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Timothy West

Timothy West

English film, stage, and television actor
Timothy West
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro English film, stage, and television actor
A.K.A. Timothy Lancaster West
Is Singer Opera singer Actor Stage actor Film actor Television actor
From United Kingdom
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music
Gender male
Birth 20 October 1934, Bradford, United Kingdom
Age 87 years
Star sign Libra
Father: Lockwood West
Spouse: Prunella Scales
Children: Samuel West
Height: 1.7526 m
University of Westminster
Bristol Grammar School
Commander of the Order of the British Empire  
Shakespearean comedy
The details (from wikipedia)


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.

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.

In 1989 West played Nigel in The Thames Television Sitcom After Henry alongside his real life wife Prunella Scales who played Sarah France. They appeared together in the episode Upstagers aired on 21st March 1989.

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.

In 2019 he played Private Godfrey in Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes, a recreation of three missing episodes of the BBC comedy Dad's Army.


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.

Personal life

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.

The Guardian crossword setter Biggles referred to West's 50th wedding anniversary in its prize crossword puzzle (number 26,089) on 26 October 2013.

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, West was appointed CBE for his services to drama.

Selected theatre

  • 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

Selected radio

Timothy West was a member of the BBC Radio Drama Repertory Company in 1962 and has taken part in over 500 radio broadcasts.

  • 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.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 15 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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