Tim Pigott-Smith

Tim Pigott-Smith as King Charles III.png
Pigott-Smith in King Charles III (2017)
Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith

(1946-05-13)13 May 1946
Died7 April 2017(2017-04-07) (aged 70)
Resting placeHighgate Cemetery, London, England
Years active1971–2017
Pamela Miles
(m. 1972)
AwardsBAFTA TV Award
Best Actor
1985 The Jewel in the Crown

Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, OBE (13 May 1946 – 7 April 2017)[1] was an English film and television actor and author. He was best known for his leading role as Ronald Merrick in the television drama series The Jewel in the Crown, for which he won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1985.[2] Other noted TV roles included roles in The Chief, Midsomer Murders, The Vice, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, King Charles III and two Doctor Who stories (The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976)). Pigott-Smith appeared in many notable films including: Clash of the Titans (1981), Gangs of New York (2002), Johnny English (2003), Alexander (2004), V for Vendetta (2005), Quantum of Solace (2008), Red 2 (2013) and Jupiter Ascending (2015).

Early life

Pigott-Smith was born in Rugby, Warwickshire, the son of Margaret Muriel (née Goodman) and Harry Thomas Pigott-Smith, who was a journalist.[3][4] He was educated at Wyggeston Boys' School, Leicester, King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bristol University. He trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.


Film and television

After a long career in smaller roles, Pigott-Smith's appearance as Arthur Llewellyn Davies in the BBC's The Lost Boys mini-series led to his gaining his big break with the leading role of Ronald Merrick in the 1984 television serial The Jewel in the Crown. Other appearances include the title role in the crime drama series The Chief (1990–1993), a recurring role in ITV drama The Vice as Ken Stott's nemesis, Vickers, and Bloody Sunday. He appeared in two adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South; in the 1975 version he played Frederick Hale and in 2004 he played Frederick's father Richard. In 1995, he starred in a serial of the series Ghosts.

He appeared twice in Doctor Who: in the stories The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976).

He was a regular narrator of documentary television series. He narrated The Team: A Season with McLaren, a six-episode BBC series about the 1993 season with McLaren Racing. He also narrated the Battlefield series, which examines pivotal battles of the Second World War from an operations point of view. Later, he narrated a series on the British Royal Family, entitled Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work. The series followed Queen Elizabeth II for more than a year, including the 2007 state visit to the United States.

From 2011 to 2014, he portrayed Commissioner Mayne in the ITV drama series The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, written by Helen Edmundson.[5]

He appeared in Lewis in 2015 as a taxidermist in the episode "One For Sorrow". He also appeared on the ITV series, Downton Abbey in the third series' (third season) fifth episode as obstetrician/gynaecologist Sir Philip Tapsell, who was present at the death of Lady Sybil Crawley Branson (Jessica Brown Findlay) from eclampsia after giving birth to her daughter.

His film career included the 2004 film Alexander, The Four Feathers, Clash of the Titans, Gangs of New York, Johnny English, The Remains of the Day and V for Vendetta. He also appeared as Major General Robert Ford in director Paul Greengrass's Bloody Sunday (2002), and as the Foreign Secretary in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace (2008). In February 2010 Piggott-Smith played Alan Keen in the television film On Expenses. He also had a cameo appearance as Sniggs in the BBC production of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall in 2017. His final film role was that of Sir Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's Private Secretary, in Victoria & Abdul (2017).[6]

Stage and radio

Pigott-Smith worked in the theatre in Shakespearean and Greek roles, including Posthumus in John Barton's 1974 production of Cymbeline for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In early stage roles he was credited as "Tim Smith".

In 2011 he took the title role in King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.[7]

Contemporary works included Enron, playing Ken Lay, for the Chichester Festival Theatre, and then London, in 2009 and Tobias in A Delicate Balance at the Almeida Theatre, London in 2011.[8][9] He returned to the Almeida in 2014 as a post-accession Charles, Prince of Wales in King Charles III,[10] for which he received a nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Actor, and his first Tony Award nomination for its production on Broadway in 2015.[citation needed] He also appeared as Charles in the 2017 film adaptation of the play.[citation needed]

He was also a radio actor, appearing in many productions on BBC Radio 4.[citation needed]

Grave of Tim Piggott-Smith in Highgate Cemetery (east side)
Grave of Tim Piggott-Smith in Highgate Cemetery (east side)


During the making of The Jewel in the Crown, Pigott-Smith wrote a diary on his impressions of India. This was published together with an anthology of poetry and prose under the title Out of India.[11]

He wrote two children's books in the series The Baker Street Mysteries, featuring the exploits of Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street IrregularsThe Dragon Tattoo (2008) and Shadow of Evil (2009). He played Holmes in a BBC Radio adaptation of The Valley of Fear.


Pigott-Smith was found dead on 7 April 2017, aged 70. His death was attributed to natural causes. He had been scheduled to appear in a touring production of Death of a Salesman, with opening night in Northampton only three days later.[1] His wife Pamela Miles was also originally scheduled to appear in the play but had withdrawn after breaking a bone and needing surgery.[12] He is buried on the east side of Highgate Cemetery.

Filmography and more


Year Title Role Director(s) Notes
1976 Aces High Major Stoppard Jack Gold
1977 Joseph Andrews Cornet Tony Richardson
1980 Sweet William Gerald Claude Whatham
Richard's Things Peter Anthony Harvey
1981 Clash of the Titans Thallo Desmond Davis
Escape to Victory Major Rose John Huston
1986 A State of Emergency Father Joe Ryan Richard C. Bennett
1987 The Race for the Double Helix

(aka Life Story)

Francis Crick Mick Jackson
1993 The Remains of the Day Thomas Benn James Ivory
2000 Innocents James Wisheart Peter Kosminsky
2002 Safe Conduct Fleming Bertrand Tavernier
Bloody Sunday Major General Robert Ford Paul Greengrass
The Four Feathers General Faversham Shekhar Kapur
Gangs of New York Calvinist Minister Martin Scorsese
2003 Johnny English Pegasus, Head of MI7 Peter Howitt
Eroica Count Dietrichstein Simon Cellan Jones
2004 Alexander Omen Reader Oliver Stone
2006 V for Vendetta Peter Creedy James McTeigue
L'Entente Cordiale S.I. Masterson Vincent De Brus
Flyboys Mr. Lowry Tony Bill
2008 Quantum of Solace Foreign Secretary Marc Forster
2010 Alice in Wonderland Lord Ascot Tim Burton
2011 My Piece of the Pie Mr. Brown Cédric Klapisch
2013 RED 2 Director Philips Dean Parisot
2015 Jupiter Ascending Malidictes The Wachowskis
2016 Whisky Galore! Woolsey Gillies MacKinnon
2017 6 Days William Whitelaw Toa Fraser Posthumous release
King Charles III Charles III Rupert Goold Posthumous release
Victoria & Abdul Sir Henry Ponsonby Stephen Frears Posthumous release
The Little Vampire 3D Frederick Richard Claus & Karsten Kiilerich Posthumous release, Voice, (final film role)


Year Title Role Director(s) Notes
1971 Doctor Who (The Claws of Axos) Captain Harker Michael Ferguson Parts 3 + 4
1976 Doctor Who (The Masque of Mandragora) Marco Rodney Bennett 4 episodes
1979 Measure for Measure Angelo Desmond Davis BBC Shakespeare series
1979 Danger UXB
1979 Henry IV Pt 1 Henry 'Hotspur' Percy David Giles BBC Shakespeare series
1980 Tis Pity She's a Whore Vasque Roland Joffe BBC
1982 I Remember Nelson Capt. Thomas Hardy 4 episodes
1984 The Jewel in the Crown Ronald Merrick Main Cast
1986 Dead Man's Folly Sir George Stubbs Clive Donner Television movie
1987 Life Story Francis Crick Mick Jackson 1988 BAFTA TV Award as the Best Single Drama
1990–93 The Chief (British TV series) Chief Constable John Stafford First two series
1993 The Team - A Season With McLaren Narrator 1 series 6 episodes
1994 Battlefield Narrator 3 series
2004 North and South Richard Hale Main cast
2006 Agatha Christie's Poirot Dr. Lionel Woodward Series 10, Episode: Taken at the Flood
2007 HolbyBlue DCI Harry Hutchinson Series 1
2008 Midsomer Murders Matt Parkes Renny Rye Episode: "Days of Misrule"
2010 Foyle's War Brigadier Timothy Wilson Stuart Orme Series 6, Episode 1: Foyle's War (series 6)
2011 The Hour Lord Elms Coky Giedroyc, Jamie Payne Series 1, Episode 1, 2, 6: The Hour (Series 1)
2012 Downton Abbey Sir Philip Tapsell Jeremy Webb
2011-14 The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Commissioner Mayne Screenplay by Helen Edmundson
2013 Wodehouse in Exile P.G. Wodehouse Tim Fywell Screenplay by Nigel Williams
2013 Silent Witness (S:16 Ep:1) Laura Mackie, Jessica Pope
2013 Miranda (S:3 Ep:3) Valerie Jackford
2014 37 Days Herbert Henry Asquith Justin Hardy TV 3-part miniseries
2015 Inspector Lewis "One For Sorrow" Jasper Hammond Nicholas Laughland Parts 1 and 2

Audiobook narration

Year Book title Author Notes
2000 Blue at the Mizzen Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Fortune of War Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 Desolation Island Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Far Side of the World Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 7 November
2000 The Ionian Mission Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Letter of Marque Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 4 July
2000 The Mauritius Command Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2001 The Nutmeg of Consolation Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 7 August
2000 The Reverse of the Medal Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2000 The Surgeon's Mate Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 July
2001 The Thirteen Gun Salute Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 5 June
2001 The Truelove Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 9 October
2002 The Wine-Dark Sea Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 22 January
2000 Treason's Harbour Patrick O'Brian Release Date: 10 October
2000 Seven Years in Tibet Heinrich Harrer Release Date: 5 July
1995 (?) The Warlord Trilogy Bernard Cornwell
2000 Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage Alfred Lansing Release Date: 23 May

Awards and honours

Pigott-Smith won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in 1985, for his role in The Jewel in the Crown.[2] In 2014–15, he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for his lead role in the play King Charles III.[12] He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to drama.[13]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1985 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor The Jewel in the Crown Won
2002 Fantasporto Award Directors' Week Award for Best Actor Bloody Sunday Won
2018 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor King Charles III Nominated


  1. ^ a b Paulson, Michael (8 April 2017). "Tim Pigott-Smith, Actor Who Put Prince Charles on the Throne, Dies at 70". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b "1985 Television Actor BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Tim Pigott-Smith Biography (1946–)". www.filmreference.com. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Former Advertiser remembers award-winning Rugby actor best known for his police chief role". Rugby Advertiser. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  5. ^ "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Season 3".
  6. ^ "Tim Pigott-Smith". BFI. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  7. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (29 September 2011). "King Lear, West Yorkshire Playhouse". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  8. ^ Sell, Michael (23 July 2009). "Reviews: Enron". The Stage. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  9. ^ Dowell, Ben (13 May 2011). "Reviews:A Delicate Balance". The Stage. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  10. ^ Curtis, Nick (3 April 2014). "What would happen if Prince Charles was made king?". Evening Standard. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  11. ^ Oration for award of honorary D.Litt to Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, University Of Bristol 2008
  12. ^ a b "Actor Tim Pigott-Smith dies aged 70". BBC News. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  13. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N14.