After arriving in London in the 1960s as a stage-struck 19-year-old, Frank Whitten, who has died of cancer aged 68, became an inspirational teacher of drama, a leading actor in theatre, film and TV, and eventually a household name in his native New Zealand. He was also a director and writer, and a prominent force in the radical theatre movement of the 1970s.
In 1962 he began to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (Lamda). After graduation he was invited to stay on as a tutor, and by 1970 he had been appointed vice-principal. He taught improvisational drama and had an influence on generations of actors including Harriet Walter, Jim Broadbent, Patricia Hodge and Ian Charleson. Frustrated in his attempt to get students on to the governing body of Lamda, Whitten resigned from his post and, with his colleagues Dorothy Bromiley,