Our Artistic Director Gregory Doran pays tribute to the actor and RSC Associate Artist Tim Pigott-Smith, who sadly died last week.

I am very sad to hear of the untimely death of Tim Pigott-Smith at the age of 70.

Tim was educated here in Stratford-upon-Avon, becoming Head Boy at King Edward School. He returned to play the Chorus in their production of Henry V in the Swan Theatre in 2013, to mark the lives of those KES Boys lost in the Great War. Tim even worked part-time in the RSC paint-shop.

Hayley Atwell and Tim Pigott Smith, seated, dressed in white - he leafs through some papers
Tim Pigott Smith with Hayley Atwell in Women Beware Women (2006).
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC Browse and license our images

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.

He joined the RSC in 1972, playing small roles in the Roman Season. Then 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 us was in 2006 in Laurence Boswell’s production of Middleton’s Women Beware Women (pictured) opposite Penelope Wilton.

Elsewhere Tim had a full and varied career. In the Shakespeare canon, he played 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.

Tim 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.

Gregory Doran

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