Benjamin Whitrow

Benjamin John Whitrow (17 February 1937 – 28 September 2017) was an English actor. He was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his role as Mr Bennet in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and voiced the role of Fowler in the 2000 animated film Chicken Run. His other film appearances include Quadrophenia (1979), Personal Services (1987) and Bomber (2009).

Benjamin Whitrow
Whitrow in 1991
Benjamin John Whitrow

17 February 1937
Died28 September 2017 (aged 80)
EducationDragon School
Tonbridge School
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1964–2017
Catherine Cook (m. 1972)
Children3, including Angus Imrie

Life and career

Whitrow was born in Oxford, the son of Mary Alexandra (Flaunders) and Philip Whitrow.[1] He attended the Dragon School, Tonbridge School, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[2][3] He served in the King's Dragoon Guards during his national service from 1956 to 1958.[2] He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1981.[4] He played Russell in the original radio version of After Henry by Simon Brett.[5]

In 1989, Whitrow appeared in episode four of the BBC Two sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie (series one), playing an irate member of the audience who claimed that Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie had stolen several of their sketches from him.[6]

Between 1990 and 1992, Whitrow appeared in the sitcom The New Statesman as Paddy O'Rourke, a Labour shadow minister who feigned an Irish accent when in public to attract the working-class vote.[2]

Whitrow was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.[7]

In the year 2000, in the successful animated movie Chicken Run, Whitrow voiced the character of Fowler; an old rooster who claims to have fought in World War II.[8]

Whitrow's last work was two plays for BBC Radio 4 where he played the late Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman. Mr Betjeman's Class was his last completed work.[9] Whitrow died while recording Mr Betjeman Regrets and was completed by Robert Bathurst.[10] Both plays were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 during Christmas 2017.[11]

Personal life

Whitrow was married to Catherine Cook, with whom he had two children: Hannah Mary Whitrow (b. 1973) and Thomas George Whitrow (b. 1976).[2] He also had a son, Angus Imrie (b. 1994) with actress Celia Imrie.[12]

Whitrow died on 28 September 2017, aged 80.[2]

Select filmography




  • 1980: Unman, Wittering & Zigo as the headmaster; by Giles Cooper; BBC R4 7/8/1980.[14]
  • 1984: Dracula In White by Peter Redgrove; BBC R4 7/3/1984.[14]
  • 1984: Tragedy at Law as the Judge; by Cyril Hare; BBC Radio 4 Saturday Night Theatre 7/4/1984.[15]
  • 1985–89: After Henry as Russell; BBC Radio 4 series by Simon Brett.
  • 1992: A Warden for All Saints as James Montague, by H.S. Bhabra; BBC R4 29/4/1992.[16]
  • 1995: In The Red as the bank manager murderer; by Mark Tavener; BBC Radio 4 series 5/1/1995-16/2/1995.
  • 1997: MR James Ghost story readings – The Late Book.[17]
  • 1999: Plum's War by Michael Butt, BBC R4 7/7/99.[18]
  • 2003: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, dramatised by Jeremy Front, BBC R4 8/3/2003.[19]
  • 2003: The Last Bark of the Bulldog by Jonathan Smith; Benjamin Whitrow portrays Winston Churchill; BBC R4 21/6/2003.[20]
  • 2011: Portrait of Winston, by Jonathan Smith; sequel to The Last Bark of the Bulldog; BBC R4 13/9/2011
  • 2017: Mr Betjeman's Class and Mr Betjeman Regrets both by Jonathan Smith; BBC R4 25/12/2017 and 26/12/2017


  1. "Benjamin Whitrow Biography (1937-)".
  2. Coveney, Michael (29 September 2017). "Benjamin Whitrow obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  3. "Benjamin Whitrow — RADA".
  4. "BBC Radio 4 Extra - After Henry, Series 1, Going Away". BBC.
  5. Guide, British Comedy. "A Bit Of Fry & Laurie Series 1, Episode 4". British Comedy Guide.
  6. "Benjamin Whitrow". 1 May 2018.
  7. "CBBC - Chicken Run". BBC.
  8. "BBC Radio 4 - Drama, Mr Betjeman's Class". BBC.
  9. "BBC Radio 4 - Drama, Mr Betjeman Regrets". BBC.
  10. Adams, Tim (31 December 2017). "The week in radio: Today; Mr Betjeman's Class/Mr Betjeman Regrets; Just a Minute; The Great American Songbook" via
  11. Quinn, Michael (11 October 2017). "Obituary: Benjamin Whitrow | Obituaries".
  12. "The Merchant of Venice". 7 October 1973. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  13. Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "- DIVERSITY - radio drama - Afternoon Theatre,lost plays". Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  14. Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "radio plays,DIVERSITY WEBSITE,bbc,radio drama,saturday night theatre - Lost, 1988-1970". Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  15. Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "radio plays drama,bbc,BBC Afternoon Plays, 1984 - 2002, DIVERSITY website". Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  16. Pardoe, Dr. "M.R. James on TV, Radio and Film". Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  17. Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "John Taylor Radio Plays, DIVERSITY website - radio drama, plays". Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  18. Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "- DIVERSITY WEBSITE - radio drama - Marion Nancarrow". Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  19. Deacon, Alison Deacon, Nigel. "Jonathan Smith radio plays - DIVERSITY". Retrieved 2 October 2017.

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