Gipps-Kent in 1979
|Born||Simon Trevor Kent
25 October 1958
London, England, UK
|Died||16 September 1987
London, England, UK
|Cause of death||Misadventure
|Resting place||Golders Green Crematorium
|Education||London Oratory School
Cardinal Manning Roman Catholic Boys School
|Occupation||Stage, film, television actor|
|Notable work||Lost Hearts
The Tomorrow People
The Devil's Crown
To Serve Them All My Days
|Height||5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)|
|Parent(s)||Peter Gipps Kent (deceased) and Sonia (née Aebersold) Kent|
Simon Gipps-Kent (born Simon Trevor Kent; 25 October 1958 – 16 September 1987) was a prolific 20th century English theatre and film actor in the 1970s-80s, noted for his teen portrayals of British royalty and nobility. He was born into a show business family in Kensington, London. His television debut was on the BBC in 1971 followed with a London West End theatre debut in 1972. A 16-year career in both venues continued until his death in 1987.
Early life and education
Simon Trevor Kent was born in London to Peter Gipps Kent, a variety artist, and Sonia (née Aebersold) Kent, a dancer. At age 12 he decided acting would be his career. As a youth he attended the Ladbroke Grove School in West London where he wrote, produced, directed and acted in his own play as a way of gaining recognition. Raised Catholic, he attended the London Oratory School in Brompton from September 1970 to June 1974, moving to Cardinal Manning Roman Catholic Boys School, also in London.
Simon Gipps-Kent, as he would later call himself, had early experience on the British stage that, according to his talent agency listings, included alternately playing one of the royal children (either Prince Bertie or Prince Alfie) in I and Albert at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1972-73 and as Max-Ernst Von Kellig in A Lesson in Blood and Roses at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973. He appeared in the production Fantastic Fairground at the Young Vic in 1974 and a Young Vic tour of Macbeth, playing Fleance, in Mexico and Spain in 1975. Gipps-Kent played "Emmanuel" to Herbert Lom's Napoleon Bonaparte in William Douglas-Home's Betzi at the Haymarket Theatre and road tour in 1975. In 1976-77 he appeared in Where the Rainbow Ends at the Gardner Theatre, Brighton.
Gipps-Kent, in a 1979 newspaper interview headlined Simon's Problem Is Time, expressed his desire to move on to adult roles, including more Shakespeare, but in spite of his accumulated credentials to date, had been denied those opportunities. Due to his "boyish good looks and modest figure", he found himself playing younger characters than his real age, mostly on British television, for the majority of his career. Gipps-Kent stood 5'5" (1.65 m).
Gipps-Kent later returned to West End theatre work in the 1981 run of Romulus Linney's Childe Byron at the Young Vic with David Essex as Lord Byron. For five months in 1983 he appeared in the London Shakespeare Group productions of Betrayal and Twelfth Night, which also played a short season at the Donmar Warehouse, touring extensively for the British Council in China, Japan, throughout the Far East, Middle East and Africa.
Television and films
Gipps-Kent's first television appearance was at age 13 in Philip Saville's 1971 O Fat White Woman for BBC's Play for Today, in a story by William Trevor of a teacher who takes pleasure in abusing his students. He returned to the strand in 1974 in After the Solo. He appeared as the bookworm orphan "Peter Beresford" in the 1972-73 BBC adaptation of Noel Streatfeild's 1970 children's book Thursday's Child. He headlined as the young orphan "Stephen" in the BBC television adaptation of M. R. James' Lost Hearts first broadcast on Christmas Day, 1973, as part of the A Ghost Story for Christmas series and now part of the British Film Institute collection.
In 1974 Gipps-Kent appeared in "The Doomsday Men" episodes of the children's science fiction television series The Tomorrow People and he played young Pip (to Michael York's adult Pip) in a made-for-TV retelling of the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations for the Bell System Family Theatre airing in the United States on 22 November 1974.
In 1975, in a film for the then Children's Film Foundation, he starred in The Firefighters as a "junior firefighter" accused of arson who must, with the aid of his younger brother and sister, prove his innocence and find the real arsonists before his court appearance. That production and the entire CFF archive are now curated by the British Film Institute. Also in 1975, he appeared in Edward the Seventh again portraying young Prince Edward ("Bertie"), this time for ITV. For a time he also played Kenton Archer in the BBC radio serial The Archers.
Gipps-Kent starred in A Traveller in Time (1978), a BBC series based on the children's book by Alison Uttley about the Babington Plot, and in "V for Victory", an episode of the TV series Enemy at the Door. Also in 1978, he was featured in episodes of The Devil's Crown as Arthur I, Duke of Brittany and played the part of "Willie" in Peter McDougall's supernatural drama Tarry-Dan Tarry-Dan Scarey Old Spooky Man, both for the BBC. Gipps-Kent had the uncredited speaking part of a posh party boy in Quadrophenia (1979), based loosely on the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who and appeared in the Doctor Who story "The Horns of Nimon".
Gipps-Kent headlined in two Southern Television serials based on books written by British children's authors; Midnight is a Place (1977), by Joan Aiken, and Noah's Castle (1980), by John Rowe Townsend. As "Chad Boyer", he reunited with Devil's Crown actor John Duttine in his BBC series To Serve Them All My Days (1980), based on the R. F. Delderfield novel. Gipps-Kent was "Rudkin the Messenger" in the never broadcast pilot episode for the Rowan Atkinson comedy series The Black Adder in 1982. That same year Gipps-Kent guest starred in a Season 4 episode of the popular British children's programme Metal Mickey. His final television appearance occurred 21 November 1983 on Eureka playing J.P. Knight in an episode with Sylvester McCoy.
Simon Gipps-Kent died in his flat on Cavendish Road in the London Borough of Brent on 16 September 1987. His funeral was 28 September at the Golders Green Crematorium. His body was cremated there and his ashes were later scattered on the Crocus Lawn, Plot 3H.
- The Firefighters (1975) - Bob
- Quadrophenia (1979) - Boy at Party (uncredited)
- Simon Trevor Gipps-Kent death certificate/Registered January 15, 1988.
- Simon-Gipps-Kent.info Simon Gipps-Kent Scrapbook, scanned documents; accessed
- Alistair D. McGown & Mark J. Docherty,The Hill and Beyond: Children's Television Drama - An Encyclopedia, British Film Institute, 2003, p. 97.
- Profile, RememberingBrandon.net; accessed 27 October 2015.
- Theatre Special Collections, University of Kent; accessed 27 October 2015.
- Theatre Door Doings, simongipps-kent.info; accessed 27 October 2015.
- "O Fat White Woman", British Film Institute; accessed 27 October 2015.
- Simon Gipps-Kent at the Internet Movie Database
- Great Expectations (1974), nytimes.com; accessed 30 October 2015.
- The Firefighters, bfi.org.uk; accessed 27 October 2015.
- Eureka | Radio Times, genome.ch.bbc.co.uk; accessed 30 October 2015.