The son of a surveyor, Charles Gray grew up in Queens Park, London, and went to school in his home town of Bournemouth. As a young actor, he received his vocal training from the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and at the Old Vic, having long abandoned his first job as clerk for a real estate agent. His voice was to become one of his most valuable tools. In fact, from January 1966, he subtly, almost imperceptibly, dubbed for Jack Hawkins after this actor became unable to speak his lines due to throat cancer. In later years, Gray's trademark voice was regularly heard on television commercials.