Robert Lang (actor)

Robert Lang (24 September 1934 6 November 2004) was an English actor of stage and television. When Laurence Olivier invited him to join the new National Theatre Company, at the Old Vic, Lang was already earning high praise as an actor. From 1971 until his death he was married to Ann Bell, best known for her portrayal of Marion Jefferson in the BBC war drama Tenko. The couple appeared together in Tenko Reunion.

Robert Lang
Born(1934-09-24)24 September 1934
Died6 November 2004(2004-11-06) (aged 70)
Sutton, London, England
Years active1948-2004
Spouse(s)Ann Bell (1971-2004) (his death) (2 children)[1]

Early life

Lang was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, the son of Lily Violet (née Ballard) and Richard Lionel Lang.[2] He was educated at Fairfield Grammar School and St Simon’s Church School.[3] He had intended to become a meteorologist but then trained for the stage at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.


Lang made his London debut in 1957 at the Garrick Theatre as Uncle Ernest in Oh! My Papa!.

In 1962, Olivier recruited Lang (along with other actors) for the newly established National Theatre, after Lang had impressed him with his performances as Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court and as the Actor in Maxim Gorki’s The Lower Depths for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Playing Pierre Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais, in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan, Lang drew the praise of critic Caryl Brahms for his "quiet grandeur, cogency and gravity".

Lang also showed a finely-judged talent for comic parts. In the deadpan role of diplomat Richard Greatham in the National Theatre revival in 1964 of Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, under the author's own direction, Lang showed his acute feeling for what amuses a theatre audience without appearing to seek to do so. He spent two years in the mid-1970s as director of the Cambridge Theatre Company.

His TV credits include That Was The Week That Was,[4] The New Avengers ("Last of the Cybernauts", 1976), 1990 (1977), Rumpole of the Bailey (1979), Tales of the Unexpected (1979), King Lear (1983), Confessional (1989), Rasputin (1996), A Dance to the Music of Time (1997), The Forsyte Saga (2002), Our Mutual Friend (1998), and Heartbeat (2002).[5][6] He also appeared in The Return of the Borrowers, as Mr Platter in 1993.[7] His films include Interlude (1968), Dance of Death (1969), A Walk with Love and Death (1969), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Savage Messiah (1972), The Mackintosh Man (1973), Night Watch (1973), Shout at the Devil (1976), Rogue Male (1976), The Medusa Touch (1978), The First Great Train Robbery (1978), Runners (1983), Hawks (1988), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and Wilde (1997).[8] He played the Squire in Cider with Rosie (1998), and his final film appearance was as Mr Osbourne in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005), screened a few months after his death from cancer in November 2004 at the age of 70.[9]

Selected filmography


  1. "Robert Lang". The Independent. 13 November 2004.
  2. "Robert Lang Biography (1934-)".
  3. Obituary: Robert Lang, Daily Telegraph, 17 November 2004, accessed 25 November 2008
  4. "That Was The Week That Was", BBC Comedy
  5. "Robert Lang | TV, Documentary and Other Appearances". AllMovie.
  6. "Robert Lang".
  7. "The Borrowers Series 2 Part 5 (1993)". BFI.
  8. "Robert Lang". BFI.
  9. "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005) - Dan Ireland | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
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