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I met Christopher Timothy after I had seen him as Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham in May 2012. He signed my programme and several photographs for me. He was very friendly & approachable, and Dad and I were able to have a good chat with him.
Christopher Hugh Timothy was born in 1940, at his grandmother's house Bryn Tegid in the north Wales town of Bala, Merionethshire. His grandfather was the rector of Corwen, and his father, Andrew, was also a vicar before becoming a BBC radio announcer. Christopher's parents divorced, and his father took him and his brother to London in 1946. He went to Norland Place, a private school in Holland Park, and later moved to StDavid's
Christopher Timothy's birthplace Bryn Tegid in Bala
St David's school in Gloucester Road. During this period in the late 40s, Christopher went to theatres and cinemas and decided that acting
acting was what he wanted to do. He returned to Bala when he was ten and spent two years at a prep school, Kingsland Grange, before moving to Priory Grammar
Grammar School in Shrewsbury. He was a somewhat unruly pupil
pupil there but worked hard on his acting, with his drama teacher, Nicholas Dunne. Christopher's first role was a girl's part in Ben Johnson's Eastward Ho!
Priory Grammar School, Shrewsbury
After leaving school, Christopher worked
worked a three-year apprenticeship at a gentleman's outfitters in Shrewsbury, while acting in amateur productions in his spare time. Deciding to make acting his career, he applied to the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where he completed a three-year course. Hewas
He was awarded the John Gielgud Scholarship and the Laurence Olivier Prize. He landed a job at the Old Vic, working alongside stars like Maggie Smith, Ian McKellan and Laurence Olivier. Stage roles followed with Olivier's National Theatre company where he established himself as a good stage actor in their productions of Ibsen's The Master Builder (1964);
(1964); O'Caseys' Juno and the Paycock (1966) and the filmed version of Shakespeare's Othello.
As Roy in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
Christopher Timothy & Michael Crawford in
Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
It was at this stage of his career that most of Christopher Timothy's big-screen appearances are to be found. His roles included Spike in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
Christopher Timothy & Dick Emery in a
sketch from The Dick Emery Show
Christopher Timothy & Ian Carmichael in
Murder Must Advertise
With John Comer in Murder Most English:
A Flaxborough Chronicle
Christopher Timothy, Avril Elgar & Joseph Greig
in Spring and Port Wine
The Virgin Soldiers dvd
Barry Evans & Christopher Timothy
(above & below)
in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
Bush (1968); Cerdic in Alfred the Great (1969); Cpl. Brook in The Virgin Soldiers
Soldiers (1969); Joe in Spring and Port Wine (1970) and Harris Tweedle in Eskimo Nell (1975).
Christopher Timothy & Michael Armstrong
in Eskimo Nell
Then the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small came along, and Christopher Timothy would become a face and name that everybody knew. The TV series was based on the books of Alf Wight, a vet based at Thirsk
Thirsk in Yorkshire, who also wrote books under the pseudonym 'James Herriot'. Herriot himself was to be a character in these 'Tales of a Yorkshire Vet'.
Alf Wight ('James Herriot')
The series was being prepared in 1977 for launch the following year, and, as Christopher says, “I was an afterthought. The dates were fixed, the directors were fixed, Robert Hardy, Peter Davison, Carol Drinkwater were all cast but they hadn’t cast James. I'd been in the running for a long time and the producers kept saying they were under pressure to cast a star. The part had been turned down by Simon Ward, John Alderton and Richard Beckinsale. There was a meeting at theBBC
the BBC and the director Peter Moffat was saying they needed to get this sorted.
My signed photo of Christopher Timothy as the vet
James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small
sorted. I heard that the producer said ‘We’d like to cast Christopher but we need a star’ and Peter said ‘Let’s stop messing about, give it to him and make him a star’.”
Christopher Timothy in All Creatures Great and Small
The show ran for 12 years, with ninety episodes in total, and Christopher Timothy says he has no regrets about
Opening credits - All Creatures Great and Small
about playing a genteel, gentlemen vet for so long. In fact the series had two main phases - from 1978-80 (41 episodes) and 1988 -90 (47 episodes) with two 'specials' (in 1983 & 1985).
Christopher Timothy as Herriot
Christopher Timothy in Episode 1.......
.......and Episode 90
Christopher Timothy & Peter Davison
Christopher Timothy & Robert Hardy
The series was not without controversy, especially Christopher Timothy's
Carol Drinkwater & Christopher Timothy
in All Creatures Great and Small
Timothy's affair with his on-screen wife Carol Drinkwater, at the time
Christopher has great admiration for Wight's books, and indeed became a close friend of the author until his death in 1995. Today, Wight's vets practice at 23 Kirkgate in Thirsk is now the James Herriot museum.
time when his own marriage was breaking down. The affair led to the actress being replaced by Linda Bellingham for some of the later episodes.
All Creatures Great and Small dvd
In 1993, Christopher Timothy and AlfW
James Herriot's Yorkshire dvd
Blue plaque at the Herriot museum in Thirsk
Alf Wight wrote the documentary James Herriot's Yorkshire which shows off the breathtaking scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, Robin Hood's Bay and the towns of Thirsk, York&
In 2000, Christopher Timothy appeared as Dr Brendan 'Mac' McGuire on a new daytime medical series called Doctors. 'Mac' was the head partner at a general practice in Letherbridge, and remained part of this long-running series for 970 episodes until 2006, when he resigned, and left to live in Dublin. Asked how difficult is it to change from doing Doctors with a new script every week, to performing a play with the same lines to say every night, Christopher says, “Of course there is a difference! Working in something like Doctors you learn your lines, you say the scene and then forget them because you then have to remember another scene, and another
York & Harrogate. The dvd cover shows Christopher and Alf in the garden of what is now the James Herriot Museum.
Christopher Timothy as Dr Brendan
'Mac' McGuire in Doctors
another scene. Doctors is pretty fast, so actually absorbing stuff and holding and retaining it fordays
for days on end just doesn’t happen - there’s only so much the mind can contain. The theatre is where I was trained, that’s my job - it’s not difficult - no more difficult now than it was when I was younger. Learning lines is the difficult part of it - that’s the real hard work - but
As Barry Winter in an episode of Lewis
Away from his work for TV, Christopher Timothy has continued
- but I just love what I do.”
continued to perform regularly on stage. His West End appearances include the roles of Chesney Allen in the musical Underneath The Arches (1982) at the Prince of Wales Theatre; Hibbert in Journey's End(1972)
With Roy Hudd in
Underneath the Arches
End (1972) at the Cambridge Theatre and Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1975) at the Criterion Theatre. Regional productions include Bri in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1984) at Leicester's Haymarket Theatre and Higgins in Pygmalion (1994) at the Nottingham Playhouse, with Josie Lawrence as Eliza. In 1990, Christopher wrote, co-produced and played Billy in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe at Brighton's Theatre Royal.
Christopher Timothy as Bri in
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
Touring productions in which he starred include H E Bates' The Darling Buds of May (1995) and Alan Bennett's
Bennett's Forty Years On (1997).
Two later tour successes came in 2006 when Christopher Timothy played Lol in Tim Firth's comedy The Safari Party, and Gustave in the Tom Stoppard version of Sibleyras' comedy Heroes, alongside Art Malik and Michael Jayston.
Stephanie Beacham & Christopher Timothy
in Hay Fever
Christopher was on tour in 2007 with Noel Coward's Hay Fever
Fever in which he starred as David Bliss opposite Stephanie Beacham as Julie Bliss. Neither had performed in a Coward play before! In 2009, he starred as Sprules, the crafty butler in Alan Ayckbourn's adaptation of the Aldwych farce Tons of Money, and Pa Joad in the darkly tragic American play The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Both of these plays toured the UK.
Christopher Timothy & Sorcha Cusack in
The Grapes of Wrath
The David Essex musical All the Fun of the Fair, in which Christopher Timothy played the menacing gangster
gangster Harvey, began a five-month run at the West End's Garrick Theatre in April 2010.
In 2011, Christopher Timothy starred
With Joe McFadden & Richard O'Callaghan
in Haunting Julia
starred in two very different Alan Ayckbourn plays. In the comedy Seasons Greetings, which went on a UK tour, he played the inept doctor, Bernard, a part for which he had to master the skill of operating a puppet theatre! In complete contrast, Ayckbourn's play Haunting Julia is a chillling ghost story about an obsessive father, Joe Lukin (played by Christopher Timothy) and his quest to discover why his musical prodigy daughter Julia, committed suicide. The play was staged at London's Riverside Studios.
As Bernard in Seasons Greetings
Theatregoers can always expect a superb, committed performance from Christopher Timothy, which is one of the reasons
reasons why I was keen to see him in The Diary of Anne Frank when it came to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham in May 2012 as part of its UK tour. He played Anne's father Otto Frank, a performance I enjoyed immensely.
Christopher with Amy Dawson
in The Diary of Anne Frank
Christopher Timothy interviewed on BBC Breakfast
Christopher Timothy has signed this photo to me.
It shows him as Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank
Christopher Timothy has done regular voice-over work including commercials for The Sun newspaper in the 1970s and, more recently, for Cornhill Insurance, who say they used him for a number of years "to add trust to their product." He also voiced the Announcer role on Preservation Act 2, a 1974 album by the rock band The Kinks.
He has also recorded a series of the original James Herriot novels as CD audiobooks.
Christopher was interviewed by Michael Parkinson on Parkinson in 1982; has appeared on six episodes of Yorkshire TV's wordgame Countdown in 1999; was surrounded by ladies on Loose Women in 2007 and has made three appearances on BBC Breakfast.
James Herriot audiobook
Christopher Timothy was married to Susan Boys, with whom he had four sons and two daughters - Simon, Nicholas, Robin, David, Tabitha, and Kate. He has three grandchildren - Ellen, Jack and Tyri. He met his second wife, Annie Swatton, when he was appearing in the Flanagan & Allen musical Underneath the Arches at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1981..........
All Creatures Great and Small
Christopher has signed this photo, which was taken
by his wife Annie in their back garden!
In the early stages of his career, there were numerous minor roles in various TV series which included Harry in The Liver Birds (1971);Richard
(1971); George Swainson in Z Cars (1971); Richard Quennel in Crown Court (1973); Roy in Some Mothers Do 'ave Em (1973); Mr Willis in Murder Must Advertise (1973); Sidney Harry Fox inKi
in Killers (1976) and DS. Love in Murder Most English: A Flaxborough Chronicle (1977).
1981. Annie is a gifted photographer and artist. They have lived in Chichester since then, and have a daughter, Grace.