Peter Firth

Peter Macintosh Firth (born 27 October 1953) is an English actor. He is best known for his role as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC One show Spooks; he is the only actor to have appeared in every episode of the show's ten-series lifespan. He has given a myriad of additional television and film performances, most notably as Alan Strang in Equus (1977), earning both a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for the role.

Peter Firth
Firth at the 2009 BAFTA Awards ceremony, with fellow Spooks cast member, Miranda Raison
Peter Macintosh Firth

(1953-10-27) 27 October 1953
Years active1958–present
Spouse(s)Alexandra Pigg

Early career

Firth was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, the son of publicans Mavis (née Hudson) and Eric Macintosh Firth.[1] He attended Hanson School in Bradford.[2]

He was a leading child actor by the middle of 1970, having starred in the first series of The Flaxton Boys as Archie Weekes and in the series Here Come the Double Deckers, which featured child actors in the leading roles. Firth played Scooper, the leader of the gang. In 1972 he also starred in the BBC TV series The Adventures of Black Beauty, episode The Runaway. He played the role of David Abbott.

In July 1973, Firth appeared at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre,[3] starring in the stage version of Peter Shaffer's play Equus as a teenager being treated by a psychiatrist, and in October 1974 repeated the role in the Broadway production, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Alan Strang.

His first major role as an adult was the title part in a BBC Television Play of the Month adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1976). The script was based on a stage adaptation by John Osborne, and also starred Jeremy Brett and John Gielgud. That same year saw the release of the World War I film Aces High which featured Firth as the inexperienced RFC pilot Lt. Stephen Croft.

Firth played the lead role in the film adaptation of Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews (1977). That same year he starred with Richard Burton in the film adaptation of Equus. The film was only a moderate box-office success, but earned Firth a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe award in the same category. Further film work quickly followed, most notably Roman Polanski's Tess (1979).

In May 1981, he appeared on Broadway again in Peter Shaffer's Amadeus as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, replacing Tim Curry. Shaffer had offered him the role in the original London production, but he was unavailable due to film commitments.


Other film work has included roles in Diamonds on Wheels (1973); When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? (1979); Lifeforce (1985); Letter to Brezhnev (1985); Northanger Abbey (1986), playing Henry Tilney; The Hunt for Red October (1990) playing the Soviet political officer Ivan Putin murdered early in the film; White Angel (1993), playing mild-mannered dentist Leslie Steckler; Amistad (1997) playing the stongly anti-slavery Captain Fitzgerald of the Royal Navy; Mighty Joe Young (1998); Pearl Harbor (2001); and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005), playing Lord Northcliffe.


Along with his film career, Firth has continued to appear in various television productions, with several notable credits in various high-profile dramas. He starred in two science-fiction episodes of the BBC's Play for Today anthology series as the eponymous time-traveller in the romantic The Flipside of Dominick Hide (1980), and its sequel, Another Flip for Dominick (1982). In 1994, in the Fourth Series of Heartbeat, he played Dr. Radcliffe who partnered with Dr. Rowan (Niamh Cusack) in Whitby. He also portrayed the Emperor Vespasian in "The Jewish Revolt" episode of the BBC series Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire.

For many years he had played a primary role as senior MI5 officer Harry Pearce in the BBC's popular spy drama series Spooks (2002–2011), and played Fred Hoyle in Hawking, a BBC dramatisation of the early career of Stephen Hawking. He was also Snaith in the three-part series South Riding in 2011. Firth has also appeared on American and Canadian television, on programmes such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Total Recall 2070, as well as in television films such as The Incident starring Walter Matthau.

In 2014, Firth played the part of the character Adrian Rawlins in Undeniable, a two-part series made for the ITV network. In 2015 he played Jacob Marley in four episodes of the BBC television series Dickensian.

In 2016, Firth played the part of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover in ITV's drama series Victoria.


Firth is also a narrator of audiobooks. He has been responsible for performances reading Pat Barker's Regeneration, The Ghost Road and The Eye in the Door, Suspicion by Robert McCrum, Maurice by E. M. Forster, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong and Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Personal life

Firth lived with Peter Shaffer throughout the Broadway run of Equus.[4] He has been married three times and has four children; Rory Firth, from his first marriage, Amy, Alex, and James Firth from his second.

He married Alexandra Pigg on Christmas Eve 2017. The couple had briefly dated after they played a couple in Letter to Brezhnev. During an interview for BBC Breakfast in April 2017 they explained that they met again in 2010 and have been in a relationship since then.

On 17 July 2009, he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Bradford as a Doctor of Letters for his services to acting, having been nominated by the School of Computing, Informatics & Media; he received his award during the school's degree ceremony.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1972Daniel and Maria
1973Diamonds on WheelsRobert 'Bobby' StewartTV Movie
1975King Arthur, the Young WarlordCorin
1976Aces HighLt Stephen Croft
1976The Lady of CamelliasArmand
1977Joseph AndrewsJoseph Andrews
1977EquusAlan Strang
1979When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?Stephen Ryder
1979TessAngel Clare
1982Fire and SwordDinas
1984Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green KnightSir GawainVoice; Uncredited
1984White ElephantPeter Davidson
1985LifeforceCol Colin Caine
1985Letter to BrezhnevPeter
1986A State of EmergencyDr Kenneth Parrish
1987Born of FirePaul Bergson
1988Prisoner of RioClive Ingram
1989Tree of HandsTerence
1989Trouble in ParadiseAdriaan
1990Blood Royal: William the ConquerorWilliam RufusTV movie
1990The Hunt for Red OctoberSenior Lieutenant Ivan Putin
1990The IncidentGeigerTV movie
1990BurndownJake Stern
1990The Rescuers Down UnderRedVoice
1991Prisoner of HonorMaj Henry
1992The Pleasure PrincipleDick
1993El marido perfectoFranz
1993ShadowlandsDr Craig
1994White AngelLeslie Steckler
1995An Awfully Big AdventureBunny
1996Merisairas1st Officer Ronald Jensen
1997The Garden of RedemptionNazi CommandantTV movie
1997Marco Polo: The Missing ChapterRusticello
1997Gaston's WarMajor Smith
1997AmistadCaptain Fitzgerald
1998Mighty Joe YoungGarth
1999Chill FactorColonel Andrew Brynner
2000The MagiciansSimon MagusTV movie
2001Pearl HarborCapt. Mervyn Bennion
2002 - 2011SpooksHarry Pearce
2005The Greatest Game Ever PlayedLord Northcliffe
2005Law & Order: Special Victims UnitDr. Preston Blair
2006Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an EmpireVespasian
2010World Without EndSir Roland
2013MaydayMalcolm Spicer
2014UndeniableAndrew Bolton
2015Spooks: The Greater GoodHarry Pearce
2015 - 2016DickensianJacob Marley
2016VictoriaDuke of Cumberland
2018Strike BackMilos BorisovichTV series


  1. "Peter Firth Biography (1953–)". Film Reference Library. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  2. "My Yorkshire: Peter Firth". The Yorkshire Post. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  3. "National Theatre: 1970s". Rob Wilton Theatricalia. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  5. "Honorary graduations at the University of Bradford". University of Bradford. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2009.

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