Stage, television and film actor who became a leading figure in Scottish theatre, and was known for roles in Tutti Frutti, Doctor Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation
Although he came late to acting in his mid-20s, Maurice Roëves made up for lost time with a prolific career on stage, television and film. Born in Sunderland, he became a leading figure in Scottish theatre.
Having considered a career in teaching before following his father into the local flour mills to become a sales manager, he was 27 before he graduated from the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art (now part of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) with its most promising male newcomer prize.
An early professional appearance saw him sharing the stage with a young John Inman in Philip King’s See How They Run at the King’s Theatre Glasgow before joining the city’s Citizens Theatre as an assistant stage manager, where early walk-on parts quickly led to larger roles.
Square-jawed, with sculpted cheekbones and piercing eyes, he cut a dashing figure, laced with charismatic menace. The Stage later remembered him as “that he-man and former heart-throb of the Glasgow Citizens”.
At London’s Royal Court in 1966, he played Macduff to Alec Guinness’ Macbeth, taking over the lead when Guinness was unavailable for its extended run. The same year he made his mark on television in David Halliwell’s Cock, Hen and Courting Pit and on film in Disney’s The Fighting Prince of Donegal.
Square-jawed, with sculpted cheekbones and piercing eyes, he cut a dashing figure
More impressive was his striking Stephen Dedalus opposite Milo O’Shea’s Leopold Bloom in the 1967 film of James Joyce’s Ulysses, although his Alexei in Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, on television the following year, struggled against the imperious presence of Edith Evans.
At Perth Theatre he produced three compelling performances: as the stubborn and stout Jock Sinclair in Tunes of Glory (1976), a troubled and sinister Iago (Othello, 1978), and John Halder, a well-meaning man entangled in the evil of Nazism, in CP Taylor’s Good (1983).
In 1980, he was seen as former prime minister Ramsay MacDonald in Stephen Fagan’s The Man Born to Save Us and as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Oxford Playhouse.
Later notable stage appearances included a powerful portrayal of a bride-seeking farmer still cowed by his late father in James Robson’s Mail Order Bride (Nuffield Southampton, 1997) and as a kidnapped business consultant in Gregory Burke’s debut play Gagarin Way at the Traverse Edinburgh. It subsequently transferred to London’s National Theatre and the Arts Theatre for a short West End run.
In 2005 he gave a commanding performance as the titular father in Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. In 2012, aged 75, he took Stephen Lowe’s one-man play Just A Gigolo to the Edinburgh Fringe, Lakeside Arts, Nottingham, and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
On television, Roëves will be best remembered alongside Hannah Gordon as the titular artist entangled in crime in Bill Craig’s thrillers Scobie in September (1969) and The Scobie Man (1972), and as Vincent Diver, “the iron man of Scottish Rock”, in John Byrne’s 1987 hit Tutti Frutti with Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson.
He was a memorable Hitler opposite Siobhan McKenna in Beryl Bainbridge’s The Journal of Bridget Hitler, and Antonio in the BBC Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1980). He also attracted minor cult followings for his appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Doctor Who.
More recently, he was seen as football manager Matt Busby in Munich Air Crash (2006) and coach Jimmy Gordon in The Damned United (2009). He made his last small-screen appearance earlier this year in Nicole Taylor’s The Nest.
His film credits include The Eagle Has Landed with Michael Caine (1976), The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis (1992) and the Sylvester Stallone blockbuster Judge Dredd (1995).
Maurice Roëves was born on March 19, 1937 and died on July 15, aged 83. He is survived by his second wife Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson, executive director of the arts consultancy Cultivate.