Timothy West

Timothy West

Oct. 20th, 1934
Born in
Bradford, Yorkshire, England, UK
5' 9"

Timothy West's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
A History of Britain (UK) TV Show
A History of Britain (UK)
After Henry (UK) TV Show
After Henry (UK)
Brass (UK) TV Show
Brass (UK)
Crime and Punishment (UK) TV Show
Crime and Punishment (UK)
Persuasion (UK) (1960) TV Show
Persuasion (UK) (1960)
Tender is the Night TV Show
Tender is the Night
The Big Knights (UK) TV Show
The Big Knights (UK)
Bedtime (UK) TV Show
Bedtime (UK)
Edward the Seventh (UK) TV Show
Edward the Seventh (UK)
Hard Times (UK) TV Show
Hard Times (UK)
Witch Hunt (UK) TV Show
Witch Hunt (UK)

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


A versatile British actor noted for his great power and command on the classical stage and in several other mediums including radio, film and TV, Timothy West was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, on October 20, 1934, the son of actors (Harry) Lockwood West and his wife Olive (Carleton-Crowe). Educated at John Lyon School and the Polytechnic, he first appeared on the stage in 1956 at the Wimbledon Theatre in a production of "Summertime." He then spent several seasons in repertory at such venues as Wimbledon, Newquay, Hull, Northampton, Worthing and Salisbury. He made his London debut at the Piccadilly Theatre in the comical farce "Caught Napping" in 1959.

For the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Aldwych (in 1964), he appeared in "Afore Night Come" and "The Marat-Sade," in addition to building up his Shakespeare repertoire with roles in "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "Love's Labour's Lost," "The Merchant of Venice," "The Comedy of Errors" and "Timon of Athens." For the Prospect Theatre Company he appeared he took on the Shakespearean roles of Prospero ("The Tempest"), Claudius ("Hamlet"), Bolingbroke ("Richard II") and Mortimer ("Edward II"), among others. He also played the noted historical figure Samuel Johnson in two plays.

Along with definitive portrayals of Lear, Macbeth, Falstaff and Shylock, he became well-respected as a stage director. More recently he directed a touring production of "H.M.S. Pinafore" while delightfully grandstanding in the role of Sir Joseph Porter. Other recent performances at age 70+ include "National Hero" and the title role in "The Life of Galileo."

Cutting a grand and imposing Wellesian figure, his acclaimed work on TV has included recreating a number of his classical characters. He has played kingly roles, such as his superb Edward VII in the epic miniseries "Edward the Seventh" (1975), and essayed a number of notable historical figures such as Cardinal Wolsey in The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight (1979) (TV), Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbechev in Breakthrough at Reykjavik (1987) (TV) and Martin Luther (2002) (TV). He has portrayed Winston Churchill a number of times in such master productions as Churchill and the Generals (1979) (TV), "The Last Bastion" (1984) and Hiroshima (1995) (TV), while his extended gallery of greats have gone on to include Sir Thomas Beecham and Joseph Stalin.

Although his star shines less bright on film, he has nevertheless contributed greatly over the years with marvelously stern and scowling character roles in such prestigious fare as Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), The Day of the Jackal (1973), Hedda (1975) (as Judge Brack), Agatha (1979), Cry Freedom (1987), Ever After (1998) and Iris (2001/I).

Long married to second wife actress/comedienne Prunella Scales, the couple have appeared together on stage over the years in such productions as "When We Are Married," "A Long Day's Journey Into Night," "The Birthday Party" and "The External." They have two sons, Joe and Samuel West (I), the latter also an actor of note. Timothy's daughter Juliet is from his first marriage. A gifted raconteur, he is the author of several books, including "I'm Here I Think, Where are You?," a collection of letters written while on tour, his autobiography "A Moment Towards the End of the Play," and, his most recent, "So You Want to Be an Actor?" co-written with wife Prunella. In 1984 he was made CBE for his services to the profession and has received honorary doctorates from six different universities.

  • He was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to drama in 1984. His wife, Prunella Scales, was awarded a C.B.E. in 1992.
  • West's young sons, Samuel and Joseph, appeared as his on-screen sons, George and Eddy, when he played the title role in "Edward the Seventh" in 1975.
  • Has a daughter named Juliet.
  • Is the President of the prestigious drama school London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), in London.
  • Father of 'Samuel West (I)' (qv).
  • Met second wife 'Prunella Scales' (qv) in 1960 when they appeared together in the TV production "She Died Young." They married three years later after his divorce.
  • A big fan of boating, he has owned a narrowboat since 1979 and regularly holidays on it with his family. He also is vice-president of The Waterways Trust, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and a patron of the Huddersfield Canal Society. He was also involved in the restoration of The Waverley, the world's last ocean-going paddle steamer.
  • Both he and his father 'Lockwood West' (qv) have played King Edward VII. He played the monarch in _"Edward the Seventh" (1975)_ (qv) while the elder West played him in both _"Upstairs, Downstairs" (1971) {Guest of Honour (#2.5)}_ (qv) and _"The Life and Times of David Lloyd George" (1981) {All Flesh Is Grass (#1.4)}_ (qv).

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