Obituary: Moray Watson
Rarely out of work in a career that spanned seven decades, Moray Watson found his way into the West End soon after graduating from the Webber Douglas School of Singing and Dramatic Art (now Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art) in Lawrence Williams and Neil O’Day’s The Bride of Denmark Hill at the Comedy Theatre in 1952.
Moving between regional reps, the West End, television and film, he amassed more than 110 screen credits and made countless appearances on stage. A resourceful character actor with a subtle gift for comedy, he was an accomplished Shavian, appearing in The Doctor’s Dilemma and You Never Can Tell (Haymarket Theatre, 1963 and 1966), Getting Married (Chichester Festival, 1993) and Pygmalion (Albery Theatre, 1997).
Watson proved equally adroit opposite Celia Johnson and Joan Greenwood in Hugh and Margaret Williams’ marital comedy The Grass is Greener at the St Martin’s Theatre (1958), as the amorously debonair Clive Popkiss in Ben Travers’ Rookery Nook (New Oxford Theatre, 1964) and as the perverse and touchy Faulkland alongside Margaret Rutherford’s Mrs Malaprop in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals (Haymarket Theatre, 1966).
There was equal relish to be found in period and contemporary comedies of every tone and hue – from Michael Pertwee’s Don’t Just Lie There, Say Something (Garrick Theatre, 1972) and Noel Coward’s Hay Fever (Lyric, Hammersmith, 1980) to Peter Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage (Globe Theatre, 1988) and Simon Williams’ Nobody’s Perfect (touring, 2002).
Dramatic roles tended to dominate his television career, although Trigorin in The Seagull (Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead, 1969) and Beecham in William Douglas Home’s The Chiltern Hundreds (Vaudeville Theatre, 1999) were notable exceptions on stage.
Watson’s one-man plays included The Incomparable Max – “a tour de force performance” said The Stage – about the cartoonist and wit Max Beerbohm, Hugh Massingberd’s portrait of the novelist James Lees-Milne, Ancestral Voices, and his own anecdotal Looking Back and Dropping Names, which was also published in 2016.
On television, he will be remembered for Compact (1962-65) and as Lord Collingford in Catweazle (1971) and as the brigadier in The Darling Buds of May (1991-93).
Moray Watson was born in Sunningdale, Berkshire on June 25, 1928 and died on May 2, aged 88. He was married to the actor Pamela Marmont (who died in 1999) and is survived by their children Emma and Robin, both actors.
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