Philip Locke

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A distinguished stage actor, Philip Locke gave a string of memorable performances at the National Theatre, the RSC and the Royal Court. In John Osborne’s second autobiography, Almost A Gentleman, he described Locke as one of those Royal Court actors who was “special and reliable”.

Locke was also a familiar face both in the cinema and on television. He played the eunuch-like villain Vargas in the film Thunderball (1965) and for many years was something of a fixture on ITV’s Armchair Theatre, in which he played a variety of character roles.

Locke was born on March 29, 1928 in London and educated at St Marylebone Central School. He trained at RADA and made his professional debut at Oldham Rep in 1954 in Twelfth Night before touring with the Old Vic as in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Throughout the fifties he was part of the ensemble at the Royal Court, then under the auspices of George Devine. He appeared in numerous minor roles and as Father Evilgreen in Osborne’s doomed musical The World of Paul Slickey (1959). At the opening night the show was sniggered at by the audience and, at the end, booed by Noel Coward.

Locke appeared in Tony Richardson’s 1964 staging of Chekov’s The Seagull for the rest of the decade and throughout the seventies made numerous appearances with the NT and RSC in a variety of Shekespearan roles. He also appeared as Horatio in Hamlet at the Old Vic 1975, for which he won a Plays and Players Award for best supporting actor. Other memorable theatre credits included the Colonel in Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1977) and Gaev in The Cherry Orchard (1979). His performance as Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes at the Aldwych in 1974 won him a Tony Award nomination.

He excelled in TV drama and appeared in many highly acclaimed productions, such as Alan Bennett’s A Day Out (1972) and She Fell Among Thieves (1978).

His first screen appearance was in Operation Conspiracy in 1957 and among his many credits were Escape to Athena (1979) Fellini’s And the Ship Sails On (1983) and Wilde (1997).

He died on April 19 aged 76. He is survived by his partner Michael Ivan.

Patrick Newley