Actor known for villainous roles in Doctor Who

Born: August 29, 1928;

Died: February 26, 2018

PETER Miles, who has died aged 89, was a regular character player on the small screen, but will no doubt be best remembered for three villainous turns in the enduringly popular science fiction series Doctor Who. Having played twice opposite the Third Doctor Jon Pertwee, he was cast in the 1975 Tom Baker story Genesis of the Daleks (now generally regarded as one of the programme’s greatest adventures) and gave a very memorable turn as the cold and sadistic security chief Nyder.

As Dr Lawrence in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970), he made his officious character’s death scene extremely effective thanks to a brilliantly unselfconscious performance of manic intensity. Invasion of the Dinosaurs (1974) saw him on delightfully terse form as yet another scientist, this one plotting to return Earth to a simpler time unfettered by pollution and technology.

But it was the following year that he contributed what will be his enduring legacy. Genesis of the Daleks depicts the development of the Doctor’s arch enemies using the iconography of Nazi Germany, and Nyder is effectively Himmler to the Hitler figure of Dalek creator Davros. Thin-lipped and cruel, with a clipped delivery and inscrutable glare, Nyder gets all the best lines – and Miles does not waste the opportunity. He returned to Nyder in audio and theatre spin-offs and was another villain in a 1993 BBC Doctor Who radio series.

He was born Peter Miles-Johnson to an English father Edward Hezekiah Miles-Johnson and French mother Jacqueline Lesourd – who divorced when he was in his early teens – and lived almost his entire life in Ealing, London.

When he was 18 his father suggested that he go to RADA to improve his diction but he demurred and instead became a teacher who nevertheless dabbled in amateur dramatics. In his late 20s he had a painful epiphany – that he desperately want to act professionally – whilst teaching at the William Ellis school in Hampstead. One of his pupils was Chris Langham (future star of The Thick of It) whose mother, the actress Helen Burns, took Peter backstage at Stratford where she was working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Help and advice from the actors there facilitated a successful audition for the Birmingham repertory company.

During the 1960s he was busy on stage including stints at Lincoln and Liverpool (where the play JB afforded him a favourite role - Satan). The following decade he played opposite Eileen Atkins’ St Joan in Bath and London. His early 1980s season at the RSC placed him in three landmark productions opposite Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, Roger Rees’ Hamlet and Antony Sher’s extraordinary Richard III (playing the hefty role of Lord Stanley). For him this season, alongside his many forays into farce, was a career highlight.

His extensive television career included guest parts in Sherlock Holmes (1968), Doomwatch (1970), Colditz (1972), Crown Court (1973), Moonbase 3 (1973), The Sweeney (1975), Survivors (1978), Blake’s 7 (two appearances as a slimy official in 1978/79), and Bergerac (1990). Film work was less frequent but included The Eagle Has Landed (as Hitler, 1976) and Christine Edzard’s Little Dorrit (1987).

He was also an accomplished jazz singer – his duet with childhood friend Dusty Springfield, performing Can’t We Be Friends, is available on CD. He performed regularly at music gigs to the end – it was his absence from a regular Thursday night singing spot at a local venue that led to the discovery that he had died peacefully at home.

He never married but two nieces and a nephew survive him.