Timothy West

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Timothy West

Timothy West in 2010.JPG
West at the Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames, 15 February 2010
Timothy Lancaster West

(1934-10-20) 20 October 1934 (age 88)
EducationThe John Lyon School
Bristol Grammar School
Alma materRegent Street Polytechnic
Occupation(s)Actor and presenter
Years active1956–present
Jacqueline Boyer
(m. 1956; div. 1961)

(m. 1963)
Children3, including Samuel
Parent(s)Lockwood West
Olive Carleton-Crowe

Timothy Lancaster West,[1] CBE (born 20 October 1934) is an English actor and presenter. He has appeared frequently on both stage and television, including stints in both Coronation Street (as Eric Babbage) and EastEnders (as Stan Carter), and also in Not Going Out, as the original Geoffrey Adams. He is married to the actress Prunella Scales; since 2014 they have been seen travelling together on British and overseas canals in the Channel 4 series Great Canal Journeys.

Early life and education[edit]

West was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, the only son of Olive (née Carleton-Crowe) and actor Lockwood West (1905–1989).[1] He was educated at the John Lyon School, Harrow on the Hill, at Bristol Grammar School,[2] where he was a classmate of Julian Glover, and at Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster).[3]


West worked as an office furniture salesman and as a recording technician, before becoming an assistant stage manager at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1956.[4]


West played repertory seasons in Newquay, Hull, Northampton, Worthing and Salisbury before making his London debut at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1959 in the farce Caught Napping. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for three seasons: the 1962 Arts Theatre Experimental season (Nil Carborundum and Afore Night Come), the 1964 'Dirty Plays' season (Victor, the premiere production of Marat/Sade and the revival of Afore Night Come) and the 1965 season at Stratford and later at the Aldwych Theatre appearing in The Comedy of Errors, Timon of Athens, The Jew of Malta, Love's Labour's Lost and Peter Hall's production of The Government Inspector, in a company which included Paul Scofield, Eric Porter, Janet Suzman, Paul Rogers, Ian Richardson, Glenda Jackson and Peter McEnery.[5]

West has played Macbeth twice, Uncle Vanya twice, Solness in The Master Builder twice and King Lear four times: in 1971 (aged 36) for Prospect Theatre Company at the Edinburgh Festival; on a worldwide tour in 1991 in Dublin for Second Age; in 2003 for English Touring Theatre, on tour in the UK and at the Old Vic; and in 2016 at the Bristol Old Vic.


Having spent years as a familiar face who never quite became a household name, West's big break came with the major television series, Edward the Seventh (1975), in which he played the title role from the age of twenty-three until the King's death;[6] his real-life sons, Samuel and Joseph, played the sons of King Edward VII as children. His father Lockwood West also portrayed King Edward VII in 1972 in an episode of the LWT television drama series Upstairs, Downstairs. Other screen appearances have included Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), The Day of the Jackal (1973), The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Masada (1981), Cry Freedom (1987) and Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999). In Richard Eyre's Iris (2001) he plays Maurice and his son Samuel West plays Maurice as a young man.

West starred as patriarch Bradley Hardacre in Granada TV's satirical Northern super-soap Brass over three seasons (1982–1990). West appeared in the series Miss Marple in 1985 (in A Pocket Full of Rye as the notorious Rex Fortescue), and made a memorable appearance as Professor Furie in A Very Peculiar Practice in 1986. In 1997, he played Gloucester in the BBC television production of King Lear, with Ian Holm as Lear. From 2001 to 2003, he played the grumpy and frequently volatile Andrew in the BBC drama series Bedtime.

In 1989 West played Nigel in The Thames Television Sitcom After Henry alongside his real life wife Prunella Scales who played Sarah France. They appeared together in the episode Upstagers aired on 21 March 1989.

At Christmas 2007, he joined Not Going Out as Geoffrey Adams. He reprised this role in two episodes of series three; Geoffrey Whitehead played the role in later seasons. In 2011, he appeared alongside John Simm and Jim Broadbent in BBC series Exile, written by BAFTA-winning Danny Brocklehurst.

In February 2013, West joined the cast of ITV soap Coronation Street, playing Eric Babbage.[7] He joined the cast of EastEnders in 2013, playing Stan Carter from January 2014.[8] He filmed his final scenes for EastEnders in February 2015.

In 2019 he played Private Godfrey in Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes, a recreation of three missing episodes of the BBC comedy Dad's Army.


He was artistic director of the Forum Theatre, Billingham, in 1973,[9] where he directed We Bombed in New Haven by Joseph Heller, The Oz Obscenity Trial by David Livingstone and The National Health by Peter Nichols. He was co-artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre from 1980 to 1981,[10] where he directed Trelawny of the 'Wells' and The Merchant of Venice. He was director-in-residence at the University of Western Australia in 1982.[citation needed]

In 2004, he toured Australia with the Carl Rosa Opera Company as director of the production of H.M.S. Pinafore, also singing the role of Sir Joseph Porter. He was replaced in the singing role by Dennis Olsen for the Perth and Brisbane performances.

Personal life[edit]

West was married to actress Jacqueline Boyer from 1956 to 1961 and has a daughter Juliet. In 1963 he married actress Prunella Scales, with whom he has two sons. Samuel West is an actor and their younger son Joseph (Joe) participated in two episodes of Great Canal Journeys filmed in France, where he lives with his French wife and their children. After the broadcast of the French canal episodes, Joe was interviewed in several newspapers.

The Guardian crossword setter Biggles referred to West's 50th wedding anniversary in its prize crossword puzzle (number 26,089) on 26 October 2013.[11]

West and Scales are patrons of the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham, The Kings Theatre in Gloucester and of the Conway Hall Sunday Concerts[12] programme, the longest-running series of chamber music concerts in Europe. West is an Ambassador of SOS Children's Villages,[13] an international orphan charity providing homes and mothers for orphaned and abandoned children. He currently supports the charity's annual World Orphan Week[14] campaign which takes place each February.

West is patron of the National Piers Society,[15] a charity dedicated to preserving and promoting seaside piers. He and Prunella Scales are patrons of Avon Navigation Trust, the charity that runs the River Avon from Stratford-upon-Avon to Tewkesbury. They both support ANT by attending the Stratford River Festival every year.[16] West supports Cancer Research UK.[17]

West is a supporter of the Talyllyn Railway, the first preserved railway in the world. He has visited on a number of occasions, the last being the summer of 2015 to attend the Railway's 150th anniversary. He is also a keen supporter of the Inland Waterways Association, and since 2014 has featured together with his wife in the Great Canal Journeys series for Channel 4.

West was president of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (being succeeded by Benedict Cumberbatch in January 2018) and is President of The Society for Theatre Research. He is also patron of London-based drama school, The Associated Studios.[18]


In 1984, West was appointed CBE for his services to drama.

Selected theatre[edit]



Year Title Role Notes
1966 The Deadly Affair Matrevis uncredited
1968 Twisted Nerve Superintendent Dakin
1969 The Looking Glass War Taylor
1971 Nicholas and Alexandra Dr. Botkin
1973 Hitler: The Last Ten Days Prof. Karl Gebhardt
The Day of the Jackal Commissioner Berthier
1974 Soft Beds, Hard Battles Convent Chaplain
1975 Hedda Judge Brack
1977 Joseph Andrews Mr. Tow-Wouse
The Devil's Advocate Father Anselmo
1978 News From Nowhere William Morris
The Thirty Nine Steps Porton
1979 Agatha Kenward
1980 Rough Cut Nigel Lawton
1987 Cry Freedom Captain De Wet
1988 Consuming Passions Dr Rees
1998 Ever After King Francis
1999 The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc Cauchon
2000 102 Dalmatians Judge
2001 The Fourth Angel Jones
Iris Older Maurice
2002 Villa des Roses Hugh Burrell
2003 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas King Dymas Voice
Beyond Borders Lawrence Bauford
2009 Endgame P.W. Botha
2016 Delirium College Bursar


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Persuasion Charles Hayter
1961 Deadline Midnight Ambulance Man 1 episode
1969 Big Breadwinner Hog Lennox dir Mike Newell/Michael Apted.
1972 The Edwardians Horatio Bottomley TV miniseries; episode "Horatio Bottomley"
1975 Edward the Seventh King Edward VII
1977 Hard Times Josiah Bounderby
1979 Crime and Punishment Porfiry Petrovich
Henry VIII Cardinal Wolsey Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare.
Churchill and the Generals Winston Churchill
1980 Tales of the Unexpected: Royal Jelly Albert Taylor
1981 Masada Emperor Vespasian
1983–1990 Brass Bradley Hardacre Three series
1984 The Last Bastion Winston Churchill
1985 Miss Marple Rex Fortescue Episode: “A Pocket Full of Rye”
1986 A Very Peculiar Practice Professor Furie
The Good Doctor Bodkin Adams John Bodkin Adams A TV drama based on the 1957 trial of the doctor.
The Monocled Mutineer Brigadier General Thompson
1987 When We Are Married Councillor Albert Parker
What the Butler Saw Dr Rance
1988 The Contractor Frank Ewbank By David Storey
1989 Campion: Police at the Funeral Uncle William Faraday
Blore, M.P. Derek Blore A TV drama loosely based on the Profumo affair.
1990 Beecham Sir Thomas Beecham Adapted from the play about the conductor
The Tragedy of Flight 103: The Inside Story Colonel Wilfred Wood
1992 Shakespeare: The Animated Tales: The Tempest Prospero voice
Framed DCI Jimmy McKinnes
1994 Smokescreen Frank Sheringham TV-Mini Series
1998 King Lear Gloucester
Goodnight Sweetheart MI5 agent Tufty MacDuff
The Day the Guns Fell Silent presenter BBC TV documentary about the end of the Great War
2000 Midsomer Murders Marcus Devere Episode: “Judgement Day”
2000–2008 Water World presenter eight series for Central TV, dedicated to 'the people who live and work on the canals of the Midlands'
2001 Murder in Mind Dr. William Collins Episode: “Mercy”
2001–2003 Bedtime Andrew Oldfield three series
2002 Martin Luther Martin Luther PBS Empires series
2004 Waking the Dead Joe Doyle Episodes #4.3 and #4.4
2005 New Tricks Professor Ian Mears Episode #2.8
Bleak House Sir Leicester Dedlock
2007–2009 Not Going Out Geoffrey Series 2 and 3
2010 Terry Pratchett's Going Postal Mustrum Ridcully TV Mini-Series, 2 episodes
Agatha Christie's Poirot Reverend Cottrell Episode: “Hallowe’en Party”
Lewis Donald Terry Series 4, Episode 3: “Your Sudden Death Question”
2011 Exile Don Metzler TV Mini-Series, 2 episodes
2012 Titanic Lord Pirrie TV Mini-Series
2013 Coronation Street Eric Babbage TV Series, 7 episodes
2013, 2020 Last Tango in Halifax Ted
2014 Inside No. 9 Andrew Episode 1, "Sardines"
2014–2015 EastEnders Stan Carter
2014–2019 Great Canal Journeys. Presenter Channel 4 television series in which Timothy West and wife, Prunella Scales, take narrowboat trips in the United Kingdom, Europe and various locales around the globe.
2016 Comedy Playhouse Milton Broken Biscuits
2018 Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators Johnnie Falstaff Episode 2
2019–2022 Gentleman Jack Jeremy Lister Main Cast
2019 Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes Private Godfrey Three episodes

Selected radio[edit]

Timothy West was a member of the BBC Radio Drama Repertory Company in 1962[19] and has taken part in over 500 radio broadcasts.[20] In 1959, he wrote and produced a short audio play, This Gun That I Have in My Right Hand Is Loaded, satirising typical mistakes of radio drama, including over-explanatory dialogue and misuse of sound cues.[21][22]


Timothy West has read many unabridged audiobooks, including the complete Barchester Chronicles and the complete Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope, and seven of George MacDonald Fraser's The Flashman Papers books. He has received four AudioFile Earphones Awards for his narration.[23]


  • I'm Here I Think, Where Are You? Letters from a Touring Actor, 1994, ISBN 978-1-85459-222-4.
  • A Moment Towards the End of the Play (autobiography), 2001, ISBN 978-1-85459-619-2.
  • So You Want To Be an Actor (with Prunella Scales), 2005, ISBN 978-1-85459-879-0.
  • Great Canal Journeys: A Lifetime of Memories on Britain's Most Beautiful Waterways, 2017, ISBN 978-1-78606-511-7.


  1. ^ a b "Timothy West Biography (1934–)". Filmreference.com. 20 October 1934. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  2. ^ A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 14
  3. ^ Who's Who in the Theatre, 16th edition (1977), ISBN 978-0-273-00163-8.
  4. ^ A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 27
  5. ^ A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 88
  6. ^ A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 140
  7. ^ Coronation Street: Timothy West makes his debut, RadioTimes.com, 16 February 2013; accessed 20 June 2015.
  8. ^ Brown, David (12 December 2013). "EastEnders: Timothy West and Annette Badland to join as Danny Dyer's screen family expands". Radio Times. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  9. ^ A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p. 131.
  10. ^ A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 194
  11. ^ Biggles, Set by (26 October 2013). "Prize crossword No 26,089". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "Sunday Concerts - Home". Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  13. ^ "SOS Children's Villages United Kingdom – No child should grow up alone".
  14. ^ "WOW World Orphan Week". 15 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009.
  15. ^ "National Piers Society – Celebrating Seaside Piers".
  16. ^ "Avon Navigation Trust – Home".
  17. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (10 April 2015). "EastEnders star Timothy West backs prostate cancer campaign". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  18. ^ The Associated Studios website: http://www.associatedstudios.co.uk
  19. ^ A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 72
  20. ^ "Press Office – LAMDA". Archived from the original on 3 July 2013.
  21. ^ West, Samuel (17 March 2007). "Fathers and sons". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  22. ^ West, Timothy. "This Gun That I Have in My Right Hand Is Loaded". Clyp. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  23. ^ "AudioFile reader page". Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2020.

External links[edit]