Timothy Lancaster West, CBE (born 20 October 1934) is an English film, stage and television actor, with more than fifty years of varied work in the business. As well as many classical theatre performances, he has appeared frequently on television, including spells in both Coronation Street as Eric Babbage and Stan Carter in EastEnders, and also in Not Going Out, as the original Geoffrey Adams. He is married to the actress Prunella Scales; since 2014 they have been seen travelling together on British and overseas canals in the Channel 4 series Great Canal Journeys.
Timothy Lancaster West
20 October 1934
|Education||The John Lyon School |
Bristol Grammar School
|Alma mater||Regent Street Polytechnic|
(m. 1956; div. 1961)
|Children||3, Juliet, Samuel and Joseph|
|Parent(s)||Lockwood West |
Early life and education
West was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, the only son of Olive (née Carleton-Crowe) and actor Lockwood West (1905-1989). He was educated at the John Lyon School, Harrow on the Hill, at Bristol Grammar School, where he was a classmate of Julian Glover, and at Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster).
West worked as an office furniture salesman and as a recording technician, before becoming an assistant stage manager at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1956. In 1959, he wrote and produced a short audio play, This Gun That I Have in My Right Hand Is Loaded, satirising typical mistakes of radio drama, including over-explanatory dialogue and misuse of sound cues.
West played repertory seasons in Newquay, Hull, Northampton, Worthing and Salisbury before making his London debut at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1959 in the farce Caught Napping. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for three seasons: the 1962 Arts Theatre Experimental season (Nil Carborundum and Afore Night Come), the 1964 'Dirty Plays' season (Victor, the premiere production of Marat/Sade and the revival of Afore Night Come) and the 1965 season at Stratford and later at the Aldwych Theatre appearing in The Comedy of Errors, Timon of Athens, The Jew of Malta, Love's Labour's Lost and Peter Hall's production of The Government Inspector, in a company which included Paul Scofield, Eric Porter, Janet Suzman, Paul Rogers, Ian Richardson, Glenda Jackson and Peter McEnery.
West has played Macbeth twice, Uncle Vanya twice, Solness in The Master Builder twice and King Lear four times: in 1971 (aged 36) for Prospect Theatre Company at the Edinburgh Festival; on a worldwide tour in 1991 in Dublin for Second Age; in 2003 for English Touring Theatre, on tour in the UK and at the Old Vic; and in 2016 at the Bristol Old Vic.
Having spent years as a familiar face who never quite became a household name, West's big break came with the major television series, Edward the Seventh (1975), in which he played the title role from the age of twenty-three until the King's death; his real-life sons, Samuel and Joseph, played the sons of King Edward VII as children. Other screen appearances have included Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), The Day of the Jackal (1973), The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Masada (1981), Cry Freedom (1987) and Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999). In Richard Eyre's Iris (2001) he plays Maurice and his son Samuel West plays Maurice as a young man.
West starred as patriarch Bradley Hardacre in Granada TV's satirical Northern super-soap Brass over three seasons (1982–1990). West appeared in the series Miss Marple in 1985 (in A Pocket Full of Rye as the notorious Rex Fortescue), and made a memorable appearance as Professor Furie in A Very Peculiar Practice in 1986. In 1997, he played Gloucester in the BBC television production of King Lear, with Ian Holm as Lear. From 2001 to 2003, he played the grumpy and frequently volatile Andrew in the BBC drama series Bedtime.
At Christmas 2007, he joined Not Going Out as Geoffrey Adams. He reprised this role in two episodes of series three; Geoffrey Whitehead played the role in later seasons. In 2011, he appeared alongside John Simm and Jim Broadbent in BBC series Exile, written by BAFTA-winning Danny Brocklehurst.
In February 2013, West joined the cast of ITV soap Coronation Street, playing Eric Babbage. He joined the cast of EastEnders in 2013, playing Stan Carter from January 2014. He filmed his final scenes for EastEnders in February 2015.
He was Artistic Director of the Forum Theatre, Billingham in 1973, where he directed We Bombed in New Haven by Joseph Heller, The Oz Obscenity Trial by David Livingstone and The National Health by Peter Nichols. He was co-artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre from 1980–81, where he directed Trelawny of the 'Wells' and The Merchant of Venice. He was Director-in-Residence at the University of Western Australia in 1982.
In 2004, he toured Australia with the Carl Rosa Opera Company as Director of the production of H.M.S. Pinafore, also singing the role of Sir Joseph Porter. He was replaced in the singing role by Dennis Olsen for the Perth and Brisbane performances.
West was married to actress Jacqueline Boyer from 1956 to 1961 and has a daughter Juliet. In 1963 he married actress Prunella Scales, with whom he has two sons. One, Samuel West, is an actor of note. Their younger son Joseph (Joe) participated in two episodes of Great Canal Journeys filmed in France, where Joe (a teacher and translator) lives with his French wife and their children. After the broadcast of the French canal episodes, Joe was interviewed in several newspapers.
West and Scales are patrons of the Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham, The Kings Theatre in Gloucester and of the Conway Hall Sunday Concerts programme, the longest running series of chamber music concerts in Europe. West is an Ambassador of SOS Children's Villages, an international orphan charity providing homes and mothers for orphaned and abandoned children. He currently supports the charity's annual World Orphan Week campaign which takes place each February.
West is patron of the National Piers Society, a charity dedicated to preserving and promoting seaside piers. He and Prunella Scales are patrons of Avon Navigation Trust, the charity that runs the River Avon from Stratford-upon-Avon to Tewkesbury. They both support ANT by attending the Stratford River Festival every year. West supports Cancer Research UK.
West is a supporter of the Talyllyn Railway, the first preserved railway in the world. He has visited on a number of occasions, the last being the summer of 2015 to attend the Railway's 150th anniversary. He is also a keen supporter of the Inland Waterways Association, and since 2014 has featured together with his wife in the Great Canal Journeys series for Channel 4.
West was president of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (being succeeded by Benedict Cumberbatch in January 2018) and is President of the Society for Theatre Research. He is also patron of London-based drama school, The Associated Studios.
In 1984, he was appointed CBE for his services to drama.
- King Lear, as Lear, Dir Tom Morris, Bristol Old Vic, 2016
- The Vote by James Graham, Donmar Warehouse and More4, 2015
- The Handyman by Ronald Harwood, as Romka, Dir Joe Harmston, UK tour, 2012
- Uncle Vanya, as Sererbryakov, Dir Jeremy Herrin, Chichester Festival Theatre, 2012
- The Winslow Boy, as Arthur Winslow, Dir Stephen Unwin, Rose Theatre, Kingston and UK tour, 2009
- Romany Wood, as Narrator, Theatre Severn, Shropshire, 2009
- The Lover/The Collection, Dir Jamie Lloyd, Comedy Theatre, London, 2008
- Opening of St Pancras International, as William Henry Barlow, Tuesday 6 November 2007
- Coriolanus as Menenius, Dir Gregory Doran, RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle, Spain and USA, 2007
- A Number by Caryl Churchill as Salter, with Samuel West as B1/B2/Michael Black, Dir Jonathan Munby, Crucible Theatre Studio, 2006. Revived in 2010 at the Chocolate Factory and 2011 at the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town.
- The Old Country by Alan Bennett, Dir Stephen Unwin, Trafalgar Studios, 2006
- King Lear, as Lear, Dir Stephen Unwin, UK tour with English Touring Theatre, 2002
- The Master Builder, as Solness, Dir Stephen Unwin, UK tour, 1999
- King Lear, as Gloucester, Dir Richard Eyre, Greece, Turkey and the National Theatre, 1997
- Henry IV Part One and Part Two, as Falstaff, with Samuel West as Hal, Dir Stephen Unwin, UK tour and the Old Vic Theatre, 1996
- Twelve Angry Men, Dir Harold Pinter, Bristol Old Vic and Comedy Theatre, 1996
- Macbeth, as Macbeth, Dir Helena Kaut-Howson, Theatr Clwyd, 1994
- Death of a Salesman, as Willy Loman, Dir Janet Suzman, Theatr Clwyd, 1993
- King Lear as Lear, Dir Alan Stanford, Tivoli Theatre, Dublin, 1992
- Long Day's Journey into Night, with Prunella Scales, Dir Howard Davies, Bristol Old Vic, UK Tour and the National Theatre, 1991
- Uncle Vanya, as Vanya, Dir Paul Unwin, Bristol Old Vic, 1990
- The Master Builder, as Solness, Dir Paul Unwin, Bristol Old Vic, 1989
- When We Are Married, with Prunella Scales, Dir Ronald Eyre, Whitehall Theatre, 1985
- Masterclass by David Pownall, as Stalin, Dir Justin Greene, Leicester Haymarket and the Old Vic Theatre, 1984
- Uncle Vanya, as Vanya, Dir Prunella Scales, Playhouse, Perth, Western Australia, 1982
- The Merchant of Venice as Shylock, International tour in association with the British Council and at the Old Vic Theatre, 1980
- Beecham, by Caryl Brahms and Ned Sherrin, as Thomas Beecham, Apollo Theatre, London, 1980
- The Homecoming, as Max, Garrick Theatre, Dir Kevin Billington, 1978.
- Hamlet, as Claudius, with Derek Jacobi as Hamlet, Dir Toby Robertson, Edinburgh Festival, International tour and the Old Vic Theatre, 1977
- Othello, as Iago, Dir Richard Eyre, Nottingham Playhouse, 1976
- Hedda Gabler, as Judge Brack, Dir Trevor Nunn, with Glenda Jackson, RSC, international tour and Aldwych Theatre, 1975
- Macbeth, as Macbeth, Gardner Centre, Brighton, Dir John David, 1974
- Love's Labour's Lost, as Holofernes, Aldwych Theatre, London, McBain/Archer, Prospect Theatre Company, June 1972
- King Lear as Lear, Prospect Theatre Company, Dir Toby Robertson, Edinburgh Festival and UK tour, 1971. The production visited Australia in 1972
- Exiles, Dir Harold Pinter. Mermaid Theatre, 1970
- Richard II and Edward II, as Bolingbroke and Young Mortimer, with Ian McKellen as the kings, Prospect Theatre Company, Edinburgh Festival, International tour and Piccadilly Theatre, Dir Richard Cottrell/Toby Robertson, 1969
- The Tempest, as Prospero, Prospect Productions, Dir Toby Robertson, 1966
- "Madam", said Dr Johnson, Prospect Productions, Dir Toby Robertson, 1966
- Marat/Sade, RSC, Dir Peter Brook, 1964
- Afore Night Come, RSC, Arts Theatre, 1962. Revived at the Aldwych Theatre, 1964
- Gentle Jack, Theatre Royal, Brighton and the Queen's Theatre, London, 1963
- Caught Napping, Piccadilly Theatre, 1959
|1966||The Deadly Affair||Matrevis||uncredited|
|1968||Twisted Nerve||Superintendent Dakin|
|1969||The Looking Glass War||Taylor|
|1971||Nicholas and Alexandra||Dr. Botkin|
|1973||Hitler: The Last Ten Days||Prof. Karl Gebhardt|
|The Day of the Jackal||Commissioner Berthier|
|1974||Soft Beds, Hard Battles||Convent Chaplain|
|1977||Joseph Andrews||Mr. Tow-Wouse|
|The Devil's Advocate||Father Anselmo|
|1978||News From Nowhere||William Morris|
|The Thirty Nine Steps||Porton|
|1980||Rough Cut||Nigel Lawton|
|1987||Cry Freedom||Captain De Wet|
|1988||Consuming Passions||Dr Rees|
|1998||Ever After||King Francis|
|1999||The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc||Cauchon|
|2001||The Fourth Angel||Jones|
|2002||Villa des Roses||Hugh Burrell|
|2003||Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas||King Dymas||Voice|
|Beyond Borders||Lawrence Bauford|
|1969||Big Breadwinner Hog||Lennox||dir Mike Newell/Michael Apted.|
|1975||Edward the Seventh||King Edward VII|
|1977||Hard Times||Josiah Bounderby|
|1979||Crime and Punishment||Porfiry Petrovich|
|Henry VIII||Cardinal Wolsey||Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare.|
|Churchill and the Generals||Winston Churchill|
|1980||Tales of the Unexpected: Royal Jelly||Albert Taylor|
|1983-1990||Brass||Bradley Hardacre||Three series|
|1984||The Last Bastion||Winston Churchill|
|1985||Miss Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye||Rex Fortescue|
|1986||A Very Peculiar Practice||Professor Furie|
|The Good Doctor Bodkin Adams||John Bodkin Adams||A TV drama based on the 1957 trial of the doctor.|
|The Monocled Mutineer||Brigadier General Thompson|
|1987||When We Are Married||Councillor Albert Parker|
|What the Butler Saw||Dr Rance|
|1988||The Contractor||Frank Ewbank||By David Storey|
|1989||Campion: Police at the Funeral||Uncle William Faraday|
|Blore, M.P.||Derek Blore||A TV drama loosely based on the Profumo affair.|
|1990||Beecham||Sir Thomas Beecham||Adapted from the play about the conductor|
|The Tragedy of Flight 103: The Inside Story||Colonel Wilfred Wood|
|1992||Shakespeare: The Animated Tales: The Tempest||Prospero||voice|
|Framed||DCI Jimmy McKinnes|
|1994||Smokescreen||Frank Sheringham||Tv-Mini Series|
|Goodnight Sweetheart||MI5 agent Tufty MacDuff|
|The Day the Guns Fell Silent||presenter||BBC TV documentary about the end of the Great War|
|2000–2008||Water World||presenter||eight series for Central TV:). Dedicated to 'the people who live and work on the canals of the Midlands'|
|2001–2003||Bedtime||Andrew Oldfield||three series|
|2002||Martin Luther||Martin Luther||PBS Empires series|
|2004||Waking the Dead||Joe Doyle||Episodes #4.3 and #4.4|
|2005||New Tricks||Professor Ian Mears||Episode #2.8|
|Bleak House||Sir Leicester Dedlock|
|2007–2009||Not Going Out||Geoffrey||Series 2 and 3|
|2010||Terry Pratchett's Going Postal||Mustrum Ridcully|
|Agatha Christie's Poirot: Hallowe'en Party||Reverend Cottrell|
|2013||Coronation Street||Eric Babbage|
|Last Tango in Halifax||Ted|
|2014||Inside No. 9||Andrew||Episode 1, "Sardines|
|2014-2019||Great Canal Journeys.||Presenter||Channel 4 television series in which Timothy West and wife, Prunella Scales, take narrowboat trips in the United Kingdom, Europe and various locales around the globe.|
|2016||Comedy Playhouse||Milton||Broken Biscuits|
|2018||Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators||Johnnie Falstaff||Episode 2|
|2019||Gentleman Jack||Jeremy Lister||Main Cast|
|Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes||Private Godfrey||Three episodes|
- Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore, as Gordon Shappey, BBC Radio 4, 2011
- Seasons by Gareth Parker, as Harold. Independent drama by the Wireless Theatre Company, 2010
- The Man on the Heath: Johnson and Boswell Investigate by David Noakes, as Doctor Johnson, Saturday Play on BBC Radio 4, 2005
- Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore, as Narrator, 2004
- Rumpole of the Bailey, as Rumpole, in sixteen 45-minute plays, 2003–2012. In this series his wife in real life played his fictional wife.
- Hecuba by Euripides, as Polymestor, 2001
- Groupie by Arnold Wesker, 2001
- Dorothy, a Manager's Wife by Peter Tinniswood, 2000
- Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, as Willy Loman, 1993
- The Gibson by Bruce Bedford, 1992
- The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett, Classic Serial on BBC Radio 4, 1992
- Crisp and Even Brightly by Alick Rowe, as 'Generally well-intentioned King Wenceslas', Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1987
- I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves, as Claudius, produced by Glyn Dearman, 1985
- With a Whimper to the Grave by Wally K. Daly, as 642, 1984
- Actors, or Playing for Real by Lope de Vega, as Emperor Diocletian, BBC Radio 3, 1983
- Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde, Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1982
- Operation Lightning Pegasus by Alick Rowe, as Agammemnon, Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1981
- Sherlock Holmes v. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman, as Doctor Watson, dramatised and directed by Glyn Dearman, Saturday Night Theatre, BBC Radio 4, 1981
- The Monument by David Cregan, as Dr. James Short, BBC Radio 3, 1978
- Where Are They Now? by Tom Stoppard, as an Old Boy, 1971
- If You're Glad, I'll be Frank by Tom Stoppard, as Frank, 1966
- Macbeth, as the Porter, BBC Third Programme, 1966. Repeated on BBC Radio 4 in 1967 and BBC 7 in 2007
Timothy West has read many unabridged audiobooks, including the complete Barchester Chronicles and the complete Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope, and seven of George MacDonald Fraser's The Flashman Papers books. He has received four AudioFile Earphones Awards for his narration.
- I'm Here I Think, Where Are You? Letters from a Touring Actor, 1994, ISBN 978-1-85459-222-4.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play (autobiography), 2001, ISBN 978-1-85459-619-2.
- So You Want To Be an Actor (with Prunella Scales), 2005, ISBN 978-1-85459-879-0.
- Great Canal Journeys: A Lifetime of Memories on Britain's Most Beautiful Waterways, 2017, ISBN 978-1-78606-511-7.
- "Timothy West Biography (1934–)". Filmreference.com. 20 October 1934. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 14
- Who's Who in the Theatre, 16th edition (1977), ISBN 978-0-273-00163-8.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 27
- West, Samuel. "Fathers and sons". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- West, Timothy. "This Gun That I Have in My Right Hand Is Loaded". Clyp. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 88
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 140
- Coronation Street: Timothy West makes his debut, RadioTimes.com, 16 February 2013; accessed 20 June 2015.
- Brown, David (12 December 2013). "EastEnders: Timothy West and Annette Badland to join as Danny Dyer's screen family expands". Radio Times. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 131
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 194
- Biggles, Set by; Biggles, Set by (26 October 2013). "Prize crossword No 26,089" – via The Guardian.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "SOS Children's Villages United Kingdom - No child should grow up alone".
- "WOW World Orphan Week". 15 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009.
- "National Piers Society – Celebrating Seaside Piers".
- "Avon Navigation Trust - Home".
- Kilkelly, Daniel (10 April 2015). "EastEnders star Timothy West backs prostate cancer campaign". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- The Associated Studios website: http://www.associatedstudios.co.uk
- A Moment Towards the End of the Play, p 72
- "Press Office - LAMDA". Archived from the original on 3 July 2013.
- AudioFile reader page Archived 17 January 2013 at Archive.today
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