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Obituary: Gerald Sim

Gerald Sim with his wife Deirdre Benner in 1974 Gerald Sim with his wife Deirdre Benner in 1974

Of the more than 130 television and film credits he acquired in a career spanning six decades, it was his last role as the smooth but scheming rector in To the Manor Born that Gerald Sim will be best remembered. He joined the popular BBC sitcom in 1979 and appeared in 15 episodes, coming out of retirement in 2007 to reprise the role in a 25th anniversary Christmas special.

Born in Liverpool and raised in Croydon, he was the younger brother of the actress Sheila Sim, who later married Richard Attenborough. After training at RADA, he worked widely in repertory theatres, and by 1950 was appearing in Conrad Carter’s Your Brother George at the Q Theatre, London.

In 1954, Sim spent time in Durban as part of the McNeile Company, South Africa’s first professional repertory ensemble. On his return to the UK, film and television began to dominate, although he played Sergeant Pearce in Agatha Christie’s Verdict at the Strand Theatre in 1958. Appearances in Southampton, Leatherhead, Cheltenham and Liverpool followed before growing demand from television kept him off the stage until 1979, when he was seen in Howard Barker’s Claw and Frederic Raphael’s stage debut, An Early Life, at the Leicester Haymarket.

The following year, Sim was the Porter to Peter O’Toole’s Macbeth in Bryan Forbes’ ill-fated Old Vic production.

He had forged a fruitful partnership with Forbes, appearing in many of his films, including Whistle Down the Wind (1961), King Rat (1965) and The Whisperers (1967). He appeared in seven films directed by his brother-in-law Attenborough, including Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Gandhi (1982) and Shadowlands (1993).

His television credits ranged across the gamut, from Coronation Street and Edward and Mrs Simpson to The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and The Professionals.

Gerald Grant Sim was born on June 4, 1925. He spent his later years in the actors’ retirement home, Denville Hall, and died on December 11, 2014, aged 89.

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