Anthony Ainley

Anthony Ainley (20 August 1932 – 3 May 2004) was an English actor best known for his work on British television and particularly for his role as the Master in Doctor Who. He was the fourth actor to play the role of the Master, and the first actor to portray the Master as a recurring role since the death of Roger Delgado in 1973.

Anthony Ainley
Ainley as the Master in the Doctor Who serial Logopolis (1981)
Born(1932-08-20)20 August 1932
Died3 May 2004(2004-05-03) (aged 71)
Harrow, London, England
Years active1942–1997
Known forThe Master in Doctor Who (1981–1989)
Parent(s)Henry Ainley, Clarice Holmes
RelativesRichard Ainley (half-brother)

Early life

Ainley was born in Stanmore, Middlesex, the son of the actor Henry Ainley, on 20 August 1932, although his birth was not registered until January 1938 at around the time that he was admitted to the actors' orphanage. The birth certificates of Anthony and his brother Timothy identify their mother as Clarice Holmes and it is under this surname that they are recorded in the Official Register. Although no father is named on the birth certificates Timothy's marriage certificate identifies Henry Ainley as his father.

Under the name of Anthony Holmes, Ainley attended Cranleigh School from 1947 to 1950. His first job was as an insurance clerk which was followed by a period at RADA.[1] He won the Fabia Drake Prize for Comedy whilst at RADA.[2] His half-brother, Richard Ainley, was also an actor.


Ainley's swarthy appearance tended to get him parts as villains, though an early regular role on British television was as Det. Sgt Hunter, sidekick to William Mervyn's Chief Inspector Rose in the second series of It's Dark Outside in 1966. Other notable roles include a subaltern in the 1969 film version of Oh! What a Lovely War,[3] Dietz in the 1975 film version of The Land That Time Forgot,[3] Reverend Fallowfield in the Tigon film The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971),[3] Henry Sidney in Elizabeth R (1971),[3] Clive Hawksworth in Spyder's Web (1972),[3] Rev. Emilius in the BBC's adaptation of The Pallisers (1974),[3] Johnson in the first episode of the BBC programme Secret Army (1977), and Sunley in The Avengers episode "Noon Doomsday" (1968). He was also one of the Hong Kong policemen who discover James Bond's supposed corpse in the opening sequence of You Only Live Twice (1967). Ainley played the role of the wealthy young peer Lord Charles Gilmour in the ITV series Upstairs, Downstairs (1973).[3]

Doctor Who

Reportedly, it was his performance as Rev. Emilius (in The Pallisers) that led to him being offered the role of the Master by John Nathan-Turner, who had worked on The Pallisers seven years before becoming producer of Doctor Who.[4] Ainley first portrayed the Master in the 1981 serial The Keeper of Traken and appeared in almost every season up until the cancellation of the original series in 1989, including its final serial, Survival.[5]

Ainley's Doctor Who appearances included: The Keeper of Traken 1981, Logopolis 1981, Castrovalva 1982, Time Flight 1982, The King's Demons 1983, The Five Doctors 1983, Planet of Fire 1984, The Caves of Androzani 1984, The Mark of the Rani 1985, The Ultimate Foe 1986, and Survival 1989.

He later reprised the role for the 1997 BBC computer game Destiny of the Doctors.

Ainley's great love of the role is often cited in documentaries and DVD commentaries. Script editor Eric Saward claimed that he introduced himself over the phone by saying "This is the Master" and then would laugh. In the commentary and documentary for The Mark of the Rani, both Colin Baker and Kate O'Mara say that "He only ever wanted to play the Master." Baker remarked that he could afford this luxury because he had built up a private income by the mid-1980s and had inherited a considerable sum of money from his father. In "Cat Flap - Making of Survival", Sylvester McCoy confirms that all he ever wanted to be is the Master, and he kept his role active, even not on set. "He was as scary off camera as he was on it."

Personal life

Ainley remained unmarried throughout his life.[6] He joked on the DVD commentary for The Keeper of Traken (which was recorded shortly before his death) that he did not like the three rings of marriage: the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the bickering.

Ainley was a keen sportsman. Initially he was a rugby player, he played at fly-half for the Old Cranleighans, Richmond and Middlesex.[7] Later he turned his attentions to cricket, citing Sophie Aldred (who played Ace) as his friend once he learned that she played the game. He appeared on many occasions for the Stage and London Theatres C.C. mainly as an opening batsman.[8]


Ainley died at the age of 71 on 3 May 2004. The Times' obituary for him listed the cause as cancer. Ainley was known to be very private, and remained out of the public eye for most of his life after Doctor Who was placed in long-term hiatus in 1989.



Year Title Role Notes
1942The Foreman Went to FranceBoyUncredited[6]
1966Naked EvilDick Alderson
1967You Only Live TwiceHong Kong Policeman #2Uncredited
1968Inspector ClouseauBomber LeBec
1969Oh! What a Lovely War3rd Aide
1971AssaultMr. Bartell
1971The Blood on Satan's ClawReverend Fallowfield
1975The Land That Time ForgotDietz


Year Title Role Notes
1965It's Dark OutsideDet. Sgt. Hunter5 Episodes
1967The Golden AgeUncredited1 Episode: A Divided Country
Champion HouseLeslie Molesworth1 Episode: The Second Freedom
1968The AvengersEdward Sunley1 Episode: Noon-Doomsday
The ChampionsLanding party lookout #11 Episode: The Dark Island
1969Who-Dun-ItPaul Verrier1 Episode: The Fall of a Goddess
1970Department SSupervisor1 Episode: A Ticket to Nowhere
BiographyTrelawny1 Episode: Byron
1971DoomwatchSenior House Officer1 Episode: No Room for Error
Play for TodaySurgeon1 Episode: The Rainbirds
Elizabeth RHenry Sidney1 Episode: The Marriage Game
Out of the UnknownFrank Bowers-One1 Episode: Welcome Home
BrettGerard Delamore2 Episodes
HassanIshakTV Movie
1972The AdventurerKerston1 Episode: The Bradley Way
The Shadow of the TowerSir William Courtney1 Episode: The Man Who Never Was
Clouds of WitnessDennis Cathcart1 Episode
Spyder's WebClive Hawksworth13 Episodes
BBC Play of the MonthFerdinand Gadd1 Episode: Trelawny of the Wells
1973WarshipPhillip Tashing1 Episode: A Standing and Jumping War
Orson Welles Great MysteriesLafarge1 Episode: The Ingenious Reporter
Upstairs, DownstairsLord Charles Gilmour3 Episodes
1974The PallisersRev. Emilius7 Episodes
1975Anne of AvonleaStephen Irving1 Episode
1976The Flight of the HeronLord George Murray1 Episode
The Fortune HuntersLeslie SymingtonTV Movie
Within These WallsJames Buckingham1 Episode: Visitors
1977Nicholas NicklebySir Mulberry Hawk4 Episodes
Secret ArmyJohnson1 Episode: Lisa – Codename Yvette
TargetAlexander Trist1 Episode: Carve Up
1978The Devil's CrownPope Innocent III1 Episode: Tainted King
LillieLord Carrington2 Episodes
1980MackenzieRichard Wilcox3 Episodes
1981–1989Doctor WhoThe Master
The Portreeve
Sir Gilles Estram
31 Episodes
4 Episodes
2 Episodes (Master in disguise)
1 Episode (Master in disguise)
1 Episode (Master in disguise)
1983The Boy Who Won the PoolsMr. Simmons2 Episodes


  1. Hayward, Anthony (9 May 2004). "Anthony Ainley". The Independent. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  2. "Anthony Ainley | Obituaries". 17 May 2004.
  3. "Anthony Ainley". IMDb. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  4. Hadoke, Toby (15 May 2004). "Obituary: Anthony Ainley". The Guardian.
  5. "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – Survival – Details". BBC. 29 October 2014.
  6. Hadoke, Toby (14 May 2004). "Obituary: Anthony Ainley". The Guardian.
  7. Stephen, Donald. "Obituary: Anthony Ainley". Old Cranleighans Magazine.
  8. Haigh, Gideon, ed. (2006). Peter The Lord's Cat and Other Unexpected Obituaries From Wisden. London: John Wisden + Co. p. 3.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.