Peter Copley

The Stage

Veteran actor Peter Copley’s career spanned television as well as West End and regional theatre. He was familiar to TV viewers for his role as Abbot Herribert in the Cadfael series and as Robinson in the mini-series Wives and Daughters.

He broke into films in the early thirties and among his best-known credits were Victim (1962) with Dirk Bogarde and, more recently, he was seen in Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist.

Born in Bushey, Hertfordshire on May 20, 1915, he studied acting at the Old Vic School, then under the auspices of Harcourt Williams. He made his professional debut in The Winter’s Tale (1932) at the Old Vic and later appeared at the newly-formed Gate Theatre in Dublin, in company with Micheal MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards.

He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, after which he became a member of Laurence Olivier’s Old Vic Company at the New Theatre (now Coward Theatre). Amongst the notable productions he appeared in were Cyrano de Bergerac (1945) and The Alchemist (1947).

In his later stage career he was a leading player with the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company and was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in The Phoenician Women (1995), The Cherry Orchard (1997) and Henry IV, Part II (2000).

For many years he was an active member of Equity and recently was a leading figure in the campaign to reopen the Bristol Old Vic.

His lengthy CV of TV credits included Crown Court (as Judge Edmonds), Doctor Who, Fabian of the Yard, Play for Today, The Chinese Detective, Casualty, Bless Me Father and many dramas and sitcoms.

He died on October 7. He was married three times. Firstly to the actress Pamela Brown, secondly to actress Ninka Dolega and thirdly to the novelist Margaret Tabor. He is survived by Tabor.

Patrick Newley

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