David Ryall

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David Ryall
Born David Ryall
(1935-01-05) 5 January 1935 (age 79)
England, UK
Years active 1969–present

David Ryall (born 5 January 1935) is an English character actor, who has appeared on British television since the 1970s. He has had leading roles in Lytton's Diary and Goodnight Sweetheart, as well as memorable roles in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective and Andrew Davies's adaptation of To Play the King and The Final Cut, the final two parts in the House of Cards trilogy.


He received a scholarship to RADA in 1962, during which time he won the Caryl Brahams Award for a Musical. On leaving RADA, he went into repertory work in Salisbury, Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham (including King Lear and The Master Builder) and then into Laurence Olivier's company with the National Theatre at the Old Vic from 1965–73. During this time he was involved with many new and influential plays, including Tom Stoppard's Jumpers and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Royal Hunt of the Sun and Tyger.

Other, particularly notable, work at the National Theatre includes Guys and Dolls, The Beggar's Opera, Coriolanus and Animal Farm (for which he won the Clarence Derwent Award in 1985), The School for Wives, Wild Oats, Democracy and The UN Inspector. In 1983 he worked on 'A Matter of the Officers' and Jean Seberg with Julian Barry who, despite Ryall missing the press night of the latter due to misjudging a step from a lift onto the stage and breaking his ankle during a blackout, remains a lifelong friend. In 1984 Ryall performed a one man show of stories and poems by Edward Bond at the NT, entitled A Leap in the Light.

Ryall portrayed discredited scientist Frank Skuse in the March 1990 docudrama Who Bombed Birmingham?[1]

In 1994 he played Feste in Sir Peter Hall's production of Twelfth Night – a performance which was praised highly by Sir Alec Guinness in his autobiography. In 1996–97, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he played God in The Mysteries, and Polonius in Hamlet, for which he was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award during its tour of the United States.

He worked with Sir Peter Hall again in the 1999 production of Lenny in the West End, and after that in the 2000 epic Tantalus, in Colorado and the UK. Ryall continues to be a regular face in the theatre, with more recent appearances including in Patrick Marber's Don Juan in Soho at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007.

His television and film career has been equally expansive, and includes The Knowledge, The Singing Detective, Shelley, Inspector Morse, State of Play, The Elephant Man, Empire of the Sun, Truly, Madly, Deeply and Two Men Went to War. He appeared as Max, an antique collector, in episode 4 of BBC drama Bonekickers.

In 2005, Ryall played the role of Winston Churchill, in the French television drama Le Grand Charles, based on the life of Charles de Gaulle.

Ryall has appeared in the BBC One sitcom Outnumbered from 2007 to 2011, in which he played Frank (known as "Granddad"), a character who suffers from dementia.[2] The character appeared in series 1 and 2. Ryall reprised his role as Granddad in the Christmas specials in 2009 and 2011.

in 2010, Ryall also appeared as Elphias Doge in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.[2]

In 2012, it was confirmed Ryall would appear in the second series of Sky 1's supermarket-based comedy show, Trollied. In 2013 Ryall appeared briefly as an old soldier in the BBC Drama "Our Girl" which starred Lacey Turner. He is currently appearing in the BBC Drama The Village, as 'Old Bert', Britain's oldest man, in which he recounts his long life through a series of flashbacks.

Personal life[edit]

Ryall has one son and two daughters: Jonathan Ryall (born 1966), who was the manager of the Australian band Glide; Imogen Ryall (born 1967), who is a singer and works consistently with the pianist Rod Hart; and Charlie Ryall (born 1986), who is also an actor.



  1. ^ ITN Source
  2. ^ a b Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 306. ISBN 1-84854-195-3. 

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