ONE of TV’s most beloved regular extras is set to retire.
Colin Dexter, author of Inspector Morse, has appeared in almost every episode of its spin-off TV series Morse, Lewis and Endeavour.
But now the 86-year-old, who is often seen in the background reading a newspaper or playing a hospital patient, is retiring from being a background character.
Producers say Dexter will be quitting after 30 years and more than 60 appearances.
He’s not the only star to enjoy a cameo over the years.
Short appearances by big names in small roles go back to the early days of Hollywood.
We take a look at 14 of the most notable cameos in silver screen history.
Around the World In 80 Days (1956) – Frank Sinatra
In a movie filled with cameos – from Buster Keaton to Noel Coward to Marlene Dietrich – one background star stood out.
While the other roles had a speaking part, Sinatra delighted audiences by simply playing the piano in a bar.
Apollo 13 (1995) – James Lovell
Tom Hanks played real-life astronaut James Lovell in the movie about the ill-fated trip to the moon.
If you look closely at the captain of the vessel which rescues his character you can see it’s the real James Lovell.
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) – Stan Lee
Comic creator Stan Lee appeared in a spin-off TV movie of The Incredible Hulk, and it marked the start of one of the most successful cameo careers of all time.
The 94-year-old has filmed 30 brief appearances in various superhero movies.
Casino Royale (2006) – Richard Branson
Bond lover Richard Branson appeared in Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond after helping out producer Barbara Broccoli.
You can see him being frisked at the airport – the role was a thank you for providing a Virgin plane for a scene at short notice.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Buster Keaton
One of the greatest stars of the silent era appeared briefly in the classic film noir Sunset Boulevard.
The ageing Keaton’s hey day was behind him, which made his role as a deadpan bridge-player who utters only one word all the more haunting.
Spaceballs (1987) – John Hurt
The Star Wars spoof featured a scene which made fun of the movie Alien, where a monster bursts from the chest of the unfortunate John Hurt.
He appears here only for the same thing to happen. “Oh, not again,” he groans.
21 Jump Street (2012) – Johnny Depp
The original star of the 80s TV series about a detective who goes undercover at a school returned in the big budget movie comedy.
Johnny Depp makes a brief appearance but only on condition his character was quickly killed off.
Hook (1991) – Glenn Close and Carrie Fisher
One of the pirates Captain Hook throws in a trunk full of scorpions for lacking faith in his plan may look like a grizzled, bearded male pirate but was actually Glenn Close, one of Hollywood’s most respected actresses.
The late Carrie Fisher also briefly appeared as a woman who flies after accidentally being sprinkled with fairydust.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) – Keith Richards
Star Johnny Depp based his pirate rogue Jack Sparrow on rocker Keith Richards – so it made sense when the Rolling Stone appeared in the sequel.
He played Captain Teague – and proved so popular he was invited back for another cameo in 2011’s On Stranger Tides sequel.
Prince of Thieves (1990) – Sean Connery
Sir Sean was paid a staggering £200,000 for two days’ work on Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood movie. Connery, who played King Richard – with a Scottish accent – donated his fee to charity.
The Force Awakens (2015) – Daniel Craig
Blink and you’ll miss some cameos – but this one is almost impossible to spot. Bond star Daniel Craig has an uncredited appearance as a storm trooper.
You can hear his voice as he plays a masked soldier tricked into freeing one of the movie’s heroes.
Family Plot (1976) – Alfred Hitchcock
The true master of the cameo made his final brief appearance – in silhouette – in his last thriller.
By that time Hitchcock had made 39 cameo appearances, starting with 1927’s The Lodger.
Hitchcock said his cameos at first were necessary – but ended up becoming his signature.
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) – The Three Stooges
There are loads of cameos in a movie which already had an all-star cast, but The Three Stooges stole the show.
So what do you do with three of the funniest comedy performers in movie history? Not much – Larry, Curly and Moe only had a five-second appearance.
Hot Fuzz (2007) – Cate Blanchett
One of the most talented Oscar-winning actresses of our generation was buried in police comedy Hot Fuzz, which starred Simon Pegg. Cate played a crime scene investigator hidden behind a mask, protective glasses and overalls. Kind Cate even donated her fee to charity.