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Obituary: Jeffry Wickham

Jeffry Wickham, with Ben Mansfield and Amanda Drew, in the National Theatre's 2011 production of Twelfth Night. Photo: Nobby Clark

President of Equity from 1992 to 1994, Jeffry Wickham had a long and distinguished career as an actor in the theatre and cinema and on television. A slim, tall, fair-haired man, he was a fluent Russian speaker – a talent that led to him being cast as a Soviet citizen in many films of the Cold War era.

One of the first major theatrical productions in which he appeared was Albert Camus’ play about the Roman emperor, Caligula (1964), at the Phoenix. Two years later, he was at the Royal Court for three plays, Harley Granville Barker’s The Voysey Inheritance, Arnold Wesker’s Their Very Own and Golden City, and John Arden’s Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance.

As if to prove he was not an entirely serious actor, he took part in Catch My Soul, the rock version of Othello at London’s Roundhouse in 1970. He was cast in a National Theatre production of Amadeus at Her Majesty’s in 1982. Later that decade, he appeared in two of Jeffrey Archer’s plays, Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1987) at the Queen’s and Exclusive (1989) at the Strand.

At the Chichester Festival Theatre, Wickham was seen in an adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory (1990). Two years later, he took part in Wilde’s An Ideal Husband at the Royal Exchange, Manchester. In 1999, he appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Winter’s Tale at the Barbican. Two years later, he was seen in a new translation by David Hare of Chekhov’s first large-scale drama Platonov, at the Almeida in north London.

On the big screen, Wickham appeared in, among other movies, the Sean Connery film Ransom (1974), which tells of a plot by a group of terrorists to extract money from two governments; the spoof war film A Man Called Sarge (1990); and Merchant Ivory’s The Remains of the Day (1993).

He was first seen on television in An Age of Kings (1960), a series of adaptations of Shakespearean plays. His television career continued until 2011.

After his death, his fellow Equity activist Barbara Hyslop said: “I think Jeffry never realised how much he was respected and valued by his fellow Equity members.”

Wickham’s daughter Saskia, best known for playing Dr Erica Matthews in the ITV drama series Peak Practice (1992-1995), keeps up the family tradition.

Jeffry Wickham, who was born on August 5, 1933, died on June 17, aged 80.

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