Entertainment & Arts

Actor Nigel Davenport dies at 85

Nigel Davenport
Image caption Nigel Davenport was renowned for his deep voice and fulsome moustache

Veteran British actor Nigel Davenport has died at the age of 85.

He died on 25 October after suffering from pneumonia, his agent Nicholas Young told the BBC.

During a career spanning more than 50 years, Davenport appeared in such films as A Man for All Seasons and Chariots of Fire and the TV series Howards' Way.

His son, the actor Jack Davenport, is best known for his roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and BBC series This Life.

"It was a privilege, a pleasure and an honour to have represented Nigel," said Mr Young. "Not only was he an excellent actor, but he was also a charming, warm and witty man.

"His performances over the years were powerful and moving; his voice, the envy of many an aspiring actor, was a joy to listen to.

"Never afraid to give his opinion, he lived life to the full and enjoyed his retirement. Immensely popular on both a personal and professional level, he will be sadly missed."

Image caption Nigel Davenport, in black robe, in a BBC production of Othello in 1955

Born in May 1928, Davenport studied English at Trinity College, Oxford. There he joined the Oxford University Drama Society and decided to pursue a career in acting.

He did most of his early work in theatre, landing his first professional job as an understudy at the Savoy in Noel Coward's Relative Values.

He later joined the English Stage Company at the Royal Court, where he appeared in more than a dozen plays including A Taste of Honey - a play he performed on Broadway in 1960.

On the big screen he appeared in such movies as A High Wind in Jamaica, The Island of Dr Moreau and Without A Clue.

He was best known for his roles as Thomas More's friend, the Duke of Norfolk, in 1966 Oscar winner A Man for All Seasons, and as Olympic committee member Lord Birkenhead in Chariots of Fire.

On the small screen he starred in dozens of TV shows, including The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Saint, The Avengers and South Riding.

In the BBC's 1980s drama Howards' Way he played Sir Edward Frere, the father of property tycoon Charles Frere.

Davenport was an active member of the actors' union Equity and served as its president from 1986 to 1992.

His more recent roles included parts in BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, ITV drama Midsomer Murders and a 2000 dramatisation of David Copperfield.

Davenport was married twice, the second time to actress Maria Aitken. He is survived by sons Jack and Hugo and daughter Laura.

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