Oscar James has had a long and varied career, but is best known for appearing on British television, in particular the BBC soap opera EastEnders, where he played original character, Tony Carpenter, for over two years. James resides in North London.
James came from a poor upbringing in Trinidad to England in the 1950s. He initially worked as a taxi driver, a dish-washer and also a gymnast, but he always had aspirations to be an entertainer and followed his dream by becoming an actor.
Roles for black actors were sparse during James’ early career, but he persevered to become the fourth black actor to join the Royal Shakespeare Company and the first black actor to play Macbeth.
James had early roles in television programmes such as Softly, Softly (1966); Love Thy Neighbour (1975); Quiller (1975); Gangsters (1976); Angels (1976); The Professionals; Out (1978); Minder (1979); Shoestring (1980) and The Gentle Touch (1984).
He was the first black actor to appear on the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm in 1972, teaching Seth Armstrong to read.
However, he is best known for his role as Tony Carpenter in the BBC television soap opera EastEnders. James was one of the original cast members, appearing in the series from its debut in 1985 until 1987.
Other TV credits include: Minder in the Series 1 episode Come in T-64, Your Time Is Ticking Away, Casualty (1996), Lovejoy (1994), London’s Burning (2002), Doctors (2002; 2005), The Bill (2006), The Line of Beauty (2006), Holby City (2006), Dream Team (2002), Afterlife (2005) and the television drama Angel Cake (2006).
He also appeared in the 2005 Tim Burton adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where he played a shopkeeper.
In 2004 James played Herbert in Oxford Road: the Story, a radio play in which he worked alongside Dona Croll, an actress he had previously worked with on Elmina’s Kitchen at the National Theatre. Elmina’s Kitchen was adapted into a BBC Four televised film in 2005, in which James also starred.
(source: The British Blacklist)