Michael Williams (actor)

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Michael Williams

Michael Leonard Williams

9 July 1935 (1935-07-09)
Liverpool, England
Died11 January 2001(2001-01-11) (aged 65)
London, England
Years active1961–1999
(m. 1971)
ChildrenFinty Williams

Michael Leonard Williams KSG (9 July 1935 – 11 January 2001) was a British actor who portrayed both classical and comedy roles. He was the husband of actress Dame Judi Dench.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Liverpool, Lancashire,[1] he attended St Edward's College and RADA while working as an insurance assessor before going into the theatre.

His first film appearance was in 1962, and he subsequently appeared frequently on television (notably in Elizabeth R), and in British films such as Educating Rita (1983) and (along with Dench) Henry V (1989). In the latter, in perhaps an irresistible casting decision, he played his namesake, the Shakespearean character named Michael Williams. In 1967, he appeared in Benefit of the Doubt, Peter Whitehead's documentary on Peter Brook's anti-Vietnam War play US, along with Brook and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His many radio roles included crime reporter George Cragge in In the Red and its sequels, and Dr. Watson in the complete run of Sherlock Holmes adaptations for BBC radio.

Williams provided voices for the Woodland Animations BBC Television series Charlie Chalk, created by Ivor Wood.

Personal life[edit]

Williams married Judi Dench on 5 February 1971, the same year that they co-starred in a stage production of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. They had one daughter, Tara Cressida Williams (b. 1972), known as Finty Williams, who is also an actress.[2] Williams was also godfather to the actor Rory Kinnear.[3]

Williams chaired the British Catholic Stage Guild for a number of years before he was incapacitated by illness.

He was the President of the Roman Catholic Actors' Guild.[4]

Williams was a supporter of the project to build the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, USA. A plaque commemorating Williams' contributions hangs in the completed playhouse.

Michael Williams' grave

Shortly before his death from lung cancer at the age of 65, Williams was appointed a Knight of St Gregory (KSG) by Pope John Paul II for his contribution to Catholic life in Britain. The honour was officially bestowed upon him at home on 10 January 2001. He died the next day,[5] and was buried in the churchyard of St Leonard's, the Anglican parish church of Charlecote, Warwickshire.


Year Title Role Notes
1962 The Trial of Joan of Arc Englishman Uncredited
1967 Marat/Sade Herald
1968 Tell Me Lies Guest Documentary
1969 Tintin and the Temple of the Sun Tintin Voice, Uncredited
1972 Eagle in a Cage Barry O'Meara
1974 Dead Cert Sandy Mason
1982 Enigma Hirsch, Limmer's Assistant
1983 Educating Rita Brian
1989 Henry V Michael Williams
1999 Tea with Mussolini British Consul


Year Title Role Notes
1962 Z-Cars Norbert Nuttall 1 episode
1970 A Family at War Eddie Chappell 1 episode
1971 Elizabeth R François, Duke of Anjou and Alençon 1 episode
1975 The Hanged Man Alan Crowe 8 episodes
1979 My Son, My Son William Essex 8 episodes
1980 Love in a Cold Climate Davey Warbeck 8 episodes
1981–1984 A Fine Romance Mike Selway 26 episodes
1988 Double First Norman 'N.V.' Standish 7 episodes
1993–1994 Conjugal Rites Barry Masefield 13 episodes
1993-1995 September Song Billy Balsam 20 episodes
1996 Kavanagh QC DCI Knowland 1 episode
1997 A Dance to the Music of Time Ted Jeavons 2 episodes
1999 The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns Father Daley 2 episodes, (final appearance)


Year Title Role
1973 The War Between Men and Women reader
1989–1998 Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson
1995–1996 Change at Oglethorpe Rocket
1995–1999 The George Cragge series George Cragge
1997 Mansfield Park Sir Thomas Bertram
1998–1999 Old Dog and Partridge Jack
1999–2000 Bristow Bristow


Principal stage appearances; mostly with the Royal Shakespeare Company:[6]

Also appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Theatre-Go-Round Festival, Round House Theatre, London, 1970.[7]


  1. ^ Prior to 1 April 1974, Liverpool was in Lancashire; Merseyside did yet not exist
  2. ^ "My grandson was a big surprise". 22 August 1997. Archived from the original on 26 January 2015 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  3. ^ "Rory Kinnear: Good show, sweet prince". standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  4. ^ "Michael Williams: End of the fine romance". BBC. 16 January 2001. Retrieved 13 September 2010. A devout Catholic, Michael Williams was a former President of the Roman Catholic Actors' Guild.
  5. ^ "Actor Michael Williams dies". BBC News. 15 January 2001. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  6. ^ "The Stage in British Newspaper Archive" – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ "Michael Williams Biography (1935-)". www.filmreference.com.

External links[edit]