Paul Eddington

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Paul Eddington
Paul Eddington 2.jpg
Born (1927-06-18)18 June 1927
St John's Wood, London, England
Died 4 November 1995(1995-11-04) (aged 68)
Southwark, London, England
Cause of death Skin Cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1940s - 1995
Religion Quaker
Spouse(s) Patricia Scott
(m. 1952 - 1995, his death)
Children 4

Paul Eddington, CBE (18 June 1927 – 4 November 1995) was an English actor known for his appearances in the popular television sitcoms The Good Life and Yes Minister.

Early life[edit]

Eddington was born in St John's Wood in London to Albert Clark Eddington and Frances Mary (née Roberts).[1] A Quaker, he attended Sibford School, Sibford Ferris, Oxfordshire.


Having registered as a conscientious objector, he began his acting career with Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) during the Second World War.[2] Eddington worked for a repertory theatre company in Sheffield, and made his first TV appearance in 1956 as a regular cast member of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Initially he played minor characters, but in the fourth season during 1959–60 he played Will Scarlet. He also had roles in episodes of The Avengers (1963), The Prisoner (1967) and the final episode of The Champions (1969). He also had a supporting role in Hammer Films' The Devil Rides Out (1968) and appeared as a "straight man" (substituting for regular stooge Henry McGee) in a 1976 episode of The Benny Hill Show.

Rise to fame[edit]

Although he was an actor all his life, Eddington was in his late forties before he became a household name thanks to The Good Life (known as Good Neighbors in the US), first screened by the BBC in 1975.[2] It tells the story of a suburban couple who decide to give up work and become self-sufficient in their suburban backyard. Eddington was cast as neighbour Jerry Leadbetter, with Penelope Keith as his wife, Margo. Originally intended as bit parts, the Leadbetters quickly became essential foils for the two "stars".

Eddington's fame grew further when he played the title role of Jim Hacker in the comedy series Yes Minister (first screened in 1980) and Yes, Prime Minister (1986–88) – said to have been former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's favourite TV programme. He was shortlisted for the BAFTA award for Best Light Entertainment Performance four times for the series, though he lost out to his co-star Nigel Hawthorne on each occasion.

Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as mycosis fungoides when he was 28, Eddington had for decades kept his condition private until 1994, when he responded publicly to press speculation about his darkening skin and hair loss.[3] His last roles included Richard Cuthbertson in the TV dramatisation of The Camomile Lawn (1992), the voice of Badger in The Adventures of Mole and Justice Shallow in Henry IV (1995), a BBC adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2.[4] He was reunited with his Good Life co-star Richard Briers in a run of the play Home in 1994.[3]

During 1987, Eddington appeared as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore in Australia.[5]

Awards and honours[edit]

Eddington was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours, 1987.[2][6]

Final years and death[edit]

Eddington's autobiography, So Far, So Good, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1995. On 30 October 1995, five days before his death, Eddington made an appearance on the television series Face to Face, discussing his life, career and battle with lymphoma with Jeremy Isaacs.[7] On that show, Eddington said, "A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me."

Paul Eddington died of skin cancer in Southwark, London, on 4 November 1995.[8] He was survived by his wife, Patricia Scott and their three sons and daughter.[9] BBC One aired a half-hour tribute to him on 15 July 2001, called Paul Eddington: A Life Well Lived.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Birth registered (as "Paul Clark Eddington") in Paddington Registration District in the third quarter of 1927. Eddington gave his place of birth as St John's Wood in a Desert Island Discs interview with Roy Plomley in August 1981.
  2. ^ a b c Benedick, Adam (7 November 1995). "OBITUARY: Paul Eddington". The Independent. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Mackinnon, Ian (1 June 1994). "Actor reveals he has rare skin cancer: 'Yes Minister' star refuses to let illness remove him from centre-stage". The Independent. 
  4. ^ Brooke, Michael. "Henry IV (1995)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Pinafore
  6. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 31st December 1986, p. 8, accessed on 9 December 2013 Archived October 6, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Face to Face with Jeremy Isaacs, shows an excerpt.
  8. ^ "Tributes flow for Paul Eddington, 'a brave man and a fine actor'". The Independent. 7 November 1995. Retrieved 2014-07-22. 
  9. ^ Who's Who 2009

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]