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British Actor Ronald Pickup Dies at 80

Ronald Pickup, the English actor who was last seen in the Netflix series The Crown, died on Wednesday.


His agent told the BBC that he “passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness surrounded by his wife and family. He will be deeply missed”.

He was 80.

The actor mainly played supporting characters in films and worked in theatre and television as well. His notable works include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, The Second Best Hotel, 2017’s Darkest Hour, The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Nijinski (1980), Never Say Never Again (1983) — Sean Connery’s final James Bond film — Lolita (1997). He also co-starred in The Mission (1986) and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010).

Born in Chester, England in 1940, Pickup studied acting in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where he also met his wife Lans Traverse. They got married in 1964. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, daughter actor Rachel Pickup, and son Simon.

His stint with theatre and television began at around the same time when he got his first television acting break on the BBC’s Doctor Who, where he played a physician in the fourth part The Reign of Terror. During the same time, he starred alongside British theatre icons such as Laurence Olivier, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in everything from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to the plays of Samuel Beckett, like Waiting for Godot. In 1988, he was nominated for the Lawrence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in David Hare’s Amy’s View.


Most of his television work was in the 1970s and 80s with Jennie: Lady Randolph ChurchillThe Life of VerdiFortunes of War and the BBC’s 1988 television series The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, authored by C.S. Lewis, where he gave the voice-over for one of the characters, a lion named Aslan.

His more recent television credits include an episode of Downton Abbey in 2015, and appearances in hit British shows such as Call the MidwifeCoronation StreetDoc MartinParade’s EndHolby CityThe Bill and Silent Witness.

In 2016, he starred in four episodes of the first season of Netflix’s The Crown, playing the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

His arc as a supporting actor in films began with the 1973 film The Day of the Jackal and is renowned for featuring in Zulu Dawn (1979) and The Mission (1986).