Michael Jayston

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Michael Jayston
Born Michael James
(1935-10-29) 29 October 1935 (age 79)
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Lynn Farleigh (1965–70)

Heather Sneddon (1970–77) (divorced)
Ann Smithson (1979–present)

Michael Jayston (born Michael James on 29 October 1935) is an English actor.

Early life[edit]

He attended the Becket Grammar School in West Bridgford, then worked briefly as a trainee accountant at the offices of the National Coal Board before obtaining a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to train as an actor. He made his professional debut, aged 27, in a production of The Amorous Prawn, going on to work on the stage at the Salisbury Repertory, Bristol Old Vic and with the Royal Shakespeare Company.


He enjoyed success as a classical stage actor, then played roles on British television. Shakespearean roles on TV include Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968), Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice (1973) and Edmund in King Lear (1975). An early recurring television role was as civil servant Dowling in the final series of boardroom drama The Power Game in 1969.

In 1970 he played Henry Ireton in Cromwell. In 1971, he starred as Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in the film Nicholas and Alexandra, then in 1973 took the lead role of Mr Rochester in a BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre opposite Sorcha Cusack. He appeared as Gratiano opposite Laurence Olivier as Shylock in the National Theatre's film The Merchant of Venice (1974). He made two appearances in the anthology series Thriller in 1974 and in 1975 played Quiller, a spy who never used a gun, in the British TV series of the same name. He appeared as Dornford Yates' gentleman hero Jonathan Mansel in the 1977 BBC adaptation of She Fell Among Thieves. In 1979 he played Peter Guillam opposite Alec Guinness in the serial Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

In 1986 Jayston played the role of the Valeyard in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. In the serial The Ultimate Foe, the Valeyard is revealed to be a manifestation of the Doctor's dark side. He later reprised the part of the Valeyard in He Jests at Scars... and Trial of the Valeyard, audio plays in the Big Finish Productions' Doctor Who Unbound and main range series.

Jayston played Neville Badger in the 1989 television adaptation of David Nobbs's comedy of manners A Bit of a Do. He portrayed James Bond in a radio adaptation of You Only Live Twice in 1990. In 1991 he appeared as Colonel Mustard in the television series Cluedo and a year later made a guest appearance in the Press Gang episode "UnXpected". Other TV appearances include in EastEnders, Coronation Street, Only Fools and Horses, The Darling Buds of May, Tales of the Unexpected, The Bill and the character of Donald De Souza in Emmerdale. He also was on Holby City and Tracy Beaker Returns as Mr Spooner, who was the old man was the owner of the mobility scooter that Liam O'Donovan stole. In 2013 he participated in episode 97 of Midsomer Murders.

Voiceover artist[edit]

For several years in the 1970s and '80s, Jayston's voice was heard in the TV commercial for the aspirin product Anadin. The script (beginning with the words "Tense, nervous headache...?") became so well known that comedians worked it into sketches and routines. He could also be heard on the top of the hour jingles for Capital Radio, Southern Sound and Isle of Wight Radio.

He has also narrated many audio books, including works by P.D. James and John le Carré. He provided the voices for the Wind in the Willows Story Teller group of tapes from 1983 to 1985.

Since 2001 Jayston has been the male station voice on BBC Essex. He also provided a "voice" for "Finisterre" (2002), an album and film by the British group Saint Etienne, and in 2004 he narrated a radio version of Geoffrey Household's thriller Rogue Male for digital radio station BBC Radio 7.

In the last 2 years, he has read a new abridged recording of Geoffrey Household's sequel Rogue Justice, (also on BBC Radio 7) and in 2010 he also lent his voice to a series of vocal interludes on an album celebrating the Giro d'Italia, released in May by British cycling clothing company Rapha.

Jayston was President of the Brighton Little Theatre as of 2010.


Personal life[edit]

Jayston's first wife was actress Lynn Farleigh whom he married in 1965. He married Heather Sneddon in 1970, then Elizabeth Smithson in 1979.

He has played competitive cricket for Rottingdean (Sussex), opening the bowling as a leg spinner.

External links[edit]