British Actor Nigel Davenport Dies

Chariots Of Fire man was 85

Nigel Davenport, veteran British character actor and father of actor Jack, has died. He was 85.

In a career that spanned half of a century, the imposing Davenport was perhaps best known for his work in Fred Zinnemann’s A Man for All Seasons and as aristocratic Olympic official Lord Birkenhead in the Oscar-triumphing Chariots Of Fire. He was a stalwart on the small screen, too, with appearances in shows as diverse as The Saint, The Avengers, Howards' Way, South Riding and, more recently, Midsomer Murders.

An Oxford graduate, he earned his spurs on the West End stage. He understudied in a Savoy Theatre run of Noel Coward's Relative Values before joining the English Stage Company and appearing in plays on both sides of the Atlantic.

Davenport started small on the big screen with a walk-on in Tony Richardson's new wave classic Look Back In Anger and a cameo as a bobby on the beat in Peeping Tom. A pair of historical dramas, 1966's A Man For All Seasons, in which he played the Duke of Norfolk, and Mary, Queen Of Scots, marked a promotion to chunkier parts in prestige projects.

Davenport as the Duke of Norfolk in A Man For All Seasons (1966)

Stanley Kubrick considered him for the voice of HAL 900 - he read its lines opposite Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood - before eventually settling on Canadian actor Douglas Rain for the job.

Davenport is survived by his daughter Laura and sons Jack and Hugo.