Peter Firth
Firth at the 2009 BAFTA Awards ceremony, with fellow Spooks cast member, Miranda Raison
Peter Macintosh Firth

(1953-10-27) 27 October 1953 (age 70)
Years active1958–present
SpouseAlexandra Pigg

Peter Macintosh Firth (born 27 October 1953) is an English actor. He is best known for his role as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC One programme Spooks; he is the only actor to have appeared in every episode of the programme's ten-series lifespan. He has given many other television and film performances, most notably as Alan Strang in Equus (1977), earning both a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for the role.

Early life, family and education

Firth was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, the son of publicans Mavis (née Hudson) and Eric Macintosh Firth.[1] He attended Hanson School in Bradford.[2]

Early career

Child actor

Firth was a leading child actor by the middle of 1969, having starred in the first series of The Flaxton Boys as Archie Weekes and then the following year in the series Here Come the Double Deckers, both of which featured child actors in the leading roles. Firth played Scooper, the leader of the gang. In 1972 he also starred in the ITV (London Weekend Television) series The Adventures of Black Beauty, episode "The Runaway", playing David Abbott.

In July 1973, Firth appeared at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre,[3] starring in the stage version of Peter Shaffer's play Equus as a teenager being treated by a psychiatrist, and in October 1974 repeated the role in the Broadway production, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Alan Strang.

Firth starred in an episode of The Protectors, titled “Implicado”, first screened in November 1973. He played Stephen Douglas, an innocent young man, alongside Patrick Mower as a drug dealer.

Next stage of career

Firth's first major role as an adult was the title part in a BBC Television Play of the Month adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1976). The script was based on a stage adaptation by John Osborne, and also starred Jeremy Brett and John Gielgud. That same year saw the release of the World War I film Aces High which featured Firth as the inexperienced RFC pilot Lt. Stephen Croft.

Firth played the lead role in the film adaptation of Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews (1977). That same year he starred with Richard Burton in the film adaptation of Equus. The film was only a moderate box-office success, but earned Firth a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award in the same category. Further film work quickly followed, most notably Roman Polanski's Tess (1979).


Other film work has included roles in Diamonds on Wheels (1973); When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? (1979); Lifeforce (1985); Letter to Brezhnev (1985); Northanger Abbey (1987), playing Henry Tilney; The Hunt for Red October (1990) playing the Soviet political officer Ivan Putin murdered early in the film; White Angel (1993), playing mild-mannered dentist Leslie Steckler; Amistad (1997) playing the strongly anti-slavery Captain Fitzgerald of the Royal Navy; Mighty Joe Young (1998); Pearl Harbor (2001); and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005), playing Lord Northcliffe.


Along with his film career, Firth has continued to appear in television productions, with several notable credits in various high-profile dramas. He starred in two science-fiction episodes of the BBC's Play for Today anthology series as the eponymous time-traveller in the romantic The Flipside of Dominick Hide (1980), and its sequel, Another Flip for Dominick (1982). Firth also had a starring role in Tales Of The Unexpected in 1981. In 1994, in the Fourth Series of Heartbeat, he played Dr. Radcliffe who partnered with Dr. Rowan (Niamh Cusack) in Whitby. He also portrayed the Emperor Vespasian in "The Jewish Revolt" episode of the BBC series Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire.

For many years he had played a primary role as senior MI5 officer Harry Pearce in the BBC's popular spy drama series Spooks (2002–2011), and played Fred Hoyle in Hawking, a BBC dramatisation of the early career of Stephen Hawking. He was also Snaith in the three-part series South Riding in 2011. Firth has also appeared on American and Canadian television, on programmes such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Total Recall 2070, as well as in television films such as The Incident starring Walter Matthau.

In 2014, Firth played the part of the character Andrew Rawlins in Undeniable, a two-part series made for the ITV network. In 2015 he played Jacob Marley in four episodes of the BBC television series Dickensian.

In 2016, he played the part of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover, in ITV's drama series Victoria. In 2018, he played Milos Borisovich, a Belarusian drug lord.


Firth is also a narrator of audiobooks. He has been responsible for performances reading Pat Barker's Regeneration, The Ghost Road and The Eye in the Door, Suspicion by Robert McCrum, Maurice by E. M. Forster, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong and Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Honours and awards

On 17 July 2009, he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Bradford as a Doctor of Letters for his services to acting, having been nominated by the School of Computing, Informatics & Media; he received his award during the school's degree ceremony.[4]

Personal life

Firth lodged with Peter Shaffer throughout the Broadway run of Equus, in a father–son relationship.[5]



Year Title Role Notes
1972 Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Daniel and Maria
1975 King Arthur, the Young Warlord Corin
1976 Aces High Lt Stephen Croft
1977 Joseph Andrews Joseph Andrews
Equus Alan Strang
1979 When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? Stephen Ryder
Tess Angel Clare
1981 Fire and Sword Dinas Original title: "Feuer und Schwert - Die Legende von Tristan und Isolde"
1984 Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Sir Gawain Voice: uncredited
White Elephant Peter Davidson
1985 Lifeforce Col Colin Caine
Letter to Brezhnev Peter
1986 A State of Emergency Kenneth Parrish
1987 Born of Fire Paul Bergson Science Fiction
1988 Prisoner of Rio Clive Ingram
1989 Tree of Hands Terence
Trouble in Paradise Adriaan
1990 The Hunt for Red October Senior Lieutenant Ivan Putin
Burndown Jake Stern
The Rescuers Down Under Red Voice
1992 The Pleasure Principle Dick
1993 El marido perfecto Franz
Shadowlands Dr Craig
1994 White Angel Leslie Steckler
1995 An Awfully Big Adventure Bunny
1996 Merisairas 1st Officer Ronald Jensen
1997 Marco Polo: The Missing Chapter Rusticello
Gaston's War Major Smith
Amistad Captain Fitzgerald
1998 Woundings Louise's Attacker
Mighty Joe Young Garth
1999 Chill Factor Colonel Andrew Brynner
2001 Pearl Harbor Capt. Mervyn Bennion
2005 The Greatest Game Ever Played Lord Northcliffe
2010 World Without End Sir Roland
2015 Spooks: The Greater Good Harry Pearce
2016 Risen Pontius Pilate
Happily Ever After Walt


Year Title Role Notes
1969 How We Used to Live Urchin Episode: "At the Seaside"
The Flaxton Boys Archie Weeks 13 episodes
1970-1971 Here Come the Double Deckers Scooper 17 episodes
The Doctors Charlie Higson 7 episodes
1972 The Magistrate Cis Farringdon BBC Play of the Month
The Adventures of Black Beauty David Abbott Episode: "Runaway"
1972-1973 Country Matters Roger Blackburn/Tommy Adams 2 episodes
1973 Owen, M.D. David Redman Episode: "The Love Game"
Scene Ben Bagot Episode: "The Ballad of Ben Bagot"
The Protectors Stephen Douglas Episode: "Implicado"
Her Majesty's Pleasure Arsenic BBC1 Play for Today
Arthur of the Britons Corin Episode: "The Pupil"
Diamonds on Wheels Robert 'Bobby' Stewart TV film - Disney
1976 The Picture of Dorian Gray Dorian Gray BBC Play of the Month
The Lady of the Camellias Armand Duval 2 episodes
1980 Tales of the Unexpected Hardy Episode: "The Man at the Top"
The Flipside of Dominick Hide Dominick Hide BBC1 Play for Today
1982 Another Flip for Dominick Dominick Hide BBC1 Play for Today
1983 The Aerodrome Roy TV film
1987 Tickets for the Titanic Michael Episode: "The Way, the Truth, the Video"
Northanger Abbey Henry Tilney BBC Screen Two
1990 The Incident Geiger TV film
Children Crossing Joe BBC Screen Two
Blood Royal: William the Conqueror William Rufus TV film
The Incident Geiger TV film
Murder in Eden Kenneth Potter BBC mini series
1991 The Laughter of God Steve Clemant BBC Screen Two
Prisoner of Honor Maj Henry
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Stefan Episode: "Istanbul, September 1918"
1994 Anna Lee Peter Wainwright Episode: "Stalker"
Highlander: The Series Arthur Drake, aka Drakov Episode: "Warmonger"
Heartbeat Dr. James Radcliffe 7 episodes
1995 Resort to Murder Peter Dennigan TV mini series
Soldier Soldier Major Ben Collins Episode: "Leaving"
1996 The Witch's Daughter Mr Jones TV film
Band of Gold Brian Roberts 4 episodes
And the Beat Goes On Francis 4 episodes
1997 Holding On Mick TV mini series
The Broker's Man Alex 'Godzilla' Turnbull 4 episodes
Kavanagh QC Charlie Beck Episode: "Ancient History"
The Garden of Redemption Nazi Commandant TV film
1998 Dead Man's Gun Det. Insp. Archibald McCann Episode: "The Ripper"
1999 The Magnificent Seven Federal Marshal Walter Bryce Episode: "The New Law"
Cracker Mitchell Grady Episode: "Best Boys"
Total Recall 2070 Vincent Nagle 3 episodes
2000 The Magicians Simon Magus TV film
2000-2001 That's Life Victor Leski 20 episodes
2002 Me & Mrs Jones Benedict TV film
The Vice Keith Beaumont Episode: "No Man's Land"
2002–2011 Spooks Harry Pearce
2004 Hawking Sir Fred Hoyle TV film
2005 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Preston Blair Episode: "Identity"
2006 Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire Vespasian TV mini series documentary
The Battle for Rome Vespasian TV mini series
2011 South Riding Anthony Snaith TV mini series
2012 World Without End Sir Roland
2013 Mayday Malcolm Spicer
2014 Undeniable Andrew Rawlins
Lives of the Infamous Comedy Blaps Narrator TV mini series
2015 Spooks: The Greater Good Harry Pearce
2015–2016 Dickensian Jacob Marley
2016 Victoria Duke of Cumberland
2018 Strike Back Milos Borisovich TV series
2019 Cheat Michael TV series
Summer of Rockets Tezler TV series

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2000 Star Wars: Force Commander Capt. Beri Tulon Real-time strategy video game


Year Title Author Un-/Abridged Notes
1996 After Hannibal Barry Unsworth Unabridged
1997 Brave New World Aldous Huxley Unabridged
1997 Suspicion Robert McCrum Unabridged
2005 Tess of the d'Urbervilles Thomas Hardy Abridged 2 hrs and 49 mins
2008 Tess of the d'Urbervilles Thomas Hardy Unabridged 14 hrs and 42 mins
2009 Witness Nick Warburton Unabridged One of four narrators
2010 Maurice E. M. Forster Unabridged
2011 Birdsong Sebastian Faulks Unabridged
2015 Amok: An Audible Original Drama Sebastian Fitzek Unabridged One of six narrators
2019 Regeneration Pat Barker Unabridged Regeneration Trilogy - Book 1
2019 The Eye in the Door Pat Barker Unabridged Regeneration Trilogy - Book 2
2019 The Ghost Road Pat Barker Unabridged Regeneration Trilogy - Book 3


  1. ^ "Peter Firth Biography (1953–)". Film Reference Library. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  2. ^ "My Yorkshire: Peter Firth". The Yorkshire Post. 19 November 2010. Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  3. ^ "National Theatre: 1970s". Rob Wilton Theatricalia. Archived from the original on 19 April 2003. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Honorary graduations at the University of Bradford". University of Bradford. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
  5. ^ Gruen, John (27 October 1974). "'Equus' Makes A Star Of Firth". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2020.