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Obituary: Terence Beesley

A graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Terence Beesley established himself as a resourceful actor in regional theatre and a character actor of range on television.

TV had come to dominate his later career, most recently as the generals Bennigsen and Lantier in last year’s lavish BBC adaptations of War and Peace and The Musketeers, and as the slavery abolitionist MP Thomas Fowell Buxton in ITV’s royal saga Victoria. Twenty years earlier, the promise of greater fame – when he briefly played Derek Branning in EastEnders – eluded him when the character was written out after a handful of episodes.

His early theatre career was spent in seasons at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton where he made his mark as a prissy, supercilious Jean in Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros in 1989.

He spent the early 1990s at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, appearing in Robert Cogo-Fawcett and Braham Murray’s version of Feydeau, She’s in Your Hands (1990) and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good (1991).

In 1992, he was seen in Steven Berkoff’s East, directed by the playwright, at the King’s Head Theatre, London.

The mid-1990s saw him scoring personal successes at Derby Playhouse as a passionate and volatile Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses and stepping in at late notice for an indisposed Russell Dixon as Richard III, described by The Stage as “a performance of impressive breadth”.

He appeared as Jacques (As You Like It) at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre (1997) and the Duke of Cornwall to Tom Courtenay’s King Lear at the Royal Exchange (1999) and was seen in Paul Webb’s Four Knights in Knaresborough at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds in 2003.

With Jules Melvin and Jonathan Church, he was a co-founder of Triptych Theatre, its productions including John Ford’s The Broken Heart (Lyric Studio, Hammersmith, 1994) and Jack Shepherd’s Comic Cuts (Derby Playhouse, 1995).

His film credits included The Phantom of the Opera (1989), Steven Berkoff’s Decadence (1994), Human Traffic (1999) and London Has Fallen (2016).

Terence Beesley was born in London on September 7, 1957 and died on November 30, aged 60. He is survived by his wife, the actor Ashley Jensen, and their son.

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