Peter Bowles

Peter Bowles

85 (passed away Mar. 17th, 2022)
Oct. 16th, 1936
Born in
London, England, UK
6' 2

Peter Bowles' Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Rising Damp (UK) TV Show
Rising Damp (UK)
Rumpole of the Bailey (UK) TV Show
Rumpole of the Bailey (UK)
Callan (UK) TV Show
Callan (UK)
To the Manor Born (UK) TV Show
To the Manor Born (UK)
Only When I Laugh (UK) TV Show
Only When I Laugh (UK)
Executive Stress (UK) TV Show
Executive Stress (UK)
Perfect Scoundrels (UK) TV Show
Perfect Scoundrels (UK)
The Bounder (UK) TV Show
The Bounder (UK)
A Roof Over My Head (UK) TV Show
A Roof Over My Head (UK)
Good Girl (UK) TV Show
Good Girl (UK)
Heroes of Comedy (UK) TV Show
Heroes of Comedy (UK)
Love Story (UK) TV Show
Love Story (UK)
Ryan International (UK) TV Show
Ryan International (UK)
The Gold Robbers (UK) TV Show
The Gold Robbers (UK)
The Informer (UK) TV Show
The Informer (UK)

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


Peter Bowles an English actor, best known for playing Richard DeVere in BBC series To The Manor Born, has died from cancer.

Bowles was born in London, England, the son of Sarah Jane (née Harrison) and Herbert Reginald Bowles. His father was a chauffeur and butler at a stately home in Warwickshire, but upon the outbreak of World War II he was seconded to work as an engineer at Rolls-Royce and moved the family to Nottingham. Bowles attended Nottingham High Pavement Grammar School, where he was taught English by the novelist Stanley Middleton, and then won a scholarship to train as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where he is still an associate.

Bowles started his career with the Old Vic Company in 1956 playing small parts in Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida and Richard II. After a season this company toured North America, concluding with a sell-out season at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway.

Bowles was warned by casting directors on leaving RADA that because of his swarthy looks he would never play an Englishman. Indeed his early career in television consisted mostly of playing foreign villains in such shows as The Avengers (Bowles featured in four series), Danger Man, The Saint, The Persuaders! and The Prisoner (in which he played 'A').

Bowles' final villainous role, on television at least, was playing Balor ('the most evil man in the universe') in an episode of Space: 1999. He also appeared as Caractacus in the TV adaptation of I, Claudius (1976). His first major English role was Guthrie Featherstone QC MP, whom he played in many series of Rumpole of the Bailey (1970–1980).

After playing his first comedy role on TV (Hilary) in an episode of Rising Damp, Bowles was often seen as a comedy actor and parts in comedy series such as Only When I Laugh, The Bounder, Executive Stress and To the Manor Born followed; however, he turned down The Good Life.

The outstanding popularity of To the Manor Born, which had audiences of over 20 million for all twenty-one episodes, changed Bowles' life. After being told by the BBC his success in comedy meant he would never work in drama again, Bowles devised a drama series called Lytton’s Diary, which he sold to ITV. It was while starring in this that he was offered the title role of Major Yeates in the hugely successful TV series The Irish R.M for Channel 4. A headline in the Evening Standard after that series' success read ‘Bowles Saves Channel 4’.

Much of Bowles' work was now being shown on American television, including PBS's Masterpiece Theatre, and he was very flattered to discover that admirers in America of his work included Stephen Sondheim, Quentin Tarantino and Marlon Brando. Following The Irish R.M., Bowles co-devised the comedy/drama series Perfect Scoundrels, which ran for three series on ITV.

In 1991 Bowles took an idea for a dramatic film to the BBC; it was accepted, and after being written and adapted by Simon Gray, became the highly regarded Running Late episode of Screen One. This was to be Bowles' first performance on BBC TV since To the Manor Born fifteen years earlier. Bowles, besides starring, also co-produced with Verity Lambert. The film went on to win The Golden Gate Award in 1993 at the San Francisco International Film Festival and in 2013 was shown to great acclaim at the British Film Institute in London.

Bowles' performance in Running Late was another turning point in his career because it was seen and admired by Sir Peter Hall, who over the next twenty years chose Bowles for eight plays he produced in London’s West End theatres.

Bowles' first leading role in London was offered after playing Byron in Alan Bridges' TV film Shelley:

Bowles' first starring role in the theatre after many years of TV successes was as Archie Rice in John Osborne's The Entertainer at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1986; he was the first actor to play the part in London since Laurence Olivier in 1957.

Bowles has featured in many films in his long career, including Live Now, Pay Later (1962), Three Hats for Lisa (1965), Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup (1966), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), Laughter in the Dark (1969), Eyewitness (1970), Taste of Excitement (1970), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972), The Offence (1972), Endless Night (1972), The Legend of Hell House (1973), For the Love of Benji (1977), The Disappearance (1977), The Steal (1995), The Bank Job (2008), and Alan in Hong Khaou's Lilting (2014) with Ben Whishaw and Cheng Pei-pei.

  • He has performed at the Bristol Old Vic.
  • He is an Associate of RADA.
  • He was offered the Paul Eddington part in The Good Life, but passed because of a dates clash. He later found out from Richard Briers that he would have been able to do both jobs.

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