Simon Callow

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Simon Callow

Simon Callow.jpg
Callow in London, October 2009
Simon Phillip Hugh Callow

(1949-06-15) 15 June 1949 (age 72)
Streatham, London, England
  • Actor
  • director
  • writer
Years active1973–present
Sebastian Fox
(m. 2016)
Simon Callow signature.svg
Callow in 1989 Simon Callow, 1989.jpg
Callow in 1989

Simon Phillip Hugh Callow CBE [1] (born 15 June 1949) is an English actor, director, and writer.


Early years

Callow was born in Streatham, London, the son of Yvonne Mary (née Guise), a secretary, and Neil Francis Callow, a businessman. [2] His father was of English and French descent and his mother was of Danish and German ancestry. [3] He was raised as a Roman Catholic. [3] Callow was educated at the London Oratory School and then went on to study at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, where he was active in the Northern Ireland civil-rights movement, before giving up his degree course to train at the Drama Centre London.[ citation needed ] [4]



Callow's immersion in the theatre began after he wrote a fan letter to Sir Laurence Olivier, the artistic director of the National Theatre, and received a response suggesting he join their box-office staff. While watching actors rehearse, he realised he wanted to act. [5]

Callow made his stage debut in 1973, appearing in The Three Estates at the Assembly Rooms Theatre, Edinburgh. In the early 1970s, he joined the Gay Sweatshop theatre company and performed in Martin Sherman's critically acclaimed Passing By. [6] [7] In 1977, he took various parts in the Joint Stock Theatre Company's production of Epsom Downs , and in 1979, he starred in Snoo Wilson's The Soul of the White Ant at the Soho Poly. [8]

Callow appeared as Verlaine in Total Eclipse (1982), Lord Foppington in The Relapse (1983), and the title role in Faust (1988) at the Lyric Hammersmith, where he also directed The Infernal Machine (with Maggie Smith) in 1986. [9] In 1985, he played Molina in The Kiss of the Spiderwoman at the Bush Theatre, London. [9] He played Mozart in the premiere of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus at the National Theatre (1979), also appearing in the 1983 BBC original cast radio production. [9]

He later wrote of having "discovered Mozart quite early: the operas, the symphonies, the concertos, the wind serenades were all very much part of my musical landscape when I was asked to play the part of the composer in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus; possibly this was one of the reasons I got the job." [10] He also appeared at the National Theatre as Orlando in As You Like It (1979) and Fulganzio in Galileo (1980). [9]


He made his first film appearance in 1984 as Schikaneder in Amadeus . The following year, he appeared as the Reverend Mr. Beebe in A Room with a View . His first television role was in the Carry On Laughing episode "Orgy and Bess" in 1975, but it was cut from the final print. He starred in several series of the Channel 4 situation comedy Chance in a Million , as Tom Chance, an eccentric individual to whom coincidences happened regularly. Roles like this and his part in Four Weddings and a Funeral brought him to a wider audience.


Callow also directed plays and wrote: his Being An Actor (1984) was a critique of 'director dominated' theatre, in addition to containing autobiographical sections relating to his early career as an actor. In 1992, he directed the play Shades by Sharman MacDonald and the musical My Fair Lady , featuring costumes designed by Jasper Conran. [11] In 1995, he directed a stage version of the classic French film Les Enfants du Paradis for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Among opera productions directed by Callow are a Così fan tutte in Lucerne, Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera in 1988, [12] Il tritico for the Broomhill Trust, Kent in August 1995, [13] Menotti's The Consul at Holland Park Opera, London in 1999 and Le roi malgré lui by Chabrier at Grange Park Opera in 2003. [14] He also directed Carmen Jones at the Old Vic, London in 1991, with Wilhelmenia Fernandez in the title role. [15]

One of Callow's best-known books is Love Is Where It Falls, an analysis of his 11-year relationship with Peggy Ramsay (1908–91), a prominent British theatrical agent from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has also written extensively about Charles Dickens, whom he has played several times: in a one-man show, The Mystery of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd; in the films Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale , and Christmas Carol: The Movie; and on television several times including An Audience with Charles Dickens (BBC, 1996) and in "The Unquiet Dead", a 2005 episode of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who . He returned to Doctor Who for the 2011 season finale, again taking the role of Dickens. [16]

Callow appeared with Saeed Jaffrey in the 1994 British television drama series Little Napoleons , playing a scheming Conservative councillor in local government. In 1996, Callow directed Cantabile in three musical pieces (Commuting, The Waiter's Revenge, Ricercare No. 4) composed by his friend Stephen Oliver. Ricercare No. 4 was commissioned by Callow especially for Cantabile. He voice-acted the sly and traitorous Wolfgang in Shoebox Zoo . In 2004, he appeared on a Comic Relief episode of Little Britain for charity causes. In 2006, he wrote a piece for the BBC1 programme This Week bemoaning the lack of characters in modern politics. He has starred as Count Fosco, the villain of Wilkie Collins's novel The Woman in White , in film (1997) and on stage (2005, in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in the West End).

In December 2004, he hosted the London Gay Men's Chorus Christmas Show, Make the Yuletide Gay at the Barbican Centre in London. He is currently one of the patrons of the Michael Chekhov Studio London.

In July 2006, the London Oratory School Schola announced Callow as one of their new patrons. In November 2007, he threatened to resign the post over controversy surrounding the Terrence Higgins Trust (an AIDS charity of which Callow is also a patron). Other patrons of the Catholic choir are Princess Michael of Kent and the leading Scottish composer James MacMillan. He reprised his role as Wolfgang in Shoebox Zoo and voice-acted the wild and action-seeking Hunter, as well.[ when? ]

In 2007, he portrayed the role of Pliny the Elder in CBBC's children's drama series, Roman Mysteries in the episode "The Secrets of Vesuvius".

From 11 July to 3 August 2008, Callow appeared at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada in There Reigns Love, a performance of the sonnets of William Shakespeare. [17] The same year, he appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, performing "Dr. Marigold" and "Mr. Chops" by Charles Dickens, adapted and directed by Patrick Garland; repeating them from December 2009 to January 2010 at the Riverside Studios and on tour in 2011.

In February 2008, he played the psychiatrist in the Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Peter Shaffer's Equus .

Between March and August 2009, he played Pozzo in Sean Mathias's production of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett with Ian McKellen as Estragon, Patrick Stewart as Vladimir, and Ronald Pickup as Lucky. The production toured Britain before a run at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, in London

In November 2009, "Mini Stories", a recording by the Caput Ensemble of Haflidi Hallgrimsson's settings of the surreal poetry of Daniil Kharms, featuring Callow as the narrator, was released by Hyperion Records. [18]

From June to November 2010, he appeared in a national tour of a new one-man play, Shakespeare: the Man from Stratford, written by Jonathan Bate, directed by Tom Cairns, and produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group. The play was renamed Being Shakespeare for its West End debut at the Trafalgar Studios, where it opened on 15 June 2011. It was revived at the same theatre in March 2012, prior to a run in New York City and Chicago. In March 2014, it returned to the West End, this time at the Harold Pinter Theatre. [19]

In October 2014, Callow appeared in a comedy sketch made for Channel 4's The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night to raise awareness of testicular cancer. The same year, he played the recurring role of the fictional Duke of Sandringham in the Starz period TV series, Outlander . [20]


Callow has also written biographies of Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton, Orson Welles, and Richard Wagner. He has also written an anthology of Shakespeare passages, Shakespeare on Love, and contributed to Cambridge's Actors on Shakespeare series.

A devotee of classical music, he has contributed articles to Gramophone .


Callow was the reader of The Twits and The Witches in the Puffin Roald Dahl Audio Books Collection ( ISBN   978-0-140-92255-4), and has done audio versions of several abridged P.G. Wodehouse books that feature, among others, the fictional character Jeeves. They include Very Good, Jeeves and Aunts Aren't Gentlemen. Callow is the reader of the audio book edition of William E. Wallace's Michelangelo, God's Architect, published by Princeton University Press. [21] Callow narrated the audiobook of Robert Fagles' 2006 translation of Virgil's The Aeneid .

Recent work

Callow starred in the three-part original Gold comedy The Rebel in 2016. [22]

Personal life

Callow was listed 28th in The Independent 's 2007 listing of the most influential gay men and women in the UK. [23] In 1999, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to acting. [24] He was one of the first actors to declare his homosexuality publicly, doing so in his 1984 book Being An Actor.

He married Sebastian Fox in June 2016. [25] [26]

In an interview, Callow stated:

I'm not really an activist, although I am aware that there are some political acts one can do that actually make a difference and I think my coming out as a gay man was probably one of the most valuable things I've done in my life. I don't think any actor had done so voluntarily and I think it helped to change the culture. [27]

In August 2014, Callow was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue. [28]



1984 Amadeus Emanuel Schikaneder / Papageno
1985 The Good Father Mark Varda
1985 A Room with a View The Reverend Mr. BeebeNominated – BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1987 Maurice Mr. Ducie
1981ManifestoPolice Chief
1990 Postcards from the Edge Simon Asquith
1990 Mr. & Mrs. Bridge Dr. Alex Sauer
1991 The Ballad of the Sad Cafe Director
Nominated – Golden Berlin Bear
1991 Howards End Music and Meaning LecturerCameo
1992 Soft Top Hard Shoulder Eddie Cherdowski
1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral GarethNominated – BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1994 Street Fighter A.N. Official
1995 England, My England Charles II
1995 Victory Zangiacomo
1995 Jefferson in Paris Richard Cosway
1995 Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Vincent CadbyMain antagonist
1996 James and the Giant Peach Mr. GrasshopperVoice
1998The Scarlet TunicCaptain Fairfax
1998 Bedrooms and Hallways Keith
1998 Shakespeare in Love Sir Edmund Tilney Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1999Around the World in 80 Days Phileas Fogg Voice
2001 No Man's Land Colonel Soft
2001 Christmas Carol: The Movie Ebenezer Scrooge
2002 Thunderpants Sir John Osgood
2002 Merci Docteur Rey Bob
2003 Bright Young Things King of Anatolia
2004 George and the Dragon King Edgar
2004 The Phantom of the Opera Andre
2005 Rag Tale Fat Boy Rourke
2005 The Civilization of Maxwell Bright Mr. Wroth
2005 Bob the Butler Mr. Butler
2006SabinaEugene Bleuler
2007 Chemical Wedding Professor Haddo / Aleister Crowley
2007 Arn - The Knight Templar Father Henry
2011 No Ordinary Trifle Guy Witherspoon
2012Acts of GodfreyGodfrey
2014 Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles Himself
2016 Golden Years Royston
2016 Viceroy's House Cyril Radcliffe
2016 Mindhorn HimselfCameo
2017 Hampstead The Judge
2017 Victoria & Abdul Giacomo Puccini
2017 The Man Who Invented Christmas John Leech
2018 Blue Iguana Uncle Martin


1975 Get Some In! Wally
1976 The Sweeney Detective Sergeant


The Man of Destiny

W.H.Auden Monologue



1984 Chance in a Million Tom Chance
1985 Honour, Profit and Pleasure HandelTelevision film
1986 Dead Head Hugo Silver
1986 David Copperfield Mr Micawber
1987 Inspector Morse Theodore KempEpisode: "The Wolvercote Tongue"
1990Old FlamesNathaniel Quass
1993Femme FataleVicar Ronnie
1994 Little Napoleons Edward Feathers
1996An Audience With Charles Dickens Charles Dickens
1995 El pasajero clandestino Major Owens
1997 The Woman in White Count Fosco
1998 Trial & Retribution II Rupert Halliday
2000The Mystery of Charles Dickens Charles Dickens Television film
2001 Don't Eat the Neighbours Fox & Bear
2002 NOVA: Galileo's Battle for the Heavens Galileo Documentary
2003 Angels in America Prior Walter ancestor 2Miniseries
2004 Shoebox Zoo Wolfgang the Wolf
Hunter the Horse
TV Series, 12 episodes
2004 Agatha Christie's Marple Colonel Terence MelchettEpisode: "The Body in the Library"
2005 Rome Publius ServiliusEpisode: “Egeria”
2005, 2011 Doctor Who Charles Dickens Episodes: "The Unquiet Dead", "The Wedding of River Song"
2006 Midsomer Murders Dr. Richard WellowEpisode: "Dead Letters"
2006Classical DestinationsNarrator [29]
2007 Roman Mysteries Pliny the ElderEpisodes: "The Secrets of Vesuvius"
2007 The Company Elihu
2007How Gay Sex Changed the WorldHimself [30]
2007 Trick or Treat Himself1 episode
2008 The Mr. Men Show Narrator
2009 Lewis Vernon OxeEpisode: "Counter Culture Blues"
2009 The Sarah Jane Adventures Tree BlathereenVoice
Episode: "The Gift"
2011 This is Jinsy ThreckerEpisode: "Nameworm"
2011 Popstar to Operastar Himself
2011 Jamie's Dream School Himself
2013 Agatha Christie's Poirot Dr. Heinrich LutzEpisode: "The Labours of Hercules"
2014–2016 Outlander The Duke of Sandringham5 episodes in seasons 1 and 2
2014 Plebs VictorEpisode: "The Candidate"
2014 The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night Himself
2015 Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Guest in The End of The Show ShowSeason 12, episode 2
2016 Galavant Edwin the FortunetellerEpisode "World's Best Kiss"
2016 The Rebel Henry PalmerLead character
2016 The Life of Rock with Brian Pern Bennett St JohnSeries 3, episode 3
2017 Midsomer Murders Vernon De HarthogEpisode: "The Curse of the Ninth"
2018 Death in Paradise Larry SouthSeries 7, episode 3
2018 A Christmas Carol Narrator/ActorBBC4
2018 The Dead Room Aubrey JuddBBC4
2021 The Witcher Codringher
2021 Hawkeye TBADisney+


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