Martin Jarvis (actor)

Martin Jarvis, OBE (born 4 August 1941) is an English actor and voice actor. After a varied career in film and television, he has become particularly noted for his voice acting for radio and audiobooks.

Martin Jarvis

Born (1941-08-04) 4 August 1941
ResidenceWest Hollywood, California, U.S.
London, England[1]
OccupationActor, voice actor
Years active1964–present
Rosalind Ayres (m. 1974)

Early life

Jarvis was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, to Denys Harry Jarvis and Margot Lillian Scottney, and grew up in South Norwood and Sanderstead.

He was educated at Whitgift School, an independent school in Croydon.


Jarvis trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where he won the Vanbrugh Award and the Silver Medal.[2] He has acted in many stage productions in London and abroad, most recently acting alongside Diana Rigg and Natascha McElhone in Joanna Murray-Smith's Honour at London's Wyndham's Theatre until May 2006.

He read Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities for the Chivers Audio Books production on cassette, later released on CD by Barnes & Noble Audio Classics.

Jarvis appeared on Broadway in 2001 as P. G. Wodehouse's character Jeeves in the musical By Jeeves, a performance for which he was awarded a Theatre World Award.[3]

Radio work

Jarvis has had a long association with the BBC, particularly BBC Radio 4. In the 1980s Michael Frayn's columns for The Guardian and The Observer, described by some as models of the comic essay, were adapted and performed in many voices for BBC Radio 4 by Jarvis. He performs regularly in radio dramas and readings, both comic and serious. In David Mamet's Mind Your Pantheon he played the actor Strabo. He is known for his long series of readings of Richmal Crompton's Just William stories, which show his characteristic and flexible reading voices. He has also narrated the Billy Bunter series by Frank Richards. As a result of this extensive work, Jarvis has been satirised in the radio show Dead Ringers by Mark Perry, highlighting his seeming ubiquity in Radio 4 programmes and as a guest in Dictionary Corner on Countdown.

Jarvis has performed the role of Jeeves in multiple radio dramas based on P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories, including the 1997 L.A. Theatre Works adaptation of The Code of the Woosters,[4] the 2014 BBC radio adaptation of Ring for Jeeves,[5] and the 2018 BBC radio adaptation of Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves.[6] He performed live dramatic readings of some of the stories in the intermittent radio series Jeeves Live (2007–2017).[7]

In America, Jarvis and his wife Rosalind Ayres perform frequently in audio drama with the L.A. Theater Works and Hollywood Theater of the Ear.

In 2011, he appeared in a Radio 4 production of Terence Rattigan's In Praise of Love.

Television work

Jarvis's first television appearance was in 1965 in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, as Hilio, captain of the butterfly-like Menoptra, in The Web Planet.[8] (He later appeared in that show then as the scientist Dr. Butler in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, and as the beleaguered governor of the planet Varos in Vengeance on Varos in 1985.) He became a familiar face on television when he played Jon in the BBC's landmark 1967 adaptation of The Forsyte Saga, the title role in a BBC serialisation of Nicholas Nickleby (1968), The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and Uriah Heep in the 1974 BBC version of David Copperfield, and when he was the male lead in the sitcom Rings on Their Fingers (1978–80) with Diane Keen. In 1993, he starred with Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz in a BBC adaptation of Scarlet and Black. He also appeared in the 2002 BBC children's miniseries Bootleg.

His appearances on American television include such series as Murder, She Wrote, Walker, Texas Ranger, and more recently Stargate Atlantis and Numb3rs.

Jarvis was the subject of BBC television's This Is Your Life in 1999.

He appeared in ITV 1's The Bill in July 2008. In March 2010, it was announced that he would appear in the BBC soap opera EastEnders playing journalist Harvey Freeman.[9]

Jarvis appeared in a 2014 episode of Law & Order: UK as Eric Chandler, a man arrested and charged with murder.

Voice work

Among his work, Jarvis did the voiceovers for the 2010 BBC series Just William and voices the animal characters, as well as Voltaire the wise Weather-Cock, in the 1994 children's television series Fourways Farm. He has also voiced various characters in animated series such as The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. In the former, he inherited the role of the character Nergal from his Titanic co-star David Warner. In 2000, Jarvis voiced John Dread in the TV series Max Steel. He has also voiced all the characters in the children's stop-motion animated series Huxley Pig and narrated "The Tempest" in Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.

Jarvis has also lent his voice to audiobooks of P. G. Wodehouse's works, and has won the Audie Award for these. He is the narrator of the 2011 audiobook of The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Further work in 2011 includes an audiobook of the Wilbur Smith novel The Leopard Hunts in Darkness. He has also appeared in Jubilee, a Doctor Who spin-off audio drama by Big Finish Productions, alongside his wife. In film, Jarvis appeared in Disney's 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph as Saitine, one of the video game villains who attends the Bad Anon self-help groups with Ralph (John C. Reilly).

Jarvis has also performed voiceovers for video games, beginning in 2007 as the role of The Chronicler in the Spyro the Dragon video game series. He also provided the voice of Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib Qwib in Mass Effect 2 (2010) and Mass Effect 3 (2012). Also in 2011, Jarvis also performed a voice-over part for the MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. Jarvis also voiced Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman: Arkham series of video games. He first voiced the character in the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City and would reprise for the 2013 video game Batman: Arkham Origins and the 2014 DC Universe animated movie Batman: Assault on Arkham, and the 2015 video game Batman: Arkham Knight.

Personal life

Jarvis married Rosalind Ayres on 23 November 1974 in Ealing; he has two sons by a previous marriage. He met Ayres when they played in Hamlet together; she played Ophelia. Together with his wife, Jarvis runs the radio production company "Jarvis & Ayres Productions",[8] frequently used by BBC Radio 4.

He was awarded the OBE in 2000. He has also published a book of memoirs titled Acting Strangely: A Funny Kind of Life (ISBN 0413728501 hardback, ISBN 0-413-74550-3 paperback). Jarvis has homes in West Hollywood and London.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Titanic Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon Alongside his real life wife Rosalind Ayres as Lady Duff-Gordon
2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Birger
2012 Wreck-It Ralph Saitine (voice)
2014 Batman: Assault on Arkham Alfred Pennyworth (voice) Direct-to-video


Year Title Role Notes
1996 The Tick Breadmaster (voice) Episode: "Tick vs. Europe"
2000 Max Steel John Dread (voice) 6 Episodes
2003-2008 The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy Nergal (voice) 7 Episodes
Replacing David Warner
2005-2006 The Life and Times of Juniper Lee William, King Teddy, Bartok (voice) 2 Episodes
2007 Stargate: Atlantis Davos Episode: "The Seer"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2003 Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown Sheriff of Nottingham
2006 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Nergal
2007 The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night The Chronicler
2008 The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon
2009 The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Gandalf
2009 Dragon Age: Origins Avernus Warden's Keep DLC
2010 Mass Effect 2 Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib Qwib, Additional Voices
2011 Batman: Arkham City Alfred Pennyworth
2011 Star Wars: The Old Republic Various Roles
2012 Mass Effect 3 Admiral Zaal'Koris vas Qwib Qwib, Additional Voices
2012 Kinect Rush: A Disney–Pixar Adventure Finn McMissile
2013 Batman: Arkham Origins Alfred Pennyworth
2015 Batman: Arkham Knight


  2. "CV for Martin Jarvis" (PDF). Amanda Howard Associates. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  3. "By Jeeves". Playbill. 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  4. "The Code of the Woosters". LATW. L.A. Theatre Works. 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  5. "Classic Serial: Ring for Jeeves". BBC Radio 4. BBC. 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  6. "Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves". BBC Radio 4. BBC. 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  7. "Jeeves Live". BBC Radio 4. BBC. 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  8. "BBC Drama: Much Ado About Nothing". BBC. 26 April 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2007.
  9. Green, Kris (1 March 2010). "Martin Jarvis joins 'EastEnders'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
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