To The Manor Born star Peter Bowles has died from cancer aged 85.
Bowles was best known for playing the businessman Richard DeVere in To The Manor Born opposite Dame Penelope Keith — a screen partnership that captured the hearts of millions of viewers.
Bowles’ agent confirmed the news in a statement, saying: “The actor Peter Bowles has sadly passed away at the age of 85 from cancer.
“Starting his career at the Old Vic Theatre in 1956, he starred in 45 theatrical productions ending at the age of 81 in The Exorcist at the Phoenix Theatre. He worked consistently on stage and screen, becoming a household name on TV as the archetypal English gent in To The Manor Born, Only When I Laugh, The Bounder and Lytton’s Diary, which he devised himself.
“He leaves his wife of over 60 years, Sue, and their three children Guy, Adam and Sasha”, they added.
Bowles was born in London in 1936 but grew up in Nottingham before he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after he was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious institution.
To The Manor Born was a hugely popular BBC sitcom that originally ran from 1979 to 1981, though Peter Bowles and Penelope Keith both reprised their roles in a 2007 Christmas special. The final episode of the first series drew in an audience of over 23 million viewers.
Bowles was reunited with Penelope Keith once again during the 2010 production of Richard Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals, directed by Sir Peter Hall.
Before To The Manor Born, Bowles played a villain in several British series like The Avengers and The Saint. His other TV credits include appearances in Perfect Scoundrels, Holby City, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Magnolia Street.
Reports also suggest that Bowles had turned down a role in The Good Life. Outside of TV, Bowles appeared in films such as The Bank Job, The Steal, Colour Me Kubrick and Eyewitness.
More recently, he played the Duke of Wellington in the ITV drama Victoria alongside Jenna Coleman, and appeared in Murder on BBC Two, a series that explored the psyche of everyone working on a murder case via testimony delivered straight to the camera by every character involved.
Talking to What to Watch about Murder, Peter told us: “I’ve been acting for over 60 years and have read many TV scripts. But this was the best script I have ever read.”