|Born||Timothy Lancaster West
20 October 1934
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Education||The John Lyon School
Bristol Grammar School
Regent Street Polytechnic
|Spouse(s)||Prunella Scales CBE (1963–present; two sons)
Jacqueline Boyer (1956–1961; divorced; one daughter)
Early life and education
West was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, the son of Olive (née Carleton-Crowe) and actor Lockwood West. He was educated at the John Lyon School, a boys' independent school in Harrow on the Hill in London, at Bristol Grammar School in Bristol, where he was a classmate of Julian Glover and at Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster).
West played repertory seasons in Newquay, Hull, Northampton, Worthing and Salisbury before making his London debut at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1959 in the farce Caught Napping. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for three seasons: the 1962 Arts Theatre Experimental season (Nil Carborundum and Afore Night Come), the 1964 'Dirty Plays' season (Victor, the premiere production of Marat/Sade and the revival of Afore Night Come) and the 1965 season at Stratford and later at the Aldwych Theatre appearing in The Comedy of Errors, Timon of Athens, The Jew of Malta, Love's Labour's Lost and Peter Hall's production of The Government Inspector, in a company which included Paul Scofield, Eric Porter, Janet Suzman, Paul Rogers, Ian Richardson, Glenda Jackson and Peter McEnery.
Timothy West has played Macbeth twice, Uncle Vanya twice, Solness in The Master Builder twice and King Lear three times: in 1971 (aged 36) for Prospect Theatre Company at the Edinburgh Festival and on a worldwide tour; in 1991 in Dublin for Second Age and in 2003 for English Touring Theatre, on tour in the UK and at the Old Vic.
Having spent years as a familiar face who never quite became a household name, West's big break came with the major television series, Edward the Seventh (1975), in which he played the title role from the age of twenty-three until the King's death; his real-life sons, Samuel and Joseph, played the sons of King Edward VII as children. Other screen roles have included Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), The Day of the Jackal (1973), The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Masada (1981), Cry Freedom (1987) and Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999). In Richard Eyre's Iris (2001) he plays Maurice and his son Samuel West plays Maurice as a young man.
In lighter vein, West starred as patriarch Bradley Hardacre in Granada TV's satirical Northern super-soap Brass over three seasons (1982–1990). West appeared in the series Miss Marple in 1985 (in A Pocket Full of Rye as the notorious Rex Fortescue), and made a memorable appearance as Professor Furie in A Very Peculiar Practice in 1986.
In 1997, he played Gloucester in the BBC television production of King Lear, with Ian Holm as Lear. From 2001 to 2003, he played the grumpy and frequently volatile Andrew in the BBC drama series Bedtime, with Sheila Hancock playing his long-suffering wife, Alice. At Christmas 2007, he joined the cast of sitcom Not Going Out as Geoffrey Adams, the father of two central characters. He reprised this role in two episodes of series two; Geoffrey Whitehead played the role in later seasons. In 2011, he appeared alongside John Simm and Jim Broadbent in BBC series Exile, written by BAFTA-winning Danny Brocklehurst.
West also presented eight episodes of the Central TV series about canals and narrowboating, Water World.
He was Artistic Director of the Forum Theatre, Billingham in 1973, where he directed We Bombed in New Haven by Joseph Heller, The Oz Obscenity Trial by David Livingstone and The National Health by Peter Nichols. He was co-artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre from 1980–81, where he directed Trelawny of the 'Wells' and The Merchant of Venice. He was Director-in-Residence at the University of Western Australia in 1982.
In 2004, he toured Australia with the Carl Rosa Opera Company as Director of the production of H.M.S. Pinafore, also singing the role of Sir Joseph Porter. He was replaced in the singing role by Dennis Olsen for the Perth and Brisbane performances.
The Guardian crossword setter Biggles (actually a collective of four established setters) referred to West's 50th wedding anniversary in their prize crossword puzzle (number 26,089) on 26 October 2013.
West and Scales are both prominent supporters of the Labour Party. They are also patrons of the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham, and of Conway Hall Sunday Concerts programme, the longest running series of chamber music concerts in Europe. West is an Ambassador of SOS Children's Villages, an international orphan charity providing homes and mothers for orphaned and abandoned children. He currently supports the charity's annual World Orphan Week campaign which takes place each February.
Timothy West is patron of the National Piers Society, a charity dedicated to preserving and promoting seaside piers. He and Prunella Scales are patrons of Avon Navigation Trust, the charity that runs the River Avon from Stratford-upon-Avon to Tewkesbury. They both support ANT by attending the Stratford River Festival every year. . West also supports Cancer Research UK.
Timothy West is president of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and President of the Society for Theatre Research.
In 1984, he was appointed CBE for his services to drama.
- The Handyman by Ronald Harwood, as Romka, Dir Joe Harmston, UK tour, 2012
- Uncle Vanya, as Sererbryakov, Dir Jeremy Herrin, Chichester Festival Theatre, 2012
- The Winslow Boy, as Arthur Winslow, Dir Stephen Unwin, Rose Theatre, Kingston and UK tour, 2009
- Romany Wood, as Narrator, Theatre Severn, Shropshire, 2009
- The Lover/The Collection, Dir Jamie Lloyd, Comedy Theatre, London, 2008
- Opening of St Pancras International, as William Henry Barlow, Tuesday 6 November 2007
- Coriolanus as Menenius, Dir Gregory Doran, RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle, Spain and USA, 2007
- A Number by Caryl Churchill as Salter, with Samuel West as B1/B2/Michael Black, Dir Jonathan Munby, Crucible Theatre Studio, 2006. Revived in 2010 at the Chocolate Factory and 2011 at the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town.
- The Old Country by Alan Bennett, Dir Stephen Unwin, Trafalgar Studios, 2006
- King Lear, as Lear, Dir Stephen Unwin, UK tour with English Touring Theatre, 2002
- The Master Builder, as Solness, Dir Stephen Unwin, UK tour, 1999
- King Lear, as Gloucester, Dir Richard Eyre, Greece, Turkey and the National Theatre, 1997
- Henry IV Part One and Part Two, as Falstaff, with Samuel West as Hal, Dir Stephen Unwin, UK tour and the Old Vic Theatre, 1996
- Twelve Angry Men, Dir Harold Pinter, Bristol Old Vic and Comedy Theatre, 1996
- Macbeth, as Macbeth, Dir Helena Kaut-Howson, Theatr Clwyd, 1994
- Death of a Salesman, as Willy Loman, Dir Janet Suzman, Theatr Clwyd, 1993
- King Lear as Lear, Dir Alan Stanford, Tivoli Theatre, Dublin, 1992
- Long Day's Journey into Night, with Prunella Scales, Dir Howard Davies, Bristol Old Vic, UK Tour and the National Theatre, 1991
- Uncle Vanya, as Vanya, Dir Paul Unwin, Bristol Old Vic, 1990
- The Master Builder, as Solness, Dir Paul Unwin, Bristol Old Vic, 1989
- When We Are Married, with Prunella Scales, Dir Ronald Eyre, Whitehall Theatre, 1985
- Masterclass by David Pownall, as Stalin, Dir Justin Greene, Leicester Haymarket and the Old Vic Theatre, 1984
- Uncle Vanya, as Vanya, Dir Prunella Scales, Playhouse, Perth, Western Australia, 1982
- The Merchant of Venice as Shylock, International tour in association with the British Council and at the Old Vic Theatre, 1980
- Beecham, by Caryl Brahms and Ned Sherrin, as Thomas Beecham, Apollo Theatre, London, 1980
- The Homecoming, as Max, Garrick Theatre, Dir Kevin Billington, 1978.
- Hamlet, as Claudius, with Derek Jacobi as Hamlet, Dir Toby Robertson, Edinburgh Festival, International tour and the Old Vic Theatre, 1977
- Othello, as Iago, Dir Richard Eyre, Nottingham Playhouse, 1976
- Hedda Gabler, as Judge Brack, Dir Trevor Nunn, with Glenda Jackson, RSC, international tour and Aldwych Theatre, 1975
- Macbeth, as Macbeth, Gardner Centre, Brighton, Dir John David, 1974
- King Lear as Lear, Prospect Theatre Company, Dir Toby Robertson, Edinburgh Festival and UK tour, 1971. The production visited Australia in 1972
- Exiles, Dir Harold Pinter. Mermaid Theatre, 1970
- Richard II and Edward II, as Bolingbroke and Young Mortimer, with Ian McKellen as the kings, Prospect Theatre Company, Edinburgh Festival, International tour and Piccadilly Theatre, Dir Richard Cottrell/Toby Robertson, 1969
- The Tempest, as Prospero, Prospect Productions, Dir Toby Robertson, 1966
- "Madam", said Dr Johnson, Prospect Productions, Dir Toby Robertson, 1966
- Marat/Sade, RSC, Dir Peter Brook, 1964
- Afore Night Come, RSC, Arts Theatre, 1962. Revived at the Aldwych Theatre, 1964
- Gentle Jack, Theatre Royal, Brighton and the Queen's Theatre, London, 1963
- Caught Napping, Piccadilly Theatre, 1959
- Inside No. 9 (2014), as Andrew in episode 1, "Sardines"
- EastEnders (2014–15), as Stan Carter
- Last Tango in Halifax (2013), as Ted
- Coronation Street (2013), as Eric Babbage
- Titanic (2012), as Lord Pirrie
- Exile (2011), as Don Metzler
- Terry Pratchett's Going Postal (2010), as Mustrum Ridcully
- Not Going Out (series 2 and 3, 2007–2009), as Geoffrey
- Bleak House (2005), as Sir Leicester Dedlock
- Martin Luther (PBS Empires series), (2002), as Martin Luther
- Bedtime (three series: 2001–2003), as Andrew Oldfield
- Water World (eight series for Central TV: 2000–2008). Dedicated to 'the people who live and work on the canals of the Midlands' (presenter).
- Goodnight Sweetheart (1998), as MI5 agent MacDuff
- King Lear (1998), as Gloucester
- Framed (1992), as DCI Jimmy McKinnes
- Shakespeare: The Animated Tales: The Tempest (1992), as Prospero (voice)
- The Tragedy of Flight 103 (1990), as Colonel Wood
- Beecham (1990), as Thomas Beecham. Adapted from the play about the conductor; see above.
- Blore, M.P. (1989), as Derek Blore. A TV drama loosely based on the Profumo Affair.
- Campion: Police at the Funeral (1989), as Uncle William Faraday
- The Contractor by David Storey (1988), as Frank Ewbank
- What the Butler Saw (1987), as Dr Rance
- When We Are Married (1987), as Councillor Albert Parker
- The Good Doctor Bodkin Adams (1986), as Bodkin Adams. A TV drama based on the 1957 trial of the doctor.
- A Very Peculiar Practice (1986), as Professor Furie
- The Monocled Mutineer (1986), as Brigadier General Thompson
- Miss Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye (1985), as Rex Fortescue
- The Last Bastion (1984), as Winston Churchill
- Brass (three series: 1983, 1984 and 1990), as Bradley Hardacre
- Masada (1981) as Emperor Vespasian
- Churchill and the Generals (1979) as Winston Churchill
- Henry VIII (1979) as Cardinal Wolsey. Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare.
- Crime and Punishment (1979), as Porfiry
- Tales of the Unexpected: Royal Jelly (1979)
- Hard Times (1977), as Josiah Bounderby
- Edward the Seventh (1975), as King Edward VII
- Horatio Bottomley (1972), as Bottomley
- Big Breadwinner Hog (1969), as Lennox, dir Mike Newell/Michael Apted.
- Persuasion (1960), as Charles Hayter
- Endgame (2009), as P.W. Botha
- Beyond Borders (2003)
- Villa des Roses (2002)
- Iris (2001)
- The Fourth Angel (2001)
- 102 Dalmatians (2000)
- The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)
- Ever After (1998)
- Cry Freedom (1987)
- Rough Cut (1980)
- Agatha (1979)
- The Thirty Nine Steps (1978)
- Joseph Andrews (1977)
- The Devil's Advocate (1977)
- Hedda (1975)
- Soft Beds, Hard Battles (1974)
- Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973), as Karl Gebhardt
- The Day of the Jackal (1973)
- Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)
- The Looking Glass War (1969)
- Twisted Nerve (1968) as superintendent Dakin
- Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore, as Gordon Shappey, BBC Radio 4, 2011
- Seasons by Gareth Parker, as Harold. Independent drama by the Wireless Theatre Company, 2010
- The Man on the Heath: Johnson and Boswell Investigate by David Noakes, as Doctor Johnson, Saturday Play on BBC Radio 4, 2005
- Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore, as Narrator, 2004
- Rumpole of the Bailey, as Rumpole, in sixteen 45-minute plays, 2003–2012. In this series his wife in real life played his fictional wife.
- Hecuba by Euripides, as Polymestor, 2001
- Groupie by Arnold Wesker, 2001
- Dorothy, a Manager's Wife by Peter Tinniswood, 2000
- Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, as Willy Loman, 1993
- The Gibson by Bruce Bedford, 1992
- The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett, Classic Serial on BBC Radio 4, 1992
- Crisp and Even Brightly by Alick Rowe, as 'Generally well-intentioned King Wenceslas', Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1987
- I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves, as Claudius, produced by Glyn Dearman, 1985
- With a Whimper to the Graveby Wally K. Daly, as 642, 1984
- Actors, or Playing for Real by Lope de Vega, as Emperor Diocletian, BBC Radio 3, 1983
- Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde, Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1982
- Operation Lightning Pegasus by Alick Rowe, as Agammemnon, Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1981
- Sherlock Holmes v. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman, as Doctor Watson, dramatised and directed by Glyn Dearman, Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1981
- The Monument by David Cregan, as Dr. James Short, BBC Radio 3, 1978
- Where Are They Now? by Tom Stoppard, as an Old Boy, 1971
- If You're Glad, I'll be Frank by Tom Stoppard, as Frank, 1966
- Macbeth, as the Porter, BBC Third Programme, 1966. Repeated on BBC Radio 4 in 1967 and BBC 7 in 2007
Timothy West has read many unabridged audiobooks, including the complete Barchester Chronicles and the complete Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope, and seven of George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books. He has received four AudioFile Earphones Awards for his narration.
- I'm Here I Think, Where Are You? Letters from a Touring Actor, 1994, ISBN 978-1-85459-222-4.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play (autobiography), 2001, ISBN 978-1-85459-619-2.
- So You Want To Be an Actor (with Prunella Scales), 2005, ISBN 978-1-85459-879-0.
- "Timothy West Biography (1934–)". Filmreference.com. 20 October 1934. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 14
- Who's Who in the Theatre, 16th edition (1977), ISBN 978-0-273-00163-8.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 27
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 88
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 140
- Brown, David (12 December 2013). "EastEnders: Timothy West and Annette Badland to join as Danny Dyer's screen family expands". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 131
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 194
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 72
- LAMDA Biography
- AudioFile reader page