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Roy Dotrice

Roy Dotrice.jpg
Dotrice in 2014
Born (1923-05-26)26 May 1923
Died 16 October 2017(2017-10-16) (aged 94)
London, England
Nationality British
Occupation Actor
Years active 1957–2012
Known for Brief Lives
A Moon for the Misbegotten
Kay Newman
(m. 1947; her death 2007)
Children 3; including Michele and Karen
Awards 1 Tony Award
1 Drama Desk Award
1 British Academy Television Award
Roy Dotrice during the shooting of Mister Lincoln
Dotrice in 1981

Roy Dotrice OBE (26 May 1923 – 16 October 2017) was a British actor famed for his portrayal of the antiquarian John Aubrey in the record-breaking solo play Brief Lives.

Abroad, he won a Tony Award for his performance in the 2000 Broadway revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten, also appearing as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's father Leopold in Amadeus (1984), Charles Dickens in Dickens of London (1984), and Jacob Wells/Father in Beauty and the Beast. Late in life, he narrated a series of audiobooks for George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, for which he held the Guinness World Record for the most character voices for an audiobook by an individual.

Life and career

Dotrice was born in Guernsey, Bailiwick of Guernsey on 26 May 1923 to Neva (née Wilton; 1897–1984) and Louis Dotrice (1896–1991). He served as a wireless operator/air gunner with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and was imprisoned in a German prisoner of war camp from 1942 to 1945, after being shot down in Avro Manchester R5840 of No.106 Squadron based at Coningsby, all seven airmen of the crew being taken Prisoner of War.


Dotrice was the voice of "Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Gregory Pitkin" in the early episodes of BBC Radio's long-running comedy The Men from the Ministry. He was succeeded by Ronald Baddiley in the role. He also played the caretaker Ramsay alongside Patricia Hayes in the Radio 2 sitcom Know Your Place.


Roy Dotrice was a distinguished member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the early 1960s played a variety of roles, including Caliban in The Tempest, opposite Tom Fleming's Propero (dir: Peter Brook) John of Gaunt and Hotspur opposite David Warner's Richard II, and Justice Shallow opposite Hugh Griffith as Falstaff in Henry IV, and then Edward IV in the Hall/Barton adapted Shakespeare cycle The Wars of the Roses, later broadcast by the BBC. Dotrice played the part of John Aubrey in Brief Lives, a one-man play devised and directed by Patrick Garland that saw Dotrice hold the stage for more than two-and-a-half hours (including the interval, during which he would feign sleep). Premiering in 1967 at the Hampstead Theatre in London, the play later toured England, before two successful productions on Broadway. In 1968 it moved to the Criterion Theatre in the West End, where it ran for 400 performances before transferring to the Mayfair Theatre. He revived the role in 2008, again under Patrick Garland's direction.

These runs, combined with extensive international touring, earned Dotrice a place in the Guinness World Records for the greatest number of solo performances (1,782). In 1984 he starred opposite Rosemary Harris in a production of Noël Coward's Hay Fever. He appeared in the stage production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas at The Lowry theatre in Salford from November 2009 to January 2010.


In the 1970s Dotrice played the title role in the television mini-series Dickens of London. He also appeared as Albert Haddock in the BBC television adaptation of A. P. Herbert's Misleading Cases in 1971. In 1972 he played the Curé Ponosse in the BBC2 TV adaptation of Clochemerle (1972).

However, Dotrice was known to North American audiences as "Father" in the 1980s American TV series Beauty and the Beast and Father Gary Barrett, a Catholic priest, in the 1990s series Picket Fences. His acting career dates from 1945 in a revue called Back Home, performed by ex-POWs in aid of the Red Cross. In an episode of Angel (1999), part of the Buffyverse, he played the role of Roger Wyndam-Pryce, the overbearing father of the character Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. An earlier science-fiction role was Commissioner Simmonds in two episodes of the 1970s series Space: 1999. In 1998 Dotrice appeared in three episodes of the series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Zeus.

Dotrice was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1974 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Pinewood Studios.

Game of Thrones

In June 2010 it was announced that Dotrice would be playing the role of Grand Maester Pycelle in the HBO television series Game of Thrones, an adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books. Dotrice later withdrew from the part for medical reasons and Julian Glover was cast in his place.

Shortly after filming for the second season commenced it was confirmed that Dotrice would be returning to play "Wisdom Hallyne the Pyromancer", who is featured in the installments "The Ghost of Harrenhal" and "Blackwater".

Radio and audiobooks

In 1982 BBC Radio 4 broadcast Dotrice's reading of fellow Guernseyman G.B. Edwards' classic novel The Book of Ebenezer Le Page in twenty-eight 15-minute parts on its Woman's Hour segment. The producer subsequently wrote that the serialisation was "without question the most popular serial I have ever done in the 500 or so I have produced in the last 21 years ...".

He subsequently performed "The Islander", a stage version of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, to critical success at the Theatre Royal Lincoln. In 2012 AudioGO produced a complete and unabridged recording of Ebenezer Le Page, which is available on Audible.

Dotrice recorded audiobooks for each book in George R. R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire. In 2011 he was awarded the world record for most character voices in an audiobook for his recording of A Game of Thrones, which contained 224.

Dotrice also narrated many storybook adaptations for Disney Records, including The Little Mermaid and Pooh's Heffalump, for which he was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Personal life and death

Dotrice was married to Kay Newman (1929–2007), a television and stage actress, from 1947 until her death in 2007. They had three daughters—Michele, Yvette and Karen—all of whom have acted at various times in their lives. He was the father-in-law of actors Edward Woodward (Michele) and Alex Hyde-White (Karen).

He particularly enjoyed baseball, fishing and football, and was a stalwart member of the Garrick Club. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008.

Dotrice died at the age of 94 on 16 October 2017 in London; no cause was given. His body was cremated.

Select filmography

Film and television

  • The Adventure (TV film,1957) - Sailor
  • Treasure Island (TV miniserie, 1957) - Abe Gray
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (TV film, 1959) - Egeus
  • The Heroes of Telemark (1965) – Jensen
  • A.P. Herbert's 'Misleading Cases'

TV sitcom BBC One 1967 - 1971 19 episodes (3 series)

  • A Twist of Sand (1968) – David Garland
  • Lock Up Your Daughters (1969) – Gossip
  • Toomorrow (1970) – John Williams
  • The Buttercup Chain (1970) – Martin Carr-Gibbons
  • Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) – General Alexeiev
  • Tales From The Crypt (1972) – Charles Gregory (segment 4 "Wish You Were Here")
  • Hide and Seek (1972) – Mr Grimes
  • Clochemerle (1972) - Curé Ponosse
  • Space: 1999 (1975, TV series) – Commissioner Simmonds
  • Dickens of London (1976, TV series) – Charles Dickens/Mr John Dickens
  • Sykes (1976, TV series|Squatters) – The Tramp
  • Saturn 3 (1980, voice overdub of Harvey Keitel) – Benson (voice, uncredited)
  • Magnum, P.I. (1981, Tropical Madness) - Harcourt
  • Family Reunion (1981) – Lester Frye
  • Amadeus (1984) – Leopold Mozart
  • Eliminators (1986) – Abbott Reeves
  • Shaka Zulu (1986, TV series)
  • The Wizard (1986, TV series) – Troyan
  • Faerie Tale Theatre: "The Dancing Princesses" and "Rip Van Winkle" (1987, TV series) – The King/Peter Vanderdonk
  • Beauty and the Beast (1987–90, TV series) – Jacob "Father"
  • Suburban Commando (1991) – Zanuck
  • The Cutting Edge (1992) – Anton Pamchenko
  • Picket Fences (1992–1995, TV series) – Father Gary Barrett
  • Going to Extremes (1992, TV series) – Doctor Croft
  • Children of the Dark (1994, TV) – Dr Burnham
  • Swimming with Sharks (1994) – Cyrus Miles
  • Babylon 5: "The Fall of Night" (1995, TV) – Frederick Lantz
  • The Scarlet Letter (1995) – Rev Thomas Cheever
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1996; TV series) – Mr Big
  • Like Father, Like Santa (1998 TV series) – Ambrose Booth
  • Sliders (1999, TV series) – Marc LeBeau/The Seer/Archibald Chandler
  • Madigan Men (2000, TV series) – Seamus Madigan
  • Alien Hunter (2003) – Dr John Bachman
  • Angel (2003, TV series) – Roger Wyndam-Pryce
  • Life Begins (2004; TV series)
  • La Femme Musketeer (2004, TV mini-series) – Commander Finot
  • These Foolish Things (2006) – Lord Carter
  • Played (2006) – Jack Rawlings
  • Go Go Tales (2007) – Jay
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) – King Balor
  • Game of Thrones (2012, TV series) – Hallyne
  • Sources:

Voice acting

  • Sources:


He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.

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