The actor Tim Pigott-Smith has died at the age of 70. The character actor’s career spanned almost five decades on stage and screen.
Born in Rugby in 1946, he graduated from the University of Bristol in
1967 and went on to train at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school. He
began his professional career at the Bristol Old Vic in 1969. His flawless classical technique saw him become a fixture of British
television and in 1984 he took on the role he would become best known
for – as the sinister Merrick in the ITV miniseries The Jewel in the
Crown, set in the dying days of the British Raj. His performance in the
series won him a Bafta for best actor.
From his first appearance in 1971 in Boswell’s Life of Johnson he was
barely absent from film and TV screens. In the 1970s he became
established as Marco in Doctor Who, Angelo in TV movie Measure for
Measure in 1979, and Brendan Bracken in 1981 series Winston Churchilll:
The Wilderness Years.
In his later years he became known to younger viewers for parts in
Silent Witness, Downton Abbey, Lewis and Miranda. Most recently he
starred in the BBC adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel Decline and Fall
as Mr Sniggs. Pigott-Smith also earned a formidable reputation as a skilled theatre
actor. In 1974 he starred on Broadway in a production of Sherlock
Holmes, playing the detective’s companion Dr Watson. This major theatre
role left a lasting impression on him and he said in an interview with
the Daily Mail last year that he had used the personalized towel from
that production ahead of every theatre appearance ever since.