Timothy West

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Actors, models and celebrities

Timothy West on London Underground train.
Timothy West on London Underground train.

Timothy West CBE (born October 20, 1934) is an English film, stage and television actor. He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire of the Earl De La Warr family, and educated at the John Lyon School, a boys' independent school in Harrow on the Hill in London and also at Bristol Grammar School in Bristol, where he was a classmate of Julian Glover. Timothy is married to the actress Prunella Scales and with her, prominently supports the British Labour Party. The couple are both patrons of the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham.

Timothy is currently starring in Harold Pinter's The Lover & The Collection at the Comedy Theatrein London.

Life and career

West's craggy looks ensured a career as a character actor rather than a leading man. He began his career as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1956, and followed this with several seasons of repertory theatre. He acted at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1959 and was with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1965 at Stratford and the Aldwych Theatre. He was Artistic Director of the Forum Theatre, Billingham from 1980-81 and was appointed Director-in-Residence at the University of Western Australia in 1982.

Having spent years as a familiar face who never quite became a household name, his big chance came with the major television series, Edward the Seventh (1975), in which he played the title role and his real-life sons, Samuel and Joseph, played the sons of King Edward VII as children. Other major roles have included parts in the films, Nicholas and Alexandra (1972), The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978) and Cry Freedom (1987). In 1997, he played Gloucester in the BBC television production of King Lear. He is the son of the actor (Harry) Lockwood West.

He was created a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to drama in 1984.

In 2001, West played the older Maurice in Iris, while his actor son, Samuel West, played young Maurice.

In 2002 he made a guest appearance in the BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

In 2004, he toured Australia with the Carl Rosa Company as Director of the production of HMS Pinafore, also singing the role of Sir Joseph Porter. He was replaced in the singing role by Dennis Olsen for the Perth and Brisbane performances.

He is president of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and a supporter of the charity Cancer Research UK.

West has also appeared as the presenter for Midlands ( Central TV) Waterworld.

Stage roles

  • Opening of St Pancras railway station as William Henry Barlow, Tuesday 6 November 2007
  • Coriolanus as Menenius, 2007, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • King Lear (2003) with English Touring Theatre Company, as Lear
  • The External
  • King Lear as Lear, 1971 Edinburgh Festival
  • The Merchant of Venice as Shylock, 1981 Royal Flemish Theatre Brussels in association with The British Council

TV roles

  • Big Breadwinner Hog (1969) as Lennox
  • Edward the Seventh (1975)
  • Hedda (1975)
  • Brass (1982) as Bradley Hardacre
  • The Good Doctor Bodkin Adams (1986): this was a TV docudrama based on the 1957 trial of John Bodkin Adams, played by West; Adams was controversially acquitted of murdering an elderly female patient, but is thought to have been Britain's second worst serial killer.
  • Churchill and the Generals (1988) as Winston Churchill
  • Blore, MP (play)
  • Framed (1993)
  • Goodnight Sweetheart, comedy series as MI6 agent "MacDuff"
  • King Lear (1997) as Gloucester
  • Bedtime (series, 2001)
  • Bleak House (series, 2005) as Sir Leicester Deadlock

Film roles

  • The Day of the Jackal (1973)
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978)
  • Cry Freedom (1987)
  • Ever After (1998)
  • Iris (2001) (as the older Maurice)


  • A Moment Towards the End of the Play, 2001, ISBN 1-85459-619-5

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