James Hayter (actor)

Henry James Goodenough Hayter (23 April 1907 – 27 March 1983), better known as James Hayter, was a British actor of television and film. He is best remembered for his roles as Friar Tuck in the film The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) and as Samuel Pickwick in the film The Pickwick Papers (1952), the latter earned him a BAFTA Award for Best British Actor nomination.[1]

James Hayter
Hayter in 1975
Henry James Goodenough Hayter

(1907-04-23)23 April 1907
Lonavla, British India
Died27 March 1983(1983-03-27) (aged 75)
EducationRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1936–1980
Spouse(s)Marjorie Lane
(m. 1934; div. 19??)
RelativesCharity Wakefield (granddaughter)

Early life

He was born in Lonavala, India, and brought up in Scotland. His best remembered film roles include Friar Tuck in the 1952 film The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (he reprised the same role in the 1967 film A Challenge for Robin Hood) and Samuel Pickwick in The Pickwick Papers of the same year. His rotund appearance and fruity voice made him a natural choice for such roles.

Acting career

A pupil of Dollar Academy, he became a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His film career began in 1936 in Sensation, but was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Royal Armoured Corps. His 1946 television series Pinwright's Progress, shown on the BBC, is recognized as the first real example of the half-hour situation comedy format in the history of British television. In the film Oliver!, he played Mr. Jessop the bookshop owner. He appeared in scenes when Dodger steals a gentleman's wallet outside the bookshop and also when Oliver is in court charged with the robbery.[2] Hayter was the Ministry doorman in the film Passport to Pimlico (1949).

His later career included roles in TV series such as The Forsyte Saga (1967) and The Onedin Line. Hayter also appeared in the long lasting BBC department store sitcom Are You Being Served? as Mr Tebbs in 1978. He was also the original narrator of the UK television advertisements for Mr Kipling cakes. In fact, these ads led to his departure from Are You Being Served?; the cake company paid him a significant bonus to withdraw from the series, as they felt his reputation lent an air of dignity to their advertisements. “Who can blame an actor in his seventies for accepting money for staying at home? I, now 78, would jump at the chance!” wrote Frank Thornton (Captain Peacock) in a letter to one of Hayter’s eight children after her father’s death.[3]

He died in Spain in 1983, aged 75.[4]

Partial filmography


  1. "BAFTA Awards Search | BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  2. Oliver! (1968) - IMDb, retrieved 15 April 2019
  3. "Are You Being Served?'s James Hayter | Tea Time Tidbits | MPT Afternoon Tea". Are You Being Served?'s James Hayter | Tea Time Tidbits | MPT Afternoon Tea. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  4. "James Hayter". IMDb. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
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