Tim Pigott-Smith

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Tim Pigott-Smith
Born Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith
(1946-05-13)13 May 1946
Rugby, Warwickshire, England
Died 7 April 2017(2017-04-07) (aged 70)
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1971–2017
Spouse(s) Pamela Miles (m. 1972; his death 2017)
Awards Fantasporto
Best Actor
2002 Bloody Sunday

Timothy Peter "Tim" Pigott-Smith OBE (13 May 1946 – 7 April 2017)[1] was an English film and television actor and author. He was best known for his leading role as Ronald Merrick in the television drama series The Jewel in the Crown, for which he won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1985.[2]

Early life[edit]

Pigott-Smith was born in Rugby, Warwickshire, the son of Margaret Muriel (née Goodman) and Harry Thomas Pigott-Smith, who was a journalist.[3] He was educated at Wyggeston Boys' School, Leicester, King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bristol University. He trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Acting career[edit]

Film and television[edit]

After a long career in smaller roles, Pigott-Smith gained his big break with the leading role of Ronald Merrick in the 1984 television serial The Jewel in the Crown. Other appearances include the title role in the crime drama series The Chief (1990–1993), a recurring role in ITV drama The Vice as Ken Stott's nemesis, Vickers, and Bloody Sunday. He appeared in two adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South; in the 1975 version he played Frederick Hale and in 2004 he played Frederick's father Richard.

He appeared twice in Doctor Who: in the stories The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976).

He was a regular narrator of documentary television series. He narrated the Battlefield series, which examines pivotal battles of the Second World War from an operations point of view. Later, he narrated a series on the British Royal Family, entitled Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work. The series followed Queen Elizabeth II for more than a year, including the 2007 state visit to the United States.

He appeared in Lewis in 2015 as a taxidermist in the episode "One For Sorrow". He also appeared on the ITV series, Downton Abbey in the third series' (third season) fifth episode as OB/GYN Sir Philip Tapsell, who was present at the death of Lady Sybil Crawley Branson (Jessica Brown Findlay) from Eclampsia after giving birth to her daughter.

His film career included the 2004 film Alexander, The Four Feathers, Clash of the Titans, Gangs of New York, Johnny English, The Remains of the Day and V for Vendetta. He also made an appearance in the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace. In February 2010 Piggott-Smith played Alan Keen in the television film On Expenses. He also had a cameo appearance as Sniggs in the BBC production of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall in 2017.

Stage and radio[edit]

Pigott-Smith worked in the theatre in Shakespearean and Greek roles; for instance, he played Posthumus in John Barton's 1974 production of Cymbeline for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In early stage roles he is credited as "Tim Smith".

In 2011 he took the title role in King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.[4]

Contemporary works included Enron, playing Ken Lay, for the Chichester Festival Theatre, and then London, in 2009 and Tobias in A Delicate Balance at the Almeida Theatre, London in 2011.[5][6] He returned to the Almeida in 2014 as a post-accession Charles, Prince of Wales in King Charles III,[7] for which he received a nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Actor, and his first Tony Award nomination for its production on Broadway in 2015.

He was also a radio actor, appearing in many productions on BBC Radio 4.


During the making of The Jewel in the Crown, Pigott-Smith wrote a diary on his impressions of India. This was published together with an anthology of poetry and prose under the title Out of India.[8]

He wrote two children's books in the series The Baker Street Mysteries, featuring the exploits of Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street IrregularsThe Dragon Tattoo (2008) and Shadow of Evil (2009). He played Holmes in a BBC Radio adaptation of The Valley of Fear.


Pigott-Smith won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in 1985, for his role in The Jewel in the Crown.[2] In 2014-15, he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for his lead role in the play King Charles III.[9] He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to drama.[10]


Pigott-Smith died suddenly on 7 April 2017, aged 70. He had been scheduled to appear in a touring production of Death of a Salesman, with opening night in Northampton only three days later.[1] His wife Pamela Miles was also to appear in the play but she had withdrawn after breaking a bone and needing surgery.[9]



  1. ^ a b Paulson, Michael (8 April 2017). "Tim Pigott-Smith, Actor Who Put Prince Charles on the Throne, Dies at 70". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "1985 Television Actor BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 8 April 2017. 
  3. ^ "Tim Pigott-Smith Biography (1946-)". www.filmreference.com. Retrieved 8 April 2017. 
  4. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (29 September 2011). "King Lear, West Yorkshire Playhouse". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Sell, Michael (23 July 2009). "Reviews: Enron". The Stage. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Dowell, Ben (13 May 2011). "Reviews:A Delicate Balance". The Stage. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  7. ^ Curtis, Nick (2014-04-03). "What would happen if Prince Charles was made king?". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  8. ^ Oration for award of honorary D.Litt to Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, University Of Bristol 2008
  9. ^ a b "Actor Tim Pigott-Smith dies aged 70". BBC News. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2017. 
  10. ^ "(Supplement) no. 61803". The London Gazette. 31 December 2016. p. N14. 

External links[edit]