Ronald Pickup

ACTOR Ronald Pickup, who has died at the age of 80 after a long illness, is now best known for his performances as Norman in The Best Marigold Hotel films and as the Archbishop of Canterbury in The Crown.

But for those of us lucky enough to have been around for the early days of Olivier’s National Theatre at the Old Vic from 1963 to 1976, he is remembered for much more than 21st century franchises.

Obituaries of this subtle and versatile actor in the national press refer to his performances in Three Sisters (still available on film) and as Laurence Olivier’s son in Long Day’s Journey into Night, but for me the most memorable are as Rosalind in Clifford Williams’ all-male As You Like It (right and with Jeremy Brett as Orlando), designed by Ralph Koltai, and as Don Adriano de Armado in Love’s Labours Lost.

Born in Chester, he studied at RADA where he met his wife-to-be Lans Traverse, who later joined the Bournemouth Repertory Company  under Richard Digby Day. After many highly praised roles at the Old Vic, Ronald Pickup went on to establish a busy career on film and television. He has 158 film credits, the last of which is in Schadenfreude, written and directed by his son Simon and still in post production. He also appeared with his daughter Rachel, both on stage and television.

A regular radio reader, one of his best known audio roles is as Aslan, the god-like lion of CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

He was last seen on stage the south west in April 2009, playing Lucky in Waiting for Godot at Bath Theatre Royal, with Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Simon Callow.

Let’s hope that the National Theatre and the various television companies unearth some of his mesmerising and varied performances to create a tribute series for these last weeks of lockdown.