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Freddie Jones
FreddieJonesSitting - (cropped).jpg
Jones sitting for a sculpture by Steven Whyte
Frederick Charles Jones

(1927-09-12)12 September 1927
Dresden, Staffordshire, England
Died 9 July 2019(2019-07-09) (aged 91)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1960–2018
Jennifer Heselwood
(m. 1965)
Children 3, including Toby

Frederick Charles Jones (12 September 1927 – 9 July 2019) was an English actor who had an extensive career in television, theatre and cinema productions for almost sixty years. In theatre, he was best known for originating the role of Sir in The Dresser; in film, he was best known for his role as the showman Bytes in The Elephant Man (1980); and in television, he was best known for playing Sandy Thomas in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale from 2005 to 2018.

Early life

Jones was born on 12 September 1927 in Dresden, a suburb of the town of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, the son of Ida Elizabeth (née Goodwin) and Charles Edward Jones. Charles was a porcelain thrower, Ida a clerk and pub pianist. He worked briefly at Creda, the consumer electrical goods vendors, in Longton before he joined the British Ceramic Research Association in Penkhull, where he worked for ten years. His girlfriend at the time suggested he join a drama course, after which he joined repertory theatre in Shelton, Staffordshire, and other local theatre groups.


Jones won a scholarship to the Rose Bruford Training College of Speech and Drama—where he shed his Midlands accent. He spent time in Lincoln rep before making his London debut in 1962 with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), performing at the Arts Theatre in Afore Night Come. According to the theatre critic Michael Coveney, Jones was "immediately one of the ... [RSC's] most distinctive character actors". In 1963 he played Stanley in the Harold Pinter-directed revival of The Birthday Party in 1963, followed by Maxim Gorky's play Lower Depths at the Aldwych Theatre in 1964. In 1964 he appeared as Cucurucu in the Peter Brook-directed production of Marat/Sade in a production that included Glenda Jackson, Ian Richardson and Patrick Magee. He reprised his role for the Broadway production, and again for the film version (1967).

He became more widely known to British audiences in 1968, after his appearance in the six-episode television series The Caesars, in which he played Claudius. For this role, he won the award for the "World's Best Television Actor of the Year" at the 1969 Monte-Carlo Television Festival. In 1970 he took the eponymous role in Charles Wood's television film The Emergence Of Anthony Purdy Esquire Farmer's Labourer, directed by Patrick Dromgoole for Harlech TV. Other television work included the 1968 BBC three-part adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm (he also appeared in the 1995 film adaptation), the 1978 series Pennies from Heaven and the ITV children's programme The Ghosts of Motley Hall (1976–1978). His cinema career developed, with support roles in the Cold War thriller Firefox playing an MI6 spy chief, and in the director David Lynch's films The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984) and Wild at Heart (1990). In the 1980s series, The District Nurse, he played the senior partner in a father-and-son medical practice in 1930s Wales, with the unrelated Nicholas Jones as his son.

In 1980 he appeared as Sir in Ronald Harwood's play The Dresser, first in Manchester, then transferring to the London stage; he later reprised the role on BBC Radio 4's The Monday Play in 1993. Coveney said of Jones in the role: "No subsequent performance in The Dresser – not Albert Finney in the 1983 film, nor Anthony Hopkins on television in 2015, nor Ken Stott in the West End in 2016 – matched the rumbling thunder of Jones". Apart from a brief spell in 2001, Jones retired from stage work in the early 1990s.

Jones played the character Sandy Thomas in ITV's Emmerdale from 2005 to 2018, when he left the programme. He said he had been offered a contract extension but he declined as he felt it was the right time to move on.

Jones also performed extensively in radio drama, including:

  • "Mr. Pickwick" in the 1977 adaptation of Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers,
  • "The Player" in the 1978 adaptation of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
  • "The Waiter" in the 1971 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's You Never Can Tell
  • "Albert Edward, Prince of Wales" in Lydia Ragosin's Bertie
  • "Rodin" in Jonathan Smith's Abandoned
  • "The Scribe" in the 1992 adaptation of Bruce Bedford's The Gibson
  • "Charlie" in A. L. Kennedy's Like An Angel
  • "Sir Morton Makepeace" in Martyn Read's The Folly
  • "The Artist" in the adaptations of the Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake.

Personal life

Jones married actress Jennifer Heslewood in 1965. They had three sons, actor Toby Jones, Rupert, a director, and Casper, an actor.

Jones was a Stoke City fan.

Jones died on 9 July 2019 at the age of 91 in Bicester, Oxfordshire, after a short illness. Following his death several of the cast members from Emmerdale paid tribute to Jones. On 11 July both episodes of a double-bill of the soap were dedicated to Jones.



Jones' film credits
Year Title Role Notes
1967 Accident Man In Bell's Office
1967 Marat/Sade Cucurucu
1967 Far from the Madding Crowd Cainy Ball
1968 The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom Sergeant Dylan
1968 Otley Philip Proudfoot
1969 Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed Professor Richter
1970 The Emergence of Anthony Purdy Esquire Farmer's Labourer Anthony Purdy
1970 The Man Who Haunted Himself Dr. Harris, The Psychiatrist
1970 Goodbye Gemini David Curry
1971 Assault Reporter
1971 Horatio Knibbles The Gamekeeper
1971 Kidnapped Cluny
1972 Antony and Cleopatra Pompey
1972 Sitting Target MacNeil
1973 The Satanic Rites of Dracula Professor Keeley
1974 Son of Dracula The Baron
1974 Juggernaut Sidney Buckland
1974 Vampira Gilmore A.K.A Old Dracula
1975 All Creatures Great and Small Cranford TV movie
1975 Romance with a Double Bass Maestro Lakeyich Short
1976 Never Too Young to Rock Mr. Rockbottom
1979 Zulu Dawn Bishop Colenso
1980 The Elephant Man Bytes
1982 Firefox Kenneth Aubrey
1982 Captain Stirrick Mr. Leach
1983 Krull Ynyr
1983 And the Ship Sails On Orlando
1984 Firestarter Dr. Joseph Wanless
1984 The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood Orlando TV movie
1984 Dune Thufir Hawat
1985 The Black Cauldron Dallben Voice
1985 Young Sherlock Holmes Chester Cragwitch
1986 Comrades Vicar of Tolpuddle
1987 Maschenka Podtyagin
1988 Consuming Passions Graham Chumley
1989 Erik the Viking Harald, The Missionary
1990 Wild at Heart George Kovich
1990 Dark River The Official TV movie
1991 The Last Butterfly Karl Rheinberg
1992 Spies Inc. Filatov
1993 The Mystery of Edwin Drood Sapsea
1994 Prince of Jutland Bjorn
1994 The Neverending Story 3: Escape from Fantasia Mr. Coreander / Old Man of Wandering Mountain
1995 Cold Comfort Farm Adam Lambsbreath TV movie
1997 Seeing Things Prisoner Park Short
1998 Keep in a Dry Place and Away from Children Voice Over Short
1998 What Rats Won't Do Judge Foster
1998 The Life and Crimes of William Palmer Dr. Bamford
1999 My Life So Far Reverend Finlayson
2000 House! Mr. Anzani
2000 Married 2 Malcolm Jasper
2000 David Copperfield Barkis TV movie
2002 The Count of Monte Cristo Colonel Villefort
2002 Puckoon Sir John Meredith
2004 Ladies in Lavender Jan Pendered
2005 The Libertine Betterton
2008 Caught in the Act Collingsworth Jenkins
2010 Come on Eileen Dermot
2015 By Our Selves The Narrator


Jones' television credits
Year Title Role Notes
1960 Androcles and the Lion Christian 2 episodes
1963 Z-Cars Craig Episode: "Pay by Results"
1963 Victorians, TheThe Victorians Maltby Episode: "The Ticket-of-Leave Man"
1963 Maupassant Boissel Episode: "The Inheritance"
1963-1965 Our Man at St. Mark's Benson / George Gregory 2 episodes
1964 Festival Unknown Episode: "Six Characters in Search of an Author"
1964 ITV Play of the Week Arthur Lowe Episode: "Gina"
1965 Wednesday Play, TheThe Wednesday Play Taylor Episode: "For the West"
1966—1970 Mystery and Imagination Sweeney Todd / Vaudin / Parkes 3 episodes
1967 Sword of Honour Ludovic Episode: "Officers and Gentlemen"
1967 Avengers, TheThe Avengers Basil / John Steed Episode: "Who's Who???"
1967 Baron, TheThe Baron The Landlord Episode: "So Dark the Night"
1967 Half Hour Story Walter Bishop Episode: "A Man Inside"
1967-1973 Armchair Theatre Fiodor Dostoyevski / John Dolby 2 episodes
1968 Caesars, TheThe Caesars Claudius 5 episodes
1968 Saint, TheThe Saint Martin Graves Episode: "The Time to Die"
1968 Nana Count Muffat 5 episodes
1968 Cold Comfort Farm Urk / Dr. Adolf Mudel 2 episodes
1969 ITV Playhouse Wilfred Eames Episode: "You've Made Your Bed: Now Lie in It"
1969 Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) James McAllister Episode: "For the Girl Who Has Everything"
1970 Importance of Anthony Purdy Esquire, Farmer's Labourer, TheThe Importance of Anthony Purdy Esquire, Farmer's Labourer Anthony Purdy Television Film
1970 Germinal Maheu 4 episodes
1970 Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens, TheThe Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens William Shaw Television film
1970 Menace Elystan Griffiths Episode: "The Straight and the Narrow"
1970 Main Chance, TheThe Main Chance Professor Ian Allardyce Episode: "The Walls of Jericho"
1970 BBC Play of the Month Uncle Vanya Episode: "Uncle Vanya"
1970-1971 Jackanory The Storyteller 9 episodes
1971 Doctor at Large Sir Robert Joyce Episode: "Let's Start at the Beginning"
1971 Six Dates with Barker Major Rupert Yappe Episode: "1915: Lola"
1971 Out of the Unknown Lester Episode: "The Shattered Eye"
1971 Misfit, TheThe Misfit Nitro Episode: "On Paperback Revolutionaries"
1971 Trouble with Lilian, TheThe Trouble with Lilian Jack Episode: "The Long Wash"
1971 For the Love of Ada David Llewellyn Griffiths Episode: "The Admirer"
1971 Jason King Mr. Quirly Episode: "A Deadly Line in Digits"
1972 Goodies, TheThe Goodies Mr. Sparklipegs Episode: "Charity Bounce"
1972 His and Hers Tom Waller Episode: "Driving"
1972 Love and Mr Lewisham Mr. Chaffery 3 episodes
1973 Adventurer, TheThe Adventurer Calloway Episode: "Mr. Calloway Is a Very Cautious Man"
1973 Protectors, TheThe Protectors Robard Episode: "The Bodyguards"
1973 Ooh La La! General Irrigua Episode: "Kept on a String"
1973 Bowler The Festival Hall Manager Episode: "On the Fiddle"
1973 Alice Through the Looking-Glass Humpty Dumpty Television film
1973 Fall of Eagles Witte 2 episodes
1974 Baa Baa Black Sheep Uncle Harry Television film
1974 ITV Sunday Night Drama Ethelred Episode: "The Ceremony of Innocence"
1974 Marked Personal George Prewett 2 episodes
1974 Play for Today Joe Jones Episode: "Joe's Ark"
1975 This Week Lord Londonderry Episode: "1844"
1975 Centre Play Walter / "Tiny" 2 episodes
1975 Journey to London, AA Journey to London Lord Loverule Television film
1975 Thriller Arnold Tully Episode: "A Midsummer Nightmare"
1975 Boy Dave, TheThe Boy Dave Old Billy Television film
1976 Shades of Greene Lever Episode: "A Chance for Mr. Lever"
1976 Space: 1999 Dr. Charles Logan Episode: "Journey to Where"
1976 Government Inspector, TheThe Government Inspector The Mayor 3 episodes
1976 Brensham People Mr. Chorlton Episode: "Master of Many Parts"
1976 Children of the Stones Dai 5 episodes
1976–1978 Ghosts of Motley Hall, TheThe Ghosts of Motley Hall Sir George Uproar 20 episodes
1977 Just William Sandy Dick Episode: "William and the Tramp"
1977 Galton & Simpson Playhouse, TheThe Galton & Simpson Playhouse Peter Episode: "Cheers"
1977 Nicholas Nickleby Mr. Vincent Crummles 2 episodes
1977 Duchess of Duke Street Professor Stubbs Episode: "Poor Catullus"
1977 Van der Valk Joop Pater Episode: "Accidental"
1977 Target Chief Superintendent Neville Clegg Episode: "Carve Up"
1978 Hazell Dobson Episode: "Hazell Settles the Accounts"
1978 Mayor of Casterbridge, TheThe Mayor of Casterbridge Fall 2 episodes
1978 Nativity, TheThe Nativity Diomedes Television film
1978 Devil's Crown, TheThe Devil's Crown Bertrand de Born 3 episodes
1978 Pennies From Heaven The Headmaster 2 episodes
1978 Play for Today The Headmaster, 'Audience' Episode: "Sorry…"
1978 BBC Play of the Month Gibbet Episode: "The Beaux' Stratagem"
1978 BBC2 Play of the Week Vollard Episode: "Renoir, My Father"
1978 Talking Parcel, TheThe Talking Parcel Parrot Voice, Television film
1978 Dancing Princesses, TheThe Dancing Princesses King Television film
1979 Strangers Effingham Episode: "Friends in High Places"
1979 Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris, TheThe Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris Selwyn Raven 5 episodes
1979 Of Mycenae and Men Menelaus Television short
1979 In Loving Memory Jeremiah Unsworth Episode: "In Loving Memory"
1979 Screenplay Richard Morrison Episode: "The Sound of Guns"
1979 Brecht and Co Member of Brecht's Company / Azdak Television film
1979 Secret Orchards Roger Ackerley / Uncle Bodger Television film
1980 Greeks: A Journey in Space and Time, TheThe Greeks: A Journey in Space and Time Socrates 3 episodes
1980 Spine Chillers Reader 5 episodes
1981 Tiny Revolutions Professor Jan Kalina Television film
1981 Theatre Box Nodding Dog Voice, Episode: "Marmalade Atkins in Space"
1982 Murder Is Easy Constable Reed Television film
1982 Eleanor, First Lady of the World Unknown Television film
1983 Small Desperation, AA Small Desperation Charles Television film
1984 Travelling Man Morgan Rees Episode: "The Watcher"
1985 Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, TheThe Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Mr. Scruton 4 episodes
1985 Bulman Victor Garforth Episode: "Another Part of the Jungle"
1985 Lost in London Leo Porter Television film
1985 Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe Squire Cass Television film
1986-1990 Screen Two Agejev / Ulick Uniake 2 episodes
1987 District Nurse, TheThe District Nurse Dr. Emlyn Isaacs 12 episodes
1987 Theatre Night Engstrand Episode: "Ghosts"
1987 Vanity Fair Sir Pitt Crawley 7 episodes
1987 Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, TheThe Growing Pains of Adrian Mole Mr. Scruton 6 episodes
1988 The Return of Sherlock Holmes Inspector Baynes Episode: "Wisteria Lodge"
1988 Room at the Bottom Andre Shepherd Episode: "The Chef"
1988 How to Be Cool Dr. Benjamin Barnard Walters 3 episodes
1989 Sob Sisters Leo 7 episodes
1989 Boon David Tredegar Episode: "Walking Off Air"
1990 TECX Sir Neil Milverton Episode: "A Soldier's Death"
1990 Paper Man, TheThe Paper Man Sir Charles Llewellyn Miniseries
1990 Hale and Pace Dr. Pratt Episode: "Season Three, Episode Three"
1990 ScreenPlay Politician Episode: "Shoot the Revolution"
1991 Inspector Morse Harry Field Senior Episode: "Who Killed Harry Field?"
1992 Screen One Old Squire Episode: "Adam Bede"
1992 On the Air Stan Tailings Episode: "Episode 1.4"
1992 True Adventures of Christopher Columbus Herald
1993 Hotel Room Lou Boca Episode: "Tricks"
1993 Lovejoy Arnold Tapie Episode: "Goose Bumps"
1993 Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, TheThe Casebook of Sherlock Holmes The Pedlar Episode: "The Last Vampyre"
1993 Mr. Wroe's Virgins Tobias 4 episodes
1993 Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, TheThe Young Indiana Jones Chronicles "Birdy" Soames Episode: "Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom"
1993–2009 Heartbeat Howard Druce / Fred Braithwaite / George Woodford / Mr. Parrish 4 episodes
1994 Pinch of Snuff, AA Pinch of Snuff Dr. Gilbert Haggard Television film
1994 Just William Sir Giles Hampton Episode: "William and the Great Actor"
1995 Cold Comfort Farm Adam Lambsbreath Television film
1995 Tales of Mystery and Imagination Fortunato Episode: "The Cask of Amontillado"
1996 No Bananas Perce 2 episodes
1996 Neverwhere The Earl 2 episodes
1996 Bill, TheThe Bill Arthur Gordon Episode: "Old Codgers"
1997 Dalziel and Pascoe French Episode: "Ruling Passion"
1997 Drovers' Gold "Moc" Morgan Miniseries
1997 Temptation of Franz Schubert, TheThe Temptation of Franz Schubert Unknown Television film
1998 Life and Crimes of William Palmer, TheThe Life and Crimes of William Palmer Dr. Bamford Television film
1998 Duck Patrol Cyril Episode: "The Spirit of the Deep"
1999 Sunburn Mr. Dawson Episode: "Episode #1.5"
1999 Passion, TheThe Passion George
2000 David Copperfield Barkis Television film
2000 League of Gentlemen, TheThe League of Gentlemen Dr. Magnus Purblind Episode: "The League of Gentlemen Christmas Special"
2000 Casualty Henry Wallowski Episode: "Sympathy for the Devil"
2001 Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) Carodoc Evans Episode: "Revenge of the Bog People"
2003 Broken Morning The Undertaker Television film
2004 Royal, TheThe Royal Sebastian Fox-Kirby 2 episodes
2004 Midsomer Murders Benbow Episode: "The Maid in Splendour"
2004 Casualty Iain Roles Episode: "Passions and Convictions"
2005 Casanova Bragadin / Bragani 2 episodes
2005–2018 Emmerdale Sandy Thomas 776 episodes (final appearance)

See also

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