Peter Blythe

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Peter Blythe (14 September 1934 – 27 June 2004) was an English character actor, probably best known as Samuel "Soapy Sam" Ballard in Rumpole of the Bailey.

Early life[edit]

Born in Yorkshire, Blythe studied drama on scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after serving in the Royal Air Force. He began his professional career as a repertory player with the Living Theatre Company, the Nottingham Playhouse and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He made his West End debut in 1965.

Selected theatre credits[edit]

Blythe was frequently associated with the director Peter Hall and the playwright Alan Ayckbourn.

Film and television[edit]

Blythe worked in films only rarely and usually in minor roles; his most substantial part was also in his last film appearance, The Luzhin Defence (2000). Other film credits include two films for Hammer Film Productions, A Challenge for Robin Hood (1967) and Frankenstein Created Woman (also 1967); his most successful film was Carrington (1995).

By contrast, Blythe appeared in several dozen television series, miniseries and films, most notably as Samuel Ballard, QC in Rumpole of the Bailey (1983–92). He guest-starred in episodes of The Avengers, UFO (episodes "Destruction" and "The Psychobombs"), Callan, Van der Valk, New Scotland Yard, Special Branch, Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Inspector Morse, Maigret, The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, Between the Lines, Pie in the Sky, Goodnight Sweetheart, Dalziel and Pascoe and Foyle's War (aired posthumously), among many others. His miniseries appearances included The Barchester Chronicles, After the War and The Alan Clark Diaries. He narrated the 1970 TV comedy special Cucumber Castle starring the Bee Gees.


One of Blythe's plays, Tom, Dick and Harry, was produced at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough in 1972 directed by Alan Ayckbourn. He also wrote two poetry chapbooks, Spring and The Light.

Personal life[edit]

Blythe lived for his last eight years with Harriet Walter; the couple were planning to marry at the time of his death. He had a daughter from an earlier marriage.

Peter Blythe died on 27 June 2004 aged 69, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer.


Year Title Role Notes
1961 The Day the Earth Caught Fire Copy Desk Uncredited
1966 Kaleidoscope Poker Player
1967 Frankenstein Created Woman Anton
1967 A Challenge for Robin Hood Roger de Courtenay
1969 Alfred the Great Eafa
1970 Jane Eyre Frederick Lynn
1977 The Three Hostages Arbuthnot
1985 A.D. Procuius 1 episode, Uncredited
1992 The Bridge Rev. Rount
1995 Carrington Phillip Morrell
1995 I.D. DAC Evans
2000 The Luzhin Defence Ilya

External links[edit]