Actor and star of Only Fools and Horses
Actor and star of Only Fools and Horses
Born: February 8, 1944; Died: January 15, 2014
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ROGER LLOYD-PACK, who has died aged 69, was an accomplished and versatile actor who played a wide range of parts on stage, film and television; he was, however, indelibly associated with the role of Trigger, the dim-witted road sweeper in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
Trigger's slowness on the uptake (belying his name) provided many of the show's highlights, though the nickname, according to Del Boy in the first episode, came about because of his resemblance to Roy Rogers' horse.
One long-running joke was Trigger's invariable habit of referring to Del Boy's brother Rodney as Dave. At one point, he suggests that Del and Raquel might name their baby "Sigourney, after the actress. If it's a boy they're going to call him Rodney. After Dave."
On another occasion, Trigger receives an award for having had the same broom for 20 years, though he concedes it has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles during that period. This variation on Plutarch's paradox about the ship of Theseus, a philosophical exercise popping up in a television comedy about South London market traders, was one indication that the lines provided by the writer, John O'Sullivan, to illustrate Trigger's stupidity were not always quite as daft as they first appeared.
Only Fools and Horses ran for seven series between 1981 and 1991, as well as special editions for Christmas, and is now routinely cited as one of the greatest sitcoms ever made. But Roger Lloyd-Pack was almost as well-known for his role in another highly successful comedy, The Vicar of Dibley, as Owen Newitt, a farmer and stranger to the bathtub who is perpetually late to meetings of the parochial parish council.
He was born in Islington, north London, the son of the actor Charles Lloyd-Pack and his wife Ulrike, a travel agent. Lloyd-Pack senior, who played Professor Marks in the TV series Strange Report and frequently appeared in the Hammer Horror films, was prosperous enough to send his son to the liberal public school Bedales, in Hampshire.
While there, Lloyd-Pack Jnr discovered he "liked the attention you got being on stage" and, after completing his A-levels, proceeded to RADA, where he studied alongside Richard Wilson.
His first professional stage role was with Northamptonshire Rep, in The Shoemaker's Holiday, and he made his West End debut in 1967 in Charles Dyer's Staircase.
From the mid-1960s, Lloyd-Pack made regular appearances on television, beginning with small parts on shows such as The Avengers, Jason King, Crown Court and Dixon of Dock Green, and also began to find film work, first in an adaptation of John Fowles' novel The Magus (1968) and then alongside Nicol Williamson in Tony Richardson's film of Hamlet the following year.
Over the years his stage work included stints at the National Theatre, the Lyceum in Edinburgh (in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), the Almeida in Islington, the Royal Court and the Donmar Warehouse, as well as a host of touring productions and spells in the West End. He was especially fond of Chekov and Pinter, but appeared in a wide range of productions, from Kafka in Alan Bennett's Kafka's Dick to parts in The Rocky Horror Show and The Tempest. Within the past couple of years, he appeared in both Richard III and Twelfth Night at the Globe, on London's South Bank.
His career on the big screen was similarly varied, though he seldom took leading parts; he had roles in The Go-Between (1970), Prick Up Your Ears (1987), The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), Vanity Fair (2004) and Made in Dagenham (2010).
His most prominent film role was probably as Barty Crouch senior in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), and he played Mendel in the recent adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
His television work, too, was extensive, but almost always in supporting roles. He appeared in everything from Lovejoy to Noel's House Party, making appearances in such series as The Bill, Heartbeat, Kavanagh QC and popping up in the children's programme Byker Grove, as well as spots on Poirot and New Tricks.
He was equally at home in comic or dramatic parts; he was particularly effective as Melvin in Private Schulz (1981) and as the revisionist historian David Irving in Selling Hitler (1991).
Lloyd-Pack's own political views were diametrically opposed to Irving's, and he was an active campaigner for local causes, the theatrical children's charity Scene & Heard, and for the Labour Party, though last year he withdrew his support in a letter to The Guardian, lending his backing instead to Left Unity, a group arguing for a more socialist party.
In his spare time, he explored a number of therapies and counselling, and developed a strong interest in psychology. He was an avid supporter of Tottenham Hotspur and widely read; he was especially keen on Russian novelists. He played in a fortnightly Friday night poker game (he also appeared as Ash in a revival of Patrick Marber's play about poker, Dealer's Choice), liked dancing and jazz and expressed his devotion to all things Italian - except their football team.
He married twice; first, in 1968, to Sheila Ball, with whom he had a daughter, the actress Emily Lloyd. They divorced in 1972 and for many years he lived with the writer Jehane ("Jan") Markham, with whom he had three sons, and whom he married in 2000 near Aberdeen ("such a beautiful, passionate place"), 25 years to the day from their first date.