Malcolm McFee

Malcolm McFee, an English actor born in the mid-1940s, was best known for his role as “Peter Craven” in the hit TV series Please Sir! (1968) and The Fenn Street Gang (1971). Inspired by the 1967 movie To Sir, with Love (1967), Please Sir! (1968) – which debuted in 1968 – was itself the inspiration for the American series Welcome Back, Kotter (1975). Set in a south London secondary school called “The Fenn Street School”, the situation comedy assayed the travails of a naive school teacher played by John Alderton and his unruly class of students. McFee, who was in his early 20s, played one of the mob of rowdy adolescent boys and girls (all the actors being significantly older than the ages of the characters they were portraying). McFee also was in the 1971 movie of the same name, Please Sir! (1971).

He appeared in the anti-war satirical musical Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), the first movie directed by Richard Attenborough, as one of three boys from a family that go off to World War One to fight for King and Country. McFee is the last of the three brothers to be killed, near the end of the war (and movie).

After series star John Alderton left the show in 1971, the series was renamed The Fenn Street Gang (1971) and focused on the kids after they had left school. The Fenn Street Gang (1971) lasted until 1973, dying a slow death as the chemistry of the original had been lost. The shows were popular, consistently ranking in the top five during their entire runs.

McFee’s career went in the doldrums after The Fenn Street Gang (1971). He made guest appearances on other TV shows and turned to the stage, where he made a career as an actor and director. As a theater director, he worked in small theaters in Greater London and the provinces. He died suddenly in November 2001 at his home in Braintree, Essex, three weeks before he was scheduled to appear as the “Dame” in the pantomime of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Chesham-based Elgiva Theatre company. He had been suffering from cancer.

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