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Obituary: Alex Beckett – ‘stage and TV actor especially skilled in comedy’

Alex Beckett. Photo: Johan Persson Alex Beckett. Photo: Johan Persson

Alex Beckett will be best remembered as the inept PR executive Barney in two biting BBC satires on institutional incompetence, Twenty Twelve, a spoof on preparations for the London Olympic Games, and W1A, a wickedly insightful view of the Corporation’s own internal workings.

His early death at the age of 35 curtails a stage and screen career that promised much from a young actor especially skilled in comedy.

Born in Carmarthenshire, Wales and trained at RADA, he made his professional debut as the Hotel Porter in John Osborne’s The Hotel in Amsterdam at the Donmar Warehouse in 2003 (and televised the following year).

Coincidentally, he had been in the middle of a run at the same theatre, as Waitwell in William Congreve’s The Way of the World, when he died suddenly.

Beckett’s early stage credits included appearances with the Creation Theatre Company in Oxford and the Tristan Bates Theatre, Finborough Theatre and Theatre503 in London.

In 2011, he was seen as Borachio alongside David Tennant’s Benedick and Catherine Tate’s Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing at the Wyndham’s Theatre, followed by Michael Frayn’s Here (Rose Theatre, Kingston) and Middleton and Rowley’s The Changeling (Young Vic) in 2012.

He made his National Theatre debut in Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II in 2013 and was admired for Caryl Churchill’s Blue Heart (Orange Tree, Richmond and Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol) in 2016 and a striking Henry Higgins in Headlong’s radical reworking of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds in 2017. At the Royal Court the same year, he appeared in Julia Jarcho’s Grimly Handsome.

Television appearances included Comedy Central’s I Live With Models (2015-17), Channel 4’s The Aliens (2016) and this year’s E4 comedy, Stath Lets Flats. His last screen role was Sir Walter Mildmay in Josie Rourke’s yet to be released film, Mary Queen of Scots.

Peter Alexander Beckett was born on June 30, 1982 and died on April 12.

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