Michael Jayston

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Michael Jayston
Born Michael James
(1935-10-29) 29 October 1935 (age 82)
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Lynn Farleigh (m. 1965–70)
Heather Sneddon (m. 1970–77) (divorced)
Ann Smithson (m. 1979)

Michael James (born 29 October 1935), known professionally as Michael Jayston, is an English actor.



Jayston played Shakespearean roles on TV including 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 1972, he played Sir Henry Royce alongside Robert Powell in the episode "Mr. Rolls and Mr. Royce" of the BBC drama series The Edwardians; the following year he took the role of Mr Rochester in a BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre, opposite Sorcha Cusack.

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 series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

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 has also appeared in Foyle's War, Holby City and Tracy Beaker Returns.

Doctor Who[edit]

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..., Trial of the Valeyard, and The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure, audio plays released by Big Finish Productions.


In 1970, he played Henry Ireton in Cromwell. The following year he starred as Tsar Nicholas II of Russia in the film Nicholas and Alexandra.

He appeared as Gratiano opposite Laurence Olivier as Shylock in the National Theatre's film The Merchant of Venice (1974).


Jayston has recorded most of John le Carré's novels in audiobook format, providing a link with his role as Peter Guillam in the 1979 TV series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He was also the storyteller in the BBC radio serials Rogue Male and Rogue Justice, both written by Geoffrey Household.

As an official United Kingdom Record Store Day 2017 release, a collaborative double vinyl album between the underground artist Ruben Vine and Jayston, including a 28-page comic, was released. Jayston featured as the narrator on the story-based album entitled 'The Life & Times of an Imaginary Rock Star'', the alternative rock album was described by one reviewer as a punk opera.


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