Nigel Davenport, who starred in the classic film Chariots Of Fire and was one of the founding members of the legendary English Stage Company at the Royal Court, has passed away aged 85.
The actor who spent more than five decades on the stage and screen, and was President of the actors’ union Equity from 1986 to 1992, died on 25 October after suffering from pneumonia.
The Cambridge-born actor graduated from Trinity College, Oxford, where he was a member of the drama society. After deciding on a career in acting, Davenport joined the English Stage Company during its reign at the iconic Sloane Square venue, appearing in more than a dozen plays.
While the actor will be best known to many for his numerous screen roles in films including Chariots Of Fire, A High Wind In Jamaica and A Man For All Seasons, Davenport continued to work on stage throughout the majority of his career. Credits away from the Royal Court included The Country Wife and A Taste Of Honey at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, the latter of which transferred along with the star to Broadway, and West End productions of Bonne Soupe, Incident At Vichy, Notes On A Love Affair and Chekhov’s classic Three Sisters.
The actor, who is also well known for television roles in the BBC’s hugely successful Howard’s Way, The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Avengers, most recently appeared on stage in tours of King Lear and The Old Country in the 1980s, and at the acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre in 1997’s Our Betters. On screen latter credits included a 2000 adaptation of David Copperfield and appearances in BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.
Speaking to the BBC about Davenport, agent Nicholas Young described him as: “Not only an excellent actor, but…also a charming, warm and witty man,” adding: “His performances over the years were powerful and moving; his voice, the envy of many an aspiring actor, was a joy to listen to.”
Davenport, who was married twice, is survived by his three children, writer Hugo Davenport and actors Laura and Jack Davenport, and his five grandchildren.