Thu. Apr 15th, 2021

Ronald Pickup, a highly respected stage actor best known for his roles in The Crown and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films, has died at the age of 80.

His agent said he “passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness surrounded by his wife and family. He will be deeply missed”.

Pickup played the archbishop of Canterbury in the 2016 season of The Crown and Neville Chamberlain in 2017 Churchill film Darkest Hour. But he became internationally recognised after playing an ageing lothario in 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its 2015 sequel.

The actor had performed extensively on stage, TV and radio before his big-screen success. After graduating from Rada, Pickup worked at the National Theatre, then run by Laurence Olivier, with acclaimed roles in Three Sisters and Long Day’s Journey into Night.

He was also Rosalind in the Old Vic’s 1967 production of As You Like It, which also featured Anthony Hopkins as Audrey.

In 2009, he was Lucky in Sean Mathias’s production of Waiting for Godot, opposite Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.

His TV break came in 1964 with a role as a physician in the Doctor Who episode The Tyrant of France. Pickup played a formidable roll-call of real life geniuses on the small screen, including Verdi, Nietzsche and Einstein, as well as voicing Aslan in the BBC adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Other TV work included Fortunes of War, Jekyll & Hyde (alongside Michael Caine), A Time to Dance, Hornblower, Young Dracula, The Riff Raff Element and Behaving Badly (the latter two with future Best Marigold co-stars Celia Imrie and Judi Dench, respectively).

Pickup was also a staple of Radio 4 drama, beginning his audio work with a BBC recording of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Other film work included Never Say Never Again (1983), The Mission (1986) and The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby (2005).

In 2012, Pickup told the PA news agency that his favourite role was playing George Orwell in TV movie Crystal Spirit: Orwell on Jura, about the writing of 1984.

Last year, Pickup starred in horror film End of Term, alongside Peter Davison. Reports say he had been suffering from a long illness.

Pickup is survived by his wife, Lans Traverse, who he met at Rada, and their two children.

By admin