South Bank University

The Knitting Circle: Drama


Biography, performance.

Paul Danquah

British actor, barrister, and bank consultant.

Although black himself, his mother was white. His father, who married twice, was J. B. Danquah (Joseph Kwame Kyerewie Boakye Danquah, 1989-1965). J. B. Danquah moved to London in 1921 and began studying at University College. In 1926 he obtained the degrees of BA and LLB of London University and was awarded the John Stuart Mill scholarship in the philosophy of mind and logic. He was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple. He was awarded a PhD in 1927. He then travelled extensively in Europe before returning to the Gold Coast (later to be called Ghana), and set up a legal practice. He became one of the Big Six founders of Ghana. As well as being a barrister he was also an expert in the culture and history of west Africa. He suggested the name Ghana after the name of an ancient kingdom in the Sahara. However J. B. Danquah fell out of favour with President Kwame Nkrumah and was imprisoned more than once. He died in February 1965 in Nsawam Prison.

Paul Danquah's life partner was Peter Pollock and they shared a flat at 9 Overstrand Mansions in Prince of Wales Drive, Battersea, south London. From 1955 to 1961 Francis Bacon also stayed in the flat and they all became lifelong friends.

Around 1960 Paul Danquah was studying for the Bar at the Inner Temple but he often showed more interest in the arts, male fashion, make-up, and he also briefly took up ballet classes. He was happy to temporarily abandon his legal career when Tony Richardson cast him as the ship's cook, Jimmy, in the film A Taste of Honey, (1961). His scenes were shot in Blackpool and his character had a brief affair with Jo played by Rita Tushingham. Jo became pregnant but Jimmy had sailed away and she was looked after by Geoffrey, a gay man played by Murray Melvin. Paul Danquah was very upset when, after the film had been made, he received a letter from Tony Richardson saying that his voice had been dubbed throughout the film because his north country accent was wrong.

"A Taste of Honey, meanwhile, was arousing controversy across the world as it confronted racial and sexual taboos head on. Many countries banned it. 'New Zealand was one,' remembers Tushingham, one arm flitting as it does in so many of her movies. 'You had a gay man and Paul Danquah's sailor and me as a teenage prostitute and Dora Bryan as her brassy mother whose attitude is 'fook 'em' and Robert Stephens who was drunk all the time... The film was saying: 'This is how these people live, and they're getting on with their lives.' They couldn't pay the rent so they climbed out of the window with their suitcases and off they went. It was shocking for people at the time. But now my character could be 12 and no one would mind'."

Stark Raving Mod by Will Hodgkinson in The Guardian, 15th. June, 2001.

After his father's death in 1965 Paul Danquah was left without funds, but Peter Pollock was able to fund him so that he completed and passed his Bar studies.

Paul Danquah had several roles on television, including presenter on the BBC children's television programme Play School. He played three different roles in the third series of the spy thriller series Danger Man. In his role as Lieutenant Razafi in an episode the fourth series of The Avengers in 1966 he had a painted face and was clad only in a loin cloth, but he had a significant speaking part which was unusual for black characters in this television series at the time. He also played parts in three other films including Smashing Time, (1967), written by George Melly, and in which Murray Melvin and Paul Danquah were 1st. and 2nd. Exquisites.

In the late 1970s Peter Pollock and Paul Danquah set up home in Tangier.

On 21st. May 1985 Paul Danquah was a guest at the second major retrospective of Francis Bacon's work held at the Tate Gallery. A black and white photograph of Paul Danquah with Francis Bacon at the retrospective is reproduced in Daniel Farson's biography of Francis Bacon.

Paul Danquah worked as a consultant for the World Bank in Washington but retired in 1986 and and continued to live in Tangier with Peter Pollock.


Biography, performance.

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The Knitting Circle

First uploaded by SBU 26th. January, 2002.

Last altered 27th. January, 2002