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Andrews, Anthony (1948-)

Actor, Producer, Presenter

Main image of Andrews, Anthony (1948-)

Blond, doe-eyed and boyishly handsome, Anthony Andrews worked steadily on stage and in television for two decades before achieving international fame as dissolute aristocrat Sebastian Flyte, all white flannels and teddy bear, in Brideshead Revisited (Granada, 1981).

Having contemplated a military career, he entered the theatre as a stagehand at the Chichester Festival Theatre, later joining the New Shakespeare Company before making his West End debut opposite John Gielgud in Alan Bennett's 'Forty Years On'. His first television appearance was in Dennis Potter's 'The Beast with Two Backs' (The Wednesday Play, BBC, tx. 20/11/1968), and five years later took the lead in a BBC adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's The Adventures of Nigel (1974). But it was as dashing WWII bomb disposal expert Brian Ash in Danger UXB (ITV, 1979) that he came to the attention of Brideshead's producers, who initially wanted him for the lead role of Charles Ryder. Andrews, however, proved a perfect fit for Ryder's charismatic friend Sebastian, skilfully charting the character's decline from louche Oxford undergraduate to broken alcoholic in what was one of the most iconic screen performances of the 1980s, winning him a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.

A move to Hollywood followed, starting with the lead in Ivanhoe (US, 1982). He took on the dual role of Regency fop Sir Percy Blakeney and his dashing alter-ego in The Scarlet Pimpernel (US, 1982) - previously played by both Leslie Howard and David Niven - and turned sleuth for Agatha Christie's Sparkling Cyanide (US, 1983). Other high-profile roles included the journalist brother of Albert Finney's alcoholic consul in Under the Volcano (US, 1984). He later revealed a darker side, as an archly villainous Nero in mini-series A.D. (US, 1985), a murderous illusionist in the re-launched Columbo (US, 1989) and a formidable Moriarty to Edward Woodward's Sherlock Holmes in Hands of a Murderer (US, 1990).

The 1990s saw him back on British screens, enmeshed in corruption as barrister Christopher Edwardes in 'The Law Lord' (Screen Two, BBC, tx. 22/3/1992), before re-teaming with John Gielgud for ghostly thriller Haunted (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1995), which he also co-produced. Another memorable role was theologian Luke Crossland in Ruth Rendell mystery Heartstones (ITV, tx. 1/1/1996), shattered by the death of his fiancée and only gradually awakening to the fact that his doting daughters were responsible for her murder.

He worked regularly throughout the 2000s, winning acclaim for his stage performances as Henry Higgins in 'My Fair Lady' and Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Woman in White'. On television, he was another Agatha Christie detective, Tommy Beresford, in the Marple episode 'By the Pricking of My Thumbs' (ITV, tx. 19/2/2006), and won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Stanley Baldwin, prime minister to Colin Firth's troubled George VI in The King's Speech (d. Tom Hooper, 2010) - having played the king himself in Cambridge Spies (BBC, 2003).

Richard Hewett

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Brideshead Revisited (1981)Brideshead Revisited (1981)

Lavish, standard-setting adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel

Thumbnail image of Cambridge Spies (2003)Cambridge Spies (2003)

Intelligent drama following the careers of the Cambridge spy-ring

Thumbnail image of Danger U.X.B. (1979)Danger U.X.B. (1979)

White-knuckle drama following a bomb-disposal unit in Blitz-torn London

Thumbnail image of Day Out, A (1972)Day Out, A (1972)

Alan Bennett's first TV play, a period drama about a Halifax cycling club

Thumbnail image of Pallisers, The (1974)Pallisers, The (1974)

Mammoth production of Trollope's 'political' series

Thumbnail image of Romeo and Juliet (1978)Romeo and Juliet (1978)

BBC Television Shakespeare version of the classic doomed romance

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