Patrick Newell

Patrick David Newell (27 March 1932 – 22 July 1988)[1] was a British actor, known for his large size.

Patrick Newell
Newell as Mother in The Avengers in 1968
Patrick David Newell

(1932-03-27)27 March 1932
Died22 July 1988(1988-07-22) (aged 56)
Essex, England
OccupationActor and private hire car driver
Years active1953–1988

He was educated at Taunton School and completed his National Service, where a fellow recruit was Michael Caine, before training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), alongside Albert Finney and Peter O'Toole.[2]

Newell began to be seen frequently on TV, usually cast as a fat villain or in comic roles. Given his rotund appearance and ability for playing slightly stuffy types, he was a natural stooge in several comedy shows, first for Arthur Askey, in Arthur's Treasured Volumes (ATV, 1960), then for Jimmy Edwards in Faces of Jim (BBC, 1962), with Ronnie Barker also supporting.[3]

He was originally cast as one of the inept recruits in the first of the Carry On films, 1958's Carry On Sergeant but, according to producer Peter Rogers, Newell turned up on the first day of filming, only to recognise the real-life sergeant hired to drill the cast as the one who'd made his life hell in the Army. He then, so Rogers claims, got into his Rolls-Royce, drove off and was never seen again.[2]

In an interview with TV Times, in 1968, he claimed to have gained weight as a deliberate attempt to boost his career, marking him out for some niche roles.[4] In Who's Who on Television in the late 1970s, Newell described himself as "Actor with a weight problem—the more he diets, the less work he seems to get."

His most notable role was as "Mother", the spymaster in The Avengers.[2] He had previously appeared in two earlier Avengers episodes: "The Town of No Return" (Diana Rigg's debut) and, as a Minister of the Crown, in series five's "Something Nasty in the Nursery".

Other cult television appearances included roles in Maigret, The Persuaders!, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), the Doctor Who story "The Android Invasion", The Young Ones and Kinvig.

Newell played Inspector Lestrade in the 1980 TV series, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, made in Poland.[5] He also turned up as a Playboy Bunny in one of the Benny Hill comedy specials. Film appearances include the Gluttony segment of The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971).

In 1984, he landed a more significant role, as Sutton/Blessington in ITV's well-received The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes production of "The Adventure of the Resident Patient", alongside Jeremy Brett.

Later in life Newell succeeded in losing a substantial amount of weight, but this did not prevent his early death from a heart attack. He was married and had two children.

Selected filmography

Television series


  1. "Patrick Newell". BFI.
  2. Pete Stampede (21 May 2006). "Avengers Forever: Patrick Newell". Avengers Forever. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  3. "Six More Faces of Jim: The Face of Perseverance". 23 May 1963. p. 11 via BBC Genome.
  4. Avengers Declassified Archived 10 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Barnes, Alan (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 145–146. ISBN 1-903111-04-8.
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