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Tributes paid to ‘great friend and supporter’

Tim Pigott-Smith as Duke of Florence in Women Women Beware Women at the RSC.
Tim Pigott-Smith as Duke of Florence in Women Women Beware Women at the RSC.

TRIBUTES have been paid to actor and former Stratford resident Tim Pigott-Smith OBE who died suddenly in April 2017, aged 70.

Although born in Rugby, Tim lived in Stratford for many years. He was a student at King Edward VI School (KES), and while here embraced many of the fine acting skills he was to portray on stage and screen in later life.

His dad, Harry, was editor of the Stratford Herald between 1962 and 1975, and Tim himself guest edited the newspaper’s arts pages in 2005.

Current headmaster of KES, Bennet Carr, said: “Tim was not only a former Head Boy of whom we were very proud, he was a great friend and supporter who maintained a genuine interest in the school.

“He performed alongside current students in our centenary production of Henry V in the RSC’s Swan Theatre in 2013 and was due to officially open our new library and teaching facilities later this year.

“We will miss his presence and his characteristic warmth and generosity. It is a very sad day for the school.”

RSC artistic director, Gregory Doran, said: “Tim was the most versatile of actors, working across all media and for all the major companies. He was probably most famous for his role as Merrick, the sadistic Army colonel in the ITV series, The Jewel in the Crown (1984), and his most recent success was as King Charles III in a production which started at the Almeida Theatre, before moving to the West End and Broadway.

"For those who did not catch it, luckily the play has been filmed for BBC2.”

Tim was at KES between 1962 and 1964, and became Head Boy, Head of Shakespeare House, and played for both the 1st XV and 1st X1.

His gift for acting was evident early when he was praised as ‘a subtle and splendid’ Claudius in the School’s 1963 production of Hamlet.

As part of the KES celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth the following year, he gave an exceptionally mature and intelligent performance as Henry V. He maintained a close connection with the school throughout his career.

In the 1990s he acted as adjudicator in the School’s Flower Reading Competition, and in 2000 he was guest speaker at Speech Day.

In 2013 he returned to the School and to Henry V, this time to give a wonderful and splendidly selfless performance as the Chorus in the 100th commemorative production by Edward’s Boys at the Swan Theatre.

Tim joined the RSC in 1972, playing small roles in the Roman Season before in 1974 he played Posthumous Leonatus in John Barton’s Cymbeline, and Dr Watson in the now famous production of Sherlock Homes with John Wood.

Tim was a febrile Cassius for Ed Hall in Julius Caesar in 2001.

His last appearance with the RSC was in 2006 in Laurence Boswell’s production of Middleton’s Women Beware Women opposite Penelope Wilton.

Elsewhere Tim had a full and varied career, playing Leontes and Iachimo in Peter Hall’s productions of Shakespeare’s Late Plays at the National; Angelo and Hotspur in the BBC Shakespeares.

He was King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011, and Prospero for Adrian Noble at Bath in 2012.

He became an RSC Associate Artist in 2012, and served on both the RSC board, from 2005 until 2011, and as a governor from 2005 until he retired in 2016.

In January, Tim was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

He told the Herald at the time: “It was very gratifying although everything is conducted in strictest confidence. It was an informal letter but also a surprise to be given an OBE for Services to Drama.”

He was due to appear in a production of Death of a Salesman for Northampton’s Royal and Derngate, and had recently been in contact with the Herald as he was writing his autobiography.

He leaves his wife, actress Pamela Miles, and son, Tom.

His agent, John Grant, said: “Much-loved and admired by his peers, he will be remembered by many as a gentleman and a true friend. He will be much missed.”

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