Nicholas Clay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Nicholas Clay
Actor Nicholas Clay.jpg
as Sir Lancelot in Excalibur (1981)
BornNicholas Anthony Phillip Clay
(1946-09-18)18 September 1946
Streatham, London, England, UK
Died25 May 2000(2000-05-25) (aged 53)
London, England, UK
Resting placeSaint Peter's Churchyard, Sibton
Years active1961-2000
Spouse(s)Lorna Heilbron (1980-2000) (his death) (2 children)[1]

Nicholas Anthony Phillip Clay (18 September 1946 – 25 May 2000) was an English actor.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Streatham, London, to Bill and Rose Clay, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and began his acting career in the early 1970s with small parts in film and television.[4]


Clay appeared in several West End theatre productions.[5] He was cast in several of Laurence Olivier's Old Vic productions and during the 1970s came to be regarded as one of British theatre's most promising actors.[6] Among his successes was The Misanthrope, which led Clay to the United States, where he also played this role on Broadway in 1975.[4]

He appeared as Alan in the 1976 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, alongside Peter Firth.[7] In 1978 he played Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton in the drama series Will Shakespeare, about the life of Shakespeare.[4]

His early films included the cult thriller The Night Digger (1971) and The Darwin Adventure (1972) in which he portrayed the young Charles Darwin.[2] In 1981 he gave his most widely-seen screen performance, as Lancelot in the 1981 film Excalibur.[6] He also appeared in Just Jaeckin's film version of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), playing Mellors, and in Agatha Christie's Evil Under the Sun (1982), the latter reuniting him with Diana Rigg, his co-star in The Misanthrope.[4]

Clay continued working regularly on stage and appeared in a number of made-for-television films and miniseries. In 1984 he played Mike Preston in the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense episode "Child's Play".[8]

In 1983 Clay appeared as Stapleton in a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles.[9] Two years later he appeared in another Sherlock Holmes adaptation in the role of Doctor Percy Trevelyan in an episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes entitled "The Resident Patient".[10] He also appeared in the UK ITV series Gentlemen and Players in 1988-89.[11]

In 1992 he appeared with Kim Thomson in the BBC TV series Virtual Murder, and played Lord Leo in the 1998 TV miniseries Merlin starring Sam Neill.[12][13] His final screen appearance was in Roger Ashton-Griffiths' short film And Beyond.

In the last years of his life, Clay taught drama at the Actors' Centre and the Academy of Live and Performing Arts, and also worked in association with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, generally in the role of promoting the organisation, or providing advice to acting students.[4]

Personal life and death[edit]

Clay married actress Lorna Heilbron in 1980. He died of liver cancer in London on 25 May 2000. He was survived by his wife, his daughters, Ella (born 1983) and Madge (born 1986), and his mother, Rose.[4]



Year Title Role Notes References
1963 The Damned Richard
1971 The Night Digger aka The Road Builder Billy Jarvis
1972 The Darwin Adventure Charles Darwin
1977 Terror of Frankenstein Henry Clerval
1979 Zulu Dawn Lt. Raw
1981 Excalibur Lancelot
1981 Lady Chatterley's Lover Oliver Mellors
1981 Lovespell Tristan
1982 Evil Under the Sun Patrick Redfern
1987 Sleeping Beauty The Prince
1987 Lionheart Charles De Montfort


Year Title Role Notes References
1978 Will Shakespeare Earl of Southampton Television miniseries
1981 The Search for Alexander the Great Alexander the Great TV miniseries
1983 The Hound of the Baskervilles Jack Stapleton TV movie
1984 The Last Days of Pompeii Glaucus TV miniseries
1985 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Percy Trevelyan Episode: "The Resident Patient"
1987 Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story Prince Alexis Mdivani TV movie
1988 Gentlemen and Players Mike Savage
1991 Zorro Viscount Armand de Jussac 2 episodes
1992 Virtual Murder Dr. John Cornelius
1995 Shine on Harvey Moon Squadron Leader Cunningham 4 episodes
1997 The Odyssey Menelaus TV miniseries
The New Adventures of Robin Hood Sheriff of Nottingham 2 episodes
1998 Merlin Lord Leo TV miniseries
1999 Psychos Dr. Angus Harvey 6 episodes


  1. ^ "Nicholas Clay". 30 May 2000 – via The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b "Nicholas Clay".
  3. ^ McFarlane, Brian (16 May 2016). "The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition". Oxford University Press – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Nicholas Clay". The Guardian. Manchester: 30 May 2000. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
  5. ^ "Nicholas Clay - Theatricalia".
  6. ^ a b "Nicholas Clay; British Actor Played Lancelot in 'Excalibur' Film". 23 June 2000 – via LA Times.
  7. ^ "The Picture of Dorian Gray (1976)".
  8. ^ "Child's Play (1986)".
  9. ^ "The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983) - Douglas Hickox - Cast and Crew - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  10. ^ "The Resident Patient (1985)".
  11. ^ "Gentlemen and Players".
  12. ^ "Virtual Murder [TV Series] (1992) - Philip Draycott, Peter Rose - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  13. ^ "Merlin (1998)".

External links[edit]