Paul Bentley

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

Paul Bentley
Paul Richard Bentley

(1942-07-25) 25 July 1942 (age 79)
Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
OccupationActor and writer
Years active1967–present
Annie Healey
(m. 1979)

Paul Richard Bentley (born 25 July 1942) is a British stage, film and television actor, perhaps best known for playing the High Septon in the television series Game of Thrones. He is also a writer.

Early life[edit]

Bentley was born in Sheffield and brought up in Surrey. He attended Wimbledon College, a Jesuit grammar school, and Kingston Polytechnic. He then attended Birmingham University, achieving a BA in English literature and an MA in Drama and Theatre Arts.[1] His M.A. dissertation, on the stage history of Wagner's Parsifal, involved a research visit to the Wagner Festival Theatre at Bayreuth, Germany.


After university Bentley moved to Munich, hoping to become an opera director. He began acting in English programmes on the Bavarian radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk. He also appeared in the film The Last Escape, in which he played a British spy in Bavaria in World War Two.[2]

He returned to England in 1970 and continued acting, mainly in repertory theatre, at venues including the Byre Theatre at St. Andrews, the Leicester Haymarket Theatre, the Duke's Playhouse at Lancaster, and the Newcastle Playhouse.

In 1973 Bentley wrote the book and lyrics for Shylock, a musical version of The Merchant of Venice, performed at the 1974 Edinburgh Festival. He played the title role; the composer and director was Roger Haines.[3] Shylock won a Scotsman Fringe First Award.[4] In 1977 an updated version called Fire Angel,[5] set in a 20th century New York City Mafia nightclub, appeared at Her Majesty's Theatre, London.[6] Bentley was the alternate leading man, his first West End part. A revised version of the original Shylock was produced at the Leicester Haymarket Studio Theatre in 1981[7] and at the Manchester Library Theatre in 1982.[8] Bentley again played the title role and Haines directed both productions.

Bentley's second West End show was in Tommy Steele's Singin' In The Rain at the London Palladium.[9] In 1985 he went to Dublin to play Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore, which transferred to the Old Vic in 1986[10] and for which Bentley was nominated for an Olivier Award for the Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actor in a Musical.[11] This success led to four back-to-back West End shows lasting five years: Lend Me A Tenor, Follies, Cats and Aspects of Love. Next came an off-West-End Assassins followed by a national tour of Aspects of Love,[12] then Phantom of the Opera in Manchester[13] and back to London for Company, Kiss Me Kate and Dame Edna – the Spectacle.[14] Bentley has other radio, television and film credits but most of his work has been in theatre.

In 1994 Bentley was asked by the Danish composer Poul Ruders to write the libretto for his opera The Handmaid's Tale based on Margaret Atwood's novel,[15] which won a Cannes Classical Award and Reumert Prize.[16][17] In A Handmaid's Diary, Bentley tells the story of the opera from the first phone call to the first night (directed by Phyllida Lloyd).[18] Ruders' and Bentley's second opera was Kafka's Trial.[19][20] Librettos for three other composers followed: Ana Sokolovic's The Midnight Court,[21] Dominique Le Gendre's Bird of Night[22] and James Rolfe's Inês.[23]

Bentley has also written a novel, The Man Who Came After Hyacinth Bobo, about the Fourth Crusade and the Siege of Constantinople, published in Greek[24] and English,[25] plus occasional newspaper and magazine articles. Bentley's latest works include Inquisition, a play about the famous Jesuit scientist Teilhard de Chardin, and a radio play in which Jane Austen meets Lord Byron.

Personal life[edit]

Paul Bentley married Annie Healey in 1979. They met at the Byre Theatre, St. Andrews, where Annie was an assistant stage manager. They have two daughters, Emma and Rebecca, who both work in the theatre. Bentley's sister, the novelist Ursula Bentley, died in 2004.[26]

Bentley took part in Mastermind on BBC TV (15 March 1992) where his specialist subject was The Life and Works of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.[27] He lost in this first round with a score of 29.

He is a member of the Wagner Society and the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies. He was the Founder Chairman of the British Association for Modern Mosaic from 1999 to 2005[28] and remains a member. He is the editor of the website Mosaic Matters,[29] a website about mosaics, and he also edits the British Teilhard Network.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Production Result
1986 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical H.M.S. Pinafore Nominated

Stage and screen credits[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1983–84 Singin' In the Rain Steve the Film Director London Palladium, London
1985–86 H.M.S. Pinafore Captain Corcoran The Old Vic, London

Gaiety Theatre, Dublin


1986–87 Lend Me A Tenor Tito Morelli (Il Stupendo) Globe Theatre, London
1987 Follies Roscoe Shaftesbury Theatre, London
1987–89 Cats Bustopher Jones & Gus New London Theatre, London
1989–92 Aspects of Love Marcel Prince of Wales Theatre, London
1992 Assassins Proprietor Donmar Warehouse Theatre, London
1996 Company Larry Donmar Warehouse Theatre, London

Albery Theatre, London

1997 Kiss Me Kate Gremio Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London
1997 A Midsummer Night's Dream Egeus Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London
1998 Edna – The Spectacle Various roles Theatre Royal Haymarket, London
1999 Persuasion Sir Walter and Admiral Croft Northcott Theater, Exeter

Theatre Royal, Windsor

2001 Over The Moon Richard The Old Vic, London
2002 Iolanthe Lord Chancellor Savoy Theatre, London
2002 Follies Roscoe Royal Festival Hall, London
2004 We Happy Few Various roles Gielgud Theatre, London
2006–08 Mary Poppins Admiral Boom and the Bank chairman Prince Edward Theatre, London
2008 Gigi Lawyer Dufresne Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London
2011 Bridget Jones' Diary Mr. Darcy's Father Working title workshop
2014 Aladdin The Emperor Central Theatre, Chatham
2015 The Sleeping Beauty King Clarence Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage
2016 Oliver Mr. Brownlow Grange Park Opera, Northington


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Absolute Power Sandy "Rigor" Morters BBC – Country Life
2004 The Courtroom Inspector Jackson Channel 4 – Season 1 Fists of Fury
2006 ChuckleVision Mayor of Slapsbergen BBC – Season 18 Oompah Oompah
2011 Doctor Who Professor Candy BBC – Series 6 Let's Kill Hitler
2011 Doctors Mr. Gold BBC – Episode 145 The Jug
2013–2015 Game of Thrones High Septon HBO & Sky – Seasons 3, 4 and 5
2021 The Nevers Judge HBO & Sky - Season 1


Year Title Role Notes
1970 The Last Escape Jarvis United Artists
2001 Jack Brown and the Curse of the Crown Rupert the Butler Hot Gold Ltd
2011 The Iron Lady Douglas Hurd Pathé Films


Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Threepenny Opera Macheath BBC Radio 3
1990 Friday Night Is Music Night Various roles BBC Radio 2
2009 The Good Companions Morton Mitcham BBC Radio 3

Recordings as singer[edit]

Year Title Composed & Written By Role Record Company
1987 Follies Sondheim & Goldman Roscoe First Night Records
1989 Aspects of Love Lloyd Webber & Black & Hart Marcel Polydor
1997 Passion Sondheim & Lapine Colonel Ricci First Night Records

Recordings as librettist[edit]

Year Title Composer Record Company
2000 The Handmaid's Tale Poul Ruders dacapo
2006 Kafka's Trial Poul Ruders dacapo

Operas as librettist[edit]

  • The Handmaid’s Tale – composer Poul Ruders, director Anne Bogart – Boston Lyric Opera, Boston, 2019
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – composer Poul Ruders, director Linda Thompson – Gertrude Opera, Yarra Valley Opera Festival, Melbourne, 2018
  • Ines – composer James Rolfe, director Jennifer Tarver – Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, Enwave Theatre, Toronto, 2009
  • Bird of Night – composer Dominique Le Gendre, director Irina Brown – Royal Opera Covent Garden, Linbury Studio, London, 2006
  • The Midnight Court – composer Ana Sokolovic, director Michael Cavanagh – Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto 2005; Royal Opera Covent Garden, Linbury Studio, London, 2006
  • Kafka's Trial – composer Poul Ruders, director Francisco Negrin – Opera House, Copenhagen, 2005
  • The Handmaid's Tale – composer Poul Ruders, director Eric Simonson – Minnesota Opera, Minneapolis, 2003
  • The Handmaid's Tale – composer Poul Ruders, director Phyllida Lloyd – Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen, 2000; English National Opera, London, 2003; Canadian Opera Company, Toronto, 2004


  • A playwright's quest for a missing Pierre Teilhard de Chardin file, The Christian Century, 10 July 2018
  • The Sixth Proposition, The Tablet, 2 June 2018
  • Teilhard de Chardin, Original Sin, and The Six Propositions, with David Grumett, Zygon, 16 April 2018
  • The Mosaicing of Westminster Cathedral, in New Light on Old Glass, British Museum 2013
  • The Man Who Came After Hyacinth Bobo, Fourth Crusade novel, Amazon 2011
  • Ines, libretto based on the Inês de Castro legend, 2009
  • Bird of Night, libretto set in Trinidad, 2006
  • Thrills not theology, article on The Da Vinci Code for the Daily Telegraph, 6 May 2006
  • Kafka the comedian, article for the Daily Telegraph, 28 February 2005
  • The Midnight Court, libretto based on the poem by Brian Merriman, 2005
  • What Islam took from Byzantium, article for the Catholic Herald, 14 May 2004
  • A Handmaid's Diary, how The Handmaid's Tale became an opera, Wilhelm Hansen 2004
  • Ο άνθρωπος που διαδέχθηκε τον Υάκινθο Βωβό, Fourth Crusade novel, Enalios 2004
  • Lost for Words, article on Berlioz and Wagner, Opera Now, Jan/Feb 2003
  • The Handmaid's Tale vocal score, Wilhelm Hansen 2002
  • Time to cover a ton of bricks, article for the Daily Telegraph, 24 July 1999


  1. ^ "Archive Interview • PAUL BENTLEY • Follies • 2002". Rogues & Vagabonds. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  2. ^ Grauman, Walter (6 May 1970), The Last Escape, retrieved 19 October 2016
  3. ^ "Scottish Theatre Archive – Event Details". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Digital Edition". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  5. ^ Fire Angel
  6. ^ "Fire Angel · British Universities Film & Video Council". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Joan Bakewell rpts on the background to"Shylock",a musical... Stock Footage Video | Getty Images". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Shylock (1982): Library Theatre, Manchester | BBA Shakespeare". University of Warwick. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Credits for Singin' in the Rain (Original London Production, 1983) | Ovrtur". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  10. ^ 1986 Musicals
  11. ^ "Olivier Winners 1986". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  12. ^ "London 1993–1994". Really Useful Group. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  13. ^ "The Phantom of the Opera (1st UK Tour, 1993) | Ovrtur". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Archive for Edna: The Spectacle at Theatre Royal Haymarket, London. 1998. [ONE PERSON SHOW]". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Classical Net Review – Ruders – The Handmaid's Tale". Classical Net. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  16. ^ "News – Poul Ruders receives Cannes Classical Award – Music Sales Classical". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Reumert-Prisen | Gyldendal – Den Store Danske". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Paul Bentley: A Handmaid's Diary". Musicroom. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Ruders, Poul – Kafka's Trial (Da Capo Audio CD)". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Classical Net Review – Ruders -Kafka's Trial". Classical Net. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  21. ^ "Review – The Midnight Court – Queen of Puddings, Toronto – Christopher Hoile". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Royal Opera House – Collections Online – Bird of Night". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Queen of Puddings Music Theatre – James Rolfe and Paul Bentley's Inês – Classical FM 96.3". Classical FM 96.3. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  24. ^ ".:BiblioNet : Ο άνθρωπος που διαδέχθηκε τον Υάκινθο Βωβό / Bentley, Paul". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  25. ^ Bentley, Paul (25 August 2014). The Man Who Came After Hyacinth Bobo: a Fourth Crusade novel. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781500952242.
  26. ^ Donnelly, Frances (26 April 2004). "Ursula Bentley". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  27. ^ "Magnus MAGNUSSON pres prog from church in Chatham's historic... Stock Footage Video | Getty Images". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Mosaic Art NOW: What's It Going to Take to Advance Contemporary Mosaic?". Mosaic Art NOW. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  29. ^ "Mosaic Matters- the online magazine for all things mosaic". Retrieved 19 October 2016.

External links[edit]

  • Paul Bentley at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  • Rogues and Vagabonds interview 2002
  • Daily Telegraph interview 2003