Kenneth Colley
Kenneth Colley Gen SW 2010 2.jpg
Born (1937-12-07) 7 December 1937 (age 84)
Years active1961–present

Kenneth Colley (born 7 December 1937) is an English film and television actor whose career spans over 60 years. He came to wider prominence through his role as Admiral Piett in the Star Wars films The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983).


Colley was born in Manchester, Lancashire.[1] One of his early appearances on British television was as Noah Riley in the 1970s police drama The Sweeney, in an episode entitled Trap.[2] He played Jesus in The Life of Brian, having also appeared in the earlier Monty Python-related production Ripping Yarns episode "The Testing of Eric Olthwaite" alongside Michael Palin.[1] As a Shakespearean actor he played the Duke of Vienna in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure in 1979.[3]

Colley worked extensively with British director Ken Russell from the early 1970s to the early 1990s as part of a repertory of actors who appeared across Russell's television and film work.[4] He played the role of Modest Tchaikovsky in the film The Music Lovers (1971). He went on to play the role of LeGrand in Russell's The Devils (also 1971); he played the journalist Krenek in the biopic Mahler (1974); the composer Frédéric Chopin in Lisztomania (1975); Mr Brunt in Russell's adaptation of The Rainbow (1989) by D. H. Lawrence.[1] His last role for Russell was as Captain Dreyfus in the film Prisoner of Honor (1991), which dealt with the Dreyfus affair.[5]

For his work in the Star Wars franchise, Colley's role as Admiral Piett is noted for differing from the other ill-fated Imperial officers who appeared alongside him in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), as Colley was the only actor to play an Imperial officer in a second Star Wars film, reprising his role in Return of the Jedi (1983).[6] Colley reprised his role as Piett in the Cartoon Network animated special Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out in September 2012.[7] Coincidentally, Colley and David Prowse had a part in the fantasy film Jabberwocky (1977).[8]

Colley also played a notable role in the 1982 Clint Eastwood film Firefox, where he played a Soviet colonel tasked with the protection of the Firefox and its secrets.[9] He went on to play SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel in the Second World War drama War and Remembrance.[10]

Colley has directed one film to date, Greetings (2007), a horror film starring Kirsty Cox, Henry Dunn and Ben Shockley.[11]

In 2017, Colley recorded a series of short narrations for inclusion on Pop Wasteland, an album by Folkestone band Phenomenal Cat.[12]

Personal life

Colley lives in Hythe, Kent.[13]

According to comments which Terry Gilliam (who directed him in Jabberwocky and acted with him in Life of Brian) made in the DVD audio commentaries for both films, Colley has a stammer in real life. When he had a role in a film, however, he could recite the lines perfectly. Stuttering is a character trait, however, in his role as the Accordion Man in the 1978 BBC television drama, Pennies from Heaven.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1964 Seventy Deadly Pills Covent Garden Porter
1967 The Jokers De Winter
How I Won the War 2nd Replacement
1968 The Blood Beast Terror James
1970 Performance Tony Farrell credited as Ken Colley
The Music Lovers Modeste Tchaikovsky
1971 The Devils Legrand
1972 The Triple Echo Provo Corporal credited as Ken Colley
1973 Hitler: The Last Ten Days Boldt Uncredited
1974 Fall of Eagles Father Gapon
Mahler Krenek credited as Ken Colley
Juggernaut Detective Brown
1975 Slade in Flame Tony Devlin
Lisztomania Frédéric Chopin credited as Ken Colley
1977 Jabberwocky 1st Fanatic
1979 Measure For Measure The Duke of Vienna
Monty Python's Life of Brian Jesus
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Admiral Piett
1981 Peter and Paul Theodotus
1982 Firefox Colonel Kontarsky
Giro City Martin
1983 The Scarlet and the Black Captain Hirsch credited as Ken Colley
Return of the Jedi Admiral Piett
1984 Return to Waterloo The Traveller
1987 The Whistle Blower Bill Pickett
1988 A Summer Story Jim credited as Ken Colley
1989 The Rainbow Mr. Brunt credited as Ken Colley
1990 The Plot to Kill Hitler Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel
I Hired a Contract Killer The Killer
The Last Island Nick
1992 La Vie de Bohème Balayeur de rues
1996 El último viaje de Robert Rylands Archdale
Brassed Off Greasley credited as Ken Colley
1997 Shadow Run Larcombe
1999 Hold Back the Night Uncle Bob
Holding On Phil
2007 Greetings Ken
2013 Scar Tissue Weaver


Year Title Role Notes
1963: The Avengers (TV series) (episode: Don't look behind you) A young man 1 episode
1963 Thorndyke Ellis 1 episode
1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Farrish 2 episodes
1974 The Nine Tailors "Potty" Peake TV mini-series, Series 1 Episode 3, Lord Peter Wimsey
1974 Special Branch Oliver TV series, Series 4 Episode 9, Date of Birth
1975 The Sweeney Noah Riley TV series, Series 2 Episode 6, Trap
1977 Ripping Yarns Arthur, The Robber 1 episode, The Testing of Eric Outhwaite
1978 Les Misérables Police Prefect TV film
1978 Pennies from Heaven The Accordion Man 6 episodes, TV mini-series
1979 Measure for Measure Duke BBC Shakespeare series
The Danedyke Mystery Major 6 episodes, TV series
1985 Wallenberg: A Hero's Story Adolf Eichmann TV film
Mussolini: The Untold Story King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy TV mini-series
1982 I Remember Nelson Admiral Lord Nelson
1986 Return to Treasure Island Ben Gunn 10 episodes, credited as Ken Colley
1988 War and Remembrance SS Standartenführer Paul Blobel 2 episodes, TV mini-series
1990 Agatha Christie's Poirot Mathew Davenheim 1 episode, "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim"
1991 Inspector Morse DCI Patrick Dawson Episode 16 Second Time Around
Prisoner of Honour Captain Alfred Dreyfus TV film
1993 Unnatural Causes Inspector Gerry Reckless TV film
1994-1995 Moving Story Ken Uttley 13 episodes
1995 Solomon & Sheba Nathan TV film
1995-1999 The Bill Various Characters 3 episodes, credited as Ken Colley in 1999
1999 The Last Train Mark Episode Five, credited as Ken Colley
2001 Midsomer Murders Lloyd Kirby 1 episode, The Electric Vendetta
2002 Relic Hunter Professor Lamenza 1 episode, Faux Fox
2003 EastEnders Brian 3 episodes
2005 Like Father Like Son Rawsthorne 2 episodes
2006 Foyle's War Brian Jones 1 episode, Bad Blood
2009 Casualty 1909 Dr. Frederick Smith 3 episodes
2012 Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out Admiral Piett TV film, credited as Kenneth Cooley
2013 Vera Ronald Devreux Series 3, Episode 3 Young Gods
Misfits Old Rudy Series 5, Episode 4
2016 Peaky Blinders Vicente Changretta Series 3, Episodes 2 & 3


  1. ^ a b c "Kenneth Colley". BFI.
  2. ^ "Trap (1975)". BFI.
  3. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Measure For Measure (1979)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Kenneth Colley | Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
  5. ^ "Prisoner of Honour (1991) - Ken Russell | Cast and Crew | AllMovie" – via
  6. ^ Daniel Mumby. "10 Actors Who Weren't Able to Let Star Wars Go - Page 2". What Culture. Retrieved 8 December 2015. ...since his character is the only Imperial officer to last more than one Star Wars film
  7. ^ Milton, Luke (18 September 2012). "Interview: Writer Michael Price Reveals LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out!". Fruitless Pursuits. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  8. ^ "Jabberwocky (1977)". BFI. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Firefox (1982) - Clint Eastwood | Cast and Crew | AllMovie" – via
  10. ^ "Kenneth Colley | TV Guide".
  11. ^ "Greetings (2007) - Kenneth Colley | Cast and Crew | AllMovie" – via
  12. ^ Werksman, Hans. "Pop Wasteland album review". Here Comes The Flood.
  13. ^ Leclere, Matt (29 October 2015). "Sir Ian McKellen lends a touch of magic to Folkestone's Leas Pavilion campaign". Kent Online. Retrieved 8 December 2015. Ken Colley, from Hythe
  14. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Pennies From Heaven (1978)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 8 December 2015.