He was known for playing Arthur Daley in the long-running ITV drama show Minder, and Flash Harry in the early St Trinian’s films.
Cole was given up for adoption at the age of ten days and was adopted by the Cole family. He left school at 14 to be a butcher’s boy, and an ambition to join the Merchant Navy, but landed a part in a touring musical, and chose acting as a career.
Aged 15 he was cast in the film Cottage to Let in 1941, where he starred opposite Scottish actor Alastair Sim. Sim liked Cole, and agreed with his family to take in Cole and his adoptive mother to their home.
Acting as his mentor, Sim helped Cole lose his Cockney accent and he stayed with the Sim family until he was 27.
Cole later attributed his career success to Sim, with whom he appeared in a total of 11 films, ending with a television film of The Anatomist in 1956.
Cole also acted opposite Laurence Olivier in The Demi-Paradise in 1943 and Olivier’s film version of Henry V in 1944, and became the last surviving cast member.
His career was interrupted by his National service in the Royal Air Force from 1944 to 1947, where he was a radio operator.