Following his studies at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, Barry Foster worked briefly as a plastics chemist before making his first professional stage appearance in 1952. Foster's London debut occurred in 1955; the following year, he made his first film. While he lists his favorite stage role as Hamlet, for many years he was most familiar to audiences for his snippish comedy roles. He was cast spectacularly against type in Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972) as Bob Rusk, the outwardly charming grocer who turns out to be the sexually degenerate necktie murderer. On television, Barry Foster has appeared in such miniseries as A Woman Called Golda (1981) and Smiley's People (1982) and has starred as a methodical Dutch detective in the Van der Valk series.