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Havers, Nigel (1949-)

Actor, Presenter

Main image of Havers, Nigel (1949-)

Although Nigel Havers is most often associated with dashing cads, his career has encompassed its share of benevolent characters, not least the two for which he is probably best remembered: Olympic athlete Lord Andrew Lindsay in Chariots of Fire (d. Hugh Hudson, 1981) and lovable loser Tom Latimer in the long-running sitcom Don't Wait Up (BBC, 1983-90).

Born into a long line of lawyers, he opted instead for an acting career after seeing Peter O'Toole's stage Hamlet. His film debut came with an improbable role as a monk in Pope Joan (d. Michael Anderson, 1972), but television work was irregular until an appearance in Upstairs Downstairs (ITV, tx. 30/11/1975). In 1977 he took the lead in a BBC adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby (BBC, 1977), and the following year played a memorably oily door-to-door salesman in Pennies from Heaven (BBC, 1978).

Chariots of Fire was followed by roles in A Passage to India (d. David Lean, 1984) and Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun (US, 1987), but a career in films somehow failed to materialise. However, he continued to work regularly on the small screen, enjoying enormous popularity as a result of Don't Wait Up, in which he played a divorced doctor co-habiting with his recently separated father (Tony Britton).

His role as bounder Ralph Gorse in The Charmer (ITV, 1987) brought a change of image, reinforced by press reports that the married Havers had been having an affair with Polly Williams (who later became his second wife) for several years. In the 90s he further extended his range, playing an undercover Russian agent in Sleepers (BBC, 1991) and a war-time burns victim in A Perfect Hero (ITV, 1991). Leading roles in the 2000s proved harder to come by, but he continues to appear regularly on television, usually as smoothly unreliable charmers.

Richard Hewett

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Chariots of Fire (1981)Chariots of Fire (1981)

Oscar-winning story of two British Olympic athletes

Thumbnail image of Glittering Prizes, The (1976)Glittering Prizes, The (1976)

Acclaimed serial charting the lives of a group of Cambridge friends

Thumbnail image of Pennies From Heaven (1978)Pennies From Heaven (1978)

Groundbreaking TV masterpiece that made a star of Bob Hoskins

Thumbnail image of Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-75)Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-75)

Hugely popular drama about life in an early 20th Century London household

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