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I met Robert Powell in April 2012 after I had seen him at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, in the comedy Doctor in the House. He signed my programme and a photo for me, then Dad took this photo of us together.
However, he was interested in drama too, and in 1964, was encouraged to join the repertory company
company at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent. Shortly afterwards he moved to London to pursue a theatrical career and by 1966 had appeared at the West End's Royal Court Theatre in Alfred Jarry's satire Ubi Roi.
Powell as M R James retelling Wailing Wall
As Gleb Nershin in The First Circle
Robert Powell as Dr Martin in Asylum
As Foster in Il Segno del Comando
Powell as Henry Flynn in Shaka Zulu
As Mulvaney in Walk a Crooked Path
Robert Powell as Paul Tanner
Powell as Tobias Wren in Doomwatch
He had minor roles in several series on TV (including an episode of Z Cars in 1969), and then appeared as Mulvaney in his first film Walk a Crooked Path (1969) and theb
The Victoria Theatre, Stoke in 1982
Robert Powell was born in Salford, Greater Manchester in 1944, the youngest of three children. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School before winning a place at the University of Salford, with the intention of studying for a Law degree.
As Yellow in The Italian Job
the burglar Yellow in The Italian Job (1969) with Michael Caine.
Robert Powell & Pauline Yates in
In the early 1970s, Robert Powell's career really took off. He was cast as an eager young scientific researcher, Tobias Wren in the first series of the cult TV drama Doomwatch (1970). Wren was a popular character with viewers, but was 'killed off' at the end of the first series at Powell's request, as he wanted to move on to other things. These included the mini-series Sentimental Education (1970), and a 6-episode TV adaptation of Thomas
Thomas Hardy's Jude
Jude The Obscure (1971) in which he played the lead character Jude Fawley.
Jude the Obscure dvd
Robert Powell has signed my Doctor
in the House programme
Powell then went on to portray some real-life characters - the title role of the poet in Shelley (1972); Charles Stuart Rolls in the TV movie about the carmakers Mr Rolls and Mr Royce (1972) and the composer Gustav Mahler in Ken Russell's BAFTA Award-winning film Mahler (1974).
Robert Powell & Michael Jayston in
Mr Rolls and Mr Royce
Robert Powell in Shelley
In 1976, Robert Powell went to the casting auditions for ITC's TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth, with Franco Zeffirelli as its director. Zeffirelli had actors of the calibre of Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino in mindfor
mind for the title role. However, when he saw Robert Powell (who had, by then, been cast as Judas) Zeffirelli asked to see him made up as the character Jesus. Zeffirelli was bowled over bywhat
by what he saw, with Powell himself saying, "I looked in the mirror and realised I was looking at the image of Jesus that I had retained from my childhood. It was the image English people recognise as Christ: Holman Hunt's Light of the World."
in Lady Killer
Zeffirelli instructed Powell not to blink when the cameras were filming him, in order to 'convey an air of messianic spirituality'. Otherstarnames
Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth
Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth
Other star names in the production included Sir Laurence Olivier
Olivier, Ernest Borgnine, Anne Bancroft and Christopher Plummer to name but a few, and the production was nominated for two Emmy awards including a Best Actor nomination for Robert
Robert Powell as Paul Ree in
Al di la del bene e del male
Robert Powell. Powell did however, win a TV Times 'Best Actor' award for the role. Jesus of Nazareth brought Powell international recognition, with the possibility of a Hollywood career to follow. But this was stopped by closed-minded producers who couldn't conceive of an actor who had played Jesus, making films like Al di la del bene e del male (1977) the overtly sexual biography of the German philosopher Nietzsche. Powell played Paul Ree (Nietzsche's Jewish friend) in this Italian production.
Robert Powell's film career really took off in 1971 when he got his first big film part in Secrets with Jaqueline Bisset. This led to him being asked by actor David Hemmings to play the lead (TomB
(Tom Betancourt) in his directorial debut Running Scared (1972). Powell's co-star in this was Hemming's wife, Gayle Hunnicutt. It was shortly afterwards
afterwards that he had supporting roles in the two 'cult horror' movies Asylum (1972) and The Asphyx (1973).
As Giles Cunningham in The Asphyx
In 1978 Robert Powell made one of his best films, The Thirty Nine Steps, playing Richard Hannay in an adaptation that remains close to John Buchan's book. A decade
Big Ben scene from The Thirty Nine Steps
decade later, Powell would play the character again in the 13-episode TV series Hannay (1988-89).
Robert Powell as Richard Hannay
in The Thirty Nine Steps
Robert Powell's other film roles during the 1980s included Gregorywolfe
Robert Powell as Fraser in
The Jigsaw Man
Anne Baxter & Robert Powell in
Jane Austen in Manhattan
Robert Powell in Harlequin
Gregory Wolfe in the Australian movie Harlequin (1980) for which he won the 'Best Actor' Award at the Paris Film Festival; Pierre in the Merchant/Ivory production of Jane Austen in Manhattan
Manhattan (1980); Keller in another Australian movie The Survivor (1981) with Jenny Agutter; Augustin in Zanussi's Imperative
Robert Powell in D'Annunzio
Imperative (1982), winning Powell a 'Best Actor' award at the Venice film festival; Jamie Fraser in the thriller The Jigsaw Man (1984) with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier; Dr Henry Flynn in the biographical Shaka Zulu
Zulu (1987) with Edward Fox and Trevor Howard; and the title role in the Italian biographical drama D'Annunzio (1987).
Over the past 20 years, most of Powell's work has been for TV.In
TV. In 1990, Powell agreed to a request from his old friend and golf partner, comedian Jasper Carrott, to take the part of Dave Briggs, an incompetent detective in sketches which were part of Carrott's TV series Canned Carrott (1990-92). Because of its popularity, a successful, 31-episode spin-off sitcom The Detectives (1993-97) was later produced.
Jasper Carrott & Robert Powell in
Robert Powell in 1990
As Barry Jemmerson in Dalziel and Pascoe
More recently Robert Powell has played Dr Haydock in the Agatha Christie Miss Marple mystery Murder at the Vicarage (2004) and Barry Jemmerson in an episode of Dalziel
As Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Dalziel and Pascoe (2005). However most of his time has been committed to the hospital 'soap' Holby City, in which he appeared asM
as Mark Williams in 249 episodes from 2005 until 2011.
As Robert in Colour Me Kubrick
As Mark Williams in Holby City
Robert Powell as Mark Williams in Holby City
Robert Powell's distinctive voice is often heard in TV advertisements
advertisements, and as the narrator in television documentaries like Great Crimes and Trials (1992-95) forT
for The History Channel. He has also narrated a whole range of WWII documentaries which include the 26-part The Century of Warfare (1993); 13 episodes of Gladiators of World War II (2002); 10 episodes of Heroes of World War II (2004); 13 episodes of Churchill's Bodyguard (2005); Infamous Assassinations (2007); 13 episodes of Hitler's Bodyguard (2010) and 11 episodes of World War II in Colour (2011).
Robert Powell in 1979 with the bronze bust
of him by Enzo Plazzotta
In the BBC2 Classic Ghost Stories broadcast over Christmas 1986, Powell
Powell retold several of Montague Reeves James' Ghost Stories. James was Provost of King's College, Cambridge in the early 1900s and he wrote these ghost stories to be read aloud there as Christmas Eve entertainment to a select gathering of friends. Robert Powell has also narratedmanyof
narrated many audio books including The Thirty Nine Steps, and abridged versions of some of Alan Garner's books.
In the spring of 2002, Powell toured with
Robert Powell has a lot of theatre credits since his early repertory seasons at Stoke, Scarborough and Bolton. They range from Shakespeare (the title role in Hamlet at the Leeds Playhouse in 1971) to Roger Michell's comedy (Private Dick at the Whitehall Theatre in 1982).
His most notable stage performances have been in Travesties by Tom Stoppard for the RSC at the Aldwych Theatre in 1975; Tovarich at the Chichester Festival followed
Robert Powell as Anthony Blunt in
A Question of Attribution
followed by a season at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre in 1991; and Sherlock Holmes:The Musical at the Bristol Old Vic (followed by a national tour) in 1993. There were more national tours with Kind Hearts and Coronets in 1998 and Double Double in 1999 with Susannah York.
Robert Powell & Liza Goddard in
An Englishman Abroad
with Single Spies, a double bill of two short Alan Bennett plays, in which he played the spy Anthony Blunt in A Question of Attribution, and the spy Guy Burgess in An Englishman Abroad, alongside Liza Goddard.
In 2003, he toured with The Picture of Dorian Gray, playing Lord Henry, and in 2011, he starred as Jeffrey Barnard in the highly successful UK tour of KeithWaterhous
Keith Waterhouse's politically-incorrect comedy Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Robert Powell in
Powell in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell
I saw his most recent theatre role, as Sir Lancelot Spratt in the hilarious Doctor in the House, with Joe Pasquale
Joe Pasquale & Robert Powell
Pasquale at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham.
Robert Powell aged 12
Robert Powell, Joe Pasquale & Pete Dunwell
in Doctor in the House
Powell has regularly appeared as himself in shows on TV like Richard
Richard & Judy (2005); The Weakest Link (2008) and The Alan
Robert Powell on The Weakest Link in 2008
Alan Titchmarsh Show (2011). In 1979 he was the subject of This Is Your Life.
Robert Powell is married to Barbara
Barbara 'Babs' Lord, former member of the Pan's People dance troupe. They have a son Barney (b.1977) and a daughter Kate (b.1979).
Robert Powell with his wife Babs
Robert Powell on The Alan Titchmarsh Show
Robert Powell has signed this photograph for me
On 29th October 2001, the Robert Powell Theatre, a 250-seater state-of-the-art venue, was opened at the University of Salford's Frederick Road campus.