Who, in the stories The Dominators (1968) and The Ambassadors of Death (1970).
Allen also made a number of guest appearances in The Comic Strip Presents. In the first episode, Five Go Mad in Dorset (1982), which spoofed Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five stories, he makes a surprise appearance as Uncle Quentin; deliberately sending up his staid image, he most memorably told The Famous Five, “Your Aunt Fanny is an unrelenting nymphomaniac – and I am a screaming homosexual”. (The show’s TV Times entry had listed him as “Surprise Guest”). Allen reprised the role in the sequel Five Go Mad on Mescalin (1983), and also appeared in South Atlantic Raiders Part 2 (1990), The Strike (1988) and Oxford (1990), in addition to the feature film The Supergrass (1985). There was much comic mileage to be gained from Allen sending up his conservative image. In a 1987 interview, he said that he was approached by a very intimidating-looking punk who shook his hand and said, “I thought you were really cool in The Supergrass”. Then, as he was about to walk away, he turned back and said, almost apologetically, “I loved you in Crossroads too!” Other roles included television’s The Adventures of Robin Hood (1957), Danger Man (1960, 1961), Bergerac (1990) and The Avengers (1964).
Allen lived for many years with the actor Brian Hankins, who also appeared in Crossroads. He was also very close friends with his co-star and on-screen wife, Sue Lloyd. When the British media started to intrude into their private lives, they made it known they were a couple. After Allen was told that his cancer was terminal, they married. He died three months later, aged 60. Sue Lloyd died twenty years later in 2011, also of cancer.
- December, 16, 1930
- Reading, United Kingdom
- June, 18, 1991
- London, United Kingdom
- Reading Cemetery and Crematorium
- Berkshire, England