Peter Firth

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Peter Firth
Firth at the 2009 BAFTA Awards ceremony, with fellow Spooks cast member, Miranda Raison
Peter Macintosh Firth

(1953-10-27) 27 October 1953 (age 67)
Nationality British
Years active1958–present
Spouse(s) Alexandra Pigg

Peter Macintosh Firth (born 27 October 1953) is an English actor. He is best known for his role as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC One show Spooks ; he is the only actor to have appeared in every episode of the show's ten-series lifespan. He has given many other television and film performances, most notably as Alan Strang in Equus (1977), earning both a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for the role.


Early life, family and education

Firth was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, the son of publicans Mavis (née Hudson) and Eric Macintosh Firth. [1] He attended Hanson School in Bradford. [2]

Early career

Child actor

Firth was a leading child actor by the middle of 1969, having starred in the first series of The Flaxton Boys as Archie Weekes and then the following year in the series Here Come the Double Deckers , which featured child actors in the leading roles. Firth played Scooper, the leader of the gang. In 1972 he also starred in the ITV (London Weekend Television) series The Adventures of Black Beauty , episode "The Runaway", playing David Abbott.

In July 1973, Firth appeared at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre, [3] starring in the stage version of Peter Shaffer's play Equus as a teenager being treated by a psychiatrist, and in October 1974 repeated the role in the Broadway production, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Alan Strang.

Firth starred in an episode of The Protectors , titled “Implicado”, first screened in November 1973. He played Stephen Douglas, an innocent young man, alongside Patrick Mower as a drug-dealer.

Next stage of career

Firth's first major role as an adult was the title part in a BBC Television Play of the Month adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1976). The script was based on a stage adaptation by John Osborne, and also starred Jeremy Brett and John Gielgud. That same year saw the release of the World War I film Aces High which featured Firth as the inexperienced RFC pilot Lt. Stephen Croft.

Firth played the lead role in the film adaptation of Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews (1977). That same year he starred with Richard Burton in the film adaptation of Equus . The film was only a moderate box-office success, but earned Firth a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award in the same category. Further film work quickly followed, most notably Roman Polanski's Tess (1979).

In May 1981, he appeared on Broadway again in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, replacing Tim Curry. Shaffer had offered him the role in the original London production, but he was unavailable due to film commitments.


Other film work has included roles in Diamonds on Wheels (1973); When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? (1979); Lifeforce (1985); Letter to Brezhnev (1985); Northanger Abbey (1987), playing Henry Tilney; The Hunt for Red October (1990) playing the Soviet political officer Ivan Putin murdered early in the film; White Angel (1993), playing mild-mannered dentist Leslie Steckler; Amistad (1997) playing the strongly anti-slavery Captain Fitzgerald of the Royal Navy; Mighty Joe Young (1998); Pearl Harbor (2001); and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005), playing Lord Northcliffe.


Along with his film career, Firth has continued to appear in various television productions, with several notable credits in various high-profile dramas. He starred in two science-fiction episodes of the BBC's Play for Today anthology series as the eponymous time-traveller in the romantic The Flipside of Dominick Hide (1980), and its sequel, Another Flip for Dominick (1982). Firth also had a starring role in Tales Of The Unexpected in 1981. In 1994, in the Fourth Series of Heartbeat , he played Dr. Radcliffe who partnered with Dr. Rowan (Niamh Cusack) in Whitby. He also portrayed the Emperor Vespasian in "The Jewish Revolt" episode of the BBC series Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire .

For many years he had played a primary role as senior MI5 officer Harry Pearce in the BBC's popular spy drama series Spooks (2002–2011), and played Fred Hoyle in Hawking , a BBC dramatisation of the early career of Stephen Hawking. He was also Snaith in the three-part series South Riding in 2011. Firth has also appeared on American and Canadian television, on programmes such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Total Recall 2070 , as well as in television films such as The Incident starring Walter Matthau.

In 2014, Firth played the part of the character Adrian Rawlins in Undeniable , a two-part series made for the ITV network. In 2015 he played Jacob Marley in four episodes of the BBC television series Dickensian .

In 2016, Firth played the part of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover in ITV's drama series Victoria.


Firth is also a narrator of audiobooks. He has been responsible for performances reading Pat Barker's Regeneration , The Ghost Road and The Eye in the Door , Suspicion by Robert McCrum, Maurice by E. M. Forster, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong and Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles .

Honours and awards

On 17 July 2009, he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Bradford as a Doctor of Letters for his services to acting, having been nominated by the School of Computing, Informatics & Media; he received his award during the school's degree ceremony. [4]

Personal life

Firth lodged with Peter Shaffer throughout the Broadway run of Equus, in a father-son relationship. [5]

He has been married three times and has four children: one from his first marriage with The Warp actress, Carole Maya Sendall (Rory Firth, born 27 September 1980) and three from his second.[ citation needed ]

Firth married Alexandra Pigg on Christmas Eve 2017. The couple had briefly dated after they played a couple in Letter to Brezhnev . During an interview for BBC Breakfast in April 2017, they explained that they met again in 2010 and have been in a relationship since then.[ citation needed ]


1972Daniel and Maria
1973 Diamonds on Wheels Robert 'Bobby' StewartTV film
1975 King Arthur, the Young Warlord Corin
1976 Aces High Lt Stephen Croft
1976The Lady of CamelliasArmand
1977 Joseph Andrews Joseph Andrews
1977 Equus Alan Strang
1979 When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? Stephen Ryder
1979 Tess Angel Clare
1982 Fire and Sword Dinas
1984 Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Sir GawainVoice; Uncredited
1984 White Elephant Peter Davidson
1985 Lifeforce Col Colin Caine
1985 Letter to Brezhnev Peter
1986A State of EmergencyKenneth Parrish
1987Born of FirePaul Bergson
1987 Northanger Abbey Henry Tilney
1988 Prisoner of Rio Clive Ingram
1989 Tree of Hands Terence
1989 Trouble in Paradise Adriaan
1990Blood Royal: William the ConquerorWilliam RufusTV film
1990 The Hunt for Red October Senior Lieutenant Ivan Putin
1990 The Incident GeigerTV film
1990BurndownJake Stern
1990 The Rescuers Down Under RedVoice
1991 Prisoner of Honor Maj Henry
1992 The Pleasure Principle Dick
1993 El marido perfecto Franz
1993 Shadowlands Dr Craig
1994 White Angel Leslie Steckler
1995 An Awfully Big Adventure Bunny
1996 Merisairas 1st Officer Ronald Jensen
1997The Garden of RedemptionNazi CommandantTV film
1997Marco Polo: The Missing ChapterRusticello
1997 Gaston's War Major Smith
1997 Amistad Captain Fitzgerald
1998 Mighty Joe Young Garth
1999 Chill Factor Colonel Andrew Brynner
2000The MagiciansSimon MagusTV film
2001 Pearl Harbor Capt. Mervyn Bennion
2002–2011 Spooks Harry Pearce
2005 The Greatest Game Ever Played Lord Northcliffe
2005 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Preston Blair
2006 Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire Vespasian
2010 World Without End Sir Roland
2013 Mayday Malcolm Spicer
2014 Undeniable Andrew Bolton
2015 Spooks: The Greater Good Harry Pearce
2015–2016 Dickensian Jacob Marley
2016 Risen Pontius
2016 Victoria Duke of Cumberland
2018 Strike Back Milos BorisovichTV series
2019 Cheat MichealTV series
2019 Summer of Rockets TezlerTV series

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  1. "Peter Firth Biography (1953–)". Film Reference Library. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  2. "My Yorkshire: Peter Firth". The Yorkshire Post . 19 November 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  3. "National Theatre: 1970s". Rob Wilton Theatricalia. Retrieved 27 January 2012.[ permanent dead link ]
  4. "Honorary graduations at the University of Bradford". University of Bradford. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  5. Gruen, John (27 October 1974). "'Equus' Makes A Star Of Firth" . The New York Times . Retrieved 8 August 2020.