Tim Pigott-Smith

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Tim Pigott-Smith

Tim Pigott-Smith as King Charles III.png
Pigott-Smith portraying the eponymous character in King Charles III (2017)
Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith

(1946-05-13)13 May 1946
Died7 April 2017(2017-04-07) (aged 70)
Northampton, England
Resting place Highgate Cemetery, London, England
Alma mater Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Years active1971–2017
Pamela Miles
(m. 1972)
Awards BAFTA TV Award
Best Actor
1985 The Jewel in the Crown

Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, OBE (13 May 1946 – 7 April 2017) was an English film and television actor and author. He was best known for his leading role as Ronald Merrick in the television drama series The Jewel in the Crown , for which he won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1985. [1] Other noted TV roles included roles in The Chief , Midsomer Murders , The Vice , The Suspicions of Mr Whicher , King Charles III and two Doctor Who stories ( The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976)). Pigott-Smith appeared in many notable films, including Clash of the Titans (1981), Gangs of New York (2002), Johnny English (2003), Alexander (2004), V for Vendetta (2005), Quantum of Solace (2008), Red 2 (2013) and Jupiter Ascending (2015).


Early life

Pigott-Smith was born in Rugby, Warwickshire, the son of Margaret Muriel (née Goodman) and Harry Thomas Pigott-Smith, who was a journalist. [2] He was educated at Wyggeston Boys' School, Leicester, King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bristol University. He trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. [3]


Film and television

After a long career in smaller roles, Pigott-Smith's appearance as Arthur Llewellyn Davies in the BBC's mini-series The Lost Boys led to his gaining his big break with the leading role of Ronald Merrick in the 1984 television serial The Jewel in the Crown . [3] Other appearances include the title role in the crime drama series The Chief (1990–93), a recurring role in ITV drama The Vice as Ken Stott's nemesis Vickers, and Bloody Sunday . He appeared in two adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South ; in the 1975 version he played Frederick Hale, and in 2004 he played Frederick's father Richard. In 1995, he starred in a serial of the series Ghosts. [3]

Pigott-Smith appeared twice in Doctor Who : in the stories The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976).

Pigott-Smith was a regular narrator of documentary television series. [3] He narrated The Team: A Season with McLaren , a six-episode BBC series about the 1993 season with McLaren Racing. He also narrated the Battlefield series, which examines pivotal battles of the Second World War from an operations point of view. Later, he narrated a series on the British Royal Family, entitled Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work . The series followed Queen Elizabeth II for more than a year, including the 2007 state visit to the United States.

From 2011 to 2014, he portrayed Commissioner Mayne in the ITV drama series The Suspicions of Mr Whicher , written by Helen Edmundson. [4]

Pigott-Smith appeared in Lewis in 2015 as a taxidermist in the episode "One For Sorrow". He also appeared on the ITV series, Downton Abbey in the third series' (third season) fifth episode as obstetrician/gynaecologist Sir Philip Tapsell, who was present at the death of Lady Sybil Crawley Branson (Jessica Brown Findlay) from eclampsia after giving birth to her daughter. [3]

His film career included the 2004 film Alexander , The Four Feathers , Clash of the Titans , Gangs of New York , Johnny English , The Remains of the Day and V for Vendetta . He also appeared as Major General Robert Ford in director Paul Greengrass's Bloody Sunday (2002), and as the Foreign Secretary in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace (2008). In February 2010 Piggott-Smith played Alan Keen in the television film On Expenses . He also had a cameo appearance as Sniggs in the BBC production of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall in 2017. His final film role was that of Sir Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's Private Secretary, in Victoria & Abdul (2017). [5]

Stage and radio

Pigott-Smith worked in the theatre in Shakespearean and Greek roles, including Posthumus in John Barton's 1974 production of Cymbeline for the Royal Shakespeare Company. [3] In early stage roles he was credited as "Tim Smith".

In 2011 he took the title role in King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds. [6]

Contemporary works included Enron , playing Ken Lay, for the Chichester Festival Theatre, and then London, in 2009 and Tobias in A Delicate Balance at the Almeida Theatre, London in 2011. [7] [8] He returned to the Almeida in 2014 as a post-accession Charles, Prince of Wales in King Charles III , [9] for which he received a nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Actor, and his first Tony Award nomination for its production on Broadway in 2015. He also appeared as Charles in the 2017 film adaptation of the play. [3]

Pigott-Smith was also a radio actor, appearing in many productions on BBC Radio 4.[ citation needed ]

Grave of Tim Piggott-Smith in Highgate Cemetery (east side) Grave of Tim Piggott-Smith in Highgate Cemetery.jpg
Grave of Tim Piggott-Smith in Highgate Cemetery (east side)


During the making of The Jewel in the Crown, Pigott-Smith wrote a diary on his impressions of India. This was published together with an anthology of poetry and prose under the title Out of India. [10]

Pigott-Smith wrote two children's books in the series The Baker Street Mysteries, featuring the exploits of Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street IrregularsThe Dragon Tattoo (2008) and Shadow of Evil (2009). He played Holmes in a BBC Radio adaptation of The Valley of Fear .


Pigott-Smith died from a heart attack in Northampton on 7 April 2017, aged 70, where he had been preparing to appear in a touring production of Death of a Salesman that was set to begin three days later. [3] [11] His wife Pamela Miles was also originally scheduled to appear in the play but had withdrawn after breaking a bone and needing surgery. [12] He is buried on the east side of Highgate Cemetery. [13]

Filmography and more


1976 Aces High Major Stoppard Jack Gold
1977 Joseph Andrews Cornet Tony Richardson
1980 Sweet William Gerald Claude Whatham
Richard's Things Peter Anthony Harvey
1981 Clash of the Titans Thallo Desmond Davis
Escape to Victory Major Rose John Huston
1986A State of EmergencyFather Joe RyanRichard C. Bennett
1987The Race for the Double Helix

(aka Life Story)

Francis Crick Mick Jackson
1993 The Remains of the Day Thomas Benn James Ivory
2000 Innocents James Wisheart Peter Kosminsky
2002 Safe Conduct Fleming Bertrand Tavernier
Bloody Sunday Major General Robert Ford Paul Greengrass
The Four Feathers General Faversham Shekhar Kapur
Gangs of New York Calvinist Minister Martin Scorsese
2003 Johnny English Pegasus, Head of MI7 Peter Howitt
Eroica Count Dietrichstein Simon Cellan Jones
2004 Alexander Omen Reader Oliver Stone
2006 V for Vendetta Peter Creedy James McTeigue
L'Entente CordialeS.I. MastersonVincent De Brus
Flyboys Mr. Lowry Tony Bill
2008 Quantum of Solace Foreign Secretary Marc Forster
2010 Alice in Wonderland Lord Ascot Tim Burton
2011 My Piece of the Pie Mr. Brown Cédric Klapisch
2013 RED 2 Director Philips Dean Parisot
2015 Jupiter Ascending Malidictes The Wachowskis
2016 Whisky Galore! Woolsey Gillies MacKinnon
2017 6 Days William Whitelaw Toa Fraser Posthumous release
King Charles III Charles III Rupert Goold Posthumous release
Victoria & Abdul Sir Henry Ponsonby Stephen Frears Posthumous release
The Little Vampire 3D FrederickRichard Claus & Karsten KiilerichPosthumous release, Voice, (final film role)


1971 Doctor Who ( The Claws of Axos )Captain HarkerMichael FergusonParts 3 + 4
1976Doctor Who ( The Masque of Mandragora )MarcoRodney Bennett4 episodes
1979 Measure for Measure AngeloDesmond Davis BBC Shakespeare series
1979 Danger UXB Harry WinthropSimon Langton
1979 Henry IV Pt 1 Henry 'Hotspur' PercyDavid Giles BBC Shakespeare series
1980 'Tis Pity She's a Whore VasquesRoland JoffeBBC
1981 Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years Brendan BrackenFerdinand Fairfax8 episodes
1982 I Remember Nelson Capt. Thomas Hardy4 episodes
1984 The Jewel in the Crown Ronald MerrickMain Cast
1986 Dead Man's Folly Sir George Stubbs Clive Donner Television movie
1987 Life Story Francis CrickMick Jackson1988 BAFTA TV Award as the Best Single Drama
1990–93 The Chief (TV series) Chief Constable John StaffordFirst two series
1993 The Team - A Season With McLaren Narrator1 series 6 episodes
1994 Battlefield Narrator3 series
2003 The Day Britain Stopped NarratorDramatic pseudo-documentary television film
2004 North and South Richard HaleMain cast
2006 Agatha Christie's Poirot Dr. Lionel WoodwardSeries 10, Episode: Taken at the Flood
2007 HolbyBlue DCI Harry HutchinsonSeries 1
2008 Midsomer Murders Matt ParkesRenny RyeEpisode: "Days of Misrule"
2010 Foyle's War Brigadier Timothy WilsonStuart OrmeSeries 6, Episode 1: Foyle's War (series 6)
2011 The Hour Lord ElmsCoky Giedroyc, Jamie PayneSeries 1, Episode 1, 2, 6: The Hour (Series 1)
2012 Downton Abbey Sir Philip TapsellJeremy Webb
2011-14 The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Commissioner MayneScreenplay by Helen Edmundson
2013Wodehouse in Exile P.G. Wodehouse Tim FywellScreenplay by Nigel Williams
2013Silent Witness (S:16 Ep:1)Laura Mackie, Jessica Pope
2013Miranda (S:3 Ep:3)Valerie Jackford
2014 37 Days Herbert Henry Asquith Justin HardyTV 3-part miniseries
2015Inspector Lewis "One For Sorrow"Jasper HammondNicholas LaughlandParts 1 and 2

Audiobook narration

YearBook titleAuthorNotes
2000 Blue at the Mizzen Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Fortune of War Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 Desolation Island Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Far Side of the World Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 7 November
2000 The Ionian Mission Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Letter of Marque Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 4 July
2000 The Mauritius Command Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2001 The Nutmeg of Consolation Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 7 August
2000 The Reverse of the Medal Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Surgeon's Mate Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2001 The Thirteen Gun Salute Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 June
2001 The Truelove Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 9 October
2002 The Wine-Dark Sea Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 22 January
2000 Treason's Harbour Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 10 October
2000 Seven Years in Tibet Heinrich Harrer Release Date: 5 July
1995 (?) The Warlord Trilogy Bernard Cornwell
2000 Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage Alfred Lansing Release Date: 23 May

Awards and honours

Pigott-Smith won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in 1985, for his role in The Jewel in the Crown . [1] In 2014–15, he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for his lead role in the play King Charles III. [12] He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to drama. [14]

Awards and nominations

1985 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor The Jewel in the Crown Won
2002 Fantasporto Award Directors' Week Award for Best Actor Bloody Sunday Won
2018BAFTA TV AwardsBest Actor King Charles III Nominated

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  2. "Former Advertiser remembers award-winning Rugby actor best known for his police chief role". Rugby Advertiser. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
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  4. "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Season 3".
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  6. Cavendish, Dominic (29 September 2011). "King Lear, West Yorkshire Playhouse". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 31 October 2011.
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  9. Curtis, Nick (3 April 2014). "What would happen if Prince Charles was made king?". Evening Standard . Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  10. Oration for award of honorary D.Litt to Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, University Of Bristol 2008
  11. Paulson, Michael (8 April 2017). "Tim Pigott-Smith, Actor Who Put Prince Charles on the Throne, Dies at 70". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  12. 1 2 "Actor Tim Pigott-Smith dies aged 70". BBC News. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  13. "Who Else is Here?". Highgate Cemetery. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  14. "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N14.