Stars of film and television have been paying tribute to actor Roy Beck who has died at the age of 72. Throughout a glittering career which spanned nearly five decades Beck starred in over forty films and numerous television series, always playing the role of the police officer who lifts the crime scene tape to allow access to the investigating detective.
Dennis Waterman, who starred alongside Beck in The Sweeney, told BBC News that he was a legend who had an extraordinary gift for lifting crime scene tape. ‘When Roy joined The Sweeney everything clicked into place’ said an emotional Waterman. ‘Before Roy we had a succession of actors who would either snap the tape because they lifted it too high or who didn’t lift it high enough. John Thaw and I were forever getting our faces snagged. But when Roy lifted that crime scene tape and said ‘Guv’ something truly magical happened’.
Beck’s last performance came in the show Sherlock when the BBC coaxed him out of retirement for one last role. Benedict Cumberbatch recalls the excitement on set when Beck appeared for the first time. ‘There was a kind of reverential hush when Roy turned up’ said Cumberbatch. ‘We’d had real trouble finding the right actor to lift the crime scene tape and it was in danger of ruining the whole project. After I caught my head on the crime scene tape I remember Steven Moffat screaming ‘Get me Roy Beck!’. Of course we never thought he would do it but he helped turn the show into the huge hit it later became’.
Beck won 3 Academy Award nominations in the ‘Cop lifting the tape at the crime scene’ category, finally winning the Oscar for his performance in the 1995 psychological thriller Seven. Co-star Brad Pitt said today that the acting world had lost one if its greatest talents. ‘I learned so much from Roy on that film’ said Pitt. ‘ I was in awe of him but he went out of his way to put me at ease. Not only could he lift the crime scene tape better than any other actor in history, he was also a lovely man’.
Beck is due to be buried in a private ceremony in London on Friday and his grave will be condoned off with crime scene tape as a mark of respect.