Bernard Horsfall: Actor best known in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' and 'Dr Who'
He played one of the Time Lords at Dr Who's trial, exiling him to earth and forcing him to regenerate
Saturday 02 March 2013
A character actor on stage and screen for more than 50 years, Bernard Horsfall's stand-out roles came in a James Bond film and four different Doctor Who adventures. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), alongside George Lazenby in his only outing as 007, Horsfall was the British spy Campbell, aiding Bond in his search for the villain Blofeld (Telly Savalas) in Switzerland. Campbell has been described as the film's "official sacrificial lamb", coming to an untimely end when he is murdered by Blofeld's henchmen.
Horsfall appeared alongside the second, third and fourth incarnations of Doctor Who. His first two appearances were with Patrick Troughton. In "The Mind Robber" story (1968), he played Gulliver in the Land of Fiction, who turns out not to be the character of Jonathan Swift's novel, but a Time Lord Goth monitoring the Doctor's activities.
Then, in "The War Games" (1969), he was one of three Time Lords presiding over the trial of the Doctor, exiling him to Earth and forcing him to regenerate – transforming him into Jon Pertwee's incarnation of the time-travelling extraterrestrial from the planet Gallifrey.
Horsfall returned, alongside Pertwee, as the Thai space soldier Taron in "Planet of the Daleks" (1973), leading an attack on the viewers' favourite Doctor Who enemies, before battling Tom Baker's Doctor in "The Deadly Assassin" (1977). This last appearance by Horsfall was the most memorable. It saw him, as Chancellor Goth, and Baker in virtual-reality combat that included Horsfall's character trying to drown his opponent – a sequence that drew the ire of clean-up TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse.
Later, Horsfall voiced Arnold Baynes, CEO of a galactic mega-corporation, in the 2003 Doctor Who audio adventure Davros. Not surprisingly, he became a Doctor Who fans' favourite. He appeared at their conventions over the years and died shortly before he was due to attend one in Los Angeles.
Horsfall was born in Hertfordshire, the son of an RAF officer and an opera singer, and brought up in Hindhead, Surrey, and Wisborough Green, West Sussex. He attended Rugby School, then took a job as a tree feller in Canada after visiting an uncle there.
Returning to Britain, Horsfall trained as an actor at the Webber Douglas Academy. He gained valuable experience at Dundee rep (1952), before the London stage beckoned and he played the Ghost to Richard Burton's Hamlet at the Old Vic Theatre (1953). In rep at Bristol, he met the actress Jane Jordan Rogers, whom he married in 1960.
The actor made his screen dèbut in the Maurice Edelman play The Last Flight (1957), in the Armchair Theatre series, directed by Philip Saville. He followed it with starring roles as Margery Allingham's sleuth Albert Campion in both Dancers in Mourning (1959) and Death of a Ghost (1960), and the title character in the children's comedy thriller Captain Moonlight: Man of Mystery (1960).
However, over the next four decades, Horsfall settled down to life as a prolific character actor in episodes of popular series such as Z Cars (1963), The Saint (1967), The Avengers (three roles, 1965, 1967, 1968), When the Boat Comes In (1981), The Jewel in the Crown (1984) and Casualty (three roles, 1988, 1991, 1995).
He was more prominent as the Black Knight in the mini-series Ivanhoe (1970), Cunliffe in the final run of the children's adventure Freewheelers (1973) and Alan Viner in the second series of the sitcom Big Boy Now! (1977). Horsfall was also impressive in Enemy at the Door (1978) as Dr Philip Martell, the islanders' representative trying to maintain tolerable relations with the occupying Germans in Guernsey during the Second World War.
Later, he played Melford Stevenson, the barrister defending Ruth Ellis – the last woman to be hanged in Britain – in Lady Killers (1980) and the flamboyant Conservative minister Alan Clark in the television film Thatcher: The Final Days (1991). His rare film roles included General Edgar in Gandhi (1982) and Balliol in Braveheart (1995).
Throughout this, his stage career continued. In the West End, he played REA Nightingale in The Masters (Savoy Theatre, 1963), Ronald Miller's adaptation of the CP Snow novel about two factions clashing over the election of a new master of a Cambridge University college. In the same year, he acted in the Iris Murdoch play A Severed Head (Criterion Theatre).
Between 1983 and 1990 Horsfall performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in more than a dozen productions at Stratford-upon-Avon, the Barbican, London, and other venues. His roles included the Duke of York in Richard II, Capulet in Romeo and Juliet and the title character in Cymbeline. With the RSC, he also acted Marquis Saint-Brieux in a West End production of Camille (Comedy Theatre, 1985-86).
By the mid-1980s, Horsfall and his wife had moved to the Isle of Skye, where he became a crofter, producing fruit and vegetables. During the following decade he continued to appear in regional theatre productions and tours across Britain, although he took fewer screen roles. His last appearance was as the Archdeacon in the 2008 film Stone of Destiny. Horsfall's younger daughter, Rebecca, is a theatre director and novelist.
Bernard Arthur Gordon Horsfall, actor: born Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire 20 November 1930; married 1960 Jane Jordan Rogers; (one son, deceased, and two daughters); died Isle of Skye 28 January 2013.
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