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Benjamin Whitrow
Benjamin Whitrow 1991.jpg
Whitrow in 1991
Benjamin John Whitrow

(1937-02-17)17 February 1937
Died 28 September 2017(2017-09-28) (aged 80)
Education Dragon School
Tonbridge School
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1964–2017
Catherine Cook
(m. 1972)
Children 3, including Angus Imrie

Benjamin John Whitrow (17 February 1937 – 28 September 2017) was an English actor. He was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his role as Mr Bennet in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and voiced the role of Fowler in the 2000 animated film Chicken Run. His other film appearances include Quadrophenia (1979), Personal Services (1987) and Bomber (2009).

Early life and education

Whitrow was born on 17 February 1937 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, the son of Mary Alexandra (Flaunders) and Philip Whitrow, a teacher at St Edward's School, Oxford.

Whitrow attended two independent schools: The Dragon School in Oxford and Tonbridge School, in the town of Tonbridge in Kent, followed by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Life and career

Whitrow served in the King's Dragoon Guards during his national service from 1956 to 1958. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1981. He played Russell in the original radio version of After Henry by Simon Brett.

A lifelong fan of the writings of the English author Denton Welch, he was instrumental in bringing the third, revised version of Welch's journals to print in 1984, having made the acquaintance of one of Welch's friends who had possessed the manuscript of the original editor's edition.

In 1989, Whitrow appeared in episode four of the BBC Two sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie (series one), playing an irate member of the audience who claimed that Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie had stolen several of their sketches from him.

Between 1990 and 1992, Whitrow appeared in the sitcom The New Statesman as Paddy O'Rourke, a Labour shadow minister who feigned an Irish accent when in public to attract the working-class vote.

Whitrow was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Mr Bennet in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

In the 2000 animated movie Chicken Run Whitrow voiced the character of Fowler, an old rooster who claims to have fought in World War II.

Whitrow's last work was two plays for BBC Radio 4, in which he played the late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman. Mr Betjeman's Class was his last completed work; he died during the recording of Mr Betjeman Regrets, with the voice work being completed by Robert Bathurst. Both plays were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 over Christmas 2017.

Personal life

Whitrow was married to Catherine Cook, with whom he had two children: Hannah Mary Whitrow (b. 1973) and Thomas George Whitrow (b. 1976). He also had a son, Angus Imrie (b. 1994) with actress Celia Imrie.

Whitrow died from a brain hemorrhage in Wimbledon, London on 28 September 2017, aged 80.

Select filmography


  • 1963: The Small World of Sammy Lee as Joan's Client (uncredited)
  • 1963: West 11 as Minor Role (uncredited)
  • 1979: Quadrophenia as Mr. Fulford, Jimmy's Boss
  • 1982: Brimstone and Treacle as Businessman
  • 1986: Clockwise as Headmaster #1
  • 1987: Personal Services as Mr. Marsden
  • 1988: Hawks as Mr. Granger
  • 1988: On the Black Hill as Arkwright
  • 1988: A Man for All Seasons as Thomas Cromwell
  • 1992: Damage as Civil Servant
  • 1992: Chaplin as Station Master
  • 1995: Restoration as Merivel's Father
  • 1997: The Saint as Chairman at Oxford
  • 1997: FairyTale: A True Story as Mr. Binley
  • 1998: Jilting Joe as Arthur
  • 2000: Chicken Run as Fowler (voice)
  • 2009: Bomber as Alistar
  • 2017: Darkest Hour as Sir Samuel Hoare (final film role)


  • 1973: The Merchant of Venice (TV Movie) as the Duke of Venice (opposite Laurence Olivier as Shylock)
  • 1973: The Brontes of Haworth as Arthur Bell Nicholls
  • 1975-1981: Play for Today as James Sellars / Phillips / Tom / House Master / Josh
  • 1978: The Sweeney as Det. Chief Supt. Braithwaite
  • 1981: Bognor as Eric Gringe
  • 1981: Troilus and Cressida (TV Movie) as Ulysses
  • 1982: Tales of the Unexpected as Fergus Locke
  • 1982: Harry's Game as Davidson
  • 1983: Shackleton as Captain Scott
  • 1983: Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime as Sir Arthur Merivale
  • 1984: Hay Fever (TV Movie) as Richard Greatham
  • 1985: Dempsey & Makepeace (TV Movie) as Lindsay
  • 1985: Bergerac as B J Farrell
  • 1990: Chancer as Robert Douglas
  • 1991: Rumpole of the Bailey as The Reverend Bill Britwell
  • 1991-1992: The New Statesman as Paddy O'Rourke
  • 1995: Pride and Prejudice as Mr Bennet
  • 1996: Inspector Morse as Brownlee
  • 1997: The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling as Squire Allworthy
  • 2001-2009: Midsomer Murders as Sir Malcolm Frazer / Hugo Balcombe
  • 2005: The Queen's Sister (TV Movie) as Cronin
  • 2006: Agatha Christie's Poirot (Episode: "After the Funeral") Timothy Abernathy
  • 2014: New Tricks as Edward Fraser
  • 2015: Toast of London as Ken Suggestion
  • 2015: Man Down as Tim
  • 2015: ‘’ Wolf Hall’’ as Arch Bishop


  • 1980: Unman, Wittering & Zigo as the headmaster; by Giles Cooper; BBC R4 7/8/1980.
  • 1984: Dracula in White by Peter Redgrove; BBC R4 7/3/1984.
  • 1984: Tragedy at Law as the Judge; by Cyril Hare; BBC Radio 4 Saturday Night Theatre 7/4/1984.
  • 1985–1989: After Henry as Russell; BBC Radio 4 series by Simon Brett.
  • 1992: A Warden for All Saints as James Montague, by H.S. Bhabra; BBC R4 29 April 1992.
  • 1995: In The Red as the bank manager murderer; by Mark Tavener; BBC Radio 4 series 5/1/1995-16/2/1995.
  • 1997: MR James Ghost story readings – The Late Book.
  • 1999: Plum's War by Michael Butt, BBC R4 7/7/99.
  • 2003: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, dramatised by Jeremy Front, BBC R4 8/3/2003.
  • 2003: The Last Bark of the Bulldog by Jonathan Smith; Benjamin Whitrow portrays Winston Churchill; BBC R4 21 June 2003.
  • 2011: Portrait of Winston, by Jonathan Smith; sequel to The Last Bark of the Bulldog; BBC R4 13 September 2011
  • 2017: Mr Betjeman's Class and Mr Betjeman Regrets both by Jonathan Smith; BBC R4 25 December 2017 and 26 December 2017
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