Manning was born on 19th August 1920 in Birmingham. He worked as a trainee accountant before switching careers and began training at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama. He preformed in numerous Shakespeare plays as well as in London's West End. He began playing Rev. Donald Hinton in 1977 and continued the role until 1989. He returned for two episodes in October 1993.
Manning was a keen Labour supporter and a founding member of the Arts for Labour group.