A DVD arrived today and inspired this quickie post about an actor who is nowhere near appreciated enough…
Peter Barkworth is a British character actor who was fairly famous once, even getting a Radio Times cover with his series Telford’s Change in the 70s. His last appearance was in Stephen Fry’s film ‘Wilde’ in 1997 – but sadly he died in 2006. I discovered him thanks to a fellow Doctor Who fan showing me the Ice Warriors, which is now out on DVD (yes, that’s the one).
Considering Dr Who is sometimes (often?) populated with fairly insubstantial parts given half-baked performances, his work stood out as being unusually authentic and enjoyable for its own sake.
I then found that he also wrote a superb book called ‘About Acting‘ – simply a series of little tips and trick for actors, certainly not anything ‘method’ – and interesting even to non-theatricals. He taught at RADA, and the inheritance of Barkworth’s measured, careful style can be most clearly seen in one of his former students – Antony Hopkins.
However, the role that really sealed me in as a huge, evangelising fan was his turn as Professor Anderson in Tom Stoppard’s 1977 TV play, Professional Foul.
Professional Foul is a superb example of Tom Stoppard being expertly funny, clever and angry at the same time. And Barkworth is perfectly matched to the part – convincingly as intelligent as the character, and even the playwright himself.