Geoffrey Palmer (actor)
Palmer performing at A Breath of Fresh Air, June 2008
4 June 1927 |
|Years active||1958 – present|
(m. 1963 - present)
|Children||Charles Palmer, Harriet|
Geoffrey Dyson Palmer, OBE (born 4 June 1927) is an English actor, known for his roles in British television sitcoms playing Jimmy Anderson in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Ben Parkinson in Butterflies and Lionel Hardcastle in As Time Goes By.
After being demobilised from the Royal Marines, Palmer drifted into theatre, joining a local amateur dramatics society because of a girlfriend. He became an assistant stage manager at the Q Theatre, by Kew Bridge, then the Grand Theatre in Croydon. He spent several years touring with a repertory company, and was an actor in theatre, coming to television and public prominence later in his career. Early television appearances included a variety of roles in Granada Television's The Army Game, two episodes of The Baron (1966) and as a property agent in Cathy Come Home (1966).
Getting a major break in John Osborne's West of Suez at the Royal Court with Ralph Richardson, he then acted in major productions at the Royal Court and for the National Theatre Company and was directed by Laurence Olivier in J. B. Priestley's Eden End. Palmer found the play so boring, however, that it put him off a stage career for good. Many of his television parts were as a stuffy, middle class buffoon, with a stiff upper lip, and he is known for deadpan drollery. Two sitcom roles brought him major attention in the 1970s: the hapless brother-in-law of Reggie Perrin in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976-79), and the phlegmatic Ben Parkinson in Carla Lane's Butterflies (1978-83). He has continued to appear in productions written by Perrin creator David Nobbs, the latest being the radio comedy The Maltby Collection.
He starred opposite Judi Dench for over a decade in the BBC situation comedy As Time Goes By (1992-2005). During this time he also appeared with Dench in other productions, including the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, in which he portrayed Admiral Roebuck, and Mrs. Brown, playing Sir Henry Ponsonby to Dench's Queen Victoria.
His distinctive voice has given him a career in advertising and television voiceovers such as the Audi commercials in which he popularised the phrase "Vorsprung durch Technik", and as the narrator for the BBC series Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Holidays. He narrated the audiobook version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, released in 2005 as a podcast by Penguin Books. He narrates Little England. He regularly voices books for the blind.
In December 2007, Palmer appeared in the role of the Captain in "Voyage of the Damned", the Christmas special episode of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who  (having previously appeared as different characters in the Third Doctor serials Doctor Who and the Silurians and The Mutants).
In 2011 he played the reactionary father-in-law of the eponymous clergyman of Rev. in its Christmas episode.
Palmer was born in London, England, the son of Norah Gwendolen (née Robins) and Frederick Charles Palmer, who was a chartered surveyor. He attended Highgate School, London. In 1963 he married Sally Green in Wilmslow. The couple have a daughter Harriet and a son, Charles, who is married to actress Claire Skinner.
Palmer lives between Great Missenden and Wendover, at Lee Common in Buckinghamshire, England. In 2011 he publicly opposed proposals for the High Speed 2 rail network which would run within 300 yards (274 m) of his home.
Awards and recognition
- At Home With The Snails (2001–2002)
- Les Miserables as Inspector Javert (2002)
- High Table, Lower Orders (2005–2006)
- The Maltby Collection (2007–2009)
- A Murder of Quality (2009)
- North by Northamptonshire (2011-2012)
- The Army Game (1958–1960)
- The Avengers:
- The Saint:
- "The Rough Diamonds" (1963)
- Gideon's Way (TV Series)
- "The Alibi Men" (1965)
- The Baron:
- "Masquerade" (1966)
- "The Killing" (1966)
- The Wednesday Play:
- Cathy Come Home (1966)
- Doctor Who:
- Colditz (1972)
- The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976–1979)
- Butterflies (1978–83)
- The Professionals (1978) as Sinclair in "Where The Jungle Ends"
- Fawlty Towers:
- "The Kipper and the Corpse" (1979)
- The Goodies (1980)
- Whoops Apocalypse (1982)
- Death of an Expert Witness (1983)
- The Professionals (1983) as Avery in "The Ojuka Situation"
- Fairly Secret Army (1984)
- Executive Stress (1986 first series only)
- Hot Metal (1986)
- Season's Greetings (1986)
- Christabel (1988)
- Blackadder Goes Forth:
- Inspector Morse:
- "The Infernal Serpent" (1990)
- Bergerac (1990) as Nigel Carter
- "Roots of Evil"
- As Time Goes By (1992–2005)
- The Legacy of Reginald Perrin (1996)
- The Savages (2001)
- The 1940s House (narrator) (2001)
- Absolute Power (2003)
- Grumpy Old Men (2003–2004, 2006)
- He Knew He Was Right (2004)
- Grumpy Old Holidays (2006)
- Ashes to Ashes:
- The Long Walk to Finchley (2008); as John Crowder
- Agatha Christie's Poirot:
- "The Clocks" (2009)
- "Christmas Special" Series 2, episode 7 (2011)
- Henry IV, Part II (2012); as Lord Chief Justice
- A Prize of Arms (1962)
- Ring of Spies (1964)
- O Lucky Man! (1973), as Examination doctor / Basil Keyes
- The Honorary Consul (1983)
- A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)
- Clockwise (1986)
- A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
- Hawks (1988)
- The Madness of King George (1994)
- Mrs. Brown (1997)
- Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
- Anna and the King (1999)
- Peter Pan (2003)
- The Pink Panther 2 (2009)
Recordings (spoken word)
- "Priestley Values" by Robert Gore-Langton, The Spectator, 11 June 2011, p.4
- "Kylie Boards Titanic!". BBC. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007.
- "Geoffrey Palmer Biography (1927-)". filmreference.com. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- Andrew Levy (2007-09-05). "Bride is the SIXTH in her family to wear 100-year-old wedding dress | Mail Online". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- Loose Women, 12 December 2011
- Jason Groves (2012-01-11). "HS2: Tory shires furious as high-speed rail link gets go-ahead | Mail Online". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
- The London Gazette, 31 December 2004, Supplement No.1, p.12
- Geoffrey Palmer at the Internet Movie Database
- Selected performances in Theatre Archive University of Bristol