He gained recognition for his four-year role in the production of Reluctant Heroes at the Whitehall Theatre. In 1951, he starred in the film version of Reluctant Heroes, and in 1956, he appeared in Dry Rot.
He was in the Royal Air Force and worked as a coal miner.
He published two biographies: My Farce From My Elbow in 1974 and Farce About Farce in 1989.
His sister is actress Sheila Mercier. He was married to actress Elspet Gray until her death in 2013. The couple had four children together.
He starred in the 1973 British film Don't Just Lie There, Say Something! with Leslie Phillips.