Nicholas Clay

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Nicholas Clay
Born Nicholas Anthony Phillip Clay
(1946-09-18)18 September 1946
Streatham, London, England, UK
Died 25 May 2000(2000-05-25) (aged 53)
London, England, UK
Spouse(s) Lorna Heilbron (1980-2000)

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

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.[1]


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

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

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

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".

In 1983, Clay appeared as Stapleton in a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Two years later, in 1985, 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". He also appeared in the UK ITV series Gentlemen and Players in 1988-89.

In 1992, he appeared with Kim Thomson in the BBC TV series Virtual Murder, and played Lord Leo in the 1998 TV version of Merlin starring Sam Neill. 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.

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.[1]



  1. ^ a b "Nicholas Clay". The Guardian (Manchester: 30 May 2000. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 

External links[edit]