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British comic actor Ian Carmichael dies at 89

LONDON — Ian Carmichael, a British comic actor who starred in "I'm All Right Jack" on the silver screen and played Bertie Wooster and Lord Peter Wimsey on TV, has died. He was 89.

Carmichael, who had been ill for more than a month, died Friday at his home in Grosmont in northern England, his family said. The cause of death was not announced.

Carmichael was a master at embodying a certain type of Englishman: diffident, awkward, often put-upon, but unfailingly courteous and well-intentioned.

He appeared in a series of comedies for the Boulting Brothers including "Private's Progress" (1956), "Brothers in Law" (1957), "Lucky Jim" (1957) and "I'm All Right Jack" (1959), in which he played Stanley Windrush, a recent graduate and product of the upper class who takes a factory job and becomes embroiled in labor strife.

Carmichael also played Windrush in "Private's Progress."

"I didn't enjoy 'I'm All Right Jack' as much as 'Private's Progress' because I was simply repeating the part," Carmichael said in a British Film Institute interview in 2002.

"I'd liked to have gone on to pastures new, but that set a stamp on what everybody thought I could do for a very long time, and I was only offered buffoons really."

He had resisted invitations to play P.G. Wodehouse's upper-class twit, Bertie Wooster, agreeing only after a short, unhappy stint in New York in 1965 in the stage version of "Boeing Boeing."

"I'm delighted to say, the play flopped," he said in the BFI interview. "I hated New York, I loathed it."

"The World of Bertie Wooster" was a hit, running to 20 episodes though it didn't soften Carmichael's attitude toward the character. "Bertie had only one facet: he was a complete bloody idiot," he said.

"Cary Grant roles are ones I would love to have played, but I was never given any," he said.

Carmichael was the driving force for the television productions of the Lord Peter Wimsey, which provided him a meatier role as Dorothy L. Sayers' insouciant but keen-minded amateur detective.

"It's the one I wanted to do very much because I wanted to get away from the stupidity," Carmichael said, but typecasting nearly thwarted him.

Prospective producers, however, wanted someone else to star. "They all felt that I was going to turn him into another Wooster, you see, purely because he wore a monocle every now and again."

Carmichael is survived by his wife, Kate Fenton, and two daughters from his first marriage to Pym Maclean, who died in 1983.