Welcome to our
The Onedin Line actor details:
Actor name: Howard Lang / Born Donald Yarranton
Date of Birth: 20 March 1911
Passed away: 12 December 1989 (aged 78)
Role played: Captain Baines
Image: The image source currently not known
Howard Lang (20 March 1911 – 12 December 1989) was a British
actor best known for playing Captain Baines in the BBC
nautical drama The Onedin Line. He served for seven years in
the Royal Navy during World War II.
For his role as seafaring Captain Baines in The Onedin Line
(1971-1980) Howard Lang gained international attention. In a 1977
interview in Radio Times, Howard Lang recalled a personal appearance
'When the Onedin Line TV series was first shown in Norway I was asked to
make a personal appearance in a small shipbuilding town. As
I was brought into Grimstad by sea I caught sight of huge
crowds - all of 3,000 townsfolk out on the quay to greet me.
I learned afterwards that I had been received as family
because almost every home had an ancient photograph of an
uncle, cousin or grandfather dressed and side burned
precisely as I appear on the TV series The Onedin Line.
Howard Lang's movie & stage career
Lang's other parts included roles in The Six Wives of Henry
VIII (1970), Z-Cars, Softly, Softly, The Vise, and an
appearance as caveman Horg in the second, third and fourth
episodes of the first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child.
Howard Lang also played the role of Bert Hudd in the first production
of Harold Pinter's The Room.
The character William Baines:
Captain William Baines is a supporting character from the
1971 BBC television series The Onedin Line. The series
the ruthless owner of a shipping line The Onedin Line in
early 1860s Liverpool. In the
Onedin Line pilot episode James Onedin is
shown employed as a merchant captain for the Callon shipping
line, with Baines as his first mate. The ambitious Onedin
becomes frustrated as a servant to Mr. Callon and quits his
employ, only to purchase his own ship and snatch a
Portuguese wine contract out from under him. Baines is then
shown as James Onedin's first mate aboard his own ship, the
Presumably James Onedin hired Baines to work for him after buying
his own ship. This would not have been unusual, since
shipping lines in those days did not have permanent
employees, and captains were responsible for recruiting
their own crews for each voyage.
Baines is a gruff and rugged professional seaman who,
despite his expertise in sailing, has never risen above the
rank of first mate due to his inability to read. Captain
James Onedin is
taken ill during his maiden voyage as owner of the
Rhodes, and Baines is forced to take command of the ship at
a critical time. He quickly falls into a dispute with James Onedin's wife,
Webster, over which course to set while her husband is
incapacitated. Anne strikes a bargain with Baines and
agrees to teach him to read and write in exchange for him
steering the ship on the course that she has charted, rather
than the one he prefers.
Subsequent episodes show the gruff and craggy seaman
sounding his way through children's books as he struggles
with the written English language. Finally, after having
learned to read and write with the help of
Baines sits for the master's exam, and qualifies as a ship's
captain himself. James Onedin then gives him command of his best
the Pampero, which Baines drives too hard in an
effort to make a good first impression, and sinks on his
first voyage as master. James Onedin, while outraged by the
loss, decides to keep Baines in his employ, feeling that his
guilt over the incident will make William Baines even more
eager to please in the future.
Baines' first name, William, is rarely heard until the final
episode when he assists James Onedin's third wife,
Margareta, in the birth of James Onedin's only son aboard
ship. Margareta asks the stunned and humbled sailor for his
Christian name so that they can name the son and heir to the
Onedin Line empire after him.
Baines is depicted as an un-ambitious seafaring man, who is
loyal and deferent to his employer. As a simple-minded and
honest sailor he is also used as a foil to contrast the
character of the sharp, cunning, and ruthless James Onedin.
Occasionally, however, Baines is also shown rising above his
station to tell James Onedin when he is acting foolishly, or
by Belle Lunette