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Roy Marsden

Last updated 27 July 2014


Roy Marsden
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Roy Marsden

Born: Wed 25th June 1941 (age: 77)

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Roy Marsden  is an English actor, born in Stepney, London, best known for his portrayal of Adam Dalgliesh in the Anglia Television dramatisations of P. D. James's detective novels.

Marsden attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). In the early 1960s, he worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and began to accumulate an extensive list of theatrical credits that include everything from Anton Chekhov and Henrik Ibsen to contemporary Soviet playwright Alexander Vampilov. His preference was for the alternative experimental theatres of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Birmingham over London's commercial theatre.

Appearances include Crispen in The Friends, 1970; Casca and Lucilius in Julius Caesar, 1972; Paul Schippel in Schippel, 1974; Heinrich Krey in The Plumber's Progress, 1975. He also played Long John Silver in Treasure Island at London's Mermaid Theatre around Christmas for two years and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion at the Albery Theatre. In 2008, Marsden appeared in two productions, Murder on Air and Happy Jack at the Theatre Royal Windsor.

Marsden's portrayal of Adam Dalgliesh in Anglia TV's P. D. James series spanned fifteen years. The series began as adaptations played out in serials of five or six one-hour episodes each, which were, unusually for the time, recorded on outside broadcast videotape as opposed to film:

Marsden also starred in Yorkshire Television's 1978–1980 Cold War espionage series The Sandbaggers. He played Neil Burnside, the dour and fiercely protective head of the covert operations section of British Intelligence, whose character seemed to spend as much time on infighting within Whitehall and his own department as it did in battling the KGB. The show ran for three series and 20 episodes before the untimely disappearance of the show's creator and writer Ian Mackintosh in 1979.

In 1982, Yorkshire Television cast him in Airline, a series in which he played Jack Ruskin, a scrappy World War II pilot trying to start his own post-war airline against establishment opposition. It also starred his wife, Polly Hemingway, who was pregnant with their first child during most of the filming.

Other prominent television roles include George Osborne in a 1967 adaptation of Vanity Fair and the title role of Arthur Chipping in 1987's Goodbye Mr. Chips.

Marsden has also made guest appearances in The New Avengers, Space: 1999, Only Fools and Horses ("Little Problems"), Foyle's War, and Tales of the Unexpected. In 2007, Marsden presented a nine part crime documentary series Roy Marsden's Casebook for ITV West. He also appeared in the opening episode of the 2007 series of Doctor Who as Mr Stoker, a medical consultant.

In 2008, he appeared in ITV series The Palace as King Richard's Private Secretary Sir Iain Ratalick. In 2009 Marsden reprised his Only Fools and Horses role as one of the Driscoll brothers in the spin off series of The Green Green Grass. He also appeared in the television film Margaret (2009).

He has appeared in: The Squeeze, Warner Bros. (1976), a walk-on part with one line (as a Nazi officer) in the classic The Eagle Has Landed (1976), and as Oberon in Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005).