Arthur Nigel Davenport
23 May 1928
|Died||25 October 2013 (aged 85)|
(m. 1951; div. 1960)
(m. 1972; div. 1981)
|Children||3, including Jack Davenport|
Arthur Nigel Davenport (23 May 1928 – 25 October 2013) was a British stage, television and film actor, best known as the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Birkenhead in the Academy Award-winning films A Man for All Seasons and Chariots of Fire, respectively.
Early life and education
Davenport was born in Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire, to Katherine Lucy (née Meiklejohn) and Arthur Henry Davenport. His father was a bursar at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He grew up in an academic family and was educated at St Peter's School, Seaford, Cheltenham College and Trinity College, Oxford. Originally he chose to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics but switched to English on the advice of one of his tutors.
Davenport first appeared on stage at the Savoy Theatre and then with the Shakespeare Memorial Company, before joining the English Stage Company, one of its earliest members, at the Royal Court Theatre in 1956. He began appearing in British film and television productions in supporting roles, including a walk-on in Tony Richardson's film, Look Back in Anger (1959). Subsequent roles included a theatre manager opposite Laurence Olivier in the film version of The Entertainer and a policeman in Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (both 1960).
In the 1962 last episode of the first season of the TV series The Saint, titled "The Charitable Countess", with Roger Moore as Simon Templar and Patricia Donahue as Countess Rovagna, Davenport played a supporting role as the Countess's confidant, Aldo Petri.
He made an impression as Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in A Man for All Seasons (1966), co-starred with Michael Caine in the war movie Play Dirty, and had a major role as Lord Bothwell in Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1972, he appeared as George Adamson, opposite Susan Hampshire in Living Free, the sequel to Born Free.
During the production of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Davenport read the lines of HAL 9000 off-camera during the computer's dialogues with actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. However, Kubrick thought that Davenport's English accent was too distracting, and after a few weeks he dismissed him, so Canadian actor Douglas Rain was ultimately chosen for the role. Davenport took the leading role in the off-beat Phase IV (1974), which failed to find an audience. In 1979 he portrayed King George III in Prince Regent.
Davenport was married twice, first to Helena Margaret White whom he met while he was studying at Oxford University. They married in 1951 and had a daughter, Laura and a son, Hugo. His second wife was actress Maria Aitken with whom he had a second son, Jack, also an actor, best known for appearing in Pirates of the Caribbean. According to Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Jack was cast as the James Norrington character, partly because of Nigel's involvement in A High Wind in Jamaica.
|1959||Look Back in Anger||1st Commercial Traveller|||
|1960||Peeping Tom||Det. Sgt. Miller|||
|The Entertainer||Theatre Manager|||
|1962||Mix Me a Person||Juke's Stepfather|
|1963||Ladies Who Do||Mr Strang|
|Bitter Harvest||Police Inspector|
|1964||The Third Secret||Lew Harding|
|1965||A High Wind in Jamaica||Mr Thornton|||
|Sands of the Kalahari||Sturdevan|
|1966||A Man for All Seasons||Duke of Norfolk|||
|1968||Play Dirty||Captain Cyril Leech|||
|2001: A Space Odyssey||HAL (replaced)|
|1969||The Virgin Soldiers||Sergeant Driscoll|||
|1970||No Blade of Grass||John Custance|
|The Mind of Mr. Soames||Dr Maitland|
|1971||Mary, Queen of Scots||Lord Bothwell|||
|The Last Valley||Gruber|
|1972||Living Free||George Adamson|||
|1973||Bram Stoker's Dracula||Van Helsing|||
|The Picture of Dorian Gray||Sir Harry Wotton|||
|1974||Phase IV||Dr Ernest D. Hubbs|
|1975||The Regent's Wife|
|1976||Death of a Snowman||Lt. Ben Deel|
|1977||The Island of Dr. Moreau||Montgomery|
|Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers||Sgt. Driscoll|||
|1979||The London Connection / The Omega Connection||Arthur Minton|
|1979||Zulu Dawn||Colonel Hamilton-Brown|||
|1980||Cry of the Innocent||Gray Harrison Hunt|
|1981||Chariots of Fire||Lord Birkenhead|||
|1984||A Christmas Carol||Silas Scrooge|
|Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes||Major Jack Downing|||
|Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy||Lord Ismay|
|1988||Without a Clue||Lord Smithwick|
|1997||The Opium War|||
|1957-1958||The Adventures of Robin Hood||St Peter Marston, Claude the Seneschal, Barty and others||7 episodes|||
|1963||The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre||Dino Stefano||1 episode|
|1966-68||The Avengers||Lord Barnes / Robertson|||
|1969||The Name of the Game||David Windom||1 episode|
|1972||The Edwardians||Sir Arthur Conan Doyle||1 episode|
|1974||South Riding||Robert Carne||11 episodes|||
|1975||Oil Strike North||Jim Fraser||13 episodes|||
|1979||Prince Regent||King George III||8 episodes, TV mini-series|||
|1981||Masada||Sen. Mucianus||Part 1|
|A Midsummer Night's Dream||Theseus|
|1982||Bird of Prey||Charles Bridgnorth|||
|1982-83||Don't Rock The Boat||Jack Hoxton||12 episodes, TV mini-series|||
|1985-1990||Howards' Way||Sir Edward Frere||29 episodes|||
|1991||Trainer||James Brant||13 episodes|||
|1993||Keeping Up Appearances ("The Commodore")||The Commodore||1 episode|||
|1994||Woof!||Mr. Wellesby||1 episode|||
|1996||The Treasure Seekers||Lord Blackstock|||
|2000||David Copperfield||Dan Peggotty||TV movie|||
|Midsomer Murders||William Smithers||1 episode|||
|Longitude||Sir Charles Pelham||TV Movie|
- Coveney, Michael (29 October 2013). "Nigel Davenport obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- "Cambridge-born actor Nigel Davenport, star of Chariots of Fire and Howards' Way, dies aged 85". www.cambridge-news.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- Profile of Nigel Davenport at FilmReference.com
- Anthony Hayward "Obituary: Nigel Davenport, character actor sought by directors in all mediums for nearly half a century", The Independent, 30 October 2013
- Obituary: Nigel Davenport, telegraph.co.uk, 29 October 2013
- "Howard's Way and Chariots of Fire actor Nigel Davenport dies age 85". express.co.uk. Express. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- Dowd, Vincent (30 November 2014). "2001: A Space Odyssey revisited". BBC News. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
- "Nigel Davenport". Bigredbook.info. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
- "Actor Nigel Davenport dies at 85". BBC News. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "Zulu Dawn". radiotimes.com. Radio Times. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "In pictures: Nigel Davenport". BBC News. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
- "Goodbye Mrs. Chips".