Jack May

Jack Wynne May (23 April 1922 – 19 September 1997)[3][4] was an English actor. Born in Henley-on-Thames, he was educated at Forest School in Walthamstow and, after war service with the Royal Indian Navy in British India, was offered a place at RADA, but he instead went to Merton College, Oxford.[3][4][5] Here, with the OUDS,[3] he played parts, which included John of Gaunt in Richard II and Polonius in Hamlet.

Jack May
May in How I Won the War, 1967
Jack Wynne May

(1922-04-23)23 April 1922
Died19 September 1997(1997-09-19) (aged 75)
Hove, Sussex, England
Years active1945–1996
Petra Davies (m. 1957)

On television he became familiar as the butler William E. Simms in two series of the BBC 1 fantasy/adventure television series Adam Adamant Lives! from 1966–67.[4][6]

He provided the voice for Igor, long-suffering butler to Count Duckula in the cartoon series of the same name.[4][7][8] He also appeared as the waiter Garkbit in the television version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,[4][9] Théoden in the 1981 BBC Radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, as General Hermack in the 1969 Doctor Who serial The Space Pirates,[4] and in Bachelor Father. For 45 years the long-running BBC Radio 4 series, The Archers featured the voice of May as Nelson Gabriel, son of Walter Gabriel,[3] making him (at the time of his death) the fourth-longest serving soap opera star in the world.[10] He played the voice of Muzzy in Muzzy in Gondoland and Muzzy Comes Back.[11]

His other credits in film and television included Dr. Denny in the 1960 serial The Citadel, the sex-crazed Judge in the horror film Night After Night After Night (1970), the District Commissioner in The Man Who Would Be King (1975),[3] and the prosecuting naval attorney in the remake of The Bounty (1984).[12]

On stage he played many leading and supporting roles, spending five years with Birmingham Repertory Theatre[4] during which time he attracted considerable notice in the title part of Shakespeare's Henry VI.[3] This trilogy of plays came to the Old Vic in London, and from then on began to be far more regularly revived. For Birmingham Rep, he also played parts as diverse as Richard II, Alec in Coward's Still Life (the story better known as Brief Encounter) and the Elephant in Obey's Noah. He returned to the Old Vic for the 1958–59 season, as Julius Caesar among other parts. Later stage roles included The Headmaster in A Voyage Round My Father, and Colonel Pickering in Pygmalion with Alec McCowen and Diana Rigg.[13]

Personal life

In 1957, he married the actress Petra Davies.[4][5] He died at 75, on 19 September 1997, survived by his wife, his daughter Henrietta, and his son David.

Partial filmography


  1. "The Times' Obituary for JACK MAY". www.lowfield.co.uk.
  2. Quinn, Michael (25 May 2016). "Obituary: Petra Davies | Obituaries".
  3. "Jack May". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited. 20 September 1997.
  4. Hayward, Anthony (19 September 1997). "Obituary: Jack May". The Independent. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  5. Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900–1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 380.
  6. Chapman, James (6 September 2002). Saints and Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s. I.B.Tauris. p. 142. ISBN 1860647545.
  7. John Edgar Browning; Caroline Joan (Kay) Picart (20 October 2010). Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game Appearances, 1921–2010. McFarland. p. 51. ISBN 0786462019.
  8. Terrace, Vincent (6 November 2008). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). McFarland. p. 212. ISBN 0786486414.
  9. John R. Cook; Peter Wright (6 January 2006). British Science Fiction Television: A Hitchhiker's Guide. I.B.Tauris. p. 234. ISBN 1845110471.
  10. Henderson, Mark (20 September 1997). "Nelson of The Archers is dead". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited.
  11. "Muzzy (1986)". 2 July 2011.
  12. "Jack May". BFI.
  13. "Production of Pygmalion | Theatricalia". theatricalia.com.
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