Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Jeffries, Lionel (1926-2010)

Actor, Director, Writer

Main image of Jeffries, Lionel (1926-2010)

An expert purveyor of knuckle-headed choler in dozens of films, Lionel Jeffries also proved a director of subtlety in at least one film, the charming colour version of The Railway Children (1971). He in fact showed himself a very capable director of children's films, but it is as a character player, specialising in doomed obduracy, that he will be remembered.

Bald from an early age, he has played inept crooks and policemen as well as more benign figures later in his long career. Among his 70-odd films, highlights include the fanatical Marquis of Queensberry in The Trials of Oscar Wilde (d. Ken Hughes, 1960), the inevitably outwitted Inspector 'Nosey' Parker in the comedy crime caper The Wrong Arm of the Law (d. Cliff Owen, 1962) and Grandpa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (d. Hughes, 1968), and he also appeared in international films, including Camelot (US. d. Joshua Logan, 1967), as King Pellinore.

On TV, he and Peggy Aschcroft scored a notably moving success in Cream in My Coffee (LWT, tx. 2/11/1980) as an elderly couple overcome with the rage of growing old.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Quatermass Xperiment, The (1955)Quatermass Xperiment, The (1955)

The first big-screen spin-off from Nigel Kneale's legendary TV series

Thumbnail image of Railway Children, The (1970)Railway Children, The (1970)

The definitive version of E.Nesbit's classic novel

Thumbnail image of Wrong Arm of The Law, The (1962)Wrong Arm of The Law, The (1962)

Imaginative crime comedy with Peter Sellers in his last wholly British film

Related collections

Related people and organisations