Rugby-born actor Tim Pigott-Smith dies

Tim Pigott-Smith was due to star in Death of a Salesman in Northampton NNL-170328-114500001
Tim Pigott-Smith was due to star in Death of a Salesman in Northampton NNL-170328-114500001

Rugby-born actor Tim Pigott-Smith, who starred in Downton Abbey and was due to star in a play in Northampton, died on Friday (April 7).

Tim Pigott-Smith, OBE, aged 70, was found dead at a private address in Northampton.

He was billed to star as the lead role in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, debuting at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate Theatre on Monday (April 10).

An ambulance was called to an address in Woolmonger Street, Northampton, at around 9.45am today after a caller reported a man had collapsed.

The death has been confirmed by HM coroner Anne Pember.

A statement released by his agent John Grant on Friday said: “It is with deep regret that I have to announce the sad news that Tim Pigott-Smith died this morning.

“Tim was one of the great actors of his generation.

“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.

“We ask that you respect the privacy of his wife, the actress Pamela Miles, and his son Tom and the family.”

Tim Pigott-Smith was born on May 13, 1946, in Rugby. He trained at Bristol Old Vic.

He became a household name after appearing in the TV series The Jewel in the Crown (1984), for which he won the BAFTA Award for best actor, and went on to become a familiar face on film, TV and stage.

His performance as Charles in Mike Bartlett’s play, King Charles III, at the Almeida Theatre then in the West End and on Broadway, won him Olivier and Tony Award nominations and has been made in to a TV film which will be broadcast on BBC 2 later this year.

He was awarded the OBE for services to drama in the 2017 New Years Honours.

He wrote The Baker Street Mysteries series of children’s books.

Royal & Derngate’s chief executive Martin Sutherland and artistic director James Dacre said: “Everyone at Royal & Derngate and all involved with the production of Death of a Salesman are deeply saddened by this tragic news.

“Our heartfelt sympathies at this time are with Tim’s wife Pamela and their family.”

In an interview with the Northampton Chronicle & Echo this week about his upcoming role, Mr Pigott-Smith said: “I have been very lucky with the career that I have had, and the parts I have been asked to play.

“It is just a privilege to be a part of this show. I think it has the most wonderful quality.”

Mr Pigott-Smith was well known for starring in the 1984 British serial drama The Jewel in the Crown, which The Guardian described as a ‘high-water mark of 1980s British TV’.

He appeared in dozens of British television shows over his 50-year career, including Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders, Silent Witness and Downton Abbey.

“I have to mention Jewel in the Crown as a favourite, as well as a TV series called The Lost Boys which was all about the life of James Barrie and his inspiration of creating Peter Pan,” he said.

“I was talking to people who own the DVD of Jewel in the Crown and they say that it still holds up. I haven’t seen it since we did it. It is a great piece and I read so much, I read all the time while I was out there.”

Mr Pigott-Smith was also nominated for an Olivier and a Tony Award for the lead role in Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III as Willy Loman.

He was awarded an OBE for his services to acting in the 2017 New Year’s honours list.

“It was absolutely wonderful to get the OBE. It started off with a really informal letter and had to re-read it a couple of times before eventually, I said to Pam [his wife], ‘I think they want to offer me an OBE’,” he said.

“But it was announced in the New Year’s honours and went down at the beginning of the month to pick it up. Prince William was the person to give me the honour.

“It is a very personal occasion and the whole atmosphere was so feel good. It was a wonderful day.”

Death of a Salesman was set to run in Northampton from April 10, until April 29, before touring across the country.

It is not known if the play will still debut this Monday.