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Oliver Ford Davies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oliver Ford Davies

Davies in 2008
Oliver Robert Ford Davies

(1939-08-12) 12 August 1939 (age 84)
Occupation(s)Actor, writer
Years active1959–present

Oliver Robert Ford Davies OBE (born 12 August 1939) is an English actor and writer, best known for his extensive theatre work, and to a broader audience for his role as Sio Bibble in Star Wars Episodes I to III. He is also known for his role as Maester Cressen in HBO series Game of Thrones.[2]

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Early life and academic career

Davies was born in Ealing, Middlesex, England. He attended the King's School, Canterbury. In 1956 He joined the eminent Ealing amateur company Questors.[3] He won a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, where he read History and became President of the Oxford University Dramatic Society. After obtaining his DPhil,[4] he worked as a history lecturer at the University of Edinburgh before taking up acting professionally in 1967.[5]

Acting career

In 1959, as a member of the Oxford University Experimental Theatre Club, he appeared in his first Stratford performance in the Memorial Theatre's open-air production of Bartholomew Fair.[6][7] His first professional appearances were, at the age of 27, in the 1967 season at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.[5] Short Seasons at the Mermaid, London, the Oxford Playhouse and the Cambridge Arts Theatre followed.[8] His long and prolific association with the Royal Shakespeare Company started in 1975, when director Terry Hands cast him as Mountjoy in Henry V. He is an Honorary Associate Artist of the company.[9][10] From 1990 until 2019 He appeared more frequently at the National Theatre, London, until at the age of 80 he lent his "sublime presence" to the part of the appraising button moulder in Henryk Ibsen's Peter Gynt at the Olivier Theatre.[11]

On television, Davies had a regular role as Peter Foxcott QC in Kavanagh QC and was schoolmaster Le Bas in the serialization of A Dance to the Music of Time (1997). He also appeared with John Thaw in an episode of Inspector Morse and also appeared in the ITV television drama The Uninvited, and in a 2002 episode of the popular drama Foyle's War.

On film, his most prominent role was probably Sio Bibble in the Star Wars prequel trilogy films, released in 1999, 2002 and 2005. In 2003, Davies appeared in the film Johnny English, where he portrayed the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He appeared on stage as Polonius in Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company, alongside David Tennant and Patrick Stewart, and in 2009 appeared in All's Well That Ends Well at the Royal National Theatre as the King of France. In 2010, he appeared as Balfour in the premiere of Ben Brown's play The Promise, about the Balfour Declaration.

In 2011, he appeared in a stage adaptation of Michelle Magorian's book Goodnight Mister Tom, in which he played the central character, Thomas Oakley. He was back with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2014 as Justice Shallow in Henry IV, Part 2. Davies again appeared with David Tennant in Richard II in 2013. In February 2019 Davies discussed his career in the BBC Radio Three series Private Passions.[12]

Honours, awards and nominations

Davies was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award in 1990 (1989 season) for Best Actor in a New Play for Racing Demon. He was twice nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for his performance in Absolutely! (perhaps) at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2003, and again in 2009 for his performance as Polonius in the RSC production of Hamlet at the Novello Theatre.

In 2023, Davies' book, 'An Actor's Life in 12 Productions' published by The Book Guild, won the Society for Theatre Research 2023 STR Theatre Book Prize.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2024 New Year Honours for services to drama.[13][14]


Davies's books include Playing Lear, an account of his experience while performing King Lear at the Almeida Theatre, and Performing Shakespeare. Both are published by Nick Hern Books.

Davies wrote and published his memoir, An Actor's Life in 12 Productions, in 2022 through The Book Guild publishing.[15]


Davies's drama King Cromwell was staged at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, in November 2003. The director was Sam Walters and Davies himself took the title role.[16][17]

Partial filmography

Partial TV series filmography

  • The Protectors (1973) – Hansen, episode "Bagman"
  • The Brontes of Haworth (1973) – John Hunter Thompson, "Home and Abroad"
  • Father Brown (1974) – Det. Insp. Corliss, episode "The Eye of Apollo"
  • A Taste of Death (1988 mini-series) – Father Francis Barnes, 6 episodes
  •  A Very British Coup (1988 mini-series) – Sir Horace Tweed, 3 episodes
  • Inspector Morse (1991) – Frederick Redpath, episode "Second Time Around" (S05:E01)
  • Maigret (1992 TV series) – Dr. Pardon, episode "Maigret on the Defensive" (S02:E03)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995) – Doctor Harris; Jane Austen adaptation
  • A Dance to the Music of Time (1997) – Le Bas, "Post War", "The Twenties"
  • Pie in the Sky (1997) – James Truman, MP, episode "Squashed Tomatoes" (S05:E01)
  • Heartbeat (1999) - Henry Tomkinson, episode "Testament"
  • Kavanagh QC (1999, 2001) – Peter Foxcott QC, Peter Foxcott, 26 episodes
  • Agatha Christie's Poirot (2000) – Dr. James Sheppard, "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd"
  • Foyle's War (2002) -- Lawrence Gascoigne, "A Lesson in Murder" (S01:E3)
  • Midsomer Murders (2005 TV series) – Otto Benham, episode "Hidden Depths" (S08:E06)
  • Waking the Dead (2007) – Hugo Keegan, "The Fall" Parts 1 & 2
  • Game of Thrones (2012) – Maester Cressen, episode "The North Remembers" (S02:E01)
  • Agatha Christie's Miss Marple (2013) – Major Palgrave, "A Caribbean Mystery"
  • You, Me and the Apocalypse (2015) – Cardinal Crawshaw "24 Hours to Go", "Saviour Day"
  • Catastrophe (2017) – Wallace, episode 3.3
  • Father Brown (2018) – Bishop Golding, episode "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau" (S06:E10)


  1. ^ "Profile at". Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Oliver Ford Davies on Melisandre, Stannis & Flaming Idols". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Questors Joins Forces With University of West London". 29 June 2011.
  4. ^ Naxos Audiobooks: Oliver Ford Davies; accessed 22 March 2013
  5. ^ a b Barnett, Laura (18 December 2012). "Oliver Ford Davies, actor – portrait of the artist". the Guardian.
  6. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 503.
  7. ^ "RSC Performances 1959". Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
  8. ^ Trowbridge, Simon (November 2008). Stratfordians: a Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oxford: Editions Albert Creed. pp. 204–206. ISBN 9780955983016.
  9. ^ "Associate artists | Royal Shakespeare Company". Royal Shakespeare Company.
  10. ^ "RSC Performances Oliver Ford Davies". Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  11. ^ Evans, Lloyd (20 July 2019). "The greatest actor in the world couldn't salvage David Hare's batty adaptation". The Spectator.
  12. ^ "BBC Radio 3 - Private Passions, Oliver Ford Davies".
  13. ^ "No. 64269". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2023. p. N12.
  14. ^ "New Year Honours List 2024". GOV.UK. Retrieved 30 December 2023.
  15. ^ "The Book Guild".
  16. ^ Davies, Oliver Ford (2005). King Cromwell: A Play. Samuel French. ISBN 9780573112133.
  17. ^ Billington, Michael (17 November 2003). "King Cromwell, Orange Tree, London". The Guardian.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 March 2024, at 11:35
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