Born: May 19, 1931;

Died: March 8, 2021.

IT TAKES a unique talent to write a American chart-topping single, hold a Shakespearean audience on the edge of their seats, and set a nation laughing with a sitcom performance as a brilliant bumbler.

And when you add the ability to come within a goal-line of landing a full-time contract with Tottenham Hotspur FC, it gives an indication of the polymathic aptitude of the irrepressible Trevor Peacock.

Peacock, who has died aged 89 from a dementia-related illness, was best known for his role of parish councillor, Jim Trott, in The Vicar of Dibley, the popular sitcom starring Dawn French. But he was also an accomplished dramatic actor, having starred in the title role in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew.

He also appeared in vast range of television productions, from Jonathan Creek to Waking the Dead.

But only a select few, such as Anthony Newley and David Essex – and Peacock himself – have managed to blur the lines between performer and pop composer.

What seems to have defined Peacock was an ability to make the most of opportunity, coupled with a real determination.

He was born in Edmonton, north London. His father Victor was a Baptist lay preacher , and the teenage Trevor also became involved in preaching. But it was his fascination with performance that was almost spiritual.

As a child he had been banned from watching films and so produced his own, rigging up a large white sheet with holes in it, through which he and his friends would stick their heads while pretending to be movie stars.

Peacock was also a talented footballer and had a trial for Tottenham Hotspur when he was 18. His major ambition was always to be an actor, however, and although he taught in north London secondary schools for three years he made his way towards a professional career as a performer, beginning as a comedian’s feed and gag writer at the Windmill Theatre in the 1950s.

In 1957, he married Iris Jones (the marriage would later end in divorce) and continued to write sketch material for the likes of Peter Sellers and Tony Hancock.

Meantime, he formed a close friendship with TV producer Jack Good, the creator of the BBC’s flagship pop programme, Six-Five Special, (and, later, on Oh, Boy! – its ITV counterpart). Peacock, who by now was landing small acting roles, also wrote scripts for Good’s shows.

Peacock wrote a song, Mrs Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter, for a 1963 TV play, The Lads, starring Tom Courtenay and John Thaw. Two years later it was recorded by Herman’s Hermits, who reached number one in the US Billboard charts.

Peacock also wrote Made You, for Adam Faith, and the chirpy fun song Gossip Calypso, for Bernard Cribbins, as well as songs for Billy Fury, Joe Brown and Jess Conrad.

He was not, however, seduced by pop fame. “I used to write for all sorts of people, but it wasn’t my world,” he said in one early interview. “I couldn’t play an instrument and all I wanted to do was become a legitimate actor.”

His talent for song writing, and lyrics in particular, was utilised in the 1965 hit musical, Passion Flower Hotel, when he collaborated with composer John Barry. And he merged his writing successfully with acting when invited to join the Old Vic company.

His star was on the rise, and he moved on the 69 Theatre Company in Manchester where he received huge critical acclaim for his Estragon in Waiting For Godot and his Tony Lumpkin in She Stoops to Conquer, which transferred to the West End in 1969.

By 1971 he was now a leading man, performing the likes of Titus at the Roundhouse, which led to a series of performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1974 to 1976.

He continued to write, creating the “ambitious” musical, Leaping Ginger, about a young criminal (Robert Lindsay) newly released from prison, “who goes on a picaresque voyage of self-discovery.”

Peacock also joined forces with the pop writer, Alan Price, to create the stage musical Andy Capp, starring Tom Courtenay as the indolent northerner. The show transferred to the West End and enjoyed further success on the continent.

Critics believed that Peacock’s boldest writing work emerged in 1985 when he created Class K, described as “a fierce critique of our education system.” It was based on his stint as a teacher, in which he would battle to help youngsters from deprived backgrounds.

The theatre career continued apace but when he joined the cast of the Vicar of Dibley in 1994, he achieved the financial reward and fame his career and talent demanded.

He and his second wife, the actress Tilly Tremayne, were able to move to a 700-year-old mill-house in Somerset.

In 2009, however, Peacock was diagnosed with dementia. A hugely popular figure within the business, he fought the disease for as long as possible, continuing to work (he had a small part in the 2012 film, Quartet, alongside Billy Connolly) – and appeared in the 2015 Vicar of Dibley sketch for Comic Relief.

Peacock loved to perform but retained a powerful commitment to the world around him. “You have to remember there is more to life than acting, otherwise you’re finished,” he said. He is survived by Tilly, and his four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.